When to use Highlight Tone Priority

Fallensurvivorz

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I tried looking it up online and I see the difference in things that are white, like a common example is on a white dress/wedding dress. My question is when is it a good idea to use it on other things? Is there certain colors that it should be used for or to be used in certain circumstances? The only thing I could look up was basically the same article over and over just talking about the white wedding dress.

-Thanks
 

MarshallG

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In general, cameras are moving more towards putting Photoshop-like features into the camera, which makes a lot of sense. But the problem is that all of these effects remove data from your photos, which might ruin them.

When you take a photo, your camera sensor records whatever light hits it. That is the "RAW" image. Then your camera processes the image and compresses it into JPEG. The "Highlight Tone Priority" feature is a Photoshop-like filter which creates contrast in the brightest areas of your photos, where you might otherwise have virtually solid white.

There are several of these "post processing" features that the camera performs: Picture Style, Highlight Tone Priority, Sharpening, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Lens Correction, White Balance, and JPEG compression. These steps, especially the compression, remove about 80% of your image. If you take a RAW image, these settings are stored with the image, but none of these settings affect the RAW image itself one bit.

For example, I shot some pictures of a band in black and white. I used the Picture Style feature to create black and white. When I open up the RAW images in Canon's DPP application, the photos show up in black and white. If I turn on Highlight Tone Priority, that effect is applied. BUT, those effects are applied by the DPP software AFTER I open the file. Those settings don't change the RAW file one bit. The RAW file has instructions included with it that tell the computer software what to do after opening the file, but the instructions can be changed. The RAW data never changes. I can still view my photos as black and white or color, and I can remove the Highlight Tone Priority effect.

So the moral of the story is: If you shoot in RAW, you will never need to worry if your white balance or Highlight Tone settings will ruin your images, because you can always change them later without affecting the image. The goal is to shoot pictures that can be used without post-processing (because it saves us time), but if we get that awesome picture, we want to be able to fix the brightness/contrast/et cetera. And that's what RAW will let you do. All of the image data that Highlight Tone Priority and the other features work with is stored in the RAW file without changing the RAW image that the sensor captured.

I hope that answers your question.
 
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Gavjenks

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If you shoot RAW, as mentioned above, it won't even matter, because highlight tone priority is a setting that is only applied to jpeg conversions in camera.

If you shoot JPEG, or JPEG + RAW and may choose to use a good proportion of your images as JPEGs SOOC for speed / efficiency, then highlight tone priority will matter. What it does is simply throw away a larger %age of the darker tones from the RAW and keep a larger %age of the light tones from the RAW, when deciding what to put into the JPEG.

Thus, you should turn it on whenever you want to get lots of detail in the highlights of your JPEG, at the (slight) expense of detail in your shadows. An image of a wedding dress is a great example, but any photo where there is something relatively very white that is an important subject in your photo would qualify. Steam billowing out of a nuclear powerplant, a white bird in a swamp, something with a lot of sparkley glints on it like a disco ball or sequins, a high-key portrait, etc.
 

MarshallG

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Just spot meter on the dress and up the exposure 1 stop, there is too much crap put in cameras that is not needed
With all due respect, I think it's often better if the camera puts out an image that's ready to display or print. If you use the "Photoshop" features and I need less or no Post Processing... hey, two thumbs up! And as long as I have the RAW file, nothing is lost.

I think if you shoot RAW-only, these settings are nothing but meta-data, although I think I read that Highlight Tone Priority reduces the max ISO and it can't be used with the Auto Lighting Optimizer. The important thing is that you should know how to use Lightroom or DPP to turn these enhancements off an on.


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Gavjenks

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Just spot meter on the dress and up the exposure 1 stop, there is too much crap put in cameras that is not needed
??? That wouldn't do the same thing as highlight tone priority...

In fact, if the dress is about 1 stop lighter than the evaluative metered "average" of the scene (quite likely), doing what you just suggested would accomplish exactly nothing at all, since overexposing by a stop would simply undo the lower exposure that the camera set up due to you choosing spot metering on a light object.

Regardless, highlight tone priority does NOT just change the exposure by + or - EVs. It nonlinearly changes the ratio of data converted from the RAW to the jpeg. It stretches out the higher tones and squashes down the data density of the lower tones, while maintaining the absolute value of the lightest and the darkest tones.

Turning on highlight tone priority will not affect your exposure settings in any automatic modes, and will not give you a different exposure/RAW. It changes the data mapping, which is a different concept.
 

gsgary

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I would be shouting in manual so the camera would do what i tell it, i dont let the camera do anything ever if i shot digital i use a hand held meter
 

MarshallG

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I would be shouting in manual so the camera would do what i tell it, i dont let the camera do anything ever if i shot digital i use a hand held meter
I use a hand-held meter, too. It's called "the camera."


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gsgary

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I would be shouting in manual so the camera would do what i tell it, i dont let the camera do anything ever if i shot digital i use a hand held meter
I use a hand-held meter, too. It's called "the camera."


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Trouble is camera meters are not as good as hand held meters
 

rexbobcat

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I would be shouting in manual so the camera would do what i tell it, i dont let the camera do anything ever if i shot digital i use a hand held meter
I use a hand-held meter, too. It's called "the camera."


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Trouble is camera meters are not as good as hand held meters

That seems super pretentious lol

True, but what exactly are you shooting that stands still long enough for you to pull out your handheld meter and take a measurement.

Unless you're only doing studio work, handheld meters are a hassle in most instances - for me at least.
 

gsgary

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That seems super pretentious lol

True, but what exactly are you shooting that stands still long enough for you to pull out your handheld meter and take a measurement.

Unless you're only doing studio work, handheld meters are a hassle in most instances - for me at least.

Not if you know how to use one, i could take a reading before you have put your camera to your eye and with my M4 would have the shot before you because i set my camera ready and just check now and then
 

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