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Index D-Lighting

Active D-Lighting: To maximize the number of OOC (out-of-camera) JPEG's keepers turn ADL on. But Active D-Lighting (ADL) is a feature of newer Nikon digital camera's and is based within the camera (and not just post processing) -- and as such, it is a RAW Adjustment. Nikon says it "preserves details in highlights and shadows". It must be turned on within the camera and can NOT be turned on after the fact -- but it can be turned OFF after the fact.

Once turned on in the camera, later in Capture NX you have the ability to set it to "unchanged, off, low, normal, high, or extra high". Since Active D-Lighting is a RAW adjustment, hopefully the quality of this adjustment is better than 'after the fact' D-Lighting (below). This needs more research.
How it works: Take the same picture with and without ADL and notice that the exposure changes. ADL purposefully underexposes a photo a little (I have seen 2/3 stop) and internally applies a custom tone curve protect highlights and protect shadow detail. WARNING: Underexposing 2/3 stop, followed by push processing is like using a higher ISO. As a result, Nikon urges caution using ADL with high ISO (can happen with auto ISO).

TIP: To maximize the number of OOC (out-of-camera) JPEG's keepers, turn ADL on. But if you intend to edit a NEF in NX anyway, turn ADL off -- because you can always manually recover with normal D-lighting below.

D-Lighting: D-Lighting is (under 'Light' menu) a NX Adjustment, which can be a step added after the fact. It is pretty good a recovering detail from underexposed areas of your photo (brightening just the dark areas of your photo). It is a quick, easy and very effective tool to use. Just make sure to always select the "Better Quality (HQ)" method!
The problem I have with the D-Lighting tool is that when it is needed most (2EV compensation), it can introduce slight shifts in colors. The solution then is to use Levels & Curves, or use the custom +1EV Adjustment on just the portion of your photo that needs it. For small EV adjustments, D-Lighting works well.
Recover blown hilights: D-Lighting can also be used to recover a blown hilights. First underexpose the entire photo (via Exposure Compensation) to make the blown hilight look OK. Then use D-lighting to recover the entire photo. Here is an example of recovering a blown window hilight, in just a few mouse clicks:
Recover Blown Hilight using D-Lighting
An alternative: Another way of performing D-Lighting is to use 'Levels & Curves'. A similar result in the above 'blown window' example was achieved with the the following Levels & Curves. Please note that the curve to use will be unique to each and every photo:
Levels & Curves - D-Lighting
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