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Old Jul 7, 2006, 6:50 PM   #1
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Ireplied to a posting about complaints on the Evolt 500 being "soft" and lacking contrast. Seems thatI've heard the same complaints about the S9000, which has turned into my favorite camera.

Brent Gair wrote:
consumer cameras, are designed to APPEAR sharp but it can be very deceiving. Settings which create the appearance of sharpness will usually create an area of high contrast around color and line boundaries which makes for sharp demarcation between blocks of color. It LOOKS like a sharp picture. But this process actually obliterates very fine detail. For example, suppose you look at a picture of somebody with a "salt and pepper" beard. Amateur cameras will have boosted sharpness that will give more clearly defined patches of grey hair againstdark hair.A DSLR will make things appear more flat and uniform. But, if you zoom in on the pictures, you'll find that individual, fine hairs will dissappear in the overly sharp picture. The sharpening filter will take subtle detail and either put it on the dark side of the boundary or the light side of the boundary.

I'm happy to see someone else shares my opinion about what is "sharp" or "snappy" as I usually describe. Everybody has been accustomed to "snappy" consumer digicam photographs and now that the manufactures areattempting to transition us back to the film look, we have to hearcomments about our photographs being soft and lacking in contrast. The Evolt 500 and the Fuji S9000 are examples. One of the reasons I chose the Fuji 9000 was the more natural film look available in a prosumer. When it comes to resolving power, the detail is there leaving room forpost-processing by the photographer.

Like detail, lossof dynamic range by excessivecontrasty in-camera processing can never berecovered.

Hats off to Olympus and Fuji for attempting to guide us back to "natural".
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Old Jul 11, 2006, 9:28 AM   #2
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While I agree on the whole with your point, I do have one slight problem.

For the most part I don't have the time to do PP, its not that I don't want to, its just that between work and family, the opportunity to sit down and fiddle with my shots doesn't come around that often. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. As a side effect that softness, or lack of contrast, often distracts me from what could be a great shot. But that would be a personal problem and a mild bump in my enjoyment of the camera…
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Old Jul 11, 2006, 10:18 AM   #3
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One of the things that really frustrated me back in my film shooting days was always having to be at the mercy of the photo lab. I never knew what was going to come back, and learned that I just had to accept whatever the operator of the processing lab decided to do. Unless you are really a professional photographer, and have a dependable lab, I think post processing is simply a fact of life if I want high quality results. At least that is what I find with my pictures. I'm not that consistent that I can guarantee that every picture will come out perfectly every time.

But, post processing doesn't have to be that time-consuming. If you have the right tools, much of the work can be automated. First of all, I want to say that I know Photoshop is not the only program that will do what I'm going to describe. It is simply the program that I use, so I can only speak from what I know how to do. I have created what Photoshop calls an action. It is the same as a macro in other programs that I have used. This action opens my images and applies a very minimal level of sharpening, creates a couple of adjustment layers that I commonly use (but leaves them unmodified), and then saves that image as a tif file. If I find that I had a lot of exposure problems, I will also activate a couple of levels adjustments. I run this action on a complete shoot, unattended, sometimes overnight, sometimes while I go do other things. When I return to the computer, I quickly look through the images to see if any of them need additional work. Some do, many don't. Then, I just have other actions that create the type of images I need (JPEG, PSD, TIF, etc.). I can process all the images from an extensive shoot with very little interaction on my part. And the nice part about it is that I have the original unmodified JPEG images to fall back on if the action simply did not do what needed to be done on a particular image.
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Old Jul 11, 2006, 8:31 PM   #4
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Seems we use a similar work flow and you are correct about not taking much time. I do prefer to use the psd over the tiff but only because I use photoshop at home and work. I definitely prefer PP over in-camera processing. Once it's lost in the camera, it's lost forever.
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Old Jul 13, 2006, 7:10 AM   #5
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Quite right!
I do lots of project photography as well as general stuff and always the rule is....
Shoot at the highest quality and write to CD so you have the original 'negatives' as they would have been in the days of wet photography.
Work on the ones from your archive when you need to using a good PP prog such as Photoshop.
The rule is.. you can always mess up a good photograph but you can't make a messed up photograph good.
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