color change/gradient is never smooth - what am I doing wrong?

Started Sep 26, 2007 | Discussions thread
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Caleido Forum Member • Posts: 57
color change/gradient is never smooth - what am I doing wrong?

This is something I'm seeing in my pictures for a while now. But this has to stop and I want to know what I can do about it.

When there is subtle lighting and shadows in my pictures taken with my Nikon D80 (JPEG fine), there is never really a smooth transition between dark en light in the colors. This really brings down the quality of my picture. The biggest frustration is the fact I don't see it in other peoples pictures, most of the time.

For example:

A recent picture of mine


some (brilliant) random picture of someone else

If you look at the brown wall in my picture and the blue sky color in the other picture... there is a huge difference in transition. Mine's has borders, like it only has 256 colors or something.

my thoughts about it...

1/"My camera doesn't had enough dynamic range." I hope this is not the problem, a D80 is not the latest p&s camera and it should deliver. And I have seen good ones taken with a D80.

2/"I'm using the wrong software." I use Paint Shop Pro XI. Maybe everyone else is using Photoshop and the photoshop saves better quality pictures??

3/ "I'm using my software wrongly." Maybe I save my jpegs in a bad matter? I always choose a high jpg quality level (8 on a scale of 0-20, where 20 is max compression). I do know that jpegs are always downgraded from 16bit color to 8bit color and I know 16bit color GIVES better colors. But how do other people place the 16bit color look into a 8bit JPEG...

4/"Jpegs just give this kind of colors, it's in their nature." But why is everyone elses picture so different and so good in terms of color transition?

5/"The problem has to do with post processing." No, the problem is already visible on the original image. But, to a lesser extent.
6/ "I should use RAW." But I have to export to jpeg anyway to publish the pic...

My latest guess is something about colorspaces... but then again, If I edit in colorspace A, everything will be converted to the colorspace that is used in JPEGS, which I thought was pretty basic and not changeable?

Any help is really welcome. This is really something I can't get around with. Probably there is a simple solution, so please tell me all about it...

Nikon D80 + 18-70 f/3.5 - 4.5 ~ 50 f/1.8 ~ 35 f/2 ~ 70-210 f/4 ~ SB-600

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