Curve update 28 May 04

Started May 29, 2004 | Discussions thread
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fotogenetic Senior Member • Posts: 2,958
Curve update 28 May 04

I just updated the curves available for download on my website. All the curves I've produced do the same thing, namely, add 1/2 of a stop brightness to midtones while holding highlights better than actually adding EV compensation. The only difference in the progression of curves is how I have chosen to handle highlights. Please read the information below:

Updated 2004-May-28


These custom tone curves were calibrated precisely to increase the brightness of D100 and D70 images by 1/2 of a stop but with less risk of blown highlights than actually setting +0.5 EV. The 1/2 stop adjustment was chosen because it was the median adjustment required to get the resulting tonality of a gray card to equal medium gray using every metering method available and various lenses.


These curves essentially decompress shadows and midtones while compressing the last 1/4th of highlight information. Unlike other custom tone curves available on the internet, however, these curves do not sacrifice overall linearity to accomplish this. Other curves may seem to hold highlights better, but only because they begin to compress tonality at an earlier point. The unintended result of curves such as these is inconsistent contrast in midtones. This limits the camera's latitude because with different exposures of the same subject, you will get different contrasts. For example, if you slightly overexpose a photo, you may get an extremely low contrast image, whereas if you slightly underexpose your photo, you may get a high contrast image. The custom tone curves available for download here are all linear with the normal tone, resulting in a consistent contrast from the shadows all the way up to the last 1/4th of highlights. Additionally, since color is optimized for the normal tone, curves that are linear with the normal tone will result in little to no color shifts or saturation loss. Rather than trying to give the appearance of holding highlights better, my design philosophy is to accept pure white but to handle it with a smoother transition than the normal tone with EV compensation. As a result, images taken using these curves appear more film-like.


Use these custom tone curves in high or medium contrast lighting. In low contrast lighting where the possibility of blown highlights is not an issue, it is better to use the default tonalities and EV compensation to correct for slightly dark images.


1. White Wedding v3.5: This curve is an alternative for D100 and D70 photographers using Nikon's "Normal" tone with EV compensation to correct for dark images. It adds the equivalent of +0.5 EV to images while holding more highlight information than actually setting the camera to +0.5 EV would. This curve is recommended for most users as a general use curve. It was designed with wedding photographers in mind who want bright images straight out of the camera.

2. Provia v3.2: This curve is very similar to Nikon's "Medium Low" tone setting with +0.5 EV. I keep this tone curve loaded in my camera because I prefer the slightly softer, satin-like quality that it results in, and I can always switch to the normal tone setting and use EV compensation when the lighting conditions become flat.

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