Green D4/D800 and calibration?

Started May 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
Friedman
Junior MemberPosts: 46
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I've studied, meaured and resolved it - Re: Green D4/D800 and calibration?
In reply to COBill, May 29, 2012

Hi

I have this issue on a D800 & believe it’s manageable. In part thanks to suggestions from others on DP Review. I am a fine art photographer. I've been shooting & printing fine art color prints (up to 44”) for 30 yrs. Mostly top of the line Nikons. I’ve been in tech for 30 yrs. including 12 yrs. at Apple. I'm very selective (some would say picky) about color.

Summary: The D800 is a very good camera & the files are extraordinary. The LCD on my D800 & at least many others, if not all, has a greenish cast. It may or may not be more accurate than prior models as Nikon says. But it's there. Fine tuning the in camera white balance helps with the LCD greenish cast. This will also shift the files a bit. But it's a finer shift in the files & well within tolerances that a fine art printer expects.

For each of D800 default WB files, D800 WB fine tuned images & D3 files I measured:

1) Looking at the color temp & tint #s when opening in camera raw.
2) Looking at the eyedropper color #s on the a neutral grey.
3) Side-by-side comparisons of on cameras & on monitor displays.

There is also a very useful YouTube video on this that was posted on DP Review - See it here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etUuYtMSjgI

My view & recommendations:

1) The D800 LCD at default auto WB settings has a greenish cast.

  • It's more distinct than the cast in the files.

  • This is on auto WB & in daylight settings. I still have to test (and adjust) the tungsten & other WB settings.

  • The human eye is very picky with a side-by-side comparison & very forgiving without such a comparison. I think this explains the wide range of experience people have had & why some people think it has gone away over time.

2) The D800 files at default auto WB in daylight are extraordinary in tone, detail & dynamic range.

  • Color wise they have a very slight green to them, but well within the tolerance anyone could expect it to be relative to neutral.

  • This is true for RAW & JPEG, though RAW files are more subtle & hence the fining tuning discussion is finer & more applicable to RAW. But it still works for JPEGs using simple color balance controls.

3) The D3 default WB has a slightly bluish/magenta cast on the LCD.

  • It's files have a slight magenta cast, but well within the tolerance anyone could expect it to be relative to neutral.

4) You can correct your D800/D4 greenish LCD issue by using the fine tune WB controls in the camera.

  • I adjust it one notch towards magenta. This will display an image that is less green & you might even find it a bit leaning toward magenta (or magenta/blue) like a D3. When you make this change it will shift the WB of your RAW & JPEG files as well. I'm quite sure of this though as I've checked the WB, Tint & Color #s on the files. This shift is much finer in the file than you see on the LCD. It's just about as slight a shift toward magenta as the default WB creates a file that is slightly green, but not as green as the LCD.

5) Which screen setting is best & which file is best?

  • I find that WB fine tune one notch magenta makes for a much better LCD screen.

  • The best file is actually in between the default WB balance setting & the fine tuned 1 notch magenta setting. With Raw this is well within tolerance of what one would expect to fine tune in computer anyway. If I absolutely had to choose & could not adjust the file at all, I probably would say the default WB file (ever so slightly green) is better than the fine tuned WB 1 notch toward magenta file (ever so slightly magenta). This preference can vary among people or even with the same person from file to file.

6) How did all this happen with Nikon?

  • Speculative to guess. But I'll guess intelligently as I have many years of experience in tech, digital, photo etc. I'm guessing:

a) Fact: Nikon did an extraordinary job on the creating great files with these new cameras. The files are more accurate than the prior models.

c) Nikon developers probably stared at these much greater, beautiful files & brought the default LCD display very close to them. They probably didn't compare them to prior models such as the D3 because they were very busy looking at the great new files. Maybe it's a different development group. That would be normal in a tech company.

- They probably just didn't think about whether people would naturally prefer a tilt towards greenish D800/D4) vs. magenta/bluish (prior models). They were just focused on best file possible & having the LCD as close to it as possible. Turns out if there is a slight color cast people generally prefer magenta/bluish to greenish/yellow. Nikon just missed this or just went on the green side when working LCD-File color alignment

Since the LCD is going to be less refined than the files & it's probably impossible to have a perfect match, the better & more practical choice even if less accurately aligned would have been for the LCD to have a (D3 like) magenta/bluish cast rather than a greenish cast.

7) What would be great for Nikon to do now (but probably won't & it might not even be possible as a firmware upgrade in these models.)

  • Acknowledge the issue more completely. Don't just say "it's more accurate than the prior cameras."

  • Release a firmware upgrade that gives advanced users the ability to separately tune WB for each of the LCD & the files. This way an advanced user could tune the LCD to look as he wishes, without shifting the file unless he wanted to. Default would be as it is now because making a change in default would be disruptive to all the people who haven't noticed the issue. An advanced user could go to a deeper menu item & tune them separately. Since users could really get themselves into trouble on this, it's important to include save custom settings and go back to default settings if needed.

  • I hope this helps.

Regards

Peter

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