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01-28-2013, 08:28 PM   #1
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K-5 Color Issues

Hi All,

I'm the proud new owner of a Pentax K-5 - and I'm running into some color issues! Nothing too massive while shooting normally one evening with friends, though I did notice that Aperture Priority shot pretty dark and bleak on a cloudy day outside (even after adjusting WB). But I've been losing my mind over this dress - pictures attached.

When shooting, everything looked fine on my LCD, so I didn't bother adjusting anything. The dress is a really nice navy blue and the rest of the shot looks natural. Popped it onto my (calibrated) monitor - purple!! And after I lost my mind over that and multiple other monitors (which also displayed the dress as purple), I tried shooting it in other light - purple (only on the computer, LCD still looked great.) Tried all white balance options - purple! All color setting options - purple! But I took a picture of it with my Canon Point and Shoot and it rendered blue, no problem.

I tried shooting it in Raw+ (DNG), and that seemed to do the trick (finally.) But it does pose two problems that I'm bothered by:

1) I don't like shooting in Raw all the time - I'll take the occasional shot here and there, but for storage and workflow's sake, I prefer mostly jpg. What's going on here? Why are the colors so *drastically* different? I understand some discrepancy, but not anything like this.

2) Even if I do decide to shoot in all Raw to keep this camera, I don't trust the LCD preview at all - I'm a beginner still and I like to check my work. I've tried adjusting the settings there, but nothing seems to make it match.

3) I'm also confused as to why the DNG file looks so different in Preview than it does when I open it up in Photoshop. Why is that?

Is my camera set up incorrectly? Am I doing something wrong? I know a lot of users out there will tell me to just suck it up and shoot in Raw - I get that and I might still do it, but something seems off with either my camera or the settings on it. And why would my point and shoot read the colors more true-to-life?

Thanks in advance for helping me figure it out!

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01-28-2013, 09:30 PM   #2
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Raw is just raw data, not a developed picture. The preview you see is actually a small embedded Jpeg in the Raw file. That's the nice thing with Raw as you develop the files completely from the ground up in the computer instead of handing things to the camera.
01-28-2013, 09:50 PM   #3
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Okay Some other thoughts here.

1. The LCD colour tuning of the monitor may be out. (Nikon users have been complaining about the green tones of their LCD monitors.)
2. Did you do a white balance check? What is the colour temperature of the light sources illuminating the dress? There is the possibility that the white balance is off and that is throwing the dark blue into a purple.

I'd suggest shooting a white balance chart at the start of the shoot and doing the manual white balance calibration for the light source that you are using if you are shooting the scene as a JPG.

Remember that a JPG straight out of the camera is a RAW file processed in camera to what ever the current settings of the camera are - white balance, saturation, contract, sharpness, et cetera.

A RAW file is the raw image data with NO processing applied to it. It will come with the settings that the camera was using when the photo was taken so you can use thses as a starting point, but you are free to change any of the parameters to achieve the result that you want. It's like being able to develop an exposed piece of film multiple times in different solutions.

So check out the white balance issue, especially if you prefer to shoot JPG.


Chris Stone
01-28-2013, 10:05 PM   #4
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White balance is probably the biggest issue. I opened your composite in Adobe Camera RAW, used the white balance tool on the wall behind the dress in Image 1, and saved the result with no other changes:

You could have chosen a preset WB to get closer to the light source's output, or used the wall to set a custom WB.

My other idea is that you could adjust the settings on your camera's LCD display to match your calibrated monitor. The manual calls this LCD Color Tuning, page 298.

Edit: Slow typing made me look less original, damn. I had another idea which might be irrelevant: fluorescent lights can quickly change white balance and the camera can sometimes catch this transition with a shutter speed above 1/30 sec.

Last edited by Just1MoreDave; 01-28-2013 at 10:16 PM.
01-28-2013, 10:16 PM   #5
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A couple thing may be at work here. First, there is an option in the custom menu to allow the camera to make subtle "corrections" to the white balance even when the light source is specified. I strongly suggest turning the feature off. The only possible use I could see for that feature is for shooting under florescent lighting where the color of the light cycles with the electrical current. Oh, and while you're at it, turn off AWB in favor of a white balance preset, or a custom WB.

Next, and I suspect this may be the real culprit, the dress may be outside of the camera's gamut to capture. The K5 is known for good shadow details, but I'm not sure how well it deals with strong dark colors. I know Pentax cameras in general tend to be a bit blue deficient. I use an Xrite color checker passport to get the most accurate colors, and I notice in Lightroom when I apply the CCPP calibration, the blue color on the test target suddenly become much more vivid. I believe that in order to optimize skin tones, Pentax has chosen to limit the saturation of the blue channel. Nikon does this too, Canon does not. As a consequence, skintones look very natural on Pentax and Nikon, but at the expense of sky colors which look a little dull. On Canon it's the opposite, skies tend to be render beautifully, but skintones can be a bit off. If you can find it in your budget, I highly recommend picking up a color checker (I think I paid $85 US for mine). It creates an ICC profile of your camera/lens combo, and stretches the colors to fit your working color space like silly putty. The result is spot on color no matter what camera you're using.

Next check your working color space in Photoshop and in your RAW converter. If you're not working in AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB, and in 16 bits, you should make that change in your settings. Also be aware that Lightroom (at least version 3 that I'm using) will not export to Photoshop with relative colorimetric rendering intent, only perceptual. Perceptual intent is usually a good choice when a photo contains skintones, but it can cause unnecessary color shifts for the sake of just a few pixels that may be out of gamut. I'm not sure if Camera RAW, or Aperture give the option for relative colorimetric export, but in the case of the photo you've posted, I think that might be the better choice. Oh, and if you're shooting JPEG, make sure your camera is also set to capture in AdobeRGB.

There is also the possibility that your lens just renders scenes a bit more warmly. Do you have a filter attached? Some cheaper UV filters can give your photos a slight cast.

Now you mention your monitor is calibrated, tell us a little about that, are you using a hardware calibrator like a Color Munki or a Spyder? If so, is it set to adjust for room lights?

Last edited by maxfield_photo; 01-29-2013 at 09:49 AM.

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