Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!

Started Sep 14, 2004 | Discussions
David Chin
Forum ProPosts: 11,670
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Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!
Sep 14, 2004

I'm hoping to start something here in order to guide new users or even experienced D70 owners who're still having issues getting great out-of-the-camera pictures with the D70.

In my opinion, those having issues should start off from as common and basic a starting point as possible, and feel reasonably satisfied with the results before moving on to more fancy stuff.

Because, if you're like me, I bought the D70 primarily for capturing memories rather than for professional use.

So, try this for starters:

1. Do a camera reset
2. Switch to P mode
3. Set image quality to Fine, Large, JPEG
4. Set image optimization parameter to Normal
5. Set AF to AF-Single, locked on center bracket
6. Set camera on Matrix metering
7. Set EV +0.3 - will most probably cause blown highlights, but see !!! below

8. IMPORTANT Set Auto WB to -2. Auto WB 0 is the single biggest cause of dissatisfaction with the default colours coming right out of the D70.

9. IMPORTANT Make sure you try this only when the weather is good, and the sun has come out from behind the clouds, and there's no haze / pollution.
10. Take your favourite subject outside, and capture an image of it/him/her.

11. Make sure the sun is shining on your subject. If you feel a little adventurous, pop up our internal flash - don't worry, the D70 has awesome metering capabilities and will accomodate the extra light perfectly. If you can't think up of a subject, grab the most colourful, portable subject in your house.

12. IMPORTANT The sun MUST be out and shining on your subject. If you can't get the camera to give you GREAT picture under this lighting condition, you'll not be able to establish this BASELINE skill with your camera, and will not be able to proceed to the next stage of appreciating how different lighting conditions would necessitate different camera settings and/or use of additional accessories.

13 ALTERNATIVELY - If you want to shoot indoors, MAKE SURE YOU POP UP YOUR INTERNAL FLASH. We'll leave available lighting photography aside for now.

What we won't care about at this point of time
==============================
1. Composition and choice of subject

2 !!!. Blown highlights (you're probably more bothered now by dull, dark pictures than blown highlights, and that is perfectly fine) - hence the use of EV +0.3
3. Postprocessing
4. Advanced lighting setups
5. Custom curves

REMEMBER We're just establishing some baseline / reference point so that you'll be able to appreciate the more complicated / sophisticated methods of setting up your camera. Go and set that Auto WB to -2 and EV +0.3 and grab that picture!

If you don't mind, you're encouraged to post the results of your efforts here, and continue the discusion.

This is my attempt - we're wired differently, and some would say WOW! Look at those colours, now we're talking, and some would say Look at all those BLOWN highlights, but I'm sure we'd agree that this pic is NOT dull or dark. EXIF below the pic:

Focal Length: 28mm
Optimize Image: Normal
Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
Noise Reduction: OFF
2004/09/14 11:24:24.8
Exposure Mode: Programmed Auto
White Balance: Auto -3
Tone Comp: Auto
JPEG (8-bit) Fine
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
AF Mode: AF-S
Hue Adjustment: 0°
Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000)
1/60 sec - F/3.5
Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain
Saturation: Normal
Exposure Comp.: +0.3 EV
Auto Flash Mode: Built-in TTL
Sharpening: Auto
Lens: Nikkor 28-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV

Hope this helps someone!

-- hide signature --
ptalley1
Junior MemberPosts: 43
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Re: Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

Thanks David, you make a lot of sense! I feel a lot better about my purchase.

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twig69
Senior MemberPosts: 1,164
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David (off topic)
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

I don't want this sidebar to distract from this thread you have started (which I think is terrific of you), but am wondering how these suggestions would interact with custom tone curves, specifically I am thinking about the WB to -2 and EV +.03...

Do you think these are still nice baseline setting points for experimentation if someone is using a custom curve?

I am wondering if these variables (custom curve and WB EV settings) impact the same things, they may be totally un-related.

thanks

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fotogenetic
Senior MemberPosts: 2,958
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Re: David (off topic)
In reply to twig69, Sep 14, 2004

The white balance settings have nothing to do with EV. They adjust color temperature, not brightness. WB adjusts color, EV adjusts brightness.

twig69 wrote:

I don't want this sidebar to distract from this thread you have
started (which I think is terrific of you), but am wondering how
these suggestions would interact with custom tone curves,
specifically I am thinking about the WB to -2 and EV +.03...

