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07-02-2015, 02:43 PM   #1
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Pentax JPEG processing

I'd like to start a discussion about the different JPEG presets, what they do and how they can be tweaked to one's liking. I've gone over lots of threads about this in my search for the "best" settings for me (as it's been a while since I shot exclusively, or even mostly, RAW), and I must say that I'm not satisfied with the usual recommendations of "Bright -1 saturation" or "just switch to Natural".

Every single preset has a different "base" processing which cannot be changed (Vibrant, for example, strongly emphasises Magenta and Green, while Bleach Bypass mutes those colours). The presets even seem to have different NR levels applied if you leave that on Auto! (Yes, I did indeed pixel peep that hard ). You can get the presets to mostly look like one another, except for these differences.

That "base" processing can be compared to the grey hexagon on every graph, which is actually the default "Natural", and shows how biased a preset is "for" or "against" a certain colour. I believe Pentax engineers know that the reds on these sensors weigh towards Magenta, and so out of the 9 presets, 4 have that channel reduced more or less, depending on the preset. Note that the Natural preset does not have that bias applied, which would mean that Natural actually implies an actual "SOOC" image, rather than a faithful reproduction of the scene.

I would argue that it's a tweaked Muted setting that is in fact the most accurate of the presets: Saturation +2, Hue 0, Hi/Low key 0 and Contrast and Sharpness however you see fit. What do you guys and gals think? I know most people only shoot RAW here, but there must be someone interested enough to start a conversation


PS: I'll do some more testing tomorrow to find out exactly what Hi/Low Key actually does, since I have the feeling it applies more to the mid-tones.

07-02-2015, 02:55 PM   #2
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I'm a big fan of Natural with saturation down one and contrast up one. I'm not happy with what Bright does with reds and skin tones, even with saturation reduced.

I also use Portrait, in this case with contrast reduced. (With contrast up, skin looks weird, which is contrary to the name of the setting, and I think that's even the case at its default. Much better down one.)
07-02-2015, 03:16 PM   #3
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Very interesting. I'll have to have a play!
07-02-2015, 03:49 PM   #4
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FWIW, I use the Natural profile with +1 to Saturation, +1 to Contrast, +1 to Contrast Shadow Adjustment and +1 to Sharpness. I'm pretty happy with the JPEGs this produces, though I have to admit I did not explore all settings and options. I still do some post on my JPEGs (using the GIMP), but it's usually nothing too severe. I shoot mostly macro...

07-02-2015, 06:43 PM - 1 Like   #5
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A very good question and one I was never been able to get to the bottom of.

When I got my first DSLR (K-7) and comparing it to a friend's Nikon i was not happy that my jpegs seemed to be dull and flat when we compared shots. I quickly discovered the jpeg presets and found that Vibrant with added tweaks seemed to emulate his Nikon fairly well. I don't know if he had already tweaked his defaults or not. I then found myself trying to prejudge a scene, (I prefer nature and landscape photography) to decide which preset to use in any given situation and whether the preset required further tweaking. Quite soon I came to realize (in my mind at least) that this was a ridiculous exercise. How could I possibly predetermine such detailed darkroom adjustments, by eye, in the field,using the LCD screen as a test shot?

After a lot of trial and error and a great deal of help from this forum, I discovered Photoshop Elements and through that, RAW processing and eventually Lightroom. I now shoot raw and leave all the fine adjustments until I get home. The image on the LCD screen I find useful to judge basic exposure via histogram, focus and composition. To be honest, I do not know which preset either of my cameras is set to. Checking now, K-5 II2 is Vibrant, all fine adjustment at 0 except for sharpness which is +4. the K-7 is also on Vibrant with fine adjustments all over the place.

It may not be for everyone but I found ditching the jpeg and all the presets to be liberating.
07-03-2015, 06:49 AM   #6
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I too shoot almost exclusively in RAW (DNG) and use Lightroom for post processing, having found that no one tone setting in camera works for all possible subjects and scenes. My camera (K-50) is set to Natural for those occasions when I want a JPEG.

For those looking for an easy process for selecting a tone settings, I'd suggest using Pentax's Digital Camera Utility 5. While it doesn't come with the K-50 and some others, it's possible to download the utility using instructions that can be found here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/32-digital-processing-software-printing/2...ml#post3212545

Just take a couple of RAW images and process them through DCU5 using the Custom Image tab in the Laboratory section. It certainly beats trying to arrive at a custom setting by making these adjustments in the camera. The Natural setting helps lessen the saturation some may find too strong in the Bright or Vivid settings, and then there also is the Muted setting with some tweaking to Hue, Saturation, Contrast, etc. In the end, it's still a matter of personal taste.
07-04-2015, 07:30 AM   #7
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I shoot almost exclusively in Raw but I occasionally shoot JPEG's when I'm running out of space on a card and last winter for a spell, I shot JPEG's for a few weeks because I had nearly filled my hard drive and I needed to conserve the little remaining space until I got around to my computer upgrade. I prefer the Natural setting. That was the default back on my first DSLR, the K10D, and I liked the look. Contrast and Sharpness are a +1 and I leave the Saturation alone. It's not exactly the same look on the K5 but I like it better than the Bright. This is all very subjective. A lot of reviews at the time were critical of the K10D's Natural setting by default and recommended changing it, probably because Bright is closer to Canikon default settings.

