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D-lighting pros and cons?

LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
18 May 2012 8:27PM

Here's the rub: ViewNX will *NOT* allow you to change the camera's D-lighting parameter that you shot and the D-lighting parameter you set, so if you made the wrong decision, tough luck unless you fork out for other software.

Once you have opened your image click the edit box Smile Smile
It looks like a paint brush and is third from left on the second row from the top.
There are options to apply any level of D lighting (as a numerical amount) separately to shadows and highlight.
If you open the picture control utility you can open an image with no Dlighting applied (assuming you used it) and work with a conventional levels and curves tool Smile
ViewNX (current version) is quite flexible for a free download.

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LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
18 May 2012 8:37PM


Leftforum's point is whether you would actually need to use ACR with NEF capture, he/she doesn't think it is necessary. I find a benefit in using them in combination on occasion.

It depends in part how you work.
At Nikon NPS training events for the D3s Nikon suggest, in high contrast lighting, it is best to apply D lighting in camera rather than post processing.
Nikon's reasoning is the camera then calculates how much to under expose before applying Dlighting to reduce the possibility of none recoverable highlight detail.
I do not disagree you could instead under expose slightly and apply Dlighting or levels and curves if needed post processing.
When shooting in camera or post processing it is best to use software which applies adjustments as "filter instructions" to the RAW image rather than permanently changing the original file.
LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
18 May 2012 9:07PM

Quote:A RAW file is completely un processed
I'm following this thread as I was always under the impression that RAW files were just that - RAW, as in untouched, so I'm finding the responses here interesting.

There is a RAW file in the sense you are thinking i.e. the computer Reads As Written.
There is also Nikon nef RAW file (and Canon equivalent) where the camera writes an unmodified RAW file and adds instructions based on camera settings such as colour balance, saturation, contrast, sharpening and others such as D-lighting [b]which are not applied until the image is viewed on a computer with software capable of applying the instruction.
To some extent in ViewNX and to a greater extent in Capture NX almost any specific camera instructions can be changed by going back to the original RAW data and applying new instructions.
This is often called non-destructive editing because the original unmodified RAW information remains intact and always available.
In "destructive" post processing each file change is achieved by discarding some file information. Once the file is then saved it is smaller andiscardedscared information can never be recovered.
A good example is shooting in tungsten light with the camera set to tungsten light, then going outdoors in daylight and forgetting to reset to daylight.
You get a very strong colour cast which is difficult to correct and discards a lot of file information using destructive software Sad
With Nikon nef all you need to do is change the camera settings in Nikon NEF compatible software from tungsten to daylight for an instant colour correction with no lost of file information.
There is other post processing software which applies file instructions as "filters" which can be changed without destructive editing.
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
18 May 2012 9:42PM
Thanks Len.
I'm still watching.
bugdozer 14 98 2
19 May 2012 12:09AM
Thanks for the info everybody. That makes it a lot clearer. In case you're curious, I do shoot mostly in RAW and do my processing in Lightroom, but sometimes I use RAW+JPG mode as well, especially if I'm shooting in monochrome as sometimes the camera will set things in a way that I like and can find hard to recreate manually in Lightroom!
stumusic 5 1
14 Mar 2013 7:27PM
Here's a link Nikon's information about Active D-Lighting, and I think it's very important to understand. http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Article/fsqd6p6h/active-d-lighting.html?_#!/More-Like-This

In the article, Nikon explains that the active d-lighting, "takes place in the camera at the moment the photo it taken."

Another web site explains that active d-lighting "happens inside the camera before the raw file is produced." (http://nikonglass.blogspot.com/2008/01/active-d-lighting.html)

Both of these statements indeed lead me to believe that, "active" d-lighting, as opposed to the d-lighting available in Capture NX 2 or in the camera's retouch menu, DOES indeed effect the RAW file.

In the end, it would be simple to verify this, (and I plan to,) by simply setting up identical shots both with and without active d-lighting turned on, and compare the RAW files.
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
14 Mar 2013 7:41PM
Thing to remember with active d lighting is that although your raw file remains unaffected your camera will take your d lighting parameters into its calculations.
LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
15 Mar 2013 9:32AM

Quote:Let's get one thing absolutely clear - in-camera settings such as Active-D Lighting DOES NOT have any affect whatsoever on the Raw files captured by the sensor.