Do you think these are still nice baseline setting points for
experimentation if someone is using a custom curve?

I am wondering if these variables (custom curve and WB EV settings)
impact the same things, they may be totally un-related.

thanks

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David Chin
Forum ProPosts: 11,670
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Custom curves - NOT off-topic
In reply to twig69, Sep 14, 2004

TQ for bringing this up, Twig.

I used to use custom curves a lot during my early days with the D70, but noticed that they result in overly bright pictures, for my tastes anyway.

What I do now for most of my shots, is this:

Matrix metering
==========

(1) EV -0.7 or -0.3 for macro shots if the background is very dark and the subject occupies a small part of the frame
(2) EV 0 for most non-people shots

Center weighted metering
================

(3) EV +0.3 if photographing people without flash, metering area on the person's face

Spot meter
=======

(4) If using flash (SB-800 or internal flash) and photographing people - EV +0.3 with the spot meter area on the person's face - I got this from Sam Stern's advice on wedding photography. Check his posting profile out - he has fantastic advice, and I think he uses the White Wedding 0.3 curve: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/postersprofile.asp?poster=hiilijiehmiu

I still think one should not use curves for now, at least until we get an appreciation of what the camera does with its own devices, before moving on to curves. Iliah Borg and Oldskool would be the best people to talk on the subject of curves. I guess Curves and myself didn't get along too well :-))

twig69 wrote:

I don't want this sidebar to distract from this thread you have
started (which I think is terrific of you), but am wondering how
these suggestions would interact with custom tone curves,
specifically I am thinking about the WB to -2 and EV +.03...

Do you think these are still nice baseline setting points for
experimentation if someone is using a custom curve?

I am wondering if these variables (custom curve and WB EV settings)
impact the same things, they may be totally un-related.

thanks

-- hide signature --
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twig69
Senior MemberPosts: 1,164
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Thanks David
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

Each evening I look at my pictures for the day, try to identify any obvious issues, and then pick some feature to experiment on the next.

I was working with the histograms to adjust EV, trying to use EV to bring peaks to the center of my histogram... I am going to note where I end up and see how that corresponds to the settings you use, and try to put together a greater understanding from that.

They type of metering is a whole nother day I think for me, then of course a third or fourth session seeing how the two variables interact!

I was shooting parade pics the other day and because they are coming down Madison Ave, the buildings either block everythign and throw people into shade, or they are totally bathed in sunlight. Sometimes a little of both...
Anyway, spot metering seems like something to experiment with...

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David Chin
Forum ProPosts: 11,670
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Twig, don't use spot metering for ...
In reply to twig69, Sep 14, 2004

... the situation you mentioned - when I said "people pics" I meant where a person or persons occupy the major part of the pic, eg portrait-style photography. In your case, where mixed lighting and subjects prevail, I would trust matrix metering. Spot metering requires one to understand the intricacies of the Zone Sytem, and which zone you want the subject of interest to be - another subject for another day :-))

twig69 wrote:

Each evening I look at my pictures for the day, try to identify any
obvious issues, and then pick some feature to experiment on the
next.

I was working with the histograms to adjust EV, trying to use EV to
bring peaks to the center of my histogram... I am going to note
where I end up and see how that corresponds to the settings you
use, and try to put together a greater understanding from that.

They type of metering is a whole nother day I think for me, then of
course a third or fourth session seeing how the two variables
interact!

I was shooting parade pics the other day and because they are
coming down Madison Ave, the buildings either block everythign and
throw people into shade, or they are totally bathed in sunlight.
Sometimes a little of both...
Anyway, spot metering seems like something to experiment with...

-- hide signature --
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twig69
Senior MemberPosts: 1,164
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thanks again!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

got enough to keep me busy for a while, still got your page bookmarked for when I am ready to deal with AE/AF lock!!!

if you are every in manhattan, let me know, I'll buy you lunch and drive you crazy with questions.

TANSTAAFL

t

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beaucamera
Senior MemberPosts: 2,231
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Sign me up!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

Question #1: Reset the camera. Manual p. 111, right!

David Chin wrote:

I'm hoping to start something here in order to guide new users or
even experienced D70 owners who're still having issues getting
great out-of-the-camera pictures with the D70.

In my opinion, those having issues should start off from as common
and basic a starting point as possible, and feel reasonably
satisfied with the results before moving on to more fancy stuff.

