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Infobank

Digital camera features: In-camera HDR

Introduced with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR in 2012, in-camera HDR was a new feature for digital cameras. Every camera has a fixed dynamic range that it can capture, i.e. the contrast range between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights. This range is controlled by the sensor technology and the processing carried out within the camera.

 

HDR Mode menu screen of the EOS 5D Mark III showing the adjustable dynamic exposure range setting options.

The last few years have seen a rise in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, where images at different exposure settings are merged into one frame to increase the dynamic range captured. It is especially useful for interior photography and also landscapes, where the contrast range from shadow to highlight can fall way outside what the camera is able to capture. The result is an image with a much-increased dynamic range where detail is retained from the shadows to the highlights, even if this contrast range is 20 stops or more.

The in-camera HDR option on the EOS 5D Mark III removes the need for third party software and a computer as HDR images can be generated directly from captured frames. With in-camera HDR shooting, the camera will capture three images for each shot taken, with one being under-exposed, one correctly exposed and one over-exposed. These are then combined in-camera to create a single image.

When shooting HDR images, you can select the exposure range between the captured images or allow the camera to work it out automatically to suit the overall contrast. The manual range is between +/- 1 to 3EV. When the camera is processing the HDR images, there are several options on how the images are combined. These options range from Natural, which provides a natural looking result, to various creative effects like Art Standard, Art Vivid, Art Bold and Art Embossed.

The images created in-camera will be saved as JPEG files, even if the camera is set to capture RAW files. The three images from which the HDR image is created will also be saved, either as a JPEG or RAW file depending on the settings made in the camera.

 

An HDR image from the EOS 5D Mark III showing the result of combining images using the Art Standard effect.