How to Take an HDR Photo with a Nikon D50 or Similar Digital SLR Camera (Video)

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This is my first instructional photography video, so please excuse the camera shake. In this video, I’m showing you how to setup your camera to take the 3 differently exposed shots you will need to create an HDR photo.

In the video the steps are:

Set the dial to “P” “A” (aperture priority – per Helmut’s comment)

P setting on Nikon D50

Go to “Menu”, Settings (pencil on the left), and scroll down to #12 (BKT Set), press the dial right, Go down to AE & Flash, press the dial right, Select 2.0 Step, and press the dial right “OK”.

Bracket setting 12 Bracket set AE & Flash 2 step

Now you will see a BKT setting on your top LCD panel that looks like this:

BKT bracket setting

Take 3 photos (each little black bar disappears once you take them in turn). Voila – you have the photos you need for your HDR.

The 3 consecutive photos taken from the shot in the video are here:

HDR -2

HDR 0

HDR +2

Each one is taken with a different exposure setting – the EV Steps. Once you combine them all in HDR processing software (I use Photomatix) and tweak the settings, the resulting photo should look like this:

Combined HDR

Maybe next time I’ll take a photo of something more exciting than some garbage cans and a driveway :)

UPDATE:  here’s an amazing HDR video tutorial my friend Trey did! (11 hours of video instruction – this guy is the real deal)

62 Responses to How to Take an HDR Photo with a Nikon D50 or Similar Digital SLR Camera (Video)

  1. Mig Bardsley says:
    Hi, That’s a very nice pic of the garbage :)
    I just looked up Photomatix in Google and the first thing that came up was your Aug 10th post about the discount. Does this still apply? I’m hoping to get it for my birthday :)
    Much enjoyed reading the blog, thanks for all the useful tips and info :)
  2. Markus says:
    Thanks for the kind words.

    Yes, the VPG15 discount code still works for Photomatix.

  3. hdr says:
    Not a bad tutorial. :)

    I love seeing the world through tonemapped images.

  4. Mig Bardsley says:
    Thanks again. I got it :)
  5. How to Take an HDR Photo with a Nikon D50 or Similar Digital SLR Camera (Video) » Visual Photo Guide…

    A tutorial on how to take HDR Photos using a Nikon D50. It includes a video of the setup….

  6. Steve says:
    I have a Nikon D50 and when i attempt to Go to “Menu”, Settings (pencil on the left), and scroll down to #12 (BKT Set), press the dial right, Go down to AE & Flash, press the dial right, Select 2.0 Step, and press the dial right “OK” i find i do not have the option??. the Menu does not scroll past 6 ?? New to this what am i doing wrong???
  7. Markus says:
    Good question, Steve. You need to make sure you have your menu set to “detailed”. If it doesn’t scroll past 6 – first go to Menu, then CSM/Setup Menu, and set it to detailed (not simple).
  8. Steve says:
    Marcus,
    Your a genius – Many Thanks!!!
  9. […] featured video, the Viddler user from Visual Photo Guide (friend: photography) explains how to achieve the HDR technique using a Nikon D50, though he does say that many of these steps are similar for other cameras as […]
  10. marco says:
    i got photomatix, but i still cant join them together and make it look good
    could u help me with that??
    thanks :D
  11. Markus says:
    The tutorial that comes with Photomatix had instructions on how to combine it. I’ll try to do a video tutorial sometime soon that shows the steps in detail.

    Here’s the short of it: Go to HDR > Generate > Browse. Click on the 3 photos while holding down Ctrl. Once the 3 photos are selected, click ok, ok. Once the photo is up, go to HDR > Tone mapping and make your adjustments. Than save the photo.

  12. Hugo says:
    Hi mate, great video. However i ve a D40, and i don’t seem to find that option for “bkt set” on my menu. It’s wierd being that Mine camera is from 2006, and yours from 2004/05. Can u help me out?
  13. Markus says:
    Hey Hugo. I’ve never played with a D40 so I’m not sure about its settings. Maybe someone else can chime in here?
  14. Nick says:
    Just found this but to help those with a d40…I have a d40x but unfortuneately the d40/d40x does not offer exposure bracketing… you would have to adjust the exposure through the “M”/manual mode which is simple either way and keep dropping the exposure through each shot. a slight more of a pain but easily achievable.
  15. Markus says:
    Thanks for letting us know about that, Nick. I’m surprised the d40 doesn’t have exposure bracketing. The trick is to keep the camera steady as you change settings so be sure to have it on a solid surface. Photomatix can adjust for some variation in the shots but it’s not perfect. You’re much better off having 3 of the same shot (same alignment I mean).
  16. Hal says:
    Who knew it was that easy? Thanks for the video!
  17. Darren says:
    How do I take an HDR photo with a NIKON D40X ?
    Could I just use 3-6 different exposure comp.?
    also all I have for editing is what came with the NIKON.
    What will I need for HDR merging
  18. Markus says:
    @Darren, yes you just need 3-6 of the same shot taken at different exposures.