This is misleading Sad
The effect is recorded if you use Nikon View or Nikon Capture or software which recognises Nikon in camera settings Smile
Some software ignores some or all in camera settings.
I prefer to get things as nearly finished as possible at the taking stage and prefer the convenience of using in camera settings instead of software which dumps them.
Nikon confirm as part of the tutorials at Nikon Pro training days using D lighting in camera in difficult lighting conditions reduces the exposure to avoid losing highlighted detail.
Highlight detail, once lost, cannot be recovered whereas extra shadow detail is usually easy to recover
To the OP buddozer if you download free ViewNX2 you can change the in camera D-lighting, colour saturation, etc set in camera, including to nil, if you want to experiment after taking a picture. Be aware some software ignores anything you set in camera or post processed in Nikon software if you want to do more work on the image at a later stage.
annettep38 Plus
6 218 40 Costa Rica
15 Mar 2013 10:59AM
In My D3x manual it says
Quote:When Active D-Lighting is on, the capacity of the memory buffer drops
and additional time is required to record images (pg. 429). Matrix metering is recommended (pg. 110). Although exposure is in fact reduced to prevent loss of detail in highlights and shadows, highlights, underexposed areas, and mid-tones are automatically adjusted to prevent the resulting photograph from being underexposed. The [Brightness] and [Contrast] Picture Control settings (pg. 167) can not be adjusted while Active D-Lighting is in effect. Noise, distortion, or banding may be visible at high ISO sensitivities. In exposure mode h, an Active D-Lighting setting of [Auto] is equivalent to [Normal].

which means to me that it affects the picture as you record it.
Having used it in 'normal' all the time in Malaysia in the harsh conditions in the rain forest I can only recommend it for the D3x NRF files.
2 Apr 2013 9:44PM
ADL will not alter the image recorded, albeit, if recorded in JPEG, the effects will be permanent.


ADL will affect the processing of the data from your meter. If you use matrix metering, the camera will start to expose according to what "she" wants to push/pull in post.

I turn off ADL unless it's a very contrasty day (very dark shadows).
LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
3 Apr 2013 9:20AM
How many posting comments on this thread actually use Nikon software?
If you open a Nikon RAW file in Capture NX2 and select the camera settings option you can change the D lighting setting "strength", including to off if you used it. You can introduce D lighting if you did not use it. You can take manual control of the highlight and shadow modification using sliders. You can use conventional levels and curves.
In addition you can apply different levels of D Lighting, curves or most other adjustments to any part of the picture in seconds.
If you shot jpeg you cannot take out what was applied in camera, but you can increase the shadow or highlight modification with sliders.
In ViewNX2 you can also make similar changes, but only do the entire picture area.
Digressing to sharpening as an example; most advanced workers prefer little or no sharpening of sky areas, and prefer software where different levels of adjustment can easily be applied to different parts of the picture area.
JohnParminter 11 1.3k 14 England
3 Apr 2013 9:34AM

Quote:How many posting comments on this thread actually use Nikon software?


LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
4 Apr 2013 10:00AM

Quote:How many posting comments on this thread actually use Nikon software?



- yes but!
I am not sure but I think you may be one of those saying that in camera settings do not affect the RAW file when opened in Nikon software.
If I understand your standpoint correct (apoolgies if I am wrong), when opening a Nikon RAW file in Nikon software my point is almost all the camera settings (including D lighting but not including ISO) can be changed in the menu options.
Whether the ideal camera menu options for the photographers interpretation of how the image should look were selected when pressing the shutter is another topic.
JohnParminter 11 1.3k 14 England
4 Apr 2013 10:45AM

Quote:I am not sure but I think you may be one of those saying that in camera settings do not affect the RAW file when opened in Nikon software.
No, not me.

Quote:If I understand your standpoint correct (apoolgies if I am wrong), when opening a Nikon RAW file in Nikon software my point is almost all the camera settings (including D lighting but not including ISO) can be changed in the menu options.
We are in total agreement Len...

annettep38 Plus
6 218 40 Costa Rica
17 Apr 2013 11:37PM
Very interesting explanations. I have paid a lot of attention to this on Sunday, it was the first day of sun since ages and very contrasty light. Took the same shot with an without active d.
Result! The camera seems to underexposed slightly the highlights, in the on position. Seemed to loose some texture... But then as you guys pointed out.. Bit of dxo and was all the same.
So I won't bother anymore and the buffer speed is better without!

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