Auto Exposure Bracketing on the Canon EOS M50 | HDR Merge, RawTherapee, & Luminance HDR

Hey, this is Scott of Photography Banzai. Today we’re
looking at bracketing. Taking multiple photos at different exposures, putting
them together on the computer to get more dynamic range. I use the M50 for most of
these examples. It’s pretty easy to use but Canon does kind of hide that feature
for some reason in one of the info screens. So first off let’s take a look
at finding that and using it on the camera. With Canon cameras it’s a little
awkward to find for the bracketing feature. They hide it. So there’s a few
things to take note of. Let’s go into the menu and also go to the screen area,
which shows what screens you want to display. Going to the screen info settings.
I’m going to make sure that you have this one on. So in the case of the M50
it’s number 5. Just make sure it’s checked. If you don’t, you won’t even be able to
get where you want to go. So from here we want to use the info button. Go to this
one. Press set… That way we can get into the exposure comp area. Go in there with
set, now we’re in the bracketing stuff. From here we can adjust the bracket size. Two
stops either way maximum. So that’s good to go. So now you can see it only took
one photo. You can see it’s still bracketing. What you can do to avoid pressing
the shutter three times is: You go in to set again. You go into this area, two
second timer. At that point you get the two second timer and then it will take the three
photos. So that way you don’t get shake with the camera and it takes three
photos by itself. A nice feature of this set up with M50 is that when you look
through the viewfinder you can see your scene. But then you can also have this
back screen to adjust bracketing settings as you’d like. This is pretty
convenient to compose things with the viewfinder and also adjust your bracket
with the back screen. Of course if you want to use the back screen
you just press the info button. You’re still in the bracketing mode. You can
take that photo. You can offset your bracket to get a full nine photos, in
this case. You go back to set and then you use this top dial again
to scroll it over to whatever you want. All the way up to plus or minus five
stops. Then you can also go the opposite direction. Obviously, the negative here is
that it takes more effort to get those three sets. And potentially things would
change in the scene while you’re doing that. When you want to turn your bracket
off you just go back to set again. Go into the exposure comp, and turn that off.
So you dial it down to zero. Then you’re all set for a normal photo. So it depends
on what you want to do, but that is bracketing on the M50. On a side note
you can use any mode on the M50 with bracketing. I just had it in program mode
for the example. But if you wanted to use manual, Tv, Av, whatever… It’ll work just
fine as well. We’re using three pieces of software to put the brackets together.
One is Luminance HDR. It’s pretty standard. It is open source and free. Also, HDR
merge. This one’s more unique. It takes multiple RAW files and makes one large
raw file out of the group. It’s pretty interesting that’s the one that I’m most
fond of. But you need to have software that supports these large special RAW
files of DNG format. And the only thing that I know of at the moment is RawTherapee,
where the developer actually put support in there. So we’re gonna be
looking at RawTherapee as well. Let’s take a look at those two pieces of
software and also RawTherapee. First off, let’s just look at some of the photos. A
bunch of DNGs that I converted from the CR3s of the M50. This is my
first set. You see, every bracket I went through and I grouped them by color, and
I just kept going through the colors that I had available for each one. So for
example if we want to edit all the way up to 2232, this group here.
Easy enough, you just select all of them. You can check those boxes if you want to
crop or align. So these are some of the options with bracketing stuff. We have
HDRMerge, simple enough. It’s got all the nine brackets. Some adjustments here. If
you want to. And then there isn’t too much else in this program but at that
point you want to either draw things out and fix the layers here or just save it
as is. Then one thing to keep note of with HDRMerge is that there’s a certain
radius of blurring on the edges of things. I usually just put it into my
file name so I know if it works well I’ll use that. So I’m gonna do R.. let’s do
seven pixels this time. So here’s the mask blur radius which is what I was
talking about. You just put it to 7 so it’s aligning with my filename. Here
bits per sample I’ll just do 32, so it’s maximum. I don’t know
if there’s a big benefit or not. But at that point it’ll make that special DNG
RAW file. So we’ve got our file here and we have all the normal adjustments you’d
have enough RAW program. So that’s what makes this one so interesting to use is
it has a lot more dynamic range due to all those frames, but it’s basically a
normal raw file. So here we can really adjust things. You can see the sky’s
coming out nicely. So we take some contrast out just to get more dynamic
range in this situation. There’s definitely a lot of options in here. That can…
Shadows, highlights.. really can bring out some sky and such. So this one gives that
really weird HDR look to it. I’m not a fan of this but it’s an option if
you want to do that. So one of the issues that I see is in this area. It’s got that
color fringing really bad. So that could be part of the issue with the blur
radius, or whatever it was called. That I had to set to seven in this case.
So definitely a lot more dynamic range in this image than you can get usually
with a single photo. That’s the main goal. Let’s look at the clouds real quick
in here. See if there’s any blurring. It looks like in this specific
case it didn’t work too poorly with blurring of clouds. Maybe I see some
issues, but not too bad. Let’s edit the same set with the
other program. Alright we’re in Luminance HDR. We’re using the same photos just to
get a comparison between the two options. Let’s do auto align, auto crop just in case.
Let’s see if that makes a difference. So they’re different profiles, I don’t
really know what they do. Different options… so many options. I’m sure with a
lot of effort you can try different things out and see if it makes a
difference for you or not. Let’s just use the first profile. I assume that’s the
general purpose one. From there we’ve got our image. We’ve got different options on the
side here. I guess it’s just a guesstimate of what you want as a
starting point. Definitely don’t want that one. This is a very standard
application. The goal here is to adjust things in the program itself, and
eventually you can export to have that final TIFF, or final whatever. And then
from there you can actually adjust things further and some other