    For merging you need a program like Photomatix.

  19. Darren says:
    OK Thank you .Will Photomatix convert my raw photos to jep and keep the same (7mb) file. Because no photo shop in my area can open an RAW file to get prints…………shooting in 12 bit RAW is better than 8 bit jep , right…and to merging……..this is just a hobby for my but when my friends get married or what ever they really like the CD that i give them of there wedding..I just want to go to the next level to see what i can do your advice will be greatly appreciated….thank you will Photomatix be on CD (there will be no ties with online ) DIALUP is all i have right now until 2009. I will check out Photomatix to see if I can get it in CANADA.
    LATER DARREN.
  20. Will says:

    Should you shoot in RAW vs any other setting when shooting HDR? And also, you mentioned above that you could take between 3-6 pictures for the merge. What bracket setting should it be instead of “2.0” to capture the 6 images? Hope this makes sense.

  21. Markus says:
    Hey Will. You can shoot in JPG or RAW. A lot of people prefer RAW for HDR. Since I’ve never shot more than 3 images for HDR, I’m not sure what settings are best for bracketing the wider range. I would say probably 1, 1.5 apart – you might want to experiment to see what looks best.
  22. Helmut says:
    Actually, using “P” is normally not a good choice as then the aperture might change from pic to pic, resulting in different depth of field.

    Shooting RAW is generally better than JPG for HDR software like Photomatix. Also, if you shoot RAW, you can create “Pseudo HDRs” out of a single picture, which is nice if you have moving objects, such as a car.

  23. Steve says:
    Marcus
    i am still at a loss – CSM/Setup Menu, and set it to detailed (not simple).
    but when i scroll down to #12 it’s greyed out (set at ‘off’). i have tried evrything but cannot find out what is preventing me fom accessing the BKT settings!!
    Any other ideas, Help!!
    Regards
  24. Markus says:
    @Helmut: Thanks for the tip.

    @Steve: Hmmm. I’m not sure what it could be that’s interfering with the menu. It must be one of your other settings conflicting with it.

  25. tyler says:
    does changing the apature matter?
  26. Markus says:
    @tyler: for HDR you want the same aperture in all 3 shots – don’t change it.
  27. Nick says:
    I have a D80 and can’t seem to find these options anyone have any advice I can get to the bracketing settings (it’s 13 not 12 on this model) but I can’t do the part where I click right to set to 2.0 or anything like that any hel please would be appriciated.
  28. Nick says:
    Never mind I found out there’s a bracket button on the front near the lens mount…I feel stupid now but I figured it out, thanks anyways sorry for the double post etc etc.
  29. Damon Betz says:
    I have looked along with an experienced photographer but my D50 only goes up to number 6 (not 12) in P mode. Am I doing something wrong?

    I thought perhaps a firmware update might need to be done but it doesn’t make much sense to me…

  30. Lee says:
    Damon, per posts above you need to set your menus to detailed

    Steve, sounds as though you don’t have your mode dial on P A S or M

    Good article, Thanks

  31. Hardip Gill says:
    can u a make hdr’s in photoshop ?
  32. Zbysiu says:
    You should turn your dial to the “A” (Aperture) setting. With the “P” (Program) mode set some of the control decisions are made by the camera. I use a Nikon D50 and it works for me following the instructions above. Maybe on the D40 it works with the “P” setting, but I don’t know that never having used one.
  33. matty says:
    Hey for those who had the problem of only having 6 options in the pen menu, if you go into the spanner menu and go on CSM/setUp menu and change it from simple to detailed you should have 12 options

    :)

  34. kelly says:
    Hi! Dumb question: what if you leave your camera on that detailed setting all the time? Will it affect your photographs?
  35. Markus says:
    @kelly no, it won’t affect your photographs at all.
  36. Topher says:
    Hey cool video i cant wait to try it, i have a D50 too, but when i go to #12 it isnt highlighted and it wont let me scroll to it, and i set my menu to detailed, can anyone help me out???
  37. Markus says:
    @Topher: make sure you have the dial set to “A” (sounds like you’re still in Auto)
  38. karisa says:
    I have a nikon D50 and when i go to the pencil my numbers only go up to 6 …..what am i doing wrong??
  39. karisa says:
    nevermind just figured it out …thanks!!
  40. lsky says:
    Thanks a lot for this video! This was -exactly- what I was looking for!
  41. Ivan says:
    Could I use Panorama factory for HDR
    Regards Ivan
  42. pekjal says:
    Hi

    i thought my D50 cud’nt make HDR shots but now i can thanks to ur
    vid!

