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Get "that CCD look" with the K-3 / K-3II and Lightroom
Posted By: BigMackCam, 08-09-2017, 01:03 PM

UPDATE: The following article has been revised to reflect newly-optimised Lightroom settings and example images. For a limited time, you can also download the CCD Effect preset for Lightroom HERE.


Get "that CCD look" with the K-3 / K-3II and Lightroom

Many people feel that the colour rendition from Pentax's earlier CCD sensor cameras is superior to that of later CMOS sensor models. Although the K-3 and K-3II are my day-to-day cameras, more recently I've been shooting extensively with a GX-10 - Samsung's clone of the Pentax K10D - and I've become a huge fan. Whether it's down to the sensor, the camera's colour profiling or a combination of the two, I really can't say for sure; but, the results are very appealing - punchy, saturated, almost film-like images, with very little post-processing needed to achieve great-looking results.

So fond am I of the GX-10's output that I decided to develop a Lightroom preset that would re-create "that CCD look" for my K-3 and K-3II photos.

I started by taking two photographs of an X-rite ColorChecker Passport, one with the GX-10, the other with the K-3. Both cameras were fitted with the same model of lens (the Pentax-F 28-80 f/3.5-4.5), to avoid optical differences in contrast and colour reproduction. The photos were taken in RAW format using the DNG file type (which, importantly, embeds a copy of the camera profile).

I imported both photos into Lightroom 6 and ensured all settings were at Lightroom's default values, with no presets or user defaults applied. I then selected the "Embedded" profile for each photo (to use the camera profiles rather than Adobe's), and set the white balance for both images using the eye-dropper tool on the same mid-grey square of the Passport.

From this point, all adjustments would be to the K-3 image alone, trying to match against the GX-10 "master" image as closely as possible.

I fine-tuned the exposure level so that the mid-grey tones were at the same luminosity for both photos (within +/- 0.5, as there was some variance of values across the square).

I adjusted the contrast so that the "darkest black" and "brightest white" squares had the same luminosity. This required some minor tweaking of exposure to keep the mid-tones at the right level, as contrast adjustments appeared to have a non-linear effect on the tone curve. Now, each of the grey-scale squares showed luminosity values very close to those in the GX-10 image.

The remaining adjustments would deal with colour reproduction - specifically hue, saturation and luminosity for each colour.

In the Camera Calibration section of Lightroom, I adjusted the hue and saturation of the Red Primary, Green Primary and Blue Primary channels to get those primary colours as close as possible. Since there is no luminosity adjustment for these, it's impossible to get them exactly right - but we can place them in the ball park.

At this point, a casual comparison of the colours in both images was already much closer than before.

Next came the really time-consuming part...

In the Color section of Lightroom, I adjusted (and re-adjusted!) the hue, saturation and luminosity of each colour to achieve a close match for each coloured square in turn. As you'd expect, adjustments for each colour had a knock-on effect to one or more of the others, and there was a great deal of back-and-forth fine-tuning required. Small, incremental adjustments were vital to avoid significant impact on related colours, which had to be tweaked to counteract any minor changes.

I was unable to get every coloured square matching exactly, but it was very close.

I saved the adjustments as a user preset, checking the Contrast, Color Adjustments, Process Version and Calibration boxes to ensure all the relevant settings were saved.

Then, on a sunny day with no clouds (rare in my part of the world!), I took some test shots of real scenes side-by-side with both cameras, and tried out the new preset on the K-3 files. The results were good, though not quite as good as I'd hoped - in particular, the green and yellow balance wasn't quite right, and the saturation and luminosity of light-blue skies wasn't what it should be. So, I went back to the ColorChecker Passport images and fine-tuned the adjustments before re-applying them to the test shots. After many iterations over several days, I eventually reached a point of diminishing returns; the results were so close that further tweaking would have little additional benefit and more than likely be detrimental.

Here's a "before" and "after" example of the preset being applied to an indoor test shot of some coloured pencils:


What's interesting about this example is how little difference there is in the greens, as vivid greens are something the CCD sensor cameras are revered for. From my testing in normal shooting conditions, it seems this is largely due to luminosity and saturation of yellow and orange rather than a radical difference in green tones.

It's worth studying that example image in detail. At a glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking the adjusted image is merely brighter, with a little more contrast. But if you look at each pencil individually, you'll see some quite significant changes in hue, saturation and luminosity, while the white, black and grey shades are (as they should be) nearly identical in both shots

Since completing this exercise, I've applied the preset to a number of K-3, K-3II, and even some K-5 images from my Lightroom library. The outcome is just what I'd hoped for... the photos have more of "that CCD look" I've come to appreciate so much. Greens and browns are warmer (great for landscape work), blues are richer, light-blue skies are somewhat deeper and better defined against clouds, yellows and oranges are brighter, while reds are a real treat - more orange than scarlet and not so over-saturated.

Of course, no preset or any amount of post-processing can re-create the fun of using a particular camera. For those who've never owned one of Pentax's CCD-sensor models (or their Samsung cousins), I highly recommend picking one up at the right price, since - at lower ISO settings - they produce wonderful images. I'll continue to use my GX-10 regularly, as it's a great bit of kit - but these adjustments provide a solid basis for reproducing at least some of that signature CCD look with the K-3 and other Pentax CMOS sensor cameras.

For those who'd like to try this out, here are some screen captures of the relevant settings (remember to save them as a preset so you can apply them all in one go!). And, if you do try it, please let me know how you get on!