application. Let’s try this top one here. Update… So this is gonna be really
time-consuming, it’s taking quite a while! Yeah that’s pretty extreme looking. So
from there you can further select options. So it looks good enough, right?
Yeah, and then from there we can just export our image. Open this one real
quick. Let’s look at the clouds. You can actually see there are double images of
clouds. I didn’t notice that in as much in the DNG HDRMerge program. So here
it is definitely more noticeable. Especially this spot right there, and
that one. Let’s quickly look through some of the other brackets I put together
with HDRMerge program. This is in RAWTherapee with a few different ones that I tried out. I think this was one of my first. You can
see going in here we have some of the issue with the blurring of the edges.
That was probably… let’s see what I did there. I didn’t even put how many… what the
radius was on that one. But again this would be challenging to deal with. Here
with this image we probably didn’t really need to do an HDR photo, but
in the clouds I think it might have added a little bit more blue here, which
is nice to have in some situations. If you can adjust things properly it
definitely gives you maybe slightly better skies and things when you don’t
have issues related to movement. I used three for the mask blur radius in
this case and you can still see there is some weird white edges to some of the
trees. That could be a mixture of movement with wind or something, but also
with the program. And being.. having able to adjust things properly. Or maybe even
go in there and draw edges. But with so many trees that would be a huge
difficult time-consuming task. I’ve been noticing some of the brackets that I put
together with the HDRMerge option get this kind of red purpley look to the
shadows. It might be a mixture of just bad dynamic range, or issues with noise.
And those brackets where it is taking a dark exposure. But there is a decent
amount of detail. Let’s try tone mapping again. But that actually is not too bad.
Gives me a lot of detail in these shadows. So something.. this situation I
remember it being very extreme with the bright areas versus the dark areas. So
that’s a big benefit of using a bracket in this situation. If you can adjust the
color casts of this shadow, I could see it being really nice. Okay so that’s not
too bad, not too bad. There still is a green cast now. See if I could somehow
deal with that. Yeah, so in this specific situation I could definitely see a
benefit of using a bracket if you wanted to get that full range of dark and light
areas with texture. Here is one bracket with the D750. You could see definitely a
huge benefit to these windowed areas. I went there and adjusted things to make
sure that it looks good. Let’s look at the actual source images real quick for
this one. 2716… Let’s take a look at the actual images. You see that one’s got
texture in there. We go into here, that’s fully blown out. So this one is probably
where I would expose, just for a single photo. You can see the windows are still
completely blown out… or very close to being blown out mostly in those. Then we
take it down, and those have some texture. So you could potentially edit this to
pull up the foreground. Let’s just do a quick look. So we’re able to get
something similar but not necessarily as good. Just look at some of the noise
patterns on this one single image. And then look at RAWTherapee. So actually
there is some issue here at least with that. You can see there is some noise
from using those other brackets. If you were to shorten the bracket and just use
fewer photos you probably wouldn’t have as much issue with that noise showing up
in there. The out.. the exterior areas look really good. So it depends a lot on your
skill with processing afterwards. Actually, these lights look very nice. So that is a smooth gradient there. That
looks good. Let’s look at this one here. Definitely nice blue skies. Some issues
with chromatic aberration, as usual. But you look down here and there’s some
blurring going on. So that motion is gonna make an issue for any type of HDR
image. This is actually up here this is kind of weird-looking too. So there might
have actually been some motion, but then it’s also a factor of…. I use r20 for
the blurring of edges, and that really it makes makes it mix those pieces together.
Out of the two pieces of software, I preferred the one that makes the DNG
files. It’s interesting it’s unique and it makes one simple file that you can
edit afterwards with RAWTherapee. I think it’s pretty challenging to get a
good bracket that looks natural, but it also gives you a lot of dynamic range.
Now, it is a lots in the software but also when you’re taking the photos you
have to be mindful of how many stops of range you want, and if some of the files
are going to have a lot of noise in them. With the house photos if you do it well
and especially with the software side… You can get it somewhat natural-looking and
also get those windows not blown out, which is pretty important in some
situations. Things to keep in mind is motion in your photos. If you have clouds
in there chances are your brackets aren’t gonna work too well. Maybe with
the three simple brackets that are quick to take with the camera, it’ll be fine.
But you still might get a little bit of blurring depending on how fast the
clouds are moving. Same thing for any type of motion in your photos. But as
long as you choose your scene properly and take scenes that really need that
dynamic range… There are a lot of situations where you really just don’t
need it. A lot of my one largest set of examples really didn’t need the
bracketing to make a nice photo. But some of them like the house photos could
definitely use that bracketing to get those windows exposed properly. And also
I think the ones with nice large bright skies work well for bracketing. But then
you have to be mindful of cloud and in motion in your photos. So that was a
look at bracketing mostly with the Canon EOS M50. It’s is pretty simple and easy to
use. There are some quirks of course.. With, you only get the three brackets
initially but you can’t offset that just takes a little bit more effort. Besides
that I think it’s pretty solid. I don’t know why Canon hides that feature so
much in their info screen. But once you know where it is it’s easy to find and
use. Hope you enjoyed this video. I’m Scott from Photography Banzai. If you did enjoy the
video please consider subscribing. That helping out a lot.
Likes and shares help out a lot as well. Thanks again!

3 thoughts on “Auto Exposure Bracketing on the Canon EOS M50 | HDR Merge, RawTherapee, & Luminance HDR

  1. Great video, thanks.
    Question, why wouldn't you just use Photoshop and use masking instead of merging all the files?

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