I thought this was a gimmick feature but it actually does a nice job!

I noticed that the Nikon D5100 has an in camera HDR mode so I wanted to give it a try since I am not that good at HDR.

I know this doesn’t relate to DSLR video, but I think HDR is helpful in learning about shadow and highlights so that is why I included this tutorial on HDR.

Since I have Photomatix Pro I also compared it to that as well.

To be honest since I am not that good at HDR yet, I kinda think that the in camera HDR did a better job than I did.



Low Smoothing in Camera HDR

Nikon D5100 in Camera HDR Low Setting

High Smoothing in Camera HDR

Nikon D5100 in Camera HDR High Setting

Photomatix Pro HDR

Photomatix Pro


  • Wow! When you did not use HDR, it looked like Colorado in March outside your window. With HDR, looks like May πŸ™‚
    I do not take stills (and have a T2i), but I can see how this could be a useful feature for capturing what is really there. I realize that for artistic photographers, most of them are “so totally over HDR”, but that would not stop me from using it for my completely non-artistic reasons, if I had a camera that made it that simple.

    Thanks again for doing these tutorials for the rest of us.

  • Thanks for the turorial. Pretty impressive in-camera result! But does the HDR mode also save the two images (taken for the in-camera HDR processing) in RAW, so that I can do my own processing in Photomatix without having to make another set of AEB shots?

  • Big mistake. Nikon almost strictly requires the D5-1(sp?) eye viewfinder blocker when shooting any timed shots. When shooting HDR in normal indoor light or outdoor light, this becomes even more critical.

  • Am a D5100 n00b. Actually it is my first DSLR. I found this setting in the menu, but it seems to be disabled. I read somewhere that it is enabled only when you shoot in a JPEG only mode (so you cant use it when you are shooting in RAW). However, I’m not able to enable it even after going to JPEG only mode. So now I am stuck! How did you enable it in the first place?

  • Dumb.

    “Basically what you do is go to high dynamic range.”

    That’s like having a tutorial for heart transplant surgery say, “well, basically first you transplant the hearts…”

  • This very helpful video would have been even MORE helpful if you would have explained (10 seconds!) how to get to the HDR menu in the display. Getting to that portion of the display takes a number of steps that are not intuitively obvious to newb’s.

  • I have always wanted to try HDR but could never get all the requirements needed like software etc. This is a game changer and I can see some good applications for this HDR feature for serious hobbyist like me who just enjoys photography. A friend of mine who I got started in photography just bought a 5100 and I did not realize until later that it came with HDR feature. I would have to let him lend me his camera so I can see first hand this new feature. Thanks for the video.

  • Does the camera really take 3 pictures for HDR? Every review I read so far says it only 2 pictures ? Which is right ?

  • I think that the camera takes only 2 pictures. What you hear in the video tutorial as the “first shot” is the sound from the “Live View”…

  • To go to High Dynamic Range, click the menu button -> camera icon -> and you’ll see the High Dynamic Range option.

  • My 5100 (bought yesterday) say this option is not available at current settings or in the camera’s current state WHY? CHANGE WHAT?

  • I set mine on jpeg, but I still get the message “this option is not available at current setting.”

    Any suggestion?

  • If you receive the error “this option is not available at current settings or in the camera’s current state” this is because you do not have the camera set on M,A,S, or P modes which is the only time the HDR function is available (pg 216 ref manual).

  • yoou show pictures of what it looks like,but give no instructions on how to do it.! my nikon is the 5100 and dosent have some of the settings you show……can you show for my model and tell me why the camera wont ake all 3 shots ans dosent blend them.?

  • Same question as Warren – your video sounds as if the camera took 3 pictures. I only count 2 on mine and doesn’t seem to blend the finished result dramatically. One omission on most of these tutorials is what mode is selected as HDR is not available in all modes.

  • HDR is only available in P, S, A and M modes. For a Nikon tutorial on the D5100, check this site: http://www.nikondigitutor.com/eng/d5100/index.html

    About the clicks, if you activate the Live View-screen, the first click is its deactivation, followed by the two photos it takes. So, if you only use your viewfinder, you won’t hear the first click.

  • hey guys

    when i click on hdr on… my camera says you cant make HDR on in this current mode… can you guys help me how to make it on..

  • To all those who find ‘HDR’ disabled in Menu:

    Please note HDR is enabled only in M,S,A,& P shooting modes. Further, if ‘Bracketing'(BKT) on the right bottom corner of your ‘Info’ screen is not in ‘OFF’ position, HDR will be disabled even if you are in MSAP shooting mode. So switch off Bracketing.

    Hope your problem is solved.

  • HDR Mode still disabled!! My camera is in M mode, bracketing is OFF, shooting on JPeg.

    Please help!
    Any other suggestions?

  • I have been messing around with this problem too. As it is been said the camera most be in M,P,S,A, but also Active D-Lighting should be in another position than Automatic. The icon that does indicate this is the ADL one. I hope you solve your problem with this.

  • HDR can only being done in JPEG mode not Raw format, and yes it takes 3 pictures at different exposures them aligns and combines them smoothing out the highlights and shadows, if you want to do this properly then use the bracketing mode and camera in Raw mode, process the image primilary in Photmatix pro then finish off with Adobe Cs5…..hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • Elin, select AV or A (aperture priority) on the dial then go to bracketing mode and try in 1/3 stop increments make sure you have it in RAW mode , let the camera fire off three shots (on a tripod)process it in Photomatix Pro, if youre not happy with the results try re-setting the bracketing mode that best suits you πŸ™‚

  • With my Nikon d50 I could set bracketing in 2 steps of exposure. Then I take 3 pictures out of hand, by pressing the button once.
    Can anyone tell me if this is possible with the d5100?
    I don’t want to take 3 separate pictures on a tripod.

  • This is a lame tutorial… When I tried to turn on HDR it says ‘this option is not available at current settings or in cameras current state’. You dont say anything about what state your camera needs to be in to shoot this. I tried using the dial turning on HDR in EVERY mode, from auto, to M,A,S,P etc etc… and I always get the same message. It would be really nice if you mentioned what mode your camera needs to be in to have this option. Kind of a lame tutorial, becuase it didnt help me at all using this feature.

  • Most annoying is when using the onboard HDR mode one has to enable it again after every shot, this in my opinion is a oversight on Nikon’s behalf, as pervious stated best to use aperture priority with auto bracketing to get those amazing HDR shots πŸ™‚