Monday, June 13, 2022

Using the Landscape Bracketing Script on the M series

As my Landscape Bracketing Script has matured on the CHDK M series cameras, now covering the M3, M10 and M100 (although I haven't been able to test the script on the M100 as I don't have one and there isn't an XIMR build yet), the UI and functionality have evolved.

As I wrote LBS for my personal use, but freely share with others, in this post I will discuss using LBS and a few of its quirks.

First, LBS works best with native EF-M (or compatible) lenses. Although you can use manual lenses, you will be restricted to exposure bracketing only. Non EF-M, third party, AF lenses, have not been tested with the script: they may work, they may not ;-) 

The script may be downloaded from the right (LBS-M (CHDK)).

The most important thing to note is that the shutter, when LBS is running in ALT mode, is not the Canon shutter. In fact, in ALT mode, the Canon shutter is disabled. The LBS shutter depends on the camera you are using. On the M3 it is the M-Fn button, that sits next to the Canon shutter button. On the M10/100 it is the video button that, once again, sits beside the Canon shutter button.

When LBS is running, you can switch in and out of ALT mode and use the standard Canon shutter.

To use LBS, you should set the ALT button to the video button on the M3, and to the Wi-Fi button on the M10/M100. The script is designed for photographers, not videographers or bloggers; hence the video and Wi-Fi buttons have been 'hijacked' ;-)

If you have an EF-M lenses fitted then you will be able to focus bracket as well as exposure bracket. With focus bracketing set to off you will be able to exposure bracket. Exposure bracketing works in any focus bracketing mode. Simply choose the exposure bracketing option and request an infinity sky bracket and/or an ND bracket. Use bookends as needed.

In manual focus bracketing mode you can also switch on traffic lights, that tell you when the current focus overlaps (or not) with the last captured image.

In manual focus mode the LBS remains running as you take images/brackets.

In you have selected a non-manual focus option, eg X2INF, once you press the LBS shutter the script will capture the requested images (focus and/or exposure) and exit the script. You will need to rerun the script by pressing the Canon shutter in ALT mode.

If you are using a manual lens, LBS will automatically put the camera in the manual focus option mode. Of course, when using a manual lens you can 'only' exposure bracket.

LBS has many user tweakable options, eg diffraction aware, delay, bookends, exposure help, screen or console on/off, etc. 

Finally, to illustrate how felxible LBS is, here is a handheld bracketed test image (which didn't really need bracketing).

I was shooting at 11mm, set the aperture to f/6.3 and the ISO to 100. I selected manual focus bracketing option, and a single ISO exposure bracket, ie for the shadows. I also requested an ETTR sky bracket. Finally, as I was hand holding, I set a shutter of 1/30s.

LBS took three images: one at the ISO 100, 1/30s base configuration; one at 1/30s at ISO 800; and an ETTR one for the sky at ISO 100 and 1/500s. 

I preprocessed the images through DXO PureRaw 2 and used the Lightroom HDR merge. I exported the merged HDR as a smart object to Photoshop, duplicated (via copy) it twice and developed one layer for the shadows, one for the mids and one for the sky. I then manually blended these together (but not a well as I could have done, ie around the roof area ;-))

After returning to Lightroom, I finished up with this handheld, three bracket, test image:

To fully explore the power of LBS, simply play with it ;-)

As usual I welcome any comments on this post or any of my posts; especially any feedback to make LBS 'better'.

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