HX400V: can saturation and contrast be tamed?

Started Aug 11, 2014 | Discussions thread
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HX400V: can saturation and contrast be tamed?
Aug 11, 2014

This HX400V is the second superzoom camera I've bought in as many weeks where the colors are simply not believable.  Lots of snap, crackle, pop, but very far from the actual colors and values that an artist would expect from looking at the scene.

Under the Creative Style menu, there isn't any Neutral option, just variations on vividness.  So I stuck with Standard and turned the contrast and saturation both to -3.  (Yes, I tried Landscape but no real difference and its description says that it intensifies the colors and contrast.) I've had the DRO on various settings from OFF to Auto to the level 5 of the D-range optimizer.  In all cases, the highlights are blown out although with the lv 5 DRO the shadows are pulled up away from the bottom of the histogram; top stays pinned against the right.  I've tried changing the exposure compensation as well - the overall brightness shifts but but the highlights like sky remain flashing in the review and the histogram has pixels against the right edge.  This is true for both AWB and Daylight.

As for color type and saturation, anything even close to orange or purple has become a blazing cherry-ish red.

I shot a Color Checker Passport with AWB and the white to black patches are reassuringly pretty neutral to Photoshop's eyedropper.  That aspect at least seems to be correct; far better than the Fujifilm HS50EXR where the RGB differences between channels depended on the brightness of the grey patch.

I use NeatImage for noise removal.  It was unhappy about building a profile from this test image because it saw various channels as "non uniform" - Y or Cr or Cb or two of them, depending on which color patch it was looking at.

I'm accustomed to using Photoshop to make tweaks to shots that are going the fine art direction but having the original so far from realistic is kind of disturbing. So, can anyone speak to this issue without just telling me how wonderful saturated color is?  Is realistic color perhaps just not available with this kind of camera?

Thanks for any help.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V
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