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Deceptive Histogram


I'm have a very frustrating time with my 5Dii. For years, with my previous digital cameras (Nikons) I have relied on the histogram to judge my exposures.  But now, with my 5Dii, I am always around two stops underexposed.  I'm shooting RAW. I look at the histogram in camera and it looks OK.  No clipping.  Not perfect, but a good graph.  When I get that same RAW image file into Lightroom, the image is dark, the histogram, while still not clipped, is all the way in the left one third of the graph.  I need to boost the exposure by two stops at least and I start to get noise in the shadows.  Why is there such a discrepancy between the histogram in camera and the histogram in Lightroom?  I've taken the camera to my local shop and they have at least confirmed that I haven't done anything stupid like set the exposure compensation to -2 or something like that. 



I never thought of comparing the two so I did a test.  I have a 5D3 and what shows about 1/10 under the middle of the histogram in the camera shows about 1/10 over the mid-point in the histogram in Lightroom.


I'm sorry that this doesn't help you but remember, what the histogram is showing in the camera is from the JPG that is generated to be displayed.  If you are shooting in RAW, what Lightroom is showning is from the RAW file.  You camera may be applying some style or something that is making it different than the RAW file.


I hope this helps.





This is exactly what I was asking the folks at my local camera shop: What exactly is the camera showing me a histogram of? You're telling me that the camera's histogram is of the JPG created from the RAW in camera, not the RAW file itself. (I'd love to know the thought behind that!).


So, What Picture Style should I have my camera set to if I'm shooting RAW and my main criterion for choosing the Picture Style is getting a consistent / accurate histogram on the camera's LCD to judge my exposure by?


For stills, since I shoot RAW, I have always dismissed the Picture Style setting as irrelevant. The Picture Style setting has no effect on the RAW file, correct?


Thanks for your help!



In Lightroom, are you doing anything during import?  Specifically, do you have any Develop Settings enabled in the Apply During Import dropdown?


When I first installed LR, I would import some RAW files.  And in the grid view, I could see LR "auto-correcting" each image one at a time.  I put that in quotes because LR was really messing them up to my eye.  Not quite two stops darker, but close. 


After some configuration in LR, it now shows histograms that are very close (if not the same) as on my XS, 60D, 5DIII.


I'm pretty sure Picture Style is irrelevant if you are shooting just RAW.  I vaguely remember watching a B&H video where the Canon rep said that there are very subtle software tweeks but that they're not worth mentioning.


Hope this helps.


Your Nikon body must have been a little old and doesn't have D-active lighting right? or something similar. Anyway, in camera histogram is based on the photo JPG (not RAW). So if you turn on Auto Lighting Optimizer and/or High Tone Priority (I keep forgetting about these 2 terms because I don't use them when shooting RAW), the camera will UNDEREXPOSURE the photo then boost the exposure up using in-camera-algorithm. Thus, the histogram will look nicely in your camera because it reflects the boosted image. However, when you import your photo into 3rd party program such as Lightroom, it cannot read these data. In short, Lightroom only displays your ORIGINAL RAW file without the exposure boost. Therefore, you see your RAW underexpose. Same thing with Nikon. To get around that, you must disable those features if you plan to take photo in RAW only. Good luck.

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