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August 2, 2017

Sony A9 – Auto HDR Sample Photos and How To Set Up Camera

Sony A9 Auto HDR in Menu

In this quick article I will show you how the Sony A9 produces Auto HDR photos and compare them to non Auto HDR photos. I will also tell you how to set the camera up for this feature! Pretty much all the Sony cameras these days offer the Auto HDR feature.

If you are not familiar, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Basically when a given scene has a lot of bright and a lot of dark, it’s a high dynamic range candidate. This will push the dynamic range of the sensor, and may cause the highlights and/or shadows to blow out or be clipped. If the highlights are blown out, no detail can be recovered, and same goes for the shadows being clipped at black.

If you want to know more about HDR Photography, I created some highly detailed Tutorials This Way >>

Using Auto HDR allows the camera to take multiple exposures at different exposure values. -4 EV, 0 EV, and +4EV for example. Meaning the -4EV will capture all the highlight detail, the 0EV will capture all the mid-tones, and the +4EV will capture all the shadow detail. The camera then combines these frames using all the information available, and then pumps out a final composite Jpeg image as you will see below.

 

Auto HDR – Camera Set-Up

To set up the Sony A9 for Auto HDR, you need to do two things specifically:

#1 – Set the image quality to Jpeg. 

#2 – Set DRO/ Auto HDR to ON, and to Auto HDR

*note – When selecting Auto HDR you can choose the EV range you want. (HDR Auto, HDR 1EV, HDR 2EV, HDR 3EV, HDR 4EV, HDR 5EV, and HDR 6EV)

I chose HDR 4EV, because that setting seams to work best most of the time based on my experience.

#3Optional – Change Creative Style to Vivid – This step is not necessary, but I find it does enhance the images to another level when shooting Auto HDR in particular. Since the images are Jpeg quality anyway, miles well jack up the saturation on camera instead of in post I say. Again, this is totally optional and not necessary for using the Auto HDR feature.

On the Sony A9, the DRO/ Auto HDR and Creative Style Features are located in the menu on Camera 1 tab, Page 10 of 13.

See photo below of what the menu screen looks like on the Sony A9:

Sony A9 Auto HDR in Menu

Sony A9 Auto HDR in Menu

 

Sony A9 – Auto HDR Sample Photos

Here are the Auto HDR images along with the standard exposure images which the camera also gives you automatically.

Click On Photos for Higher Resolution more Crisp Versions! 

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Note the enhanced shadow areas in particular on this sample.

Sony A9 - Regular Exposure

Sony A9 – Regular Exposure

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

In this example you can see the the sky/ cloud detail and the extra shadow information in particular.

Sony A9 - Regular Exposure

Sony A9 – Regular Exposure

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Another example of sky detail and shadow detail in this image.

Sony A9 - Regular Exposure

Sony A9 – Regular Exposure

One thing to note about the Auto HDR is moving subjects will become ghosts when the images are combined. as seen below. So stationary subjects are much better for this feature in general, although I have gotten some cool results with moving subjects like water for example…

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV – Ghost Flags

Sony A9 - Regular Exposure

Sony A9 – Regular Exposure

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

This image has a large increase in shadow detail and overall brightness in particular.

Sony A9 - Regular Exposure

Sony A9 – Regular Exposure

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 Auto HDR @ 4EV

Sony A9 - Regular Exposure

Sony A9 – Regular Exposure

 

Closing Remarks

As you can see from these Sony A9 Auto HDR sample photos, it’s a cool feature to use on occasion, and can yield some really good results in my opinion. So why not have some fun one of these days and give the Auto HDR feature a try on your Sony camera!

Do you want me to test and or show you how to use any other specific features??

Have any questions about the Auto HDR Feature or Sony A9??

Please let me know in the comments area below and I will be happy to help.

I hope you guys got something out of this quick article on the Auto HDR feature using the Sony A9, and please have a wonderful day!

Jay

Gear used for this testing:

Sony A9 @ BHPhoto

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens @ BHPhoto


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Thanks,
Jay

 


About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!




6 Comments


  1. Jay,

    You need to recheck your post. I have taken many HDR photos. I can see no difference in the HDR and the normal exposures.


    • Jay

      Hi Mike,

      Really? You can see no difference? I’m kind of shocked by that. Just look at the first two images. Look at the shadow detail in the first image vs the second image. It’s a huge difference! I can see on some of the other images it’s not that drastic, but it’s still clearly noticeable to me. Shadow, highlight detail, and color pop all stand out on the Auto HDR images. This effect is not intended to make the images look completely fake or over the top, if that is what your expecting?

      Thanks for the comments and feedback Mike!

      Jay


      • Hi Jay,

        I should have been more specific and less global in my comments. There is a difference in the first comparison pair. The only difference in the second pair of the Kenmore truck that I see is the front wheel is slightly lighter and there is an increase in cloud detail. The third pair of the shamrock truck trailer shows slightly brighter taillights and reflectors but no significant increase in shadow detail. The Demon Loop frontal view shows a brighter exposure in the HDR photo but no increased shadow detail. Same comment for the 1/4 view. The ticket booths likewise show a brighter exposure but no increase in shadow detail.
        The reason for this is (except for the first) the scenes did not require HDR in that the difference between the darkest and lightest parts of the scene were not close to being 8 stops apart and could have been developed in Lightroom with a few adjustments. Send me an email and I will show you what I mean. However, if your point is that by using the auto HDR feature you get a more acceptable JPEG image without the need for further post processing, I will concede that is mostly true if the scene does not involve subject movement.

        Best regards,

        Mike


      • Jay

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for the clarification and yes I totally agree. You can clearly get results like this if shooting in Raw quality and working the files in Lightroom for example. However, if the Dynamic range is high and you are shooting jpeg with the intent of not wanting to post process, then this is a great alternative. A turn key great result with no processing.

        I personally shoot raw for that exact reason, but a lot of people do not want to learn the processing software, and I can totally understand that. In fact when shooting HDR, I shoot raw and adjust the exposure accordingly for the best possible results, but that is very time consuming and requires serious software knowledge for consistent quality results.

        Thanks,
        Jay


  2. Ken Schoening

    Thanks for your article on auto HDR. It was clear and inspiring. I have used this feature on my A7, A7r, and now my A7rii. I’ve not been too impressed though, because it didn’t appear to me to make that much of a difference. But your comments helped me to rethink my settings, which I will make some adjustments to. I always look forward to your posts because I’m an enthusiastic convert from Canon to Sony. Thanks again!


    • Jay

      Hi Ken,

      Thank you very much for the comments and feedback on the article. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on using the Auto HDR feature, how you got inspired to re-think your settings, and sharing which cameras you have used this feature on. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either, by choosing different creative modes other than Vivid for example…

      Thanks again,
      Jay



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