ETTR Is Not Overexposure

At the very end of his article on why S-Log3 no longer needs to be exposed to the right with Sony’s current generation of sensors, Alister Chapman makes a great point:

“And one last thing: I don’t like the use of the term “over exposing” to describe shooting a bit brighter to help eliminate noise. If you have deliberately chosen to use a low EI value to obtain a brighter exposure or have decided to expose 1 stop brighter because you feel this will get you the end result you desire this is not (in my opinion) “over exposure”. Over exposure generally means an exposure that is too bright, perhaps a mistake. But when you deliberately shoot a bit brighter because this gets you to where you want to be this isn’t a mistake and it isn’t excessive, it is in fact the correct exposure choice.”

In our own experience, the most powerful HDR content makes extensive use of deep shadows, and because noise is much more visible in HDR than in LDR, it’s important that you do your own tests. As of the year of our lord 2023, not a soul on the Internet is doing latitude tests in HDR, and what may look acceptable in rec.709 may be intolerable in P3-D65 ST2084. There’s a reason why, in their production guides, Netflix warns so often about shadow noise in HDR. From what we understand, things are different in the high-end world of episodic TV and movies, though – few DPs ETTR, and they’re hesitant to play around with the exposure index for fear that it will introduce jarring changes of texture (at least among some RED shooters).

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