Dynamic Range: D5100/D7000

Started May 21, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Re: D7000 Tonal Compression PP Methodology
In reply to Zane Paxton, May 24, 2011

Zane Paxton wrote:

1. Shoot RAW format (I never shoot JPG's).

2. The next step is to expose correctly. To do that one needs to use the camera's histogram to eliminate the hard-right edge spikes. If the highlights are not captured optimally, then the shot has failed. Typically I found that by shooting -0.3 EV in matrix mode does the trick. In some cases it will be more, but 85% of the time that seems to work. Keep in mind that the 'Highlight blinkies' on the camera's LCD are a JPG version of the RAW file and don't have the same wide DR as the RAW files (which there is no way to view in-camera, the JPG is a substitution, thus the need to learn to use the Histogram).

3. In ACR, I usually reduce the exposure around 0.8 or more depending on the shot. (-.3 EV + -0.8 in ACR = 1.1 stops)

4. I'm finding that a combo of "Fill Light" and "Brightness" works best to pull up the shadows even more.

5. That much tonal compression looks flat and muddy, so I will usually add more contrast to make it look right. Then some added vibrancy (never more than +30) to increase the color punch that starts to match my "mind's eye" idealized version of what I want to express.

6. For the really dark areas where you want more detail, I will use CS5's tools in ACR to paint-in more brightness and contrast. I've added as much as 1.5 to 2 stops with this tool.

7. Finally in CS5, I will further tweak the tonal values even more in Lab Color mode where the Luminance values are independent of color (unlike RGB mode which does change the colors). That allows even further spot tweaks and by steepening or flattening the tonal curve you can add or reduce contrast within certain sub-zones of the overall tonal range. This is where the fine-tuning occurs.

So that is the post-processing methodology that I've developed so far for the D7000. In many cases I'm finding that I won't necessarily compress as far as one can, but rather to make it look the way I want it to. For instance, to have a sense of "Bright" there needs to be a corresponding area of "Dark", otherwise it just doesn't look right.

Do you use the Recovery slider to compress the highlights? Have you noticed blue skies turning grey when using it? Which profiles do you use (Adobe standard, camera standard, "invariate", custom made with profile editor, ColorChecker... ?)

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