Camera HDR vs Graduated ND filter

Sometimes when I take photos I have a rather dark ground and a rather light sky. The consequence is that the sky gets overexposed and the ground underexposed. There are remedies. HDR means digitally improving the image, often after taking several images with different exposure times. A gradeduated ND filter is a physical camera filter that is half completely transparant, and half greyish.

I have a Sony RX100Va and I decided to compare the two methods. When using HDR this camera produces two images: the original unprocessed and the HDR-improved one. So the first two columns below are produced in one shot. The third column is a separate shot, with the filter attached to the camera.

If you open the images in a new window/tab you get higher resolution.

No HDR, No Graduated filterHDR, No Graduated filterNo HDR, Graduated filter ND8

There is obviously a difference, and in the end it depends on what you want. I find that the HDR-feature of my RX100Va camera is not as powerful as a Graduated ND8 filter. However the filter goes from light to darker, while HDR is obviously can do its job even if it is not an horizon in the image (for example if you photograph into a dark window but also want the exterior). If you look at the tree of the top-right GND image, it is very dark in the top. The HD-images have a bit more vivid green, I don’t know if that is an advantage.

To attach a filter to my RX100 I bought a MAGFILTER. So far I am very happy. The filter used above is a 52mm URTH Graduated ND8.

Note (to self if nothing else): In Swedish Graduated is translated into Graduerat or Halvtonat.

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