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12-11-2007, 01:37 PM   #1
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What is your preferred in-camera contrast setting?

For my K10D, it seems to me that the in-camera default contrast setting is too high and tend to blow out details in shadows and hightlights when i take JPEG pictures. Since PP increasing dynamic contrast is very easy, i should set the contrast lower than the default. it would seem that the JPEG default file get me more details, then i just PP a little to take the 'flatness' out of the photo.
Am I missing some thing with the above logics? Do you guys fuss with contrast setting? what works best for you in JPEG mode, and under what circumstance? Comments and reasons are appreciated. What do i stand to loose when setting contrast to minimum?

12-11-2007, 01:39 PM   #2
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I am shooting mainly JPEGs and i have my contrast set to -1. Actually I've started from -2, but after taking some pictures I uncreased it a bit, I find it better - the pictures now look like I want them to.
12-11-2007, 02:04 PM   #3
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I change it all the time based on lighting, harsh lighting with big shadows, I reduce it, flat lighting no shadows I increase it. Note that when shooting JPEG with minimum contrast, the linear part of the picture has about 6 fstops of data (histogram values from about 25-225) and at maximum contrast it has abut 4 stops in the same range. above 225 and below 25 there is a non linear region with about 1 1/2 stops compressed into it.
12-11-2007, 02:52 PM   #4
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Lowell: how did you figure 6 fstops of data in the linear regions? is there any dynamic left at the low setting for remaining (non-linear) regions, given that 6 fstop has been chewed out?
Thanks for replying, it's an insightful point.

12-11-2007, 03:14 PM   #5
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Been using -2 for the last month or two.
12-11-2007, 05:21 PM   #6
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..one last question: does contrast setting matter in RAW mode?
12-11-2007, 06:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by truonganh Quote
..one last question: does contrast setting matter in RAW mode?
No, it only matters if you let the camera do the initial conversion to jpeg. But, even though I mainly shoot raw, it helps to have the settings where you think they'll give the best results. That's because many raw browsers use the camera's settings to give you the initial "view." That's especially true for the Photo Browser/Lab programs that come with the K10d.

All the shots that are look good in Photo Browser can be extracted to jpeg at once. The others that need changes are easily manipulated in other programs or Photo Lab.
12-11-2007, 07:01 PM   #8
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Take a look at the contrast/saturation matrices I posted a little while ago, if you haven't already. Personally, I have a preference for the high contrast look even considering the attendant loss of detail -- which can be significant.

12-11-2007, 08:47 PM   #9
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I have a K100D, not K10D, and shoot only RAW. I have it set to "0". I tried -2 once to open up the shadows. However, this made the highlights a bit dim, so I nudged the slider over a little in PPL to brighten them. Can't say they were the best results.

Back to "0" seems fine, though with the Sigma 70-300 I go to +2 at a minimum, and usually +3 as that lens is really flat and lifeless otherwise. I rarely nudge the contrast for any other lens, though once in a while I'll go +1.
12-12-2007, 01:59 AM   #10
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I shoot only in Raw and i set all setting as "neutral" as possible.
I edit the Raw after, in Photoshop: so I can use the setting I prefer without modify photos in irreversible way.
12-12-2007, 03:07 AM   #11
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I've been tending to use +1 mainly after seeing recommendations in this review and doing a little follow up experimentation. But as someone else said the optimum setting probably changes with lighting conditions.

DCRP Review: Pentax K10D

Paul
12-12-2007, 03:23 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by truonganh Quote
Lowell: how did you figure 6 fstops of data in the linear regions? is there any dynamic left at the low setting for remaining (non-linear) regions, given that 6 fstop has been chewed out?
Thanks for replying, it's an insightful point.
What I did was to take a simple test, which I have also used for checking lens exposure, and make 1 change.

Pick a uniform grey to white surface. I prefer either a block wall, sidewalk or asphault road.

to check lens exposure just set the camera in AV mode and work it through all the stops. Use any photo editor and check the grey scale value of the center 10-20% of the image. Plot the grey scale value vs f-stop.

I did the same type of test to see how the grey scale value changed as a function of stop. I began in manual mode (using an F4 -f32 lens, and with the lens set to F4 set the exposure using the green button (K10D and *istD) with the correct shutter for F4, I then took shots at each detent on the lens all the way to F32. This gives the top half of the exposure range.

Repeat the process with the shutter set to expose correctly at F32 and then open the lens up, with one shot at each detent.

If you then plot the grey value vs stop for the two sets of shots you will see the variation of each stop in grey value.

What I found, by doing this test in both maximum and minimum contrast is as stated. between about a grey value of 25 and 225 there are between 4(high contrast) and 6(low contrast) stops, linearly spaced. in the top 30 values there is about 1 1/2- 2 stops, again depending on contrast setting, and the same at the low end.

When you get down into the low end, there is really very little left, since the next stop is compressed into a range of about 10-15 (greyscale) as opposed to the typical 40-50 in the linear region. the second stop is really down in the mud.

Try the test for yourself, with your photo editor. Others have posted big sets of photos, where they took one shot in raw and post processed in camera to show visually the curve i have described. While the shots are interesting, and show the range, you really need a set of shots like that for each lighting condition because the "best setting" changes with each lighting condition. My preference (emphesis on MY), being somewhat of a techie, is to actually understand in numbers the gain.
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