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Leica MM histogram

Monochrome Sensor Capture: Optimal Exposure

Optimal exposure for monochrome capture is the “same” as for color capture: ETTR exposure, that is, the maximum possible exposure without blowing-out highlights. However, there are some special considerations when shooting color for monochrome conversions.

ETTR (Expose To The Right) refers to a histogram which extends all the way to the right side (highlights) without piling up at far right, which would indicate pure white which equates to no detail. See the ETTR section in Making Sharp Images.

In other words, ETTR means an optimal exposure which by its nature minimizes noise and thus maximizes dynamic range. Expose as brightly as possible without blowing-out any important details. This ought to be easy to achieve, but the sorry state of camera histograms makes it harder than it sounds.

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Diglloyd Making Sharp Images articulates years of best practices and how-to, painstakingly learned over a decade of camera and lens evaluation.

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  • Eases into photographic challenges with an introductory section.
  • Covers aspects of digital sensor technology that relate to getting the best image quality.
  • Technique section discusses every aspect of making a sharp image handheld or on a tripod.
  • Depth of field and how to bypass depth of field limitations via focus stacking.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • MTF, field curvature, focus shift: insight into the limitations of lab tests and why imaging performance is far more complex than it appears.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • How to test a lens for a “bad sample”.

Intrigued? See Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, or (one topic of many) field curvature.

Info from the RAW capture, camera set to 5000°K white balance, AdobeRGB, minimum contrast

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