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Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes

A few nights ago I was doing some long-exposure work with my camera, and I had manually set the ISO setting to its lowest setting (a fairly high value of 320 compared to other cameras). I usually use Auto-ISO on my camera, or manually set my ISO pretty high (800-6400).

Yesterday I decided to go for a walk in my hometown, and I brought the camera as I usually do. I rarely have any photography goals set when I go for a walk, and I really enjoy the act of making photographs – even bad one’s – just for the sake of making pictures and practising on composition. I almost never use the LCD display on my camera at all when I am out walking – I prefer viewing the files when I get back home.

Anyway, I assumed that my camera was set to Auto ISO up to 10000 (which is my default setting) and I manually selected my shutter speed (1/250) and set my lens to f/4-f/8 (depending on the scene). It was a very overcast and grey day. But my ISO was set manually to 320 and I used a yellow color filter which effectively reduces the exposure of 1 stop.

I didn’t notice that my photographs were severely under-exposed until I came home and imported the files to my computer. Oh well – might as well just delete everything – I thought – until I decided to check if I could actually recover some of the images and make them look decent. At ISO 320 the MM captures a whole lot of data in the shadow areas, so why not play with the files and see how much could be recovered? Here is the results:

Example 1 – before:

Example 2 – after:

The exposure on the first image was pushed +4,05 stops in post. The shadow areas was also pushed by +15. There are no noise reduction applied to the raw conversion, and I have sharpened the file as usual.

Example 2 – before:

Example 2 – After:

The exposure on the second image was also pushed by +4,05 stops and the shadow areas was also bumped up to +15. Again – no raw noise reduction at all and the file was sharpened as usual (my settings are 50-0,7-50-0 in Lightroom).

You can easily push the files even further without getting into trouble. At ISO 320 I’d say you can easily push the files +5 stops which is the current maximum in Adobe Lightroom. You can also bump the shadow details as well to effectively increase the exposure even more, and if the small amount of noise bothers you just apply about 10-20 of noise reduction in Lightroom to remove most of the visible noise.

So if you ever make the same mistake as I did – don’t delete your images even though the exposure is way off! As long as you are using a fairly low ISO setting the useable dynamic range captured in the MM’s files are incredible. I’m not sure if it is worth using high ISO settings with this camera (as you loose dynamic range as the ISO setting is increased) compared to under-exposing by using lower ISO values and pushing the files in post. I think I’ll have to do some experiments with this in the future as I am currently doing a lot of night time shooting.

See my in-depth review of the Leica M Monochrom here
Leica M Monochrom review – a real life usage review – part one
Leica M Monochrom review – a real life usage review – part two

If you’re considering purchasing a Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, and you feel that my review helped you make a decision, I would appreciate if you could look at the purchasing options via my Amazon affiliate:

Purchase Leica M Monochrom

25 Comments

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Leica M Monochrom review – real life review – part one – The GetDPI Photography Forumsreply
November 18, 2012 at 20:31

[…] Re: Leica M Monochrom review – real life review – part one A small write-up with some examples on the MM's dynamic range and shadow detail recovery capabilities: Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Bo Photography […]

Leica M Monochrom – saving my bad exposures – Leica User Forumreply
November 18, 2012 at 20:33

[…] write-up with some examples on the MM's dynamic range and shadow detail recovery capabilities: Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Bo Photography __________________ Bo […]

dannyreply
November 19, 2012 at 06:52

Thanks for sharing. Yes i know you can do that with lightroom, I also use the silver pro 2 which gives you more options and very nice results.
cheers
Danny

Børgereply
November 25, 2012 at 16:18
– In reply to: danny

Thanks Danny!

Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Leica M Photography | Scoop.itreply
November 19, 2012 at 11:50

[…] A few nights ago I was doing some long-exposure work on my camera, and I had manually set the ISO setting to its lowest setting (a fairly high value of 320 compared to other cameras). I usually use…  […]

Chris Bronskreply
November 19, 2012 at 19:48

Nice results. There’s something compelling about the ‘mistakes,’ too. A fortunate accident, so to speak. Nice post!

