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03-13-2016, 02:27 PM   #1
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Highlight Correction

Early on, not long after getting my Q7, I went to a car show and tried shooting everything in JPEG with "reversal film" settings. Some of you can probably guess how that went. . . I was disappointed with how many shots had blown and unrecoverable highlights. Just like real reversal film, JPEGs with reversal film simulation are unforgiving.

Since then I've gained more familiarity with this camera's settings. I've found that shooting JPEG with the natural or bright setting gives generally good results in good light. When facing a high-contrast scene, or when shooting in lower light conditions with high ISO, things can start to fall apart. I've gradually realized I should really be shooting raw, or at least RAW+.

The shadow correction and highlight correction options were a bit of a mystery to me, and I think maybe to a lot of other people too. Shadow correction only affects JPEGs, and I decided it was best to leave that off. However. . . Highlight correction does effect how the shot is exposed and, thus, what goes into the raw file.

When I got my first DSLR, the K100D, it had much less dynamic range than film, and it was very sensitive to blown highlights. So I thought to myself, "Why not just set the exposure compensation to about -0.7 EV and under-expose everything, and then gain the images up in post?" Well, that's roughly what Highlight Correction does. Except now it's automatic and I don't have to think about it. I can just leave it on "auto" and let the camera handle that.

I went behind my house today with a tripod and the 01 lens, and I took some shots of the house where the side was in shade and the light-colored roof was in sun, with various settings. The results mostly confirmed what I expected. With highlight correction OFF some parts of the roof were unrecoverable, and the sky turned unnatural cyan. With it ON, I could save those details, and the sky went back to blue. The ND filter didn't change the outcome, though it put a very slight blue tint on everything (I guess it's not perfectly neutral) which was trivial to correct. Shooting JPEG with the HDR-like "Tone Expansion" art filter was interesting, as it brought out as much detail as it could on the roof, but also made it blatantly obvious where it was unable to recover. (It was really quite ugly.) And of course, the real HDR scene mode tamed the contrast and actually made the image sort of flat.

My conclusion: I'll continue to leave highlight correction set to Auto most of the time, especially when out in the sun.

Incidentally. . . Shooting JPEGs in low light at high ISO speeds has proven very unsatisfactory to me. This really becomes obvious when shooting RAW+ and comparing results from the same shot. I hadn't appreciated just how aggressive the noise reduction was until I made that comparison. The in-camera processing turns the picture into a smeary mess. I'd much rather just keep the noise. It looks a lot like film grain, and film grain is cool. Vaseline is not cool.

03-13-2016, 03:08 PM   #2
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I've not used a Q series camera, but would I be right in thinking that you could shoot plain RAW then batch convert in the camera afterwards? I've tried shooting straight JPEG once or twice and can't see the point really. It's a waste of a shot.
03-13-2016, 04:22 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by clockworkrat Quote
I've not used a Q series camera, but would I be right in thinking that you could shoot plain RAW then batch convert in the camera afterwards? I've tried shooting straight JPEG once or twice and can't see the point really. It's a waste of a shot.
I typically have mine set to Raw+ so it will create both a JPG and a DNG. Honestly, I'd rather spend my hobby time shooting than using a computer {I'm a semi-retired computer professional}, so I'll use the JPG if I like it. From my perspective, massaging a DNG to come out with something close to what the camera already did is a waste of my time ... and the vast majority of the time I am quite satisfied with what the Q does. YMMV

---------- Post added 03-13-16 at 07:26 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
Early on, not long after getting my Q7, I went to a car show and tried shooting everything in JPEG with "reversal film" settings. Some of you can probably guess how that went. . . I was disappointed with how many shots had blown and unrecoverable highlights. Just like real reversal film, JPEGs with reversal film simulation are unforgiving.

Since then I've gained more familiarity with this camera's settings. I've found that shooting JPEG with the natural or bright setting gives generally good results in good light. When facing a high-contrast scene, or when shooting in lower light conditions with high ISO, things can start to fall apart. I've gradually realized I should really be shooting raw, or at least RAW+.

The shadow correction and highlight correction options were a bit of a mystery to me, and I think maybe to a lot of other people too. Shadow correction only affects JPEGs, and I decided it was best to leave that off. However. . . Highlight correction does effect how the shot is exposed and, thus, what goes into the raw file.

When I got my first DSLR, the K100D, it had much less dynamic range than film, and it was very sensitive to blown highlights. So I thought to myself, "Why not just set the exposure compensation to about -0.7 EV and under-expose everything, and then gain the images up in post?" Well, that's roughly what Highlight Correction does. Except now it's automatic and I don't have to think about it. I can just leave it on "auto" and let the camera handle that.

I went behind my house today with a tripod and the 01 lens, and I took some shots of the house where the side was in shade and the light-colored roof was in sun, with various settings. The results mostly confirmed what I expected. With highlight correction OFF some parts of the roof were unrecoverable, and the sky turned unnatural cyan. With it ON, I could save those details, and the sky went back to blue. The ND filter didn't change the outcome, though it put a very slight blue tint on everything (I guess it's not perfectly neutral) which was trivial to correct. Shooting JPEG with the HDR-like "Tone Expansion" art filter was interesting, as it brought out as much detail as it could on the roof, but also made it blatantly obvious where it was unable to recover. (It was really quite ugly.) And of course, the real HDR scene mode tamed the contrast and actually made the image sort of flat.

