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06-12-2014, 06:06 AM   #1
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My photos all seem to lack contrast and saturation.

I'm a newbie to digital photography and my K2000 is my first DSLR. I have several lenses for it, for the most part, all Pentax. My problem is, all photos taken with the camera seem to lack contrast and saturation. I can correct this to my satisfaction in PP, but I'm wondering.... is this a common trait with the K2000? I have adjusted the internal setting to increase both aspects of the pictures, but it hasn't seemed to correct this perceived problem. I still have room to increase both internally and suppose I could do so, but, just wondering.... is this normal? Or.... maybe I just like more contrast than most others. Hmmm......... ?

06-12-2014, 06:15 AM   #2
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I think what you're seeing is the effect of the jpg engine default settings in the camera. Pentax tends to be more neutral, while Canon and Nikon tend to boost saturation. You can increase this in the camera, by increasing the vibrancy and saturation of your default image processing. I tried this but didn't like it myself, I'd rather adjust in post-processing.

The other thing to think about is keeping your ISO as low as possible, which should help contrast. I think we've become accustomed to seeing the "pushed" profile of the P&S and Cannikon cameras, so we think it's normal - and it is more pleasing on a computer monitor which might not have as much contrast in these days of inexpensive LCD screens.
06-12-2014, 06:30 AM   #3
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Camera Settings

Are you also shooting in RAW? I never owned a K2000 but I would imagine all Pentax cameras can shoot RAW as well as JPG. I shoot both types most of the time unless I need fast recovery while shooting sports. My understanding of the picture review image on the back of the camera is that it is jpg. I made a mistake and deleted several really good shots that were made with the wrong white balance, not realizing they could be repaired in Post.
06-12-2014, 06:45 AM   #4
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You should post an image, this would help clarify things.

06-12-2014, 06:53 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
You should post an image, this would help clarify things.
I agree, and try this:
take an awb, low iso photo of a daylight scene out of your window -preferably with some green grass or trees and blue sky.
View camera jpg on a good monitor in a shaded place near the window.
The scenes should show approximately the same levels to your eye.

I have my old Pentax ist ds and the newer K-01 set for neutral jpg settings, I think they both do it fairly well, while both are not exactly the same.

Actually I prefer the photos of the old ist ds.
06-12-2014, 07:09 AM   #6
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There can be any number of factors causing lack of contrast (assuming that really is a problem):

1. Shooting in poor light (flat light, low light, glare, etc.)
2. Underexposure.
3. Using too high of an ISO (use flash or a tripod)
4. Lens flare (use a hood).
5. Mediocre lens (better lenses produce contrastier images)
6. Jpeg shooting (better to shoot raw).

You can improve contrast and saturation by improving your technique (shoot in higher quality light, use tripod or flash, ETTR, shoot raw) and/or use better glass.
06-12-2014, 07:45 AM   #7
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Morning,

Are you shooting in RAW? If so, making internal adjustments to the settings will only be used if you are shooting in JPG. RAW images is just the data read from the sensor - then stored to the SD card, and you need to apply post processing to finish the images. JPG images on the other hand, the data is pulled from the sensor, and the various adjustments are applied by the JPG engine during the conversion to JPG and stored to the SD card. You have less latitude in post processing with JPG images since the JPG format itself looses some information in the conversion. So, usually its best to shoot in RAW.

06-12-2014, 09:32 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Morning,

Are you shooting in RAW? If so, making internal adjustments to the settings will only be used if you are shooting in JPG. RAW images is just the data read from the sensor - then stored to the SD card, and you need to apply post processing to finish the images. JPG images on the other hand, the data is pulled from the sensor, and the various adjustments are applied by the JPG engine during the conversion to JPG and stored to the SD card. You have less latitude in post processing with JPG images since the JPG format itself looses some information in the conversion. So, usually its best to shoot in RAW.

I think several points here need clarification so the OP can better cope with the issue and describe his particular issue.

First of all, depending on software some RAW processors use the JPEG meta data to adjust contrast and saturation upon opening the file, so even with a RAW adjustment of JPEG parameters and settings can make a difference. It is software dependant.

Secondly, the "loss of data" with maximum resolution JPEG is really the following
-application of the camera WB, saturation and contrast settings
-down sampling the image from either 12 or 14 bit color depth to 8 bits
-application of the sharpening

It is not really loss of data in the conversion to JPEG but the down sampling of the color depth. When you go for lower quality JPEG there is additional loss of detail due to the compression techniques used.

The result of the above is that while minor errors such as contrast adjustments and color balance can still be corrected in JPEG, gross errors cannot because the loss of resolution results in color banding if you attempt to correct too far.

06-12-2014, 01:28 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
5. Mediocre lens (better lenses produce contrastier images)
I'm surprised this wasn't suggested more. Or maybe it's just at the front of my mind as I'm in the middle of upgrading my gear.

