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I’ve again stumbled upon someone claiming that one Raw is as good if not better then bracketing when making a HDR image…
Thought I’d debunk this ones and for all.

This is the bracket I used in this example, it’s from -4 ev to +4 ev, 9 exposures.

Out of those 9 exposures I made this HDR in Photomatix Pro 4. There are virtually no clipping just some pixels directly in the sun.

This is the middle (0 ev) Raw file.

This is the HDR from a single Raw file, using the same settings as in the above, both the white and black end are clipped, there are lots of noise and loss of detail. The shadow areas that are without details are turning grey because of the tonemapping tries to compensate for black, it could be pulled down but that wouldn’t change the amount actual dynamic range, just make it harder to see.

And finally this is the middle exposure Raw file converted without ever going to HDR, but using every slider in my raw converter to pull out every last bit of information. There are clipping in both highlight and shadow and excessive amounts of noise, but to my surprise, the detail in the shadow area are greater then the single Raw HDR.

Still, the dynamic range in this is no where near what it is in the multiple exposure version. There are times when using one single Raw file is the way to go, for example if you have moving targets, but generally bracketing gives you a wider dynamic range with much less noise.