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Which DSLRs Have The Best Auto Exposure Bracketing Features?

Published: 28/07/2011

Last week Dave Baxter, in upstate New York, told me that he was inspired by all the talk here on the blog about Exposure Fusion and wanted to know which camera body would be the best for shooting auto exposure brackets (AEB).

While I knew that the recent Nikon DSLRs would shoot 8 EV of exposure brackets and was about to tell him that straight away, I decided to do some researching and found this page by some anonymous exposure bracket shooter that has a really nice summary table of AEB characteristics of most of the most popular cameras.

So if all you care about in a DSLR is AEB capability there are two parts to the answer of which DSLR is best for shooting exposure brackets:

  1. The more recent Nikon DSLRs, D200, D300, D300s, D700 etc. (see chart) will shoot a total of 8 EV dynamic range in 1 stop increments.
  2. The Canon 1Ds MK III etc. (see chart) will shoot a total of 18 EV dynamic range in 2 stop increments.

So a lot depends on how much you have to spend. The most recent Canon 1D bodies are the clear winner. While I'm on the subject of shooting exposure brackets I think it is worth adding two other points:

  1. Anyone who wants complete and total control of shooting brackets should consider the Promote Control. It gives you the ultimate control of shooting exposure brackets.
  2. I think it is worth noting that my friend Dan Achatz in Seattle, who has one of the finest portfolios of HDR/EF real estate work that I've seen, would, I think, tell you that if you shoot them right all you'll ever need for real estate work is a -2 EV, 0EV, +2EV. Dan shoots with a 5DMKII and -2,0,+2 is all that DSLR can do. His portfolio speaks for itself.
Larry Lohrman

8 comments on “Which DSLRs Have The Best Auto Exposure Bracketing Features?”

  1. Wow, the Canon 1Ds MK III covers some extreme range! I'll stick with my D700 though. 🙂 It's rare that I would need more than 8EV for even the most extreme landscapes. I love the Promote Control for interior real estate though. Change your starting exposure to match each room and let it rip with one push of a button! Focus stacking is coming soon too. 🙂

  2. I shoot with the Promote Control for every shoot. Fantastic piece of equipment, and saved me an enormous amount of money as compared to a MKIII or IV. Shoot smart!

  3. The Promote Control looks awesome for real estate photography. I'm going to look into it more. As far as bracketing goes... I've never needed more than -2 0 +2.

  4. I've found taking interior photos with dark (even black leather) furniture is the most difficult. With 3 exposures I could never get good results. After much experimenting, I now take 7 exposures (from -3 to +3, one stop between). This is relatively easy to do with my Canon 40D. Using the dial between three bursts on a good tripod works well without any other help.
    I purchased a Promote Control about a year ago, but never put it into my workflow.

  5. When I went to photography school in 1990, I had a teacher who forbid us to bracket or take Polaroids because he claimed that these techniques where for photographers who didn't know what they were doing. We did an entire semester of calibrating our light meters and shooting color charts with slide film but this is when film and processing was expensive compared to downloading images from a memory card.

    Interesting article.

  6. I have a Nikon D7100 which will do 5 bracketed frames. I've found that taking a total of 10, 2 sessions 1 step apart, gave me much more choices of exposure and the ability for HDR software to select the proper exposures of the different frames.

    I've found this table of cameras and their bracket settings very useful:

    In some cases, the manual for the camera is linked to the page where AEB settings are discussed for that particular model.

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