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I have recently entered into the HDR world, and I'm a little confused. My new camera has bracketing features, 2 modes actually. One is TV bracketing and the other is AV bracketing. In other words, one uses a fixed shutter speed, and the other uses a fixed aperture size. I tried both and it seems that I will be able to make good HDR photos, but... Which one is better? Thanks!

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up vote 25 down vote accepted

I'd suggest sticking to using a fixed aperture size, otherwise the depth of field will be different between shots (as well as overall exposure), which will make it a lot easier to combine images afterwards. Given the best HDR shots are done using a tripod to maintain the same field of view between shots, exposure time is less of an issue.

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In fact, I would argue that the ability to change aperture between HDR bracketing shots means that the person who designed that feature doesn't understand photography. – mmr Oct 15 '10 at 22:56
@mmr - your argument is based upon the (false) presumption that the only reason for bracketing is producing HDR pics. – Winston Smith Oct 16 '10 at 18:36
Exactly, the bracketing features are not only for HDR. For example, see the photo of the fly in the Wikipedia entry: – tomm89 Oct 16 '10 at 19:08
@Winston, @Tomas-- read that article again. That's focus stacking, which is not the same thing as changing the aperture. His camera does not offer a focus bracket mode, just an aperture changing mode. Again, aperture bracketing sounds to me like a marketing gimmick rather than a useful feature. I'd love to see an example of aperture bracketing that's useful. – mmr Oct 17 '10 at 19:20
It's useful in the same sense as exposure bracketing is useful - you can take 3 shots at different apertures and keep whichever one comes out best. – Winston Smith Oct 17 '10 at 21:09

Definitely shoot in AV (aperture value) mode and vary the shutter speed!

You don't want to change aperture between shots as the effect is dependent on how well the photos line up, if one photo was shot with a wide aperture the foreground/background might be out of focus in one shot and not in another. I would normally focus the image in advance and turn AF off to ensure the focus is identical in each shot.

A tripod is recommended for the same reason, however good software can account for a certain amount of camera movement (especially for distant objects), but it can't account for changes in focus!

Would be interesting to see the effects of results of using TV, I imagine you'd get weird ghosting effects in the Out-Of-Focus areas, but it could look interesting.

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Depending on which camera you have, you might want to try ISO bracketing, something that wasn't possible with film. That way you can keep the Tv and Av the same for all shots. Just a thought...

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Wouldn't those photos have a different noise amount? And worse, the HDR photo would have all those noises together! – tomm89 Oct 17 '10 at 1:49
Well, it does depend on the model of camera you use. And NR algorithms are getting better these days - Lightroom 3 for example is very good. – NickM Oct 17 '10 at 7:56

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