Børgereply
November 25, 2012 at 16:17
– In reply to: Chris Bronsk

Thanks for your comment Chris!

Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Photography Gear News | Scoop.itreply
November 26, 2012 at 14:52

[…] A few nights ago I was doing some long-exposure work on my camera, and I had manually set the ISO setting to its lowest setting (a fairly high value of 320 compared to other cameras). I usually use…  […]

Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Steve Troletti Nature and Wildlife Photographer | Scoop.itreply
November 26, 2012 at 17:10

[…] A few nights ago I was doing some long-exposure work on my camera, and I had manually set the ISO setting to its lowest setting (a fairly high value of 320 compared to other cameras). I usually use…  […]

Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Steve Troletti Photography and Environmental Newsreply
November 26, 2012 at 17:11

[…] See on bophotography.net […]

K_iwireply
November 29, 2012 at 11:41

it will be interesting to see how you get on 🙂

I shoot mainly at night too and am still trying to figure out optimal ISO. i.e. 2500? 4000? etc. Ambient light at night here in HK is so variable, and I often get my (manual) exposure completed stuffed up!

Børgereply
December 2, 2012 at 12:47
– In reply to: K_iwi

Thanks! Personally the optimal ISO for me is whatever secures me a good enough shutter speed. Shutter speed is for me always more important than ISO, and I am not worried about using ISO 10000 if the exposure is good.

Good luck!

Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | UUSI | Scoop.itreply
December 1, 2012 at 16:55

[…] A few nights ago I was doing some long-exposure work on my camera, and I had manually set the ISO setting to its lowest setting (a fairly high value of 320 compared to other cameras). I usually use…  […]

Angelicareply
December 1, 2012 at 20:16

I do not have your technical knowledge, but this article is an important and interesting guide for those who think they have made some bad walking around the city with the desire to stop a few moments unforgettable. Your city offers many ideas and your fotogtafie are always beautiful …
Best wishes, Borge …

Børgereply
December 2, 2012 at 12:48
– In reply to: Angelica

Hi Angelica! So nice to see you here on my blog 🙂
Even if an image looks unrecoverable you can indeed recover quite a lot from it if you wish! As long as you use the raw format, any camera is capable of quite a bit of shadow recovery usually.

Thank you! Best wishes for you as well! 🙂

stephencoshreply
December 18, 2012 at 21:58

great article. i ususally have the reverse issue with the monochrom. i often get burnt out files. don’t think there’s any way to rescue them 🙂

Børgereply
December 18, 2012 at 22:20
– In reply to: stephencosh

Nope 🙂 but using a yellow or orange filter will save the highlights a bit. Do you under expose while you shoot?

petesullivanreply
February 24, 2013 at 06:39

Thanks for this article, Borge. It’s very interesting and more than helpful as I begin using my Monochrom which arrived two days ago. So much to learn – but this helps get me off to a good start,
thanks sgain,
pete

Børgereply
February 24, 2013 at 11:21
– In reply to: petesullivan

Thanks Pete. I’m glad you found the article helpful. Enjoy your MM!

sweethome3d.comreply
March 13, 2013 at 11:36

I will immediately snatch your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription hyperlink
or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly allow me understand so that I may subscribe.
Thanks.

Børgereply
March 13, 2013 at 13:23
– In reply to: sweethome3d.com

Hi!

If you go to the blogs main homepage (www.bophotography.net) and click the “Follow” button that appears down on the bottom right of your webbrowser you can subscribe via email 🙂

Leica M Monochrom DNG raw question – Seite 2 – Leica User Forumreply
May 7, 2013 at 22:29

[…] see this: Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes | Bo Photography __________________ Raf / MyDarkroom […]

A study in Black and White: one year with a Leica M Monochrom | Bo Photographyreply
October 15, 2013 at 21:30

[…] – a real life review, part one. Leica M Monochrom – a real life review, part two. Leica M Monochrom – performing recovery on my exposure mistakes. Leica M Monochrom – color filters. Leica M Monochrom – Flickr set of all published […]

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