36 Responses to Semi-Autobracketing for HDR – How to Extend Your Exposure Bracketing Series

  1. That is exactly what I did a couple of years ago with my Canon 5D MK II which has 3 custom user positions. I was using a Promote device but just couldn’t get around all the wires dangling everywhere. The device worked great for a multiple of reasons but I knew there had to be a better way. Thats when I did my custom function presets for C1 and C2. Now all I have to do is fire off three shots, turn the dial and fire off three more.
    Great tutorial as usual…

  2. Leroy Wiley says:

    It’s only my opinion but it doesn’t need to be that complicated.

    - Set the camera to manual and dial in the aperture you want.
    - Measure your exposure however you’re comfortable (spot, matrix, etc.) and set your shutter accordingly.
    - Lower your shutter by 2 stops (or 1).
    - Take your AEB series of 3 shots.
    - Raise your shutter by 3 stops.
    - Take your AEB series of 3 shots.


    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Leroy,

      of course, you can do this in manual mode by turning the wheel for the shutter speed 9 clicks for a 3 stop shift. But that is really prone to error, it takes much longer, and you will move the camera more.

      Those are the reasons why I perfer this method over manuel adjustment of the shutter speed.

      • Leroy Wiley says:

        Thank you Klaus. I guess I see it differently, though.

        - With your method (YM), you’re touching the camera in between the two AEB series the same as the short method I described (SM). So both methods have committed the cardinal sin. Granted, SM moves the dial nine notches instead of the one or two notches with YM but that’s picking nits.
        - I think setting up the camera for YM is prone to the same error you speak of for SM. It’s a similar exposure adjustment. So with either method you must pay attention.
        - SM takes longer? Yes and no. There is no setup for SM like there is for YM, so you’ve saved that time. But I think you meant to take the pictures. And SM would take longer to take the pictures. But we’re talking 1 second to move the mode dial for YM versus 3 or 4 seconds to dial exposure for SM. Not a big deal, to me.
        - What is a big deal is the simplicity and straightforwardness of the SM method.

        To each his own, of course.

        Frankly, I do it altogether differently. My camera can do a 9 shot bracket, so that’s different. But I spot meter the brightest part of the image and the darkest. Then set my exposure in between and take the series (3, 5, 7, or 9 shots).

        The YM is definitely a valid way to go. And once you got used to it, it would be second nature and kinda slick. I just wanted to offer what I thought was a more straightforward way to accomplish the same goal.

  3. Chris Button says:

    I’ve wanted to do more than the standard 3 shot HDR. Your method sounds very interesting. Thanks. I just returned from a trip where I didn’t want to lug a tripod so I hand held my sequences of 3 shots. However, I think for a 6 shot, instead of changing my mode dial, I would be more inclined to leave my mode in “A” and dial up my exposure (1st set) then dial down my exposure (2nd set) because that would mean only my right hand (actually only my thumb) needs to move. With AEB on (full stops), I would set shutter speed to +1EV (thus getting 0EV, +1EV and +2EV), then change shutter speed to underexpose by -2EV (thus getting -3EV, -2EV and -1EV). In total 6 shots covering -3EV to +2EV. I could easily adjust to my composition’s needs +/- to balance out the exposures around 0EV. Thank you for getting me to think like this. Now if I want to go to more exposures I bet I’d want to change that mode dial (and lug around a tripod). :)

    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Chris,

      you’re right: you can always change the shutter speed fully manual. But as I explained to Leroy in a comment above, fiddling with the dial to increase the shutter speed 3 or even more stops really has its disadvantages.


  4. Adrian Evans says:

    have you tried magic lantern software?

    • Bob Mulholland says:

      I use Magic Lantern on my Canon T2i. It makes quick work of bracketing above three photos. Of course the downside is the potential to brick your camera.


    • farbspiel says:

      I am a Nikon guy and Magic Lantern is only for Canons AFAIK.

      As Bob says, when you load that onto your camera, you may damage it such that it won’t start anymore. I guess Canon would not be too happy when you send it in. ;)

      • skip knox says:

        Your right it is only for Canon but it doesn’t actually load onto your camera. It is saved on your cf card and only loads when you use that card. If your camera should freeze up for any reason then you just restart it with a blank cf card and everything is just as it was to start. Just like rebooting a computer. I had mine lock up once because I didn’t remove the cf card like magiclantern instructed me to. I simply restarte4d the camera and good as new. This really is some fantastic software (think of it as an app for your camera) that does many more things than just extend your autobracket capabilities!

  5. Paul newell says:

    Great stuff thanks Klaus.

  6. Sam says:

    That’s great, Klaus.

  7. Harry Schmieder says:

    Hallo Klaus,

    wieder einmal einer von beinahe unzähligen wertvollen Tipps von Dir.

