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07-28-2016, 03:23 AM   #1
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Posterization - do you notice it, and how do you deal with it?

The other day I picked up an 85mm f/1.4 portrait lens to use with my Hasselblad HV. This is the first really fast lens I've owned for any camera. Anyway, I was playing around with it in the garden, and upon reviewing my test photos I noticed a surprising amount of posterization in out-of-focus background areas.

Initially, I thought this was down to the camera's lossy compression of raw files (it's based on the Sony A99 - one of numerous Sony models that, bizarrely, does not provide the option of lossless compression or uncompressed raw). But then I tried to recreate some similar shots with my K-3 and the DA70 f/2.4 - and, lo and behold, I see posterization in those images too!

It's most noticeable in out-of-focus areas of relatively high contrast within shadows, such as leaves in the shade. I've never noticed this before, and I put that down to the fact that most of my photography hasn't been with particularly fast lenses - such that my backgrounds just haven't been this smooth. Now I've noticed it, I can't unsee it. I've gone back through a bunch of my photos and, now that I know what to look for, I'm seeing it in a surprising number of shots

So, I'm wondering, how much of an issue have other members had with posterization, and do you have any techniques for minimizing or dealing with it? I've already figured out that getting the correct exposure in-camera is important, and have figured out that adding some grain in Lightroom can help to some extent, but neither technique gets rid of it. I guess I could airbrush around the transitions of colour and shade using a fine splatter, and I wonder if there are tools that can help with that?

Attached below is an example of the effect I'm seeing. This is a partial crop of the background in one of my images taken with the K-3 and DA70...

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07-28-2016, 03:32 AM   #2
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It may be a setting in your monitor's display as well.

I can't see what your issue is on my dual display Samsung monitor.
07-28-2016, 03:33 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Posterization - do you notice it, and how do you deal with it?

I hadn't noticed it before Mike, but now I am going to be seeing it everywhere !!! I did a quick search on Captain google and found this link. Hope this is a help to you mate. Good luck.


Image Posterization
07-28-2016, 04:47 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnhilvert Quote
It may be a setting in your monitor's display as well.

I can't see what your issue is on my dual display Samsung monitor.
I was convinced my monitor was fine, but after your reply, I checked... all of the settings looked ok, 32-bit colour depth etc... but I've just now re-profiled the display (I use a ColorMunki Display tool), and everything now looks great!!

Thank you, you've solved my problem - I'm both delighted and relieved!!


Last edited by BigMackCam; 07-28-2016 at 05:19 AM.
07-28-2016, 04:48 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pjv Quote
I hadn't noticed it before Mike, but now I am going to be seeing it everywhere !!! I did a quick search on Captain google and found this link. Hope this is a help to you mate. Good luck.


Image Posterization
Peter - thanks for that, very interesting and useful. See above, though - it seems like my monitor calibration and/or settings were somehow messed up. A full re-calibration has resolved things, and it all looks as it should to me now!
07-28-2016, 04:53 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
and it all looks as it should to me now!

Excellent news Mike.
07-28-2016, 06:18 AM   #7
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Funny you should mention it - when I opened a JPEG from a recent trip in Photoshop Elements 13, the image looked like this:



whereas the RAW (DNG) file looked like this:



There was a lot of missing detail in the RAW file that I couldn't pull out using the Elements tools so I ended up cropping and making adjustments to the JPEG before posting it in the "plants without flowers" thread. This hasn't happened before but I wonder what's going on.
07-29-2016, 12:18 AM   #8
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I can see the RAW file is flatter and with what look like blown-out highlights, even on my display.

But that's a product of your post-processing settings, not what the RAW file "looks like" at all. A RAW file is bigger than a JPEG because it has the possibility of a more flexible output.

My advice is to create default settings (presets) in your raw processing software as a better basis for all your images. Then, you can customize each image beyond that for optimum appearance. It can take some effort getting this right. Note that this is NOT considered to be a final solution for all images, or any image for that matter.



My Lightroom default settings for DNGs from my K-3 are

Contrast +10
Highlights -60
Shadows +60
Whites +25
Blacks -45
Clarity, & Vibrance all +10

Saturation 0

07-29-2016, 05:49 AM   #9
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Thanks for your advice. I checked my Kelby/Kloskowski guide and things seem to be different in Photoshop Elements, but thankfully this problem has arisen only with this particular image (I took a number of others of this subject, and they seem to be OK). Normally I'm able to get an acceptable result with the adjustments available in Camera Raw, and in Elements after I open the file.
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