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Bracketing is the process of shooting the same scene with different exposures to improve your chances of going home with the shot that's correctly metered. You might also use bracketing though, when you are shooting a scene with a lot of dynamic range, so that you go home with at least one properly exposed image of all of the different bright and dark bits in your scene. To configure Auto Bracketing on the D800, you just press the Bracketing button over here, and when I do that, my status display changes to show this stuff, and I can configure these settings with my two command dials.
So right now I am set to no bracketing at all. That's zero frames. If I turn my main command dial here, I get a 3-frame bracket, and that's reflected with three frames, and it's also showing me how the bracketing is working. So it's going to shoot three shots: one as metered-- that's what the 0 is--one underexposed and one overexposed. I can come out here and do five stops in my bracket, 7, or even go up to 9. If I go the other direction, I can get back to 0, so bracketing at all--get that out of the way-- two frames of bracketing with one as metered and one underexposed, or two frames of bracketing with one as metered and one overexposed, or I can do the same with three frames.
These are handy for times when maybe you know you need some overexposure but you absolutely don't need any underexposure, so this would give me a bracket that would shoot as metered and a little brighter. Or maybe I am really, really confused and so I want two additional frames of overexposure, and of course I can get the same thing with underexposure. I am going to set up for just a basic three- step bracket. And by default, those shots, each of my three frames, are going to be one stop apart.
That's what this 1.0 is over here. I can change that value with my subcommand dial. I can bump it down to two-thirds of a stop, one-third of a stop, or back up to one. I am going to set it at 1 right now, and I am ready to start shooting. So with those dialed in, I am going to half-press my Shutter button, and here I am. Now I can see that my Exposure Compensation indicator is still showing my bracket. I've also got this Bracketing icon lit up here. Now the way this works is I take a shot, and this is going to go as metered, and now it just removed the shot that I have taken from my bracketing set.
So I can tell that I am still in the middle of a bracketing set, and I can see how far along I am. This can be particularly handy to keep track of when you're doing a longer set of 5 or 7 or 9 frames. I am going to take my second shot, and that takes out the underexposed one. And then I am going to take my third shot, and that gets my overexposed one. Now I'm back to starting over, so all three little tick marks are still there. Let's go into Playback here and take a look at what I have got. Here is my overexposed image, that was my underexposed image, and that's my image as metered.
If I want, I can slide this whole bracketed set around using my Exposure Compensation control. So I could, say, move the whole thing down one stop and now my entire bracketed set is off by one stop. So I will get an initial shot that's one stop under, a second shot that is one shot under that--and by under I mean under what the camera thinks is correct metering--and my third shot will actually end up being as metered, because that's one stop over my original shot there.
And then I can just dial this back up to 0. Now, for these additional shots, the camera is basically just using exposure compensation. It's going to make adjustments to shutter speed or aperture or ISO as it sees fit, depending on whether I have got Auto ISO configured or not. It's going to try to, as we saw in the exposure compensation movie, it's going to try to make sure that it never gets me into a situation of handheld shake. But really, all it's doing is just employing exposure compensation to get these additional shots.
Typically, when you're bracketing, you want the composition of all of your shots to be the same through your bracketed set, so you want to shoot really quickly. So I can just try and knock these off fast. You may have already figured out that a much better way is to simply activate one of the camera's continuous modes, so I am going to go over here to High-speed Continuous, and now I can just press and hold the button down for three shots and I get my bracketed set done for me. The camera actually cycles through all three of them on the image review, if you are set up for image review.
Finally, there are other things that I can bracket on my D800. By default, when I'm dialing in a bracket here, I am getting exposure bracketing and I'm getting flash bracketing. So if I had my flash up or an external flash attached, in addition to altering the exposure on each of these shots, it would be altering the flash exposure at the same time. If I want to, I can change that. I can go into my menu here and in my Custom Settings menu, go to the Bracketing and Flash category, come in here and scroll down a little bit, and I will find Auto Bracketing Set--that's E5--and I see that it's set to its default, which is Auto Exposure and Flash.
I am going to pop that open and if I want, I could go to Auto Exposure only. This will take the flash bracketing out of the equation. Typically, if you're working with a flash and you are bracketing, you are going to want to leave this on, because it doesn't really make sense to be changing your exposure while leaving your flash constant. I could also go to Flash Bracketing only. I can go to White balance Bracketing, which will make some slight adjustments to white balance, if I am a little worried about my white balance being off. This is not something I've ever found a great use for.
It's usually better to either get your white balance correct through manual white balance or shoot raw. If you are in a situation where neither of those is possible, this can be handy. I can also bracket Active D-lighting. So, this is going to make some slight variations to how much brightness change it's going to make in my image. Most of the time though, you will just stick with Auto Exposure and Flash Bracketing. One of the most critical bracketing things to remember is that when you are done bracketing you want to turn it off. There is nothing more frustrating than to spend a session shooting bracketing shots, go home, work with your images, come back out to do more shooting, take a once-in-a-lifetime shot, and realize that the exposure was off because you were in the middle of a bracketed set.
So I am going to just double check my exposure compensation. It's back at 0. And I am going to go in here and switch my bracketing back to 0 frames. Bracketing is now off, and I am back to normal shooting.
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