AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) On the Canon 1D-X

If you’re familiar with the menu system on the Canon 5d mark III, you may know that on page two of the red section there’s a menu item called “Expo.comp./AEB.”  Using that menu, one can make changes to and enable/disable the way the camera exposure brackets.

Coming from that system, I was very puzzled attempting to enable auto exposure bracketing on Canon’s 1D-X.  Other than features that the 1D-X has over the 5d mk III, most of the menus are the same between the two cameras.  And yet the 1D-X is lacking that menu item entirely.  It turns out Canon implemented shortcuts via the hardware buttons on the 1D-X, and eliminated menu-digging.  It’s a very nice feature, but it’s not exactly self-explanatory.  Here’s how you get it working….
The way to turn on AEB for the 1DX, is by holding the MODE and AF DRIVE buttons down at the same time.  The two-button press is the only way to turn it on, which is preferable for me – menus avoided!

After playing around a bit, I decided to program my preferred AEB settings into C2.  This way I can also force specific drive, AF, and WB modes.  The goal is to avoid menus and wildly different camera configurations as much as possible – weddings don’t stop and wait.  Even though I’m not a fan of the cartoon-y HDR craze, I have found a few cases where it’s nice to have just a little bit of extra dynamic range in a RAW file, and Lightroom CC / 6 has helped me to get some of the most natural looking HDR files I’ve seen yet.

Case in point…

Natural looking HDR created with Adobe Lightroom CC / 6.

Natural looking HDR created with Adobe Lightroom CC / 6

For what it’s worth, getting more natural looking HDR images also seems to be related to how much dynamic range you’re trying to compress into the tone-mapped output.  Merging just two RAW files that are only a couple stops apart gives you more of a “film-ey” look (smoother highlight rolloff) versus what we typically think of as being the HDR look.  (I’m not one of those people who thinks film is automatically better than digital, but “film-ey” seemed the most apt way to describe the look.)

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