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Active D-Lighting Question for all Nikon D60, D3000, D5000, D300(s), D700, D3(x) photographers

Dave Lee , Nov 19, 2009; 07:04 p.m.

I am wondering what the major consensus is here on the forum about shooting with Active D-Lighting enabled on camera. The advantage I see is higher shadow detail without having to get it in post. The major disadvantage I see is noise at nearly all ISO settings. Even at ISO 200 on the D300 that I currently shoot with, I can see a slight noise signature.

My other concern is that ADL underexposes to achieve the increased highlight detail. And this means an underexposed Raw file as well. I've been shooting with it on but am thinking about turning it off for a trip in a couple weeks I am taking to Japan.

So since this forum has no way to put up a poll, I'll ask it here.

ADL On or Off?

And why?



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Gary Payne , Nov 19, 2009; 07:33 p.m.

I leave it on, set to low, which has little to no effect. The reason is, if it is on, in Post Processing in NX2, I can move it to a higher setting if needed (I always shoot RAW). I find that under certain circumstances, it can be useful. If ADL is off, then it is off, and no adjustment can be made in Post Processing.

Eric Arnold , Nov 19, 2009; 08:04 p.m.

i used to leave it on low, like gary, but after a few months, i turned it off. it's ok for low iso pics but for low-light/high iso pics it just makes things worse, noise-wise. plus it does weird things to skin tones. if i need to lighten up a shot after the fact, i can do it in PS elements.

Rene' Villela , Nov 19, 2009; 10:03 p.m.

I keep it off. When needed it can be added to the RAW file on PP which works much better (When using NX2).
Where in Japan? Come to Niigata Prefecture and we can go shooting!
Have a nice trip!

David Klaffenbach , Nov 19, 2009; 11:02 p.m.

I often turn on ADL to auto when shooting in bright sunlight but turn it off much of the rest of the time.

Andy L , Nov 20, 2009; 12:23 a.m.

Off. It does underexpose a bit which is a disadvantage using raw, and I don't use NX2 so I get no benefits. My photos come out less noisy this way. And that's with a D90 - with a D60 there's the added disadvantage of it making your camera incredibly slow.

James Meketa , Nov 20, 2009; 12:34 a.m.

If you shoot in raw, leave it off.
I highly recommend making personal tests instead of asking for advice on the web, much of which is garbage. I actually made a number of careful tests on my D700 and D300s. At the Low ADL setting, raw is not affected at all. With Normal, the actual exposure can be reduced about 0.3 to 0.4EV. With High the actual exposure can be reduced about 0.8 to 1.0EV. No other changes are made to the raw image, although the internal JPG is modified extensively. You have no way of knowing if the exposure modification is going to be the same from image to image.
If you open the raw image in Photoshop or DxO, the ADL EXIF information is ignored, but the images remain under-exposed. With NX2, Nikon attempts to apply the ADL algorithms at the time of open, but you can override and change them.
If you are shooting in raw, it means you are planning to post process the image. In that case, do your best to get the exposure right in the camera in the first place (as well as the white balance, which makes it easier to adjust the raw image). Learn by actually watching how your camera distorts the histograms displayed on the LCD. Bracket in various scenarios and see later which ones worked, and which didn't.
Your camera is simply a mechanical tool. Play with it and test it to see how it works. Keep notes.

Roberto Lubich , Nov 20, 2009; 02:20 a.m.

I think ADL and DL can be useful if you shot jpg or if you don't want to process you images, otherwise is much better to use u-point so you can have more control on what and how much to brighten up the shadows. DL brighten up a little midium tones too so that global contrast is lowered.

Will Daniel , Nov 20, 2009; 07:19 a.m.

When I'm in a situation that calls for it, I shoot both on and off. But I also vary exposures manually. Sometimes I end up with five or six shots of the same scene.


Kevin Pataky , Nov 20, 2009; 10:52 a.m.

Leaving ADL on prevents maximum frame per second burst speeds from being achieved. I leave it off and only turn it on when I have to (like when a football game is played at noon and the team playing has white helmets) when I know the shadows will be extremely harsh. I can always "fix" things in Photoshop if I need to.

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