    Kudos dude!

  43. jael says:
    Hi,
    On the Nikon D60 where is BRACKETING MODE ?????????
  44. Never done one before, but I’m going to soon. Thanks a bunch for this!
  45. Andrea says:
    Hi there i normally shot with a D300 which has a lot more features then the D50 how ever i have owned a D50 for 5 years this above method for HDR works well as long as you have some type of HDR soft ware

    you can also created almost the same effect in elements by boosting the contrast and saturation of your image, then making a copy and using layers blending modes

    try this duplicate background boost sat and contrast,call it layer 1 duplicate that turn to multiply layer lower opacity to around 80%

    copy layer 1 again make it a hard light layer play with the opacity

    copy layer 1 a third time and make it a soft light layer play with the opacity once happy merge visible and wham o you have a similar effect to HDR

    oh one question while i am here can you have continues shutter fire on the D50???

  46. Eric says:
    I have a D50 but under the pen menu only goes to #6, why is that?
  47. PB says:
    nevermind just figured it out …thanks!!
  48. t2anh says:
    my Nikon D50 does not have #12 in setting, just from #1 to #6. Do you know why? Thanks!
    • admin says:
      If you only see #1-#6 – You need to go to Menu, CSM/Setup Menu, and set it to detailed (not simple) then you’ll be able to scroll down to see past the 6 options.
  49. Boyce says:
    Thank you! I just heard about HDR several months ago. I have had my Nikon D50 for a long time and am still learning. I appreciate your training posts throughout your site. I’m now a subscriber.
  50. Jon says:
    *Markus*

    Thanks for the post! I have had my D50 for severl years now and have never been completely satisfied with the pictures from it. i think that is because i have never used it to its full potential. I am very eager to try taking HDR photographs now. 2 questions for you though…

    #1-Can i produce HDR photographs with Photoshop? if not what do you recommend?

    #2- my camera is still completely stock, what do you recommend purchasing for the camera to take better photographs.

    Thank You!

  51. Andy says:
    hi markus, first of all THANKYOU! this has now opened up a whole new world of photography for me! im loving HDR! however do you know if it is possable withthe 50 to make it take more than 3shots? e.g take maybe 5 or 12 or even 30shots? of is only 3shots the max it will do?
    • admin says:
      You can set the exposures manually and get more than 3 but as far what the options are for bracketing, you’re stuck with 3
  52. Why my pencil menu has only 6 items not 12 like yours. Why? Any idea?
  53. My Nikon D50 has only 12 items in the Pencil Sub-menu. Anyone has any idea why? Is it normal or do I need to upgrade my Nikon D50 Menu?
    • admin says:
      In the menu go to settings (the lil wrench), select CSM/Setup Menu (click right on the wheel) and select “Detailed”
  54. […] if you don’t (like me) then try to not move the camera each time you take the photo. See my HDR tutorial video. High Dynamic Range Processing After the shoot, download the photos to your computer. Photoshop CS2 […]
  55. Kyle Karlin says:
    I have a Canon EOS 50D and I was wondering what the best setting is for taking HDR pictures? I would guess that the Aperture Priority setting would be the best. But for AF is AI Servo, AI Focus or One-Shot the best? I am not sure my guess is One-Shot is best. And for the metering mode I am not sure also can someone help me?
  56. Brian says:
    it wont let me hold down the shutter to take 3 pictures in a row. how do i fix that
  57. Brian says:
    When i hold down the shutter it wont take more then 1 picture. can you tell me what im doing wrong
  58. Markus says:
    Thanks for the suggestions, Andrea. I think 3 shot bursts is as much as you can get on the D50. As far as I know there’s no continuous shot mode like on the higher end cameras.
  59. Markus says:
    Eric, you have to switch the camera to Detailed mode first. In the menu go to settings (the lil wrench), select CSM/Setup Menu (click right on the wheel) and select “Detailed”. Now you will see more options.

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