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Over exposure is the bane of all photographers. When an image is overexposed, highlight areas can blow out to complete detailess white. Under exposure is not as pesky a problem because of a shadow under exposes to complete black. It often just looks like a dark shadow. Highlight Tone Priority is a custom function that can dramatically reduce over exposure. Consider this image which has badly overexposed highlights. Now here's the same image shot with highlight tone priority turned on. Note that the overexposed bits now have detail in them.
For JPEG shooter's, highlight tone priority can mean the difference between usable shots and overexposed rejects. Now as with many really, really good things there is a price to pay for using highlight tone priority. While you're highlights will be better exposed, there is a chance that your shadows will have more noise in them. For this reason, highlight tone priority defaults to being turned off. For the most part, it's best to try to control over exposure through better exposure choice, dialing down your exposure with exposure compensation, for example. But if you're in a situation where you need to shoot quickly or if you're shooting something bright white like a wedding dress, then dialing down exposure is a drag because the bright white thing will go dingy.
In these situations, highlight tone priority can be a real lifesaver. You activate highlight tone priority through the Custom Functions menu so I am over here again in my third tools menu, first item Custom Functions and it's Custom Function number six, Highlight tone priority. Not much to it. I just go in here and choose Enable and now I have highlight tone priority turned on.
You are going to want to go out and do some experiments with that and see exactly how it tones down highlights and whether you think that can help with the types of shots you have been taking.
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