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Old Oct 6, 2009, 11:38 AM   #11
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Yes, the D5000 appears to allow 3 photos at up to 2EV apart from what I can see from specs (so that you'd have a 4 EV range between the lightest and darkest image in a set). But, it's selling for around $849 with the 18-55mm kit lens right now from reputable dealers (well over the OP's desired budget).

If I were going to spend that much money, I'd probably look at the new Sony A500 (which uses a Sony 12MP CMOS Sensor like the Nikon D5000 uses). The new A500 has a pretty neat feature that takes two photos at 3EV apart (one exposed for shadows, one exposed for highlights) combing them in camera to create an HDR Image.

It's even smart enough to compensate for small reframing differences between photos (aligning them in camera) when it combines them (reducing the need for a tripod).

It's also got much faster Autofocus compared to the Nikon when using Live View, without the lens limitations associated with Nikon's entry level models (the D5000 camera body doesn't have a built in focus motor, which means you need a lens that does have a built in motor if you want Autofocus). It doesn't have Video recording though, and it's regular exposure bracketing (versus combining photos automatically in camera) isn't as good as the Nikon D5000. To get 3 photos at 2EV Apart in the Sony lineup, you'd need to move up to the A700 (which also supports a 5 shot bracketing sequence at 2/3 EV apart).

There are pros and cons to any of them. But, if you want to use software to combine images later, the Nikon D5000 does look like it has better Exposure Bracketing features than most other models in it's price range.

The Pentax K20D (as suggested by mtngal) appears to be a great suggestion for a model in that price range (if you can find one anywhere), given it's 5 shot bracketing capability at up to 2EV between photos. I've seen them selling for around $699. But, it looks like most dealers are sold out now.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 12:11 PM   #12
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Unfortunately the Pentax K-20 is now in short supply and the price has started back up again, it is now $700+.

I like the sound of the Sony A-500/A-550 in camera feature for HDR.

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Old Oct 6, 2009, 12:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlejohn View Post
Thanks for the explanation Jim...it was helpful in my (want list)...I know its above the O posters $$$ range, but I just checked the D5000 to ensure it's auto bracketing covers the range you suggested ...it does..+/- 2.0EV
littlejohn-

Interestingly, Oly users don't really use auto bracketing. I thought they use it more often.



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Old Oct 6, 2009, 12:40 PM   #14
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littlejohn-

I was very interested in Pentax K-7's HDR mode, but it still looks like it doesn't have a huge dynamic range. I guess doing it manually is better anyway?

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/1006182-post1.html

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Old Oct 6, 2009, 1:06 PM   #15
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The cannon eos rebel has bracketing but not large increments, Does anyone know of a firmware hack that will allow you to change it? I know they gotta have something out there. Think I may just go with this one any reason not to buy it?

Last edited by pollardhimself; Oct 6, 2009 at 1:08 PM.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 1:09 PM   #16
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I was very interested in Pentax K-7's HDR mode, but it still looks like it doesn't have a huge dynamic range. I guess doing it manually is better anyway?
That's not a bad result for that type of image (one part of the image in deep shadows, and the white church in bright sunlight).

The K7 has a 3 shot HDR mode where it can combine 3 photos at 3 EV apart in camera, which is a nifty feature (although it won't do any kind of auto alignment of frames, so a tripod is needed for best results). I think mtngal has made use of it for some of her shots.

If you want more range for combining photos using software (versus in camera), it offers a 5 shot bracketing sequence.

If you want good exposure bracketing with more frames for combining images later in software (versus in camera HDR), the Nikon D300 and D300s can take up to 9 photos at 1 EV apart using it's Exposure Bracketing feature.

Using software like Photomatix, you're also getting a different look from "tone mapping", versus what you'd get from in camera HDR.

But, both the Pentax K7 and Nikon D300 are well outside of the OP's desired budget.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 1:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
That's not a bad result for that type of image (one part of the image in deep shadows, and the white church in bright sunlight).

The K7 has a 3 shot HDR mode where it can combine 3 photos at 3 EV apart in camera, which is a nifty feature (although it won't do any kind of auto alignment of frames, so a tripod is needed for best results). I think mtngal has made use of it for some of her shots.

If you want more range for combining photos using software (versus in camera), it offers a 5 shot bracketing sequence.

If you want good exposure bracketing with more frames for combining images later in software (versus in camera HDR), the Nikon D300 and D300s can take up to 9 photos at 1 EV apart using it's Exposure Bracketing feature.

Using software like Photomatix, you're also getting a different look from "tone mapping", versus what you'd get from in camera HDR.

But, both the Pentax K7 and Nikon D300 are well outside of the OP's desired budget.
Thanks for your thoughts Jim. Very well put!

My point was actually the OP shouldn't worry about auto bracketing too much? Maybe he shouldn't spend extra for an extra range auto bracketing? Because, doing it manually w/tripod and some post processing with software if he wants HDR would be better anyway?

