The HDR Camera
The fact is, there is no such thing as an HDR camera. The good news is that almost any camera can be used for making Perfect HDR photographs!
Use the Camera You Already Own
Automatic bracketing is the key!
Any camera that does auto exposure bracketing (AEB) is suitable for your first HDR camera. All DSLR’s qualify as do the new micro four-thirds cameras from Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and others. Many point-n-shoot cameras also feature AEB
The point of AEB is to take a series of exposures in rapid succession at pre-determined different exposure values. To translate that; what we want are a minimum of three shots of the same scene, taken at virtually the same time, at different levels of exposure. The interval I use, which works perfectly well is 2 f-stops. So, when I bracket three shots, the exposure values I get are: -2, 0 and +2 f-stops. I talk more about this in the video below.
Don’t worry what an f-stop is right now. It has to do with how much light the camera lens allows to pass through to register the image on the camera’s sensor. So learn how to set up AEB on your camera. Usually it will be very simple. I just push a button on my Olympus and it instantly shifts into HDR mode with automatic bracketing just the way I like it. YouTube is probably your best bet to get video instruction setting up AEB easily for your camera. Those instruction books are just too hard to read. The video below explains all this.
Always use Aperture Priority Mode for HDR
The only other crucial camera setting for HDR photography is putting it into Aperture Priority mode. That’s another very simple thing that sounds complicated. On most cameras it’s just a matter of turning a dial on top of the camera to the “A” position. Your camera likely has something just like that. If not, then it’s in the menu system and isn’t difficult to set… just google your camera model and the words “aperture priority setting.” Here’s why we do that:
In HDR we combine three ( or more) exposures of the same scene. All the exposures must have the same focus and depth of field. If we don’t force the aperture to remain the same in all the exposures, the depth of field will change between the different frames and then we have a mess. So, all you need to remember is to shoot your HDR’s in aperture priority mode ALWAYS!
There’s just one more “always” in HDR. Always shoot RAW. Do not shoot Jpeg’s. Jpeg’s are photo files already processed and compressed in the camera before you ever get a chance to work on them. They are dead, useless, 8-bit files. You cannot extract anything new out of them like you can a RAW file. RAW files contain humongous amounts of light data you can do magical things with! I don’t care if RAW files take up a lot more memory, spend $20 and get a bigger memory card for your camera.
The reason camera manufacturers default to jpeg output is because they know that the majority of people using their camera won’t do any post processing. Using the jpeg format is a huge compromise which gives the masses ready-to-view images right out of the camera. However, you cannot post-process a jpeg file. So, shoot RAW, okay?
Video: All About Your Camera and HDR
Are You Ready to Learn the Perfect HDR Workflow?
Now let’s go to where the rubber meets the road and watch the free video showing how to process your first HDR photo!