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color change/gradient is never smooth - what am I doing wrong?

Started Sep 26, 2007 | Discussions thread
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color change/gradient is never smooth - what am I doing wrong?
Sep 26, 2007

This is something I'm seeing in my pictures for a while now. But this has to stop and I want to know what I can do about it.

When there is subtle lighting and shadows in my pictures taken with my Nikon D80 (JPEG fine), there is never really a smooth transition between dark en light in the colors. This really brings down the quality of my picture. The biggest frustration is the fact I don't see it in other peoples pictures, most of the time.

For example:

A recent picture of mine http://caleido.deviantart.com/art/who-s-there-65801571


some (brilliant) random picture of someone else http://hakanphotography.deviantart.com/art/Pinar-Eris-Collection-Dreamer8-46913838

If you look at the brown wall in my picture and the blue sky color in the other picture... there is a huge difference in transition. Mine's has borders, like it only has 256 colors or something.

my thoughts about it...

1/"My camera doesn't had enough dynamic range." I hope this is not the problem, a D80 is not the latest p&s camera and it should deliver. And I have seen good ones taken with a D80.

2/"I'm using the wrong software." I use Paint Shop Pro XI. Maybe everyone else is using Photoshop and the photoshop saves better quality pictures??

3/ "I'm using my software wrongly." Maybe I save my jpegs in a bad matter? I always choose a high jpg quality level (8 on a scale of 0-20, where 20 is max compression). I do know that jpegs are always downgraded from 16bit color to 8bit color and I know 16bit color GIVES better colors. But how do other people place the 16bit color look into a 8bit JPEG...

4/"Jpegs just give this kind of colors, it's in their nature." But why is everyone elses picture so different and so good in terms of color transition?

5/"The problem has to do with post processing." No, the problem is already visible on the original image. But, to a lesser extent.
6/ "I should use RAW." But I have to export to jpeg anyway to publish the pic...

My latest guess is something about colorspaces... but then again, If I edit in colorspace A, everything will be converted to the colorspace that is used in JPEGS, which I thought was pretty basic and not changeable?

Any help is really welcome. This is really something I can't get around with. Probably there is a simple solution, so please tell me all about it...

Nikon D80 + 18-70 f/3.5 - 4.5 ~ 50 f/1.8 ~ 35 f/2 ~ 70-210 f/4 ~ SB-600


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