Because, if you're like me, I bought the D70 primarily for
capturing memories rather than for professional use.

So, try this for starters:

1. Do a camera reset
2. Switch to P mode
3. Set image quality to Fine, Large, JPEG
4. Set image optimization parameter to Normal
5. Set AF to AF-Single, locked on center bracket
6. Set camera on Matrix metering
7. Set EV +0.3 - will most probably cause blown highlights, but see
!!! below
8. IMPORTANT Set Auto WB to -2. Auto WB 0 is the single biggest
cause of dissatisfaction with the default colours coming right out
of the D70.
9. IMPORTANT Make sure you try this only when the weather is
good, and the sun has come out from behind the clouds, and there's
no haze / pollution.
10. Take your favourite subject outside, and capture an image of
it/him/her.
11. Make sure the sun is shining on your subject. If you feel a
little adventurous, pop up our internal flash - don't worry, the
D70 has awesome metering capabilities and will accomodate the extra
light perfectly. If you can't think up of a subject, grab the most
colourful, portable subject in your house.
12. IMPORTANT The sun MUST be out and shining on your subject.
If you can't get the camera to give you GREAT picture under this
lighting condition, you'll not be able to establish this BASELINE
skill with your camera, and will not be able to proceed to the next
stage of appreciating how different lighting conditions would
necessitate different camera settings and/or use of additional
accessories.
13 ALTERNATIVELY - If you want to shoot indoors, MAKE SURE YOU
POP UP YOUR INTERNAL FLASH. We'll leave available lighting
photography aside for now.

What we won't care about at this point of time
==============================
1. Composition and choice of subject
2 !!!. Blown highlights (you're probably more bothered now by dull,
dark pictures than blown highlights, and that is perfectly fine) -
hence the use of EV +0.3
3. Postprocessing
4. Advanced lighting setups
5. Custom curves

REMEMBER We're just establishing some baseline / reference point
so that you'll be able to appreciate the more complicated /
sophisticated methods of setting up your camera. Go and set that
Auto WB to -2 and EV +0.3 and grab that picture!

If you don't mind, you're encouraged to post the results of your
efforts here, and continue the discusion.

This is my attempt - we're wired differently, and some would say
WOW! Look at those colours, now we're talking, and some would say
Look at all those BLOWN highlights, but I'm sure we'd agree that
this pic is NOT dull or dark. EXIF below the pic:

Focal Length: 28mm
Optimize Image: Normal
Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
Noise Reduction: OFF
2004/09/14 11:24:24.8
Exposure Mode: Programmed Auto
White Balance: Auto -3
Tone Comp: Auto
JPEG (8-bit) Fine
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
AF Mode: AF-S
Hue Adjustment: 0°
Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000)
1/60 sec - F/3.5
Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain
Saturation: Normal
Exposure Comp.: +0.3 EV
Auto Flash Mode: Built-in TTL
Sharpening: Auto
Lens: Nikkor 28-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV

Hope this helps someone!

-- hide signature --
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Iliah Borg
Forum ProPosts: 15,680
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IMHO on curves
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

I beleive it is benefitial to keep a curve in camera that will help to show more realistic histogram, taking into account easily recoverable highlights and shadows and shifting highlight warning about 1/3 eV.

On using ready-made curves: your cameras are not equal. Even the same camera behaves differently under different ambient temperatures. Ready-made curves are guidlines for constructing your own curves; as ready-made printer/monitor/scanner colour profiles rarely match your particular device.

Curve in linear space is the same as charachterising your film. This was out of the reach of many, but was universally considered to be nessessary (see, for example, Dulovitch, Adams, and many others). With digital it is simple and straightforward. Result is that you know true sensitivity and dynamic range of your camera on each setting; and can easily achive true reproduction of tones after application of camera curve. This adds to predictability of results.

-- hide signature --

no text

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PeterRH
Senior MemberPosts: 1,243
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You're using curves on every shot you take...
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

I can appreciate that you are trying to set up a baseline for D70 users David and you should be congratulated for starting this off.

However (and you just knew there would be a 'but' or a 'however' didn't you :-)) you are using a curve everytime you press the shutter button. The issue is which curve to use and whether you should also build your own or use one of the curves developed by others.

The more I use the D70 and read about digital photography, the more I realise that DSLR's were designed for those who want to use post-processing in-camera and on the computer to extend the dyamic range available beyond that of the P&S segment of the market. So I don't know how far you can take this thread without going down this route.

