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03-29-2014, 07:41 AM   #1
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Warming a "cool" lens in post?

As far as photography is concerned, I'm very much in the "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" category in this post-digital age in terms of getting a handle of what's possible--or even trivial--these days. (Hey, even my pop culture references are two decades old...) Specifically, given that there are some lenses (not to mention camera systems) that have a reputation for rendering "cool" or "warm," I'm curious if those adjectives mean much if simply moving a White Balance slider in Lightroom can give you either outcome in the processed image.

For instance, after looking through a lot of samples from the Voigtlander 40mm Ultron, I notice that the images posted on this board and on Flickr have a kind of "Ektachrome" vibe, with pinks and blues rendered vividly, while greens shift darker. On the other hand, the DA35 Limited macro seems to "pop" greens, while older K-series lenses threaten to take me back to my Kodachrome days.

The overall question I have, then, is how much weight should I give to this variable when choosing to buy a lens (as opposed to all the other criteria) given the abilities of modern editing software?

03-29-2014, 08:00 AM   #2
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I think you can "warm up" or "cool down" any image, independent of the lens, to a good degree. You not only have the white balance slider to play with but you can fine tune the image by adjusting the color curves. This changes the transfer function of how much color comes out from the color that comes in. Then there's also all the other typical color tools at your disposal.

Manipulating contrasts makes images "pop" to me. We put fancy names on them like "definition" in Aperture but I think it's essentially a contrast function.

All of this works best if you shoot in raw. You're closer to the source image data and raw light.

I typically try not to void the characteristics of the lens in PP. It adds a certain charm to the image. Otherwise your images will be too neutral and look like everyone else's.
03-29-2014, 08:05 AM   #3
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It depends on how important to you the whole color variable is, and also how sensitive you are to subtle changes in tones. My preference is to get the colors as close to where I want them in the camera, so the color rendering is an very important variable for me. While you can make dramatic changes to color in post, making those subtle changes in tone to achieve a more pleasing aesthetic result I have found to be difficult and frustrating. So if a lens doesn't give me the colors I want in the camera (or at least colors easily fixed in post), I get rid of it and look for something that will do better.
03-29-2014, 08:15 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Otherwise your images will be too neutral and look like everyone else's.
Thanks for the insights! I very much take your point about taking advantage of what the lens is giving you--certainly there a lot of photographers capitalizing of the CV 40mm's unique "look."

In my case, since I am (or aspire to be) primarily a nature photographer, I was imagining a typical day's hike that took me from lush valleys to rather windswept high country. I've no doubt the Voigtlander would give wonderful renderings of the latter (as well as many species of wildflowers along the way) but I had my concerns what it would do, say, along a mossy--and very green,if you're familiar with the Southern Appalachias--mountain stream.

03-29-2014, 08:15 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
As far as photography is concerned, I'm very much in the "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" category in this post-digital age in terms of getting a handle of what's possible--or even trivial--these days. (Hey, even my pop culture references are two decades old...) Specifically, given that there are some lenses (not to mention camera systems) that have a reputation for rendering "cool" or "warm," I'm curious if those adjectives mean much if simply moving a White Balance slider in Lightroom can give you either outcome in the processed image.

For instance, after looking through a lot of samples from the Voigtlander 40mm Ultron, I notice that the images posted on this board and on Flickr have a kind of "Ektachrome" vibe, with pinks and blues rendered vividly, while greens shift darker. On the other hand, the DA35 Limited macro seems to "pop" greens, while older K-series lenses threaten to take me back to my Kodachrome days.

The overall question I have, then, is how much weight should I give to this variable when choosing to buy a lens (as opposed to all the other criteria) given the abilities of modern editing software?
IMHO, you buy lenses based on their individual rendering. The Voigtlanders render differently as do Zeiss, Pentax and others. If you are post processing using "film emulations" it may not matter as much or at all.
03-29-2014, 08:20 AM   #6
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When the glass imposes a tint, it represents color (light) lost and as such also imposes a constraint on what can be done in PP. For most lenses, it is not a big issue. My Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro has is noticeably warm, but shooting in RAW and adjustment of white balance usually works. The warmth imposed by a yellowed Takumar is another matter. It is hard to boost blue tones that are not there to start with.