... and, just to finish, here's one more test shot from the K-3, taken in my back garden, with the CCD preset applied (and no other adjustments, save for exposure and white balance sampled from a known grey area). It certainly has the warmth and saturation I was hoping for


Thanks for reading!

Last edited by BigMackCam; 08-12-2017 at 02:15 AM.
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08-09-2017, 01:13 PM - 1 Like   #2
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coolness!
08-09-2017, 01:31 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Why not post a preset?
08-09-2017, 01:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Why not post a preset?
Thank you for the encouraging feedback, Ben

A preset file would require hosting somewhere other than PF (I believe), and since I can't guarantee I'll be keeping the same file-hosting platform longer-term, it's better just to post the adjustments. It's not a great deal of work to input the adjustments, IMHO, and the information may be applicable to those using RAW development software other than Lightroom

EDIT: For anyone who doesn't have time to input the settings or isn't confident in doing so, please feel free to contact me and I'll happily e-mail you the preset

EDIT #2: Preset now available - see link at the top of the article.


Last edited by BigMackCam; 08-12-2017 at 02:17 AM.
08-09-2017, 01:53 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Here's a preset...

CCD look.lrtemplate.zip - Google Drive

Dropbox - CCD look.lrtemplate.zip
08-09-2017, 01:54 PM - 1 Like   #6
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That's looking really good!

Thanks for the screenshots too, I'll give it a go in capture one sometime.
I'll just need to find out how a "+5", for isntance, in LR translates to C1.
08-09-2017, 01:56 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Thanks for that, Ben. I hope you get some use out of the settings
08-09-2017, 02:04 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Topsy Quote
That's looking really good!

Thanks for the screenshots too, I'll give it a go in capture one sometime.
I'll just need to find out how a "+5", for isntance, in LR translates to C1.
Thanks - I appreciate the feedback

Yes, the difference in settings between software is going to be a bit of a challenge, but I wouldn't get too bogged down with details. A very small contrast adjustment will do... similarly, colour HSL adjustments in the broad direction of those given should, I believe, give something just as punchy and appealing. After all, we're not going for absolute colour accuracy here... just a general look. I spent a lot of time trying to match the HSL levels for each colour, but I doubt that's really necessary. I suspect my first attempt would have been more than good enough

Do let me know how you get on?

08-09-2017, 02:09 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Thank you for the encouraging feedback, Ben

A preset file would require hosting somewhere other than PF (I believe), and since I can't guarantee I'll be keeping the same file-hosting platform longer-term, it's better just to post the adjustments. It's not a great deal of work to input the adjustments, IMHO, and the information may be applicable to those using RAW development software other than Lightroom

EDIT: For anyone who doesn't have time to input the settings or isn't confident in doing so, please feel free to contact me and I'll happily e-mail you the preset
You can attach zip files.

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08-09-2017, 02:13 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
You can attach zip files.
Hmm. Good to know - thanks, Adam

That said, Ben has kindly added links to a preset for me... And, as I said, the settings are hardly extensive in any case
08-09-2017, 02:55 PM - 1 Like   #11
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cool and most useful..I know I will use this..Thanks Mack!
08-09-2017, 03:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
coolness!
QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Lopez Quote
cool and most useful..I know I will use this..Thanks Mack!
Much appreciated. Thank you!
08-09-2017, 03:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Hmm. Good to know - thanks, Adam

That said, Ben has kindly added links to a preset for me... And, as I said, the settings are hardly extensive in any case
Even better would be camera profiles for both the K-3 and K-3II based on the presets...

...Yes, I know...I am welcome to do so if I am so inclined...


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08-09-2017, 03:43 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Excellent work and thanks for posting this!

The challenge with replicating CCD color from CMOS sensors is in the subtle differences in the sensitivity of each type of sensor to all the different wavelengths of light.

No doubt some future sensor technology with a more saturated color response will replace CMOS and then some folks will try to tweak the output of their new cameras to match the muted colors that they knew and loved.

Nostalgia is eternal! And post processing is the resurrector of all good (old) things.
08-09-2017, 03:49 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Even better would be camera profiles for both the K-3 and K-3II based on the presets...

...Yes, I know...I am welcome to do so if I am so inclined...
Steve, were it not you that said this, I might have been inclined to paraphrase a saying:

"Give a man a preset, and he can use your settings. Give a man the knowledge and he asks why you didn't give him the preset."

But, since it is you, and I know you to be fine contributor to these forums, drop me a line I'm working on a DNG profile for the K-3, although it's not as straightforward as you'd expect (unless I'm missing something). The colour adjustment sliders in Lightroom aren't directly reproduced in the DNG Profile Editor... you have to find and select matching colours in your sample DNG image and make adjustments to those. Tricky. Also, and rather strangely, when I load a DNG image into the Profile Editor, the colours don't appear exactly as they do in Lightroom 6... there are subtle differences, which leads me to believe there is some processing going on in one programme that isn't happening in the other. As such, it's difficult to produce a really accurate profile in the editor that works as expected in Lightroom, and somewhat easier via the adjustment sliders in Lightroom. I know this from tedious experience in this very project - I started off down the DNG Profile Editor route and gave up because of these problems!

Now... if you still want a profile after all that... feel free to PM me

Last edited by BigMackCam; 08-12-2017 at 02:21 AM.
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