D7100 skin tones

Started May 4, 2013 | Discussions thread
anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 9,027
A contrary view - NX2 can provide decent skin tone
2

First off, I absolutely agree with you that I have no earthly clue why in this universe Nikon came up with the brilliant (sarcasm +10) idea of setting the "standard" picture control the way they did. However, I absolutely applaud them for allowing the user of View NX2 or Capture NX2 the ability to customize the picture controls with a custom curve, which is the way I often go if I'm going to be doing strict portraiture.

However, I disagree with your assertion that Nikon products can't be used for good skin tones. For reference, I just checked the last head shot session I did (sorry, no permission for web publishing at this point so no examples) and looked at the CMYK numbers in PS again (as with anyone who does color skin work seriously, obviously I look at the CMYK values in photoshop when doing the retouch).

So for this post I re-converted the raw as follows: Running the conversion in NX2 so the WB is dead smack on, using a modified "standard" picture control with the "brightness" parameter knocked back to -1 (minus one) but everything else set at defaults, the CMYK values for an 18 year old Caucasian young lady with definitely fair-ish, almost slightly "rosy" skin ran 16C, 35M, 40Y; reasonably within the bounds of the Dan Margulis CMYK skin tone guidelines. Camera was a D800E with a 200/2, the image is in Adobe RGB space. I have a well calibrated monitor and the shot looks fine given I know what the girl looks like.

(Note: I chose the Standard with -1 parameter since that's the quickest way, I feel, to get away from the problem area. Ideally I'd use a custom curve, but I wanted to show people that with a relatively simple adjustment to things, one can do much better than the defaults without going into custom curve custom picture controls)

So we're going to have to disagree on Nikons conversions being totally at fault here. It is absolutely possible to do skin tone correctly with Nikon software. There might be other methods that work better for some, but I've not had an issue with it, at least on my D800E and my previous D700. I haven't run a really strict skin tone test on the D7100 yet but early impressions are that it's color is quite close to the D800E. (I've been doing far more B&W work lately, and most of that is with the 800E)

Where I feel the problem is is this: Most amateurs, and many of the images one sees on flickr and in the images posted with the OP, are exposed poorly and have poor WB. With default Nikon "Standard" conversion with it's WAY-too-hot brightness, it's REAL easy to torch the red channel and send it into another universe. Presto - horrid skin tones. My usual recommendation for anyone shooting people with Nikon bodies and converting with Nikon software remains: Get off the default standard control; at least if you're going to use standard, back down the brightness to -1, and make damned sure you nail your WB and watch the red channel. That will take you most of the way there and anything else can be fine tuned in photoshop later. Even better, if the user is adept enough, is to create a custom picture control using a custom contrast curve instead of one of the built in ones.

There is more than one way to skin a cat....

-m

BTW, you are correct - unfortunately none of the Nikon software products provide CMYK numbers. A shame. IIRC, Adobe Lightroom is even more useless and doesn't provide standard RGB values (those stupid %'s have to go) and doesn't provide CMYK values either.

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