Steve
03-29-2014, 08:21 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
So if a lens doesn't give me the colors I want in the camera (or at least colors easily fixed in post), I get rid of it and look for something that will do better.
Thanks! As I mentioned to 6BQ5, my landscape in the lusher sections of the Southern Highlands might resemble yours out in Cali, so perhaps you can see why this was on my mind. Specifically, our ubiquitous laurel species already have a blue-green cast to their foliage, so I was concerned that the CV 40 might really be overwhelmed.
03-29-2014, 08:23 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
When the glass imposes a tint, it represents color (light) lost and as such also imposes a constraint on what can be done in PP. For most lenses, it is not a big issue. My Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro has is noticeably warm, but shooting in RAW and adjustment of white balance usually works. The warmth imposed by a yellowed Takumar is another matter. It is hard to boost blue tones that are not there to start with.


Steve

True, you can't boost blues that aren't there but you can cut the yellows and increase saturation a bit.

The art of PP is just as important as the art of seeing the subject!

03-29-2014, 08:30 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The warmth imposed by a yellowed Takumar is another matter. It is hard to boost blue tones that are not there to start with.
Thanks for the input...I think that help explain what I was seeing with the K-series examples (and of course, opens up a whole other set of questions if you plan to process as monochrome, I suppose.)

QuoteQuote:
IMHO, you buy lenses based on their individual rendering
Franky, thanks...another reason not to look too long at the FA Limiteds, I guess! FWIW, I can imagine the FA43 would be lovely in a lot of low-light situations down in our "hollers," even if it's not built its reputation on being a "landscape" lens.
03-29-2014, 09:57 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
FWIW, I can imagine the FA43 would be lovely in a lot of low-light situations down in our "hollers," even if it's not built its reputation on being a "landscape" lens.
But here we're into personal preference. I love the colour rendition of my 43 Ltd. for landscapes; it's just not quite wide enough for full-time use.
03-29-2014, 10:57 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jac Quote
it's just not quite wide enough for full-time use.
Ha, no doubt we have more trees to squeeze the vistas into a manageable FOV. At any rate, I'm coming to the conclusion that "where there's a will, there's a way" most times when you're fielding a special lens like the FA 43.
03-29-2014, 12:01 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
Ha, no doubt we have more trees
Yeah, but we grow great rocks.
03-29-2014, 01:18 PM   #13
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I would say that if you have lots of light then post processing can overcome many failings, but if you shoot in low light conditions then what the lens gives you is what you get.
03-29-2014, 02:24 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
if you shoot in low light conditions then what the lens gives you is what you get.
Considering the Cherokee called one of the local river valleys "the land of the midday sun" that's good to know: it's amazing how dark our little coves can get, especially with a thick canopy overhead.

Many thanks to all who replied: what I think I'm looking for, then, is a lens with the form factor and rendering of a FA43 with the close-focus and sharpness of, say, a Zeiss 50mm Makro-Planar. Give me an MSRP of under $500 and I won't even demand AF...
03-29-2014, 08:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
When the glass imposes a tint, it represents color (light) lost and as such also imposes a constraint on what can be done in PP. For most lenses, it is not a big issue. My Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro has is noticeably warm, but shooting in RAW and adjustment of white balance usually works. The warmth imposed by a yellowed Takumar is another matter. It is hard to boost blue tones that are not there to start with.


Steve
I know exactly what you are saying, Steve. One of my lenses - the Tamron 70-300 LD DI - is noticeably "cold", so I do warm it up in PP to give it the look I like… and it looks alright to some extent, but the reds especially, that were never there, PP just can't give to me. It's most noticeable in my son's baseball team pictures - the red helmets don't ever look right to me, but when I switch to the A 70-210 f4, they look stunning.
But on the other hand, I'm probably the only one that notices that the reds don't look the same. Most people might look at the pictures and think they're just fine, in fact other parents have said they think they're wonderful
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