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02-24-2013, 12:23 AM   #1
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Dark Images

I have a problem with my K-x - the images that get loaded onto my computer are always dark. I have always assumed that this was something to do with the screen and/or the Photoshop settings I am using, but I am now less certain.

I took some photos the other day in reasonable daylight but the image is, as usual, very dark. So I got Photoshop to show me the levels and you can see the result in the screen shot. The camera shows an identical distribution so it's not just my display, there is very little at the white end. (Click here for a larger image).

The camera was set to “Auto Pict”, the film speed to “200-3200 auto”, and the picture was taken with 1/320 at f7. Shouldn’t I get a less dark image than this?

I have read a thread here that talks about the different types of metering which, I must confess, I didn’t fully understand. Is that a possible answer?

All assistance, as usual, very gratefully recieved.

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02-24-2013, 12:44 AM   #2
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Camera meters for grey, and the car lookd perfectly grey to me.

As for your comments on the histogram.
Understanding Digital Camera Histograms: Tones and Contrast
02-24-2013, 12:45 AM   #3
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Some Pentax cameras just tend to meter a bit low. It seems to be rather common. The fix is to adjust the exposure compensation (the +/- button) to 1/2 or 2/3 stop over and just leave it there. I had to do that with my old Km and K-7. You may have to experiment a bit to decide how much EC to add for best results.
02-24-2013, 01:12 AM   #4
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The camera can only make a basic guess at how to expose for a certain scene. It's not blown any of the highlights and they aren't far off being white either so the camera has left you something reasonable to work with. If you mess around with contrast / levels /curves you will be able to make this look more like you intended. I would also warm the light balance and give a little more saturation. It's flat light (overcast) so it's always going to look fairly muted. (Then again it's a grey euro car photgraphed in the UK so what do you expect? )

If you don't want to have to do any manual tweaking then as others have said, maybe you just need to dial in some exposure compensation full time. The main disadvantage of that will be blown highlights at times.

02-24-2013, 02:29 AM   #5

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The Hgram looks more or less normal to me.
Assuming you are not spot or average center metering on highlights and your dark results are consistent across different scenes than just push up the Ev setting a bit and leave it there.

Last edited by wildman; 02-24-2013 at 02:54 AM.
02-24-2013, 04:16 AM   #6
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Thanks all, that's very interesting. Particularly that nobody finds the image too dark. I look at this and, yes the grey of the car may be the right grey, but this just looks better balanced. (I don't know how to do this in Photoshop - I used FastStone's Viewer – Adjust Lighting -> Shadows to bring up the dark background, then Highlights to bring it back to balance). I suppose someone will now point out that the front wing of the car is now burnt out.

In the article referred to by anvh I did note :- “Most digital cameras are better at reproducing low key scenes since they prevent any region from becoming so bright that it turns into solid white, regardless of how dark the rest of the image might become as a result.” Which is not immediately obvious, but is clearly common sense once it has been pointed out, and is almost certainly what is going on here.

That, however, leads me to the question – how do I do the equivalent of “Adjust Shadows” in Photoshop? Adjust brightness and contrast don’t do it, adjust levels doesn’t do it. No idea……
02-24-2013, 06:32 AM   #7

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QuoteOriginally posted by Farmer_Terry Quote
Particularly that nobody finds the image too dark.
compared to what? = we are not there so we don't know what the scene looks like to the naked eye. For all we know perhaps you just want it a bit brighter regardless of what the original scene looked like.

So far as the "how" question post an editable file and we can see what needs to be done.
02-24-2013, 09:22 AM   #8
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Curves works but i would use camera raw instead, there you've all the controls you're seeking.
Don't know which version of PS you're using?

As for your sample photo, there you actually brought the shadows up because the car looks about just as bright. The sensor will not compensate and capture the scene as it is. You can bring up the shadows with DR adjustment the newer camera have.

02-24-2013, 09:35 AM   #9
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As others have suggested, check your exposure compensation settings (+/- button on your camera). If your photos are consistently dark, you might have inadvertently lowered the Ev. Otherwise, for a quick fix, try using the Auto Exposure correction in your image editor (Photoshop).
02-24-2013, 04:26 PM   #10
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What is the native contrast range of your monitor, and have you tried calibrating it? The factory default for most PC monitors is a high color temp (white balance), over saturation of colors and a limited contrast range to give things more 'punch'. While a hardware based calibration tool is best, even some of the software only calibration tools is better than nothing.

Once you have calibrated your monitor, initially photos often look flat, and often may have a slight magenta cast. After your brain readjusts in a day or so, you'll find it easier to edit your photos using tools like Photoshop's Levels tool.

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