My conclusion: I'll continue to leave highlight correction set to Auto most of the time, especially when out in the sun.

Incidentally. . . Shooting JPEGs in low light at high ISO speeds has proven very unsatisfactory to me. This really becomes obvious when shooting RAW+ and comparing results from the same shot. I hadn't appreciated just how aggressive the noise reduction was until I made that comparison. The in-camera processing turns the picture into a smeary mess. I'd much rather just keep the noise. It looks a lot like film grain, and film grain is cool. Vaseline is not cool.
Have you tried using the in-camera HDR for high contrast situations? Yes, it creates a JPG only, but I've found that reading the JPG into gimp, readjusting contrasts using the curves tool, and creating a new JPG can result in a very reasonable result, at least for someone like me who would rather take pictures than push electrons around.
03-13-2016, 04:34 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by clockworkrat Quote
I've not used a Q series camera, but would I be right in thinking that you could shoot plain RAW then batch convert in the camera afterwards?
It's possible, and I sometimes find it useful for testing purposes and comparing the various camera settings. Sometimes it's useful to go back and re-process an image in the camera, but most of the time it's less work to shoot RAW+ and have it done automatically.

03-13-2016, 04:42 PM   #5
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Highlight correction essentially underexposes, and then lifts the shadows. It's the save thing as shooting in RAW with a negative exposure compensation

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03-13-2016, 04:45 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
I typically have mine set to Raw+ so it will create both a JPG and a DNG. Honestly, I'd rather spend my hobby time shooting than using a computer {I'm a semi-retired computer professional}, so I'll use the JPG if I like it. From my perspective, massaging a DNG to come out with something close to what the camera already did is a waste of my time ... and the vast majority of the time I am quite satisfied with what the Q does.
That's a perfectly reasonable viewpoint, and I've done that myself.

What's nudged me toward shooting RAW is the availability of presets in Lightroom that can take most of the time and fiddling out of post-process work. If I can get all the advantages of RAW and still get a finished photo with one click, that's what I'll do.

I'm very interested in some of the commercial "film pack" type presets, like VSCO and Replichrome. I've tested their free sample presets, though I haven't bought anything yet. Some people think it's gimmicky to try and make digital photos look like film. But you know, if you are shooting RAW, then there is no natural look, or a right or a wrong look. However you finish it is going to be arbitrary, determined by the software, and some of these presets do produce attractive results.

QuoteQuote:
Have you tried using the in-camera HDR for high contrast situations? Yes, it creates a JPG only, but I've found that reading the JPG into gimp, readjusting contrasts using the curves tool, and creating a new JPG can result in a very reasonable result, at least for someone like me who would rather take pictures than push electrons around.
I did mention that in my first post, although maybe I could have been more clear about it. The last test photo I shot was using the HDR scene mode (the real HDR mode, not the art filter), and it handily compressed all the contrast down into something very manageable. If anything I would have wanted to re-expand the contrast somewhat in Lightroom. The disadvantage of HDR is the obvious: it takes three shots, so you need a still scene, and a tripod is advantageous -- even though not always strictly necessary.
03-13-2016, 05:28 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
I did mention that in my first post, although maybe I could have been more clear about it. The last test photo I shot was using the HDR scene mode (the real HDR mode, not the art filter), and it handily compressed all the contrast down into something very manageable. If anything I would have wanted to re-expand the contrast somewhat in Lightroom.
Your last sentence is what I was trying to describe when I talked about using the curves tool to readjust the contrasts. Without doing that, the HDR scene mode produces an image with an unnatural flatness.
03-14-2016, 09:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
I typically have mine set to Raw+ so it will create both a JPG and a DNG. Honestly, I'd rather spend my hobby time shooting than using a computer {I'm a semi-retired computer professional}, so I'll use the JPG if I like it. From my perspective, massaging a DNG to come out with something close to what the camera already did is a waste of my time ... and the vast majority of the time I am quite satisfied with what the Q does. YMMV
I agree with this 100%. If you are not happy with the JPG image you get from the camera then sell the darn thing and get a camera that does produce JPG's that will suit your needs. Having spent a good deal of time for too many years developing and printing film in my darkroom one of the last things I want to do is spend time diddling with RAW files. Hence the reason that while I do use my Q7 for shooting models because it gives a very good depth of field my Fuji X-T1, X-T10 or X-E1 have become the workhorses for all my other work.

03-14-2016, 10:10 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
I agree with this 100%. If you are not happy with the JPG image you get from the camera then sell the darn thing and get a camera that does produce JPG's that will suit your needs. Having spent a good deal of time for too many years developing and printing film in my darkroom one of the last things I want to do is spend time diddling with RAW files.
I understand this. . . But with Lightroom presets we're looking at one or two extra clicks. If I'm shooting JPEG then I often want to made a few adjustments: straighten, crop a bit, maybe tweak the exposure. If I'm doing that anyhow, an additional click on a preset isn't going to kill my soul.