But, once again. congrats for starting the thread - if it helps even one newbie it has done its job.

David Chin wrote:
TQ for bringing this up, Twig.

I used to use custom curves a lot during my early days with the
D70, but noticed that they result in overly bright pictures, for my
tastes anyway.

What I do now for most of my shots, is this:

Matrix metering
==========
(1) EV -0.7 or -0.3 for macro shots if the background is very dark
and the subject occupies a small part of the frame
(2) EV 0 for most non-people shots

Center weighted metering
================
(3) EV +0.3 if photographing people without flash, metering area on
the person's face

Spot meter
=======
(4) If using flash (SB-800 or internal flash) and photographing
people - EV +0.3 with the spot meter area on the person's face - I
got this from Sam Stern's advice on wedding photography. Check his
posting profile out - he has fantastic advice, and I think he uses
the White Wedding 0.3 curve:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/postersprofile.asp?poster=hiilijiehmiu

I still think one should not use curves for now, at least until we
get an appreciation of what the camera does with its own devices,
before moving on to curves. Iliah Borg and Oldskool would be the
best people to talk on the subject of curves. I guess Curves and
myself didn't get along too well :-))

twig69 wrote:

I don't want this sidebar to distract from this thread you have
started (which I think is terrific of you), but am wondering how
these suggestions would interact with custom tone curves,
specifically I am thinking about the WB to -2 and EV +.03...

Do you think these are still nice baseline setting points for
experimentation if someone is using a custom curve?

I am wondering if these variables (custom curve and WB EV settings)
impact the same things, they may be totally un-related.

thanks

-- hide signature --
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tgosborn
Regular MemberPosts: 282
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Re: David (off topic)
In reply to fotogenetic, Sep 14, 2004

fotogenetic wrote:

The white balance settings have nothing to do with EV. They adjust
color temperature, not brightness. WB adjusts color, EV adjusts
brightness.

Fotogenetic... thanks for clarifying this and also for all of the work you have done in regard to documenting and building custom curves. There are many curves and curve tools on the net now, I am sure many of them work well, but knowing how much work you put into development and documentation AND the great results I and others have gotten using your White Wedding and Provia curve (Provia is my personal favorite)... when beginners are ready to move towards custom curves I highly recommend they check out your site and curves during the process as well. Regards.
TimG
--
My Gallery:
http://www.voodoo.smugmug.com

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eneiman
Regular MemberPosts: 419
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Re: Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone! (NT)
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

David Chin wrote:

I'm hoping to start something here in order to guide new users or
even experienced D70 owners who're still having issues getting
great out-of-the-camera pictures with the D70.

In my opinion, those having issues should start off from as common
and basic a starting point as possible, and feel reasonably
satisfied with the results before moving on to more fancy stuff.

Because, if you're like me, I bought the D70 primarily for
capturing memories rather than for professional use.

So, try this for starters:

1. Do a camera reset
2. Switch to P mode
3. Set image quality to Fine, Large, JPEG
4. Set image optimization parameter to Normal
5. Set AF to AF-Single, locked on center bracket
6. Set camera on Matrix metering
7. Set EV +0.3 - will most probably cause blown highlights, but see
!!! below
8. IMPORTANT Set Auto WB to -2. Auto WB 0 is the single biggest
cause of dissatisfaction with the default colours coming right out
of the D70.
9. IMPORTANT Make sure you try this only when the weather is
good, and the sun has come out from behind the clouds, and there's
no haze / pollution.
10. Take your favourite subject outside, and capture an image of
it/him/her.
11. Make sure the sun is shining on your subject. If you feel a
little adventurous, pop up our internal flash - don't worry, the
D70 has awesome metering capabilities and will accomodate the extra
light perfectly. If you can't think up of a subject, grab the most
colourful, portable subject in your house.
12. IMPORTANT The sun MUST be out and shining on your subject.
If you can't get the camera to give you GREAT picture under this
lighting condition, you'll not be able to establish this BASELINE
skill with your camera, and will not be able to proceed to the next
stage of appreciating how different lighting conditions would
necessitate different camera settings and/or use of additional
accessories.
13 ALTERNATIVELY - If you want to shoot indoors, MAKE SURE YOU
POP UP YOUR INTERNAL FLASH. We'll leave available lighting
photography aside for now.

