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Dev’s Desk #2: Fun with Histogram Data

Histograms. Pretty well indispensable if you ask me. You shoot, then you review the exposure with a histogram.Many of us do it during post-processing, but you can really save yourself a lot of time if you do it before you shoot. Yes, I said before.

Body Note: Most Nikon bodies have an ‘exposure preview’ while in live view. You may need to enable it in the body lcd menu. The other bodies suffer from live view auto-gain. Which one do you have? Turn off auto-iso in the body lcd menu, then go into live view. If you have a body that supports exposure preview, turning down the lights causes the live view image to get darker. Without exposure preview, as the lights go down, the body will try to keep the live view image the same brightness, usually by turning up the ISO internally. You’ll know it when you see it because the live image starts getting noisier as the lights go down.

Live view + manual mode + exposure preview is the tethering trifecta. If you have that, you can do some remarkable things. In all my personal workflows, I always know exactly what the final exposure will be. It has been a long, long time since I accidentally blew something out in the exposure.

ControlMyNikon allows you to preview exposure while in live view and then review exposure after the image is captured. There are four ways to do this:

1. Use live view Inner and Outer Exposure Markers. The screenshot below shows live view with an outer exposure marker in pink showing areas that are too light or dark, and green showing areas that are just right.

2. Use the live view histogram. This shows the histogram for the live view image. Tricky when it’s a high-key image like this. Best to use the markers instead.

3. Use the browser histogram. Shows the histogram for the currently selected image. When you move your cursor over the image, the vertical bar in the histogram shows you the value under the mouse cursor.

4. Use the browser filmstrip histogram. You can configure the filmstrip in the browser and workflow tabs to show additional information, including a histograms. It is a great way to quickly review exposures.

Here is a tutorial video showing how it is all done.