I did decide to spring for the Replichrome pack, by the way. The first preset I had to try was Ektar 100. I had tried this before with DXO Filmpack, and it really didn't succeed with Ektar emulation, plus it was awkward to use as it copied the image from LR and then edited it and copied it back. (I did find some other emulations in DXO that were pleasing to me, though. Just not Ektar.) So here I am with Replichrome installed, and I call up an outdoor, sunny day shot, and I click the preset. . . BAM! Nailed it. That is what Ektar 100 looks like. It also came with presets for Portra and Tri-X, so what else does anybody really need? (It also has some Fuji color films, which I'm not so familiar with.)
03-14-2016, 03:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
But with Lightroom presets we're looking at one or two extra clicks.
If you're always using the same presets you can save these as the default import settings (different settings for each ISO value if you so wish). Automatically applied on import, and a few clicks saved.

If you have presets you want to apply to all imports, no matter camera of ISO settings, go to the Develop module, hold down the Alt key and the "Reset" button at the bottom of the right pane changes to "Set Default...". This will save your current settings as the new default.

To set the default based on individual cameras and ISO values, go to Edit->Preferences, the Presets tab, and tick the two boxes with "Make defaults specific to camera..."



Now, when you Alt-click "Set Defaults..." you will save the current settings as the default for the camera+ISO combination. The next time you import an image with this combination the settings are applied on import.



Remember to untick those two boxes if you ever want to change default settings globally again (not that I have felt the need).
03-14-2016, 10:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
I understand this. . . But with Lightroom presets we're looking at one or two extra clicks. If I'm shooting JPEG then I often want to made a few adjustments: straighten, crop a bit, maybe tweak the exposure. If I'm doing that anyhow, an additional click on a preset isn't going to kill my soul.
The Lightroom presets for the Q7 (I'm using Lightroom 5.7) do not produce much more than can be gotten directly out of the Q7 by tweaking the in camera settings. To get significant differences from a RAW image one must go beyond the presets and that takes time. You do know that all the adjustments you noted can be made to a JPG out of the camera image?
03-14-2016, 11:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
The Lightroom presets for the Q7 (I'm using Lightroom 5.7) do not produce much more than can be gotten directly out of the Q7 by tweaking the in camera settings. To get significant differences from a RAW image one must go beyond the presets and that takes time. You do know that all the adjustments you noted can be made to a JPG out of the camera image?
If someone finds big RAW software time consuming there are other alternatives. Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5 opens Q dng files and gives IMHO very good starting point with good colour while preserving possibilty to adjust everything IF needed. I found it much better than 3.xx and 4.XX versions.
03-15-2016, 05:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
The Lightroom presets for the Q7 (I'm using Lightroom 5.7) do not produce much more than can be gotten directly out of the Q7 by tweaking the in camera settings. To get significant differences from a RAW image one must go beyond the presets and that takes time. You do know that all the adjustments you noted can be made to a JPG out of the camera image?
uhh. . . Do you mean the presets that come with Lightroom? That's only a starting point. I think just about any combination of Lightroom adjustments can be stored into a preset. You can spend however much time you want tweaking a photo and then save those adjustments as a preset and apply it to any number of other photos -- or even configure it to apply during import. Or else you can buy the "film pack" presets as I've mentioned. LR provides so many variables that can be adjusted, I would never be able to master or take advantage of them all, but those film emulations are a great shortcut.

I'm not sure what you meant by that last comment. . . Are you saying that the adjustments can be made in-camera, or do you mean that LR adjustments can be applied to JPEGs?

To the first: The Q7 has a decent selection of settings in the firmware, but it can't match Lightroom.

To the second: Shooting JPEG and then adjusting afterward in LR is possible, but it seems to me like the worst of both worlds. You get the limited dynamic range of JPEG, the ugly noise reduction that the Q7 applies at high ISO sensitivity, and. . . you still have to learn your way around LR's settings too.
03-15-2016, 08:33 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
I'm not sure what you meant by that last comment. . . Are you saying that the adjustments can be made in-camera, or do you mean that LR adjustments can be applied to JPEGs?

Yes Lightroom adjustments and tweaks can be applied to JPG's. However as I said in my first comment. If I want a higher quality image then instead of messing around with Lightroom I just use a camera that produces a higher quality image. Too few life minutes left and too many adventures to experience to waste messing around in front of a puter with RAW files. Besides, what I do for several local companies as well as my other needs are more than satisfied by JPG.
03-16-2016, 10:38 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
. . . satisfied by JPG.
Noted . . . with pleasure.

Yep, there is such a thing as results that're perfectly serviceable and satisfactory without being "perfect".

I've a friend who's very frustrated trying to shoot 'perfect' macro images of jewelry for an auction web site that's ultimately gonna squash those images to the lowest form possible.
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