In all honesty, I don't like the JPEGs out of my K5 regardless of what I do in the camera settings. I spend more time in PP with them than I do with my Raw shots.
07-04-2015, 02:19 PM   #8
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Keep it coming guys, I find this very interesting. I found that the camera LCD is very saturated, at least compared to my laptop, so +3 saturation is in order.

I agree that shooting raw and editing later may actually be simpler, but at least for me, it's too time-consuming (inb4 lol spends 2 weeks finding the perfect preset).

I must also admit to switching between presets every now and then, so who knows what I'll be using in 3 months

07-04-2015, 04:52 PM   #9
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In playing around with the BW preset recently, I have noticed that even if you have the camera set to shoot only RAW, you still get a black & white preview/review on the LCD. Presumably then the LCD will show a view that uses whatever processing preset is selected. This makes sense when I think about it but shows you have to be careful about what you take from the LCD.
07-06-2015, 08:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grimmus Quote
In playing around with the BW preset recently, I have noticed that even if you have the camera set to shoot only RAW, you still get a black & white preview/review on the LCD. Presumably then the LCD will show a view that uses whatever processing preset is selected. This makes sense when I think about it but shows you have to be careful about what you take from the LCD.
The camera shows the imbedded JPEG which is processed the way it's set. I doubt you even get to see the proper full-rez raw file in-camera since there's horrible banding and artefacts when you zoom in.
07-20-2015, 01:54 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Muted works well with problematic reds

I have just as much trouble with difficult reds as everyone else. I've tried out the muted setting on a rose, comparing it with natural.

Muted is better in this particular case. It yields a darker and less magenta rose, which is more accurate to me.

I took one exposure and developed it twice in camera with different settings.
Common settings used: EC -2, daylight white balance, ISO 200, highlight protection on.

1: Muted, all sliders zeroed.


2: Natural, saturation -1, hue +1 (shifts reds from magenta to green)


I'm putting the muted setting in my "difficult reds" toolkit. Thanks for discovering this, Giklab.

Regards,
--Anders.
07-20-2015, 04:36 AM   #12
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Using the K-3 I experimented with the review settings I found on this site and other sites and am currently happy with Natural profile - Saturation, Hue and Fine sharpness all +1 Highlight correction - auto, Shadow correction - low and ISO noise reduction - all off up to 3200.
I find this gives me pleasing results on my, only basically calibrated, monitor when comparing/testing the output with the reality of the wide spectrum of my garden.
07-25-2015, 12:49 PM   #13
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Great stuff here!!!!!!!!!!!

So people- pony up RAW RAW SETTINGS for those shooting Sports and adventure-how do you personally get the pixie dust?...i play with my colors to wondrous results!
Aloha
11-07-2015, 04:28 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Krusty Surfer Quote
Great stuff here!!!!!!!!!!!

So people- pony up RAW RAW SETTINGS for those shooting Sports and adventure-how do you personally get the pixie dust?...i play with my colors to wondrous results!
Aloha
The words look like English but what on earth does it mean?
11-23-2015, 06:51 PM   #15
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I've always been of the opinion that every digital camera's contrast and saturation are too high and need to be turned down. When you turn down contrast however, that does take the saturation down some at the same time. I prefer cooler images, as I don't like people in my shots to all look like they have sprayed on tans, and I want the colors to be as natural as possible generally. Therefore, I usually shoot in Natural.

Highlight Correction: ON
Shadow Correction: OFF

Natural (for general purpose shooting & sunny days)
Saturation: +2
Hue: 0
High/low Key Adj.: +1
Contrast: -2
Contrast Highlight Adj.: -4
Contrast Shadow Adj.: 0
Fine Sharpness: +3

Bright (for overcast days)
Saturation: +3
Hue: 0
High/low Key Adj.: +2
Contrast: -2
Contrast Highlight Adj.: -4
Contrast Shadow Adj.: +2
Fine Sharpness: +3

Monochrome/b&w (for general purpose shooting)
Filter Effect: varies
Toning: -1
High/low Key Adj.: +2
Contrast: -2
Contrast Highlight Adj.: 0
Contrast Shadow Adj.: 0
Fine Sharpness: +3

The other categories I have not determined their presets yet. Also, bumping the contrast down some increases the visually -apparent- dynamic range of your shots too.

Last edited by zekewhipper; 11-23-2015 at 07:18 PM.
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