Nikon D7000 Skin Tones Problem | Fuji S5 Comparison

Started Dec 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Nikon D7000 Skin Tones Problem | Fuji S5 Comparison
Dec 28, 2012

I upgraded my D5100 to a D7000 on Black Friday. Amazon.com made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Around the same time, I also picked up a used Fuji S5 Pro to compare it with the D7000, as  it had a cult following for its superb skin tones (and DR).

I'm not a pro. I take pictures of my kids for pleasure (all mine, not theirs, but they are very patient about it).

In almost all respects, the D7000 beats the S5 to the ground. It's astounding what technological progress three years bring to the world of digital photography; the D7000 has a much better and more comprehensive menu, a custom menu, two custom dial buttons, two customizable buttons on the body (FN and DF), two SD slots, much better LCD, faster frame rate, faster operations, perfect exposure, responsive shutter, perfect iTTL flash (I use an SB-700), great picture controls (with the ability to create custom ones), automatic correction of distortion and chromatic aberrations, HD video, and lots of other things that slip my mind.

Only one problem: I did not like the way it rendered skin tones. All my SOOC jpegs had a yellow-green cast. This baffles me for two reasons: first because I never really had this problem with my previous Canon or Nkion DSLRs; second, because I've seen online a few people pictures taken with a D7000 where the skin tones looked good. Did I get a bad D7000?

The original idea was to keep the D7000 and sell the S5, but I ended up doing the opposite. The S5 (however frustrating it is to use because I always to fiddle with EV compensation) produces better skin tones and more film-like colors.

I usually shoot jpeg (I work all week in front of a computer; the last thing I want is to PP raw files on my free time, which is much better spent playing with my kids), but I have LR 4 and DXO 7.5, so I also shot raw with the D7000 to compare results with SOOC jpegs. The thing with shooting raw is that each program applies its own color interpretation to the NEF files; in my case, both LR and DXO had a very similar interpretation: the yellow-green cast was gone from the skin tones (great), but the skin was still pale. I did play a bit with color corrections and the DXO film simulation modes, but still could not match the nice colors and tonal gradations of the Fuji S5's SOOC jpeg.

The D7000 jpegs were shot in portrait and neutral mode, and even a custom neutral mode with +1 saturation and -1 hue to work around the default cast. The Fuji jpegs were taken at standard settings. All pictures were taken with a Nikon 17-55 (and SB-700, when flash was used).

D7000 Neutral mode (left). S5 Standard mode (right). No flash.

Above is a jpeg comparison between D7000 (left) and S5 (right). D7000 is on neutral, auto WB, no flash. S5 is on standard, auto WB, no flash. The real color of the shirt is also much closer to the S5's rendition. This might be related to Auto ADL on the D7000 (I forgot to turn it off for this shot, even though I did take test pictures with both ADL on and off, but did not see much difference between the two for indoor shots). That's why I say "might" be related to ADL.

Here's another shot. (I love my little model).

D7000 left, S5 right. No flash.

On the left, the D7000 in neutral mode. On the right, the S5 in Standard mode. No flash.

Below is the D7000 (Custom Neutral +1 saturation, -1 hue, +4 sharpening) vs S5 in Standard mode.

D7000 (left) custom Neutral +1 sat, -1 hue. Fuji S5 (right) Standard mode. Auto WB

Below is an example of D7000's NEF (left) as interpreted by LR 4 vs SOOC jpeg (right). The jpeg (I think) was set to custom Neutral +1 saturation and -1 hue. I prefer the jpeg. Can't compare it to the Fuji, as I did not bring the S5 along for this shoot. Both pictures below were taken with a custom WB set with the Neutral Expodisc. The jpeg only had minor curve adjustments applied. It looked a little flat out of camera.

D7000 NEF (left) vs D7000 jpeg (right). Custom WB with Neutral Expodisc.

Here's another test between the D7000 in Neutral mode and the Fuji S5 in Standard mode.

D7000 left. Fuji S5 right. Fill flash used. Custom WB with Neutral Expodisc.

In case you are curious, below is a comparison between S5 Standard and F1 modes. F1 is the Fuji studio mode, supposedly more accurate than Standard.

Fuji S5 Standard (left) and F1 (right).

And finally, below is an outdoor shot comparison between the D7000 and the S5. If I remember correctly, the D7000 was set to Portrait mode. The Fuji is in Standard. To me, the D7000 colors look digital. The S5 colors look film-like.

D7000 Portrait mode (left). Fuji S5 Standard mode (right)

Gotta go now. My little one woke up. I have some holding and kissing to do Happy shooting.

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