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I have seen this term a lot and I was wondering what, in basic terms, what bracketing/autobracketing is.

Also, why would one want to 'bracket'?

P.S. - there are other questions asking what DoF and WB bracketing is but none asking quite the same as this.

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It is in the tag wiki however, if you click on [bracketing]. –  MikeW Feb 20 '13 at 22:57
    
@Mike I know, but I wanted a clearer, more detailed definition with reasons someone might use it for reference here on Photo.SE. –  bazite Feb 20 '13 at 23:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

What is bracketing?

According to 'Bracketing' on Wikipedia,

In photography, bracketing is the general technique of taking several shots of the same subject using different camera settings. Bracketing is useful and often recommended in situations that make it difficult to obtain a satisfactory image with a single shot, especially when a small variation in exposure parameters has a comparatively large effect on the resulting image.

Autobracketing is automatic bracketing by using a setting on the camera to take several bracketed shots (in contrast to the photographer altering the settings by hand between each shot). Given the time it takes to accomplish multiple shots, it is typically, but not always, used for static subjects.

There are 6 main kinds of bracketing:

  1. Exposure Bracketing
  2. Flash Bracketing
  3. Depth of Field Bracketing
  4. Focus Bracketing
  5. White Balance Bracketing
  6. ISO Bracketing

When the general term 'bracketing' is used, however, it usually refers to Exposure Bracketing.

What is it for?

The reasoning behind this is to be certain that you have taken the perfect shot; for example, when Exposure Bracketing, you will take three or more photos. At least one photo will be underexposed, at least one overexposed and one will be perfect.

Also: Exposure Fusion

Exposure Fusion is the process of fusing together three or more photos at different exposures. This is a kind of HDR, despite what Mark Evans says in his otherwise good DPS article also linked below (more info - Comparison of HDR effects).

Photo with exposure fusion

Learn more: Digital Photography School

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1  
Actually exposure Fusion is a kind of HDR photography if defined as High Dynamic Range Photography that has been going on since 1850 when Gustave Le Gray combined two disparate exposures of a seascape. So was the dodging and burning that Ansell Adams elevated to an art form. HDR is much broader than just 32-bit floating point digital images. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDR_photography –  Michael Clark Feb 21 '13 at 0:12
    
As many have pointed out in the comments of that DPS article, Mark Evans is incorrect that Exposure Fusion is not HDR. –  Michael Clark Feb 21 '13 at 0:22
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There are way more types of bracketing than that! Check out any semi-advanced Nikon or Pentax DSLR and you'll find more options. –  Itai Feb 21 '13 at 2:07

Taking multiple pictures, often bursted, with (slightly) different settings. You could change the flash power, exposure, white balance, etc. Most cameras that are meant for photographic enthusiasts have this feature.

Bracketing could be a time saver and add convenience.

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