    Auf diesem Wege (mein erster Post) auch unbedingt noch meinen größten Respekt für Deine HDR-Page, die Du offensichtlich mit viel Herz und Engagement führst. Kompliment und Hochachtung! Eine für HDR-Fans sehr wertvolle Page.

    Im Gegensatz zu meinem Namensvetter Harry Pherson komme ich mit meinem Remote Control jedoch sehr gut zurecht.
    Meine Belichtungsreihen erstelle ich immer auf einem stabilen Stativ, so dass das Remote Control eine praktische Erweiterung technischer Hilfsmittel darstellt.
    Meistens mache ich 7 bis 11 Aufnahmne pro Reihe (außen), auch wenn ich bei der Verarbeitung vielleicht weniger Bilder brauche.

    Trotzdem wie erwähnt ein sehr hilfreiches Tutorial.
    Es kann ja sein, dass man nicht immer ein Stativ dabei hat oder man dieses nicht benutzen darf (Museen, Kathedralen etc.).

    Du kannst mich zu den Stamm Usern Deiner Website zählen. Selten sieht man eine Webpage, die neben solch unglaublich tollen HDR-Bildern auch so viele extrem nützliche Tutorials zur Verfügung stellt, von denen auch ich schon viel lernen konnte.

    Weiter so. Echt klasse und vorbildlich.

    freundliche Grüße: Harry

    • farbspiel says:

      Hallo Harry,

      vielen Dank für das ausführliche und nette Feedback.

      Viele Wege führen nach Rom. Man muss sich halt immer den aussuchen, der am besten passt. :) Die oben beschriebenes Technik kann für dich, wie du selbst sagst, dann hilfreich sein, wenn du mal aus der Hand fotografieren musst. Vom Stativ würde ich an deiner Stelle auch die Promote Control benutzen. Keine Frage!

      Wir sehen uns bei deinem nächsten Besuch hier auf der Seite.


  8. Linda says:

    Thanks, Klaus
    You put in a lot of thought and work to help all of us out here. As a Canon user, this is especially helpful to expand my bracketing.

    • farbspiel says:

      You’re welcome, Linda! I hope it works for you. It may take a bit of practice, but it’ll be worth it.

      If you’ve done a few shots with the technique, feel free to come back here and tell us how it went. I’d be curious to hear from you.


  9. Amy says:

    This is fantastic, thank you!! I brought a D600 Sept last year and have been wanting to do more than 3 AEB shots, I’ve setup the user setting options for U1 and U2.

    • farbspiel says:

      It’s actually a shame that the D600 has only 3 shots in AEB. With this technique, you can really make that fine camera work for its money.

      Have fun and come back and tell us how the first shoots went.


  10. Many thanks for this very useful tips.
    I do thank you for it.
    It can be used hand held or with tripod shooting !

    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Bruno!

      You’re welcome! Yes, it does actually work from a tripod as well, and it cuts down on the time the whole series takes. This can be important, for example if you have moving clouds. So it’s not for hand-held only.


  11. Ebrahim says:

    Nice Tutorial Thanks. Now I’m glad that I bought D7000.

    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Ebrahim!

      You’re welcome. You have any right to be glad you bought the D7000. It’s a great camera, and now you even know how to make the AEB really work for you. Cool, eh? :)

      Have fun, my friend!

  12. Siva says:

    Thank you for the great writing. The manual setting that you have said is for the Nikon Cameras, right? Will have to see a similar work around for my Canon 550D. I don’t shoot HDR much but I would love to try. :)

    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Siva,

      you can use the first method with any DSLR. The Canon 550D does not have user settings. So the first method is for you.

      You may want to try some HDR simply using your AEB function first to learn the basics. You do not need the method above to get started.


  13. Pat says:

    Can you please now tell us how to undo this. It seesm to have changed settings now when I just take one shot and I don’t want that…it is just confusing me

    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Pat,

      I am not exactly sure what you mean by “undo”. If you switch back to A mode (for example) and turn off the AEB function, everything should be back to normal. If you still have problems, just tell me what is happening and I will try to help.


  14. Jordan says:

    Hi there, I am a complete novice looking to get my first DSLR and an important factor for me is it’s ability to take multiple exposures for HDR, I’m torn between the d5200 the 650d and d7000, I see both the d5200 and 650d have the mode dial on the same side which I assume would make changing between A and M more difficult than if it were in the oposite side to the shop button, what camera would you suggest out of the three above for my needs?

    Thanks in advance

    • farbspiel says:

      Hi Jordan,

      out of these three, without looking at the prizes, I would go for the D7000. The D71000 will also be out soon, and it has a better autobracketing function. So, that may be an alternative too.


  15. Hi there,

    Wonderful article. I wrote a little online tool to help you work out the different bracket centres, etc.

    Check it out at http://b-calc.com and let me know what you think!

  16. Kevin says:

    Great Article.. What did you post process your RAW images in?

  17. Kevin says:

    Hi How would this work with a d5100?

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