What we won't care about at this point of time
==============================
1. Composition and choice of subject
2 !!!. Blown highlights (you're probably more bothered now by dull,
dark pictures than blown highlights, and that is perfectly fine) -
hence the use of EV +0.3
3. Postprocessing
4. Advanced lighting setups
5. Custom curves

REMEMBER We're just establishing some baseline / reference point
so that you'll be able to appreciate the more complicated /
sophisticated methods of setting up your camera. Go and set that
Auto WB to -2 and EV +0.3 and grab that picture!

If you don't mind, you're encouraged to post the results of your
efforts here, and continue the discusion.

This is my attempt - we're wired differently, and some would say
WOW! Look at those colours, now we're talking, and some would say
Look at all those BLOWN highlights, but I'm sure we'd agree that
this pic is NOT dull or dark. EXIF below the pic:

Focal Length: 28mm
Optimize Image: Normal
Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB)
Noise Reduction: OFF
2004/09/14 11:24:24.8
Exposure Mode: Programmed Auto
White Balance: Auto -3
Tone Comp: Auto
JPEG (8-bit) Fine
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
AF Mode: AF-S
Hue Adjustment: 0°
Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000)
1/60 sec - F/3.5
Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain
Saturation: Normal
Exposure Comp.: +0.3 EV
Auto Flash Mode: Built-in TTL
Sharpening: Auto
Lens: Nikkor 28-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV

Hope this helps someone!

-- hide signature --
-- hide signature --

Steven, from Canada

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SlipKid
Senior MemberPosts: 1,155
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Re: Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

Thanks David, good stuff

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Robert Peters
Veteran MemberPosts: 5,308Gear list
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Re: Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

Your contributions, as always, are appreciated. I would, however, add the cautionary note I've inserted below.

David Chin wrote:

lots of information deleted...Bob Peters

photography aside for now.

What we won't care about at this point of time
==============================
1. Composition and choice of subject
2 !!!. Blown highlights (you're probably more bothered now by dull,
dark pictures than blown highlights, and that is perfectly fine) -
hence the use of EV +0.3

It seems to me that an admonition to check the histogram and the Highlight display is still in order if for no other reason than to get into the habit.

3. Postprocessing
4. Advanced lighting setups
5. Custom curves

Hope this helps someone!

-- hide signature --

Bob Peters

 Robert Peters's gear list:Robert Peters's gear list
Nikon 1 V2
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Ernie Slubik
Regular MemberPosts: 114
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Good discussion!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

OK, I have printed this one out...
When is lesson #2?
Thanks!,
Ernie

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alldigital
Contributing MemberPosts: 588
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Re: Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!
In reply to David Chin, Sep 14, 2004

I just tried your suggestions and, yes the highlights are blown as viewed in these two images

The first image is the default camera setting (0455). Second inage is your suggestions (0456)
--
A.Small

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JungleJim
Senior MemberPosts: 1,013
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Re: Tutorial and Workshop: Dull Picture Be Gone!
In reply to alldigital, Sep 14, 2004

David
Great thread.

alldigital
Did you focus on the tarmac to the right of the mug on purpose?

Jim
http://www.pbase.com/JungleJim

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Iliah Borg
Forum ProPosts: 15,680
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OOF highlights
In reply to alldigital, Sep 14, 2004

are easier to blow out
--
no text

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P a u l
Senior MemberPosts: 1,010
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Re: IMHO on curves
In reply to Iliah Borg, Sep 14, 2004

Iliah, that's a really good and succinct summing up - may I copy it for future use, please?

(Newbies in particulat don't seem happy to follow links to posts)

Iliah Borg wrote:

I beleive it is benefitial to keep a curve in camera that will help
to show more realistic histogram, taking into account easily
recoverable highlights and shadows and shifting highlight warning
about 1/3 eV.

On using ready-made curves: your cameras are not equal. Even the
same camera behaves differently under different ambient
temperatures. Ready-made curves are guidlines for constructing your
own curves; as ready-made printer/monitor/scanner colour profiles
rarely match your particular device.

Curve in linear space is the same as charachterising your film.
This was out of the reach of many, but was universally considered
to be nessessary (see, for example, Dulovitch, Adams, and many
others). With digital it is simple and straightforward. Result is
that you know true sensitivity and dynamic range of your camera on
each setting; and can easily achive true reproduction of tones
after application of camera curve. This adds to predictability of
results.

-- hide signature --

Cheers, Paul.

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