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Which is the best exposure for RAW editing?

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Mar 16, 2019
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#1
Hi, everybody - this is my first post in these forums.

I'm saving up for a PC to do RAW editing on, and in the meantime, I've been shooting all photos in 'JPEG plus RAW' and using 5-exposure bracketing.

My question is a fairly straightforward one: if there are two exposures in those 5 that are almost correct, but one is a bit overexposed and the other a bit underexposed, which one should you choose for RAW editing? Thanks.
 

Meta4

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#2
if there are two exposures in those 5 that are almost correct, but one is a bit overexposed and the other a bit underexposed, which one should you choose for RAW editing? .
It's always a bigger problem to recover details from over-exposed images.
In your scenario you'd probably be best going for the slightly underexposed image.
 
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Kilrah

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#3
It's always a bigger problem to recover details from over-exposed images.
In your scenario you'd probably be best going for the slightly underexposed image.
That's valid for JPEG but not for RAW, there you typically do the opposite.

RAW has much higher dynamic range, so what looks clipped in JPEG is typically perfectly OK in RAW (there can be as much as 3 stops of highlight headroom on some cameras, I've seen completely white JPEGs that could be totally recovered from RAW). Hence the "expose to the right" technique commonly used when shooting RAW so as to make use of that highlight info, and as a bonus reducing noise (overexposed RAW means you'll be dialing the exposure down while processing, which crushes some of the shadow noise).

BUT how much room you have to play is highly dependent on the particular camera model, so knowing this you have to do some tests and find the right spot to benefit from the technique without risking clipping highlights.
 
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Photo-Sorko

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#4
@Meta4 is right. Normally you set the exposure that way, that nothing except light sources is completely white. You can always brighten the shadows (until the noise gets to high). But you can't reconstruct burnt out areas. RAW on the Mavic 2 (Zoom) gives you a little bit more margin in the lights and much more in the shadows.

Here's an example:
DJI_0438.jpg
This is the edited picture. You see that the sun and a bit of the clouds before the sun is over-exposed.

And here is the unedited RAW version of the image:
Origin.jpg

It takes a bit of experience to get the exposure always right, but it's not to hard. You can (and should) also always use the histogram.

Normally I underexpose for 1/3 to 2/3 stops. (EV -0.3 to -0.7).

Greetings
Jürgen
 
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#5
Original poster here. I forgot to say my drone is a Mavic Pro. That might have a bearing on people's advice.
 

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