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Nikon D810: HDR in One Exposure?

Up in the mountains field shooting, writeups follow when I’m back in a week or so.

It’s fascinating just how good the Nikon D810 is for scenes that would require the hassle of HDR bracketing and post processing (Canon users fall about 2 stops short of the D810 and with a ton more noise in shadows). The Nikon D810 at ISO 64 has a stunning dynamic range.

I plan on showing how to make full use of the D810, starting with exposure: Nikon has designed the D810 histogram very badly, so as to fool you every time into wasting 1 to 1.5 stops of headroom even as the camera shows “blown out”). And how to make this sort of adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw (same approach in Lightroom).

This particular image was the brightest one of a bracketed series: I was sure it was blown out, since the histogram said so. But it is not so! There is even more than 1/3 stop of additional headroom remaining, according to RawDigger. No highlights are lost and no shadows are pinned, as the raw data shows. Yet the shadows in the brightened “faux HDR” image control noise very well—impressive considering the almost pure black in the darkest areas.

Toggle to compare the as-shot image to the one given a massive adjustment.

Note: prepared after a long long day hiking in my car approaching 10pm; hard to evaluate best contrast, brightness, etc, so this is a quickie that no doubt can be improved upon further.

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