Friday, June 22, 2012

HDR with a Nikon D800 using no remote trigger

One question I see come up often is the following: I'm trying to figure out how to best use the D800 to fire off an HDR bracketing sequence as quickly and easily as possible.

The simplest method is to do a self timer, set it at 2s delay to start than set the number of shots to say 3 for 3 exposures and pick shortest in between shot delay of .5sec
This method works but the problem is, theres .5 second of delay where the wind may move leaves, branches or something in the picture. Personally when doing HDR I want to take the picture as quick as possible because one of the goals od HDR is to take identical shots but vary the EV. The more changes in between each shot the more ghosting and thats bad plus more work in post to mask in a layer to fix the ghosting caused because movement took place. This may not be a problem with nature shots but in city, cars, traffic, people, you will end with horrible ghosting which is generally frowned upon and if you dont remove it from your HDR images, it generally won't look good.

I thought I would give some insight into this. I've personally met Trey Ratcliff a few times and one thing you will notice is he does not use remote controls or other accessories to shoot hdr. Its all done with the camera. Like yourself I asked this question too. Now the answer to your question is nearly and almost revealed in the youtube video but is missing 2 steps and I will try to describe in detail how its done.
Frame 2:30 shows the cheat code.

Firstly I own a D800 which was an upgrade from a d7000. I used a promote control,  to be able to shoot 5 brackets and its a great gadget as I take my HDR photography very seriously. I originally got my promote control when I had a D90, but it might be possible to implement this trick to a d7000 but not tried it.

ok here goes:

on the D800, turn it on (duh)
1. tap menu button
2. go to shooting menu
3. scroll down to interval timer shooting

now begins Treys nintendo cheat code (you can use the cheat code only after you set it up!)
4. tap right button 5 times, or keep going right until you get to the "select no.of timesxno. of shots" screen
you will see 001x1=1
change it to 001x5=5
so in essence simply change the middle value to the number of brackets your are shooting, I typically do 5.
now return to first screen by tapping right
you should see
Confirm by accepting, click OK. this saves your new settings. You only need to change this if you decide to shoot more or less brackets.

5. Make sure you are in S shooting mode, if you are in Timer mode, the ON will be greyed out. You can not use interval timer mode in Self timer mode.
6. hold down bracket button and pick 5 brackets using main command dial and set EV to 1 stop using the sub command dial.

ok, that's it for settings. seems like a lot but remember its a one time deal setting it up and you only need to change it if you change the number of brackets you want, ie. you desire 3 instead of 5.
To go one step further, you can add interval timer shooting to your "My menu" hence you have quicker access to it, I know I do :)

How to add to my menu?
tap menu button
scroll down to My Menu
scroll down to add items
tap ok
scroll down one to shooting menu, right arrow
scroll down to interval timer shooting, click ok

How to move it to first time on my Menu (needed for easy access)?
in same place as My menu
scroll to bottom, pick rank items, click ok
now simply use OK button to select item and move to top of the list

How to program or map interval timer shooting to a button?
tap menu
scroll to custom settings menu
scroll to (f) controls
tap right arrow
scroll down to *f6 assign AE-L/AF-l button, tap right arrow
tap right arrow again ( you should see an image of the camera showing you which button in red)
select Access top Item in MY MENU, tap ok

now for the Famous Trey Ratcliff Nintendo Cheat Code!
if you done it right it should be this simple.

line up your shot, make sure u r in bracket mode, 5 with 1 ev and in Single shot mode (Self timer is bad)
press menu, you should be at interval timer shooting setting in shooting menu already or go to MY Menu> interval timer

Tap Right, Left, UP, OK

you now hear 5 clicks with ZERO delay between each exposure.

congrats, you just did HDR with no remote and the quickest method.

if you used my method, its quicker.
AE-L, left, up, OK

There is a quicker way if you went the step further as I outlined, by mapping a button to interval timer shooting, which means you press only 4 buttons, AE-L, left, up, OK. Once all this is setup all you ever do is press your mapped key and confirm start of ITS. its that simple and quick.

Please note this technique is meant to be done on a tripod as this will give the best results. My other method for doing HDR handheld, there are times when a  tripod is not permitted, I simply shoot in Ch mode and bracket in 5 at 1ev stop. I simply hold down my shutter so it fires off 5 shots while I hold my camera steady.  In bright light this will be fine. but in low light, good luck.

Note the D800 can not shoot 3 brackets at 2ev increments which is why you simply want to ignore 3 bracket mode and go 5 brackets as this will give a better exposure range.

I hope this helped ya