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Old Oct 6, 2009, 2:43 PM   #18
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I can see some advantages to having more of it done without changing settings, depending on what you're trying to shoot (since subject movement, people entering or leaving the frame while you're adjusting settings, foilage movement from wind, tripod vibration, and more would enter into it if you needed more time between frames to adjust settings).
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 4:02 PM   #19
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Just my opinion, but anyone interested in HDR should pay close attention to auto bracketing, the more the better.

As JimC pointed out, I own both the Pentax K-7 and the older K20 and have used the various HDR methods on both cameras.

It is entirely possible for one to shoot bracketed shots without any type of auto bracketing - put the camera to spot metering, take a reading from the darkest point of your picture where you want detail, set the exposure lock (or set it manually), reframe and shoot. Then take a normally exposed shot and then repeat the spot metering on the brightest spot. My only trouble with this is that the frames don't come close to lining up, so I'd have to write down all the numbers on a piece of paper and do it manually, while hopefully keeping the camera at the same spot (or preferably on a tripod). That's way too much remembering of figures and bother for me, so I depend on letting the camera figure it out for me automatically.

That's where auto bracketing comes in. You don't have to remember which exposure to set for each frame of your series. You are more likely to have the frames line up correctly if you aren't using a tripod (I'm often not), especially if your camera has the ability to take all frames with one push of the shutter and very quickly. You still need HDR software (I use Photomatix, but it's not the only one out there). Both the K20 and the K-7 are able to take 5 frame auto exposures.

The K-7 also has a couple of other things you can do - one is a true 3 frame HDR picture processed in-camera, the first camera to actually do so. The link referenced above by hiro is an example of that. As can be seen with it, it works pretty well but has limitations (I did point that out in the thread). Another thread that compares a scene with a series combined in Photomatix is at: http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...hdr-k-7-a.html which I did right after I got the K-7. It's not got the extreme range as the first referenced thread and I preferred one of the camera's HDR pictures the best.

There are two other features the K-7 has - one is a way to extend the dynamic range by protecting the highlights or shadows. It's useful up to a point but isn't a true HDR product. The other feature is one of the digital filters Pentax put in. Some of these are fun, the black and white feature can be quite useful and under the right circumstances so can the selective desaturation, but the HDR filter is more of a gimmick than anything else - takes an ordinary picture and makes it look like a poor quality HDR, at least that's what I think of it.

One of the reasons in-camera HDR will never replace the various dedicated software packages is that the camera can't line up any slightly mis-aligned frames, like software can (to a certain degree). A tripod is a must. Stationary subjects is a must, too, so if you are taking trees etc. there can't be any breeze at all (well, that goes for software, too).

The advantages to it is that (especially if you were using a tripod anyway), it's quick, takes little thought and you see the results immediately - no fuss, no muss. There's a great deal to be said for that!

But that's all well beyond the scope of other original question as the K-7 is well beyond the price range being discussed, but since it came up in discussion, I thought I'd clarify things.

Pentax has announced a new entry level camera, the KX. It will have the K-7's ability to produce a 3 frame HDR picture in-camera. It will be initially priced just above $600 with the kit lens - I'd be willing to bet that by the time Christmas shopping gets into full swing it will be cheaper than that. It only offers 3 frame auto bracketing and with 1.5 between frames, but it would still be worth a look if you aren't planning on getting a camera right away.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 5:41 PM   #20
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Your choices are going to be limited with a $500 budget.

Most of the entry level models only allow 2 or 3 photos with Exposure Bracketing, and some models (for example, Nikon's entry level dSLR models like the D40, D40x, D60 and D3000) don't even have an Exposure Bracketing feature.

You also want to consider the maximum difference (in EV) between photos in a bracketed sequence. For example, some models only allow 1/3 or 1/2 stop (EV) difference between photos, which won't do you a lot of good for HDR purposes (as you'd want more difference between the darkest and brightest photo in a set for maximum dynamic range when combining photos later).

IOW, I'd look for the ability to go +- 2EV (at a minimum) with a camera limited to 3 photos in a set, so you'd have at least 4 stops between the darkest and brightest image in the set, ending up with 3 photos taken like this:

-2EV, 0, +2EV.

I'd have to do some research to figure out what camera models might offer that much range. Perhaps some of our members will chime in with their knowledge.

But, you could always change settings and take more photos if you don't find a camera you like with the desired Auto Bracketing range. You're going to need a steady tripod, no matter what solution you choose for that type of photography.
I switch speeds on the fly, all the time. It's nice to to able to set up a "program" to do this for you, but it's not That difficult to do it manually.

And as you say, better make you sure you have a good tripod. Without a good tripod, people are going to have difficulties anyway, and the whole question is academic.

Once someone does it enough, it becomes second nature.

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