A poor quality lens, especially if combined with poor focusing and DoF choice.

This is just me thinking out loud, so don't take it as fact: A poor quality lens is going to lack sharpness and incorrect focus/DOF control will emphasise this. A low quality lens will not resolve light rays as sharply or consistently on the sensor side of the lens. Additionally, light of different colour (wavelength) refracts differently, so if it isn't resolved correctly on the other side, the incoming colour rays will be landing where they aren't supposed to be, "bleeding" into neighbouring areas, kind of averaging the colours and resulting in a loss of saturation and contrast. At least that's how I think it all works.
06-12-2014, 02:08 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Morning,

Are you shooting in RAW? If so, making internal adjustments to the settings will only be used if you are shooting in JPG. RAW images is just the data read from the sensor - then stored to the SD card, and you need to apply post processing to finish the images. JPG images on the other hand, the data is pulled from the sensor, and the various adjustments are applied by the JPG engine during the conversion to JPG and stored to the SD card. You have less latitude in post processing with JPG images since the JPG format itself looses some information in the conversion. So, usually its best to shoot in RAW.

No, I'm not shooting in RAW. Being new to digital photography, I'm not familiar with it. ATM, I'm shooting strictly JPEG. I'm an old dog and learning new tricks doesn't come easy for me. I understand film photography very well, but I'm finding out in a big way that digital is it's own can of worms. But, I absolutely love the post editing aspect of it. Amazing! I have yet to shoot a photo that I can't correct to my satisfaction via PP, but I don't thing it should always be necessary to do so. Am I expecting too much for the shot to be spot-on, right out of the camera? As far as lenses, I'm using both "kit" lenses that came with my K2000, a DAL 18-55mm & a DAL 50-200mm plus I have a Pentax-M SMC f1.4/50mm, a Takumar f2.5/135mm, a Pentax-M SMC f4.5/80-200mm, a ProMaster f3.5-5.6, 28-80mm and a Sears f4/60-300mm Macro.
06-12-2014, 02:17 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
You should post an image, this would help clarify things.
Both are full-frame, without changes. They are right out of the camera, but to my old, tired eyes, lack contrast or saturation I like.

Last edited by Dewman; 12-16-2014 at 01:04 AM.
06-12-2014, 02:20 PM   #12
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Dewman, if you post an example shot we can see the settings and equipment you used in its EXIF data.
06-12-2014, 02:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote





First of all, depending on software some RAW processors use the JPEG meta data to adjust contrast and saturation upon opening the file, so even with a RAW adjustment of JPEG parameters and settings can make a difference. It is software dependant.





Secondly, the "loss of data" with maximum resolution JPEG is really the following


-application of the camera WB, saturation and contrast settings


-down sampling the image from either 12 or 14 bit color depth to 8 bits


-application of the sharpening





It is not really loss of data in the conversion to JPEG but the down sampling of the color depth. When you go for lower quality JPEG there is additional loss of detail due to the compression techniques used.





The result of the above is that while minor errors such as contrast adjustments and color balance can still be corrected in JPEG, gross errors cannot because the loss of resolution results in color banding if you attempt to correct too far.


I find both your main points interesting here ... Firstly about the application of jpeg metadata by software ... I have never been aware of this occurring on any third-party programs.



In fact I have seen some lightroom users say it does not recognise any Pentax camera custom settings nor noise reduction or DR corrections or lens corrections. I have used ACR in ps & elements, sagelight and lighzone and the same applies. The only software I know of that can read and act on all these camera parameters is Pentaz Digital Camera Utility ... I would be very interested to know of anything else that does so. Fo you actually know of any specific software that offers this?



Secondly, I think I understand your points about bit-depth loss and banding, but really, surely the level of compression had to be quite high until this affects quality so much? And I always thought that jpeg processing from raw would normally offer more visible contrast, not less ?
06-12-2014, 03:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dewman Quote
Both are full-frame, without changes. They are right out of the camera, but to my old, tired eyes, lack contrast or saturation I like.
They do look "flat". The EXIF shows reasonable settings. Could be a lens factor.
Does the K2000 use the same sensor as K100D, if so, the images should be vivid and contrasty.
Post one that you have PP`ed to your liking. Also maybe a screen-shot that shows histogram.

Cheers.
06-12-2014, 03:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
They do look "flat". The EXIF shows reasonable settings. Could be a lens factor.
Does the K2000 use the same sensor as K100D, if so, the images should be vivid and contrasty.
Post one that you have PP`ed to your liking. Also maybe a screen-shot that shows histogram.

Cheers.
This is to my liking. The screen shots, left to right, correspond to the photos top to bottom, BEFORE PP.

Last edited by Dewman; 03-25-2015 at 04:36 PM.
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