Saturday, April 4, 2009

Finally, a use for that BKT button

For a long time, I have thought that Nikon had wasted valuable real-estate on the back of their camera bodies with the bracket button, labelled "BKT".   If I really feel the need to bracket my exposure, it's really not hard to do it manually.  In fact, I rarely bracket any more since it is very easy to tell whether the exposure is good -- the histogram is a feature that I use constantly to make sure that I capture the exposure properly.

Cedar Trees beside the Indian River

With slide film, I bracketed my exposures quite frequently, since it was very easy to lose highlights from overexposure.  Not only that, but there was no feedback for days on whether you got the right exposure.

Finally, in the last couple of weeks I have found a good use for bracketing.  Now that I have purchased Photomatix Pro for HDR photographs, I have a need to bracket exposures by 2 or 3 stops.  These exposures need to be done quite quickly, to avoid movement -- either in the foreground foliage, or in the background with clouds. 

The Indian River at the Mill of Kintail

The Bracket feature on my Nikon D200, combined with "continuous high speed" shooting mode (the D200 can capture up to 5 frames per second) proves to be a great solution to this problem.  The bracket mode is quite flexible.  It allows me to set the number of images, and the amount of exposure compensation between frames.  I can set up to 9 exposures in a sequence, with up to one stop between exposures.  Normally, I use 5 or 7 exposures with one stop increments.  This gives me + or - 2 or 3 stops of bracketing, in a one-second burst for 5 exposures, or about a two second burst for 7 exposures. 

Not bad for a previously useless button!

. . . Rob Williams