D7100 skin tones

Started May 4, 2013 | Discussions thread
Veteran MemberPosts: 6,853
Re: Truth
In reply to yray, May 7, 2013

I actually am thinking you DON'T get what we are saying, and perhaps have been misled by a bunch of posts that got deeper than they had to be.

I'll re-hash.

1) Discussing skin tones: we have to be aware there are varying (different) granularities of discussion. There are strong/obvious issues (blown, burnt orange skin tones vs normal tones) and of course there are subtle items (how does the skin tone look from shadow through highlight in the context that the overall skin tone is actually pretty close to correct). For sake of clarity, I'm going to lump your issues in the strong/obvious camp.

2) One can NOT judge how a camera does skin tones based off of looking at flickr or other sites where the viewer (you, me, most everyone else) simply DOES NOT KNOW if the photographer executed proper fundamentals of working with DSLRS. Proper fundamentals include ACCURATE WB, ACCURATE EXPOSURE. One can ONLY judge how the camera does skin tone if you either know the photographer and know he followed proper fundamentals, or did it yourself AND also followed the proper fundamentals. Forgive me if this is harsh, but my feeling is that you haven't grasped the concepts here and are still making blanket judgements based upon seeing jpegs on flickr or whatever where you can NOT make any accurate judgement of the cameras qualities with regards to skin tones since you don't know the technical skill level of the photographer.

3) Nikons default picture control, "Standard", tends to be "hot" in the mid tones and a touch extra in saturation, and also a touch hot in contrast. By doing a very simple (it will take you less than 2 minutes and only have to be done ONCE) adjustment to the standard picture control in your camera, you can solve most of this problem (the setting of the brightness parameter to -1 (minus one)).

4) Once item #3 is done, ASSUMING you are using proper fundamentals (you nail the WB, and you do NOT overexpose the red channel in particular), and if you use a Nikon software product to do the raw conversion, you will NOT get the burnt orange skin tone you have seen.

That's really it. You don't have to get into arcane arguments about Adobe conversion vs Adobes interpretation of Nikon conversion vs Nikon conversion to get past the "strong/obvious" level of granularity of problems. Of course if you want to get to the more subtle aspects of things, feel free to investigate other raw processing software or approaches, but from what I've been reading, you're still at the top level of granularity.

Think about it - I (and others) shoot people in the studio. If the D7100, D7000, D800E were producing super suntan burnt orange skin tones, do you HONESTLY think we'd be using them? No freaking way. If my D800E or D7100 torched skin tones, I'd be a Canon shooter tomorrow with a 1DX and 5Diii and my Nikon gear would be in the trash can. But it's not.

Now, on a more "subtle" level of granularity, yes, there are differences between the D700 and bodies that followed. However, it's the opposite of what you think. The D700 had a slightly stronger red channel response in images (converted with Nikon software) than the bodies that followed. I've shot with a D700 and D800E in the slot canyons of Arizona. It's quite obvious which body is which; the D700 has somewhat stronger reds. So if anything, it's the D700 that should be producing the hyped orange skin tones, not the D7000. If anything, in my experience with the D7000, I had problems with it's skin tones in the subtle level of granularity for the very opposite reason as your post - I found it's skin tones somewhat lifeless (again, please understand clearly I am talking SUBTLE granularity here, not the obvious stuff you are discussing with the blown orange), and the skin tones were a touch cyan for my liking, and color discrimination wasn't the best I've ever seen. I don't have these minor issues with my D800E or D7100.

So when you say that these problems occurred after the D700 (problems being the burnt orange skin), it's not the camera - it's likely the USER. Because all of the later picture control cameras with that damned standard control tended to run "hot" in the mid-tones, it is easier for a less-skilled photographer to over-expose the shot, particularly the red channel, and that's what is causing in most cases your issues (along with WB that is off).

So my suggestion to you is that instead of ranting, try actually SHOOTING something like a D7100 with proper WB and my suggestion of a modified standard picture control with the brightness set to -1 and expose correctly. Process with View NX2 or Capture NX. I honestly feel you'll be singing a different tune then. It won't take you hours upon hours in photoshop to get a decent skin tone. This isn't to say that after you cross the hurdle of getting past the strong/obvious issues you describe that you might not prefer another approach (converter choice, or perhaps running a custom picture control), but you might be real surprised at how close my suggestions get you.


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