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Old Jun 6, 2005, 4:05 PM   #1
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what should the histogram look like. I understand that the extreme left side is showing a dark picture, extreme right is a light expsure... but should everything be in the middle, or even across the board?

How many photographers really rely on this measuring method? any other hints on how to perfect this tool?



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Old Jun 6, 2005, 5:29 PM   #2
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An "ideal" histogram looks like a craggy mountain centered laterallyon the screen... a little blank space on either end is OK. Remember, however, as you become more experienced, a little over or under exposure isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I use the histogram as a guide. If the graph is skewed a lot in either direction, I'll change one or more of the parameters (apature, shutter or ISO) and shoot again. Of course, there are times when you don't have that option. It's also a good tool during post processing.

I can't speak for others, but , for me, the histogram is a powerful tool not available to film shooters. If you spend some time learning to use it, I think you'll find the time is well spent.
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 7:03 AM   #3
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I agree with Wildman - the histogram is a huge tool. The only thing I would add is make sure to use some common sense - some photos SHOULD be skewed one way or the other based upon content (a lot of black or a lot of snow say). Probably the single biggest thing to watch for is a histogram skewed to the right which means blown highlights. When in doubt underexposure is better as the details are more easily recovered. Once you've blown the highlights it can be difficult or impossible to recover them in post processing.

As for hints - turn the histogram on so it displays after each photo so you can make a quick correction as Wildman indicated. By now, I just look at my histogram and only really look at the picture in the LCD if I was concerned about a tricky focus. The histogram will be much better at telling you whether your exposure and contrast were good than the small picture in the LCD.
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 7:26 AM   #4
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Absolutely the best tool available for accuracy of shots and for post production 'tweaking'. Once you put forth the effort to learn - it will pay you back tenfold.
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 9:23 AM   #5
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JohnG wrote:
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Probably the single biggest thing to watch for is a histogram skewed to the right which means blown highlights.
Being skewed to the right is fine so long as it doesn't cross the very right border. The term "expose to the right" was invented for the histogram. The general principle is that you should expose so that the high point of the histogram is as far right as possible without crossing the magic line that blows out the highlights. I certainly agree that it's a tremendous tool; I use it after virtually every shot.

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Old Jun 7, 2005, 10:16 AM   #6
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Check out this link:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...stograms.shtml

I generally agree with what is said above. There are scenes where you don't want an even histogram (a dark moody picture, for example.) But usually you want data distributed well across the scene, maybe with a bit more to the right.

I use it a bit, probably not as much as I should. I usually when I'm shooting something that will be tricky so I check it, but at the same time some times tricky shots fool you. You think the camera can handle that scene well but it turns out it doesn't.

Eric
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 2:51 PM   #7
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Norm in Fujino wrote:
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JohnG wrote:
Quote:
Probably the single biggest thing to watch for is a histogram skewed to the right which means blown highlights.
Being skewed to the right is fine so long as it doesn't cross the very right border. The term "expose to the right" was invented for the histogram. The general principle is that you should expose so that the high point of the histogram is as far right as possible without crossing the magic line that blows out the highlights.
And small over exposure (without burning bright parts) might be actually even little better than normal/"correct" exposure if you post process because you can correct brightness easily and it should lower noise slightly. (especially in darker parts of image)


But like it has been said "correct" exposure doesn't always produce "best"/most impressive shot, by controlling exposure right way you can make photos from some situations considerably better looking.

Sunrise in winter
Or these setting sun scenes:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Remnant of Cumulonimbus Incus
Solar rays and clouds shadow

Actually I think all of those except first was taken in M mode basing mostly to image in EVF while histogram clearly showed them to be under exposed... and because using manual exposure in Minolta 7i was so easy and fast.
Especially considering superb highres EVF of KM A2 (~4x resolution of LCDs&EVFs in other digicams) and even better general friendliness of its non menu based UI I'm not even thinking DSLRs as viable option until this same is possible with them...


So always remember that in the end its photographer which determines how good results can be, camera is just tool which sets limits how easily you can use your skills.
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Old Jun 7, 2005, 8:25 PM   #8
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Yes, aregular histogram is a good tool. My Olympus C8080 also has a "direct histogram" option which is fantastic. I keep the direct real timehistogram turned on constantly. Instead of a separate bar graph, it places small red or blue outline squares directly on the image. The red lines indicate exactly which part of the photo is overexposed, and the little blue lines indicate exactly which parts are underexposed. Here is an example of a direct histogram. You instantly see the over/under exposure in the viewfinder, and can adjustthe exposure without taking your eyes off the image.


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Old Jun 8, 2005, 12:06 PM   #9
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I use the histogram constantly, its just always on, and I glance at it from time to time to double check the picture composition on some shots.

Great tool, but I agree it takes a while to understand exactly how it works, & how to interpret it with the surrounding conditions.
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