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Old Oct 3, 2009, 5:44 PM   #1
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Default Three Words....Low Key Gradation

I get so caught up when shooting JPEG with watching for when I want to change metering, using the appropriate amount of exposure compensation, white balance, etc, and take for granted the gradation setting.

With the E620 I decided quite a while back that Auto was never going to be a gradation setting I would be using, but I'm also finding the Normal setting to be one that needs to be changed at times too.

I was playing with some images where I had shot RAW+JPEG and the JPEG's were just not looking right, so I opened the RAW files in Studio where you can pretty much mimic all the in-camera settings in the RAW converter and, in images where I shot in lower and mixed lighting changed the gradation setting to LOW just to see the effect and really liked what it did.

Studio has no controls I have used till now that have been able to save any clipped highlights. Dialing back exposure compensation just turns areas of clipped highlights from white to grey with no recovered detail, but in images where there was just a little bit of clipping going on, going from Normal Gradation to Low was doing the trick where I tried it.

It's still way short of what one can achieve with Adobe Camera RAW's Recovery slider that's just wonderful, but Studio really is an easy program to use in processing ORF files and creating batches of many files with individually different adjustments AND it runs really fast on my Dell XPS Studio with the fast processor and 6GB of RAM.

Here are some image examples of the type lighting I have found LOW gradation to be an excellent choice.











BTW, I also found a great use of the High Gradation setting. In processing the RAW files I shot at the hockey game, changing to High Key Gradation brightened the scene considerably without adding additional grain/noise like using positive exposure compensation does. I used the High Key setting in this image, along with changing the noise filter setting from LOW to STANDARD.

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Old Oct 3, 2009, 6:08 PM   #2
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.............hey, you got too much time available again, DON'TCHA ?

This is good stuff, I don't use Studio but Bibble Pro has that magic 'highlight recovery' slider and I can't do without it after backing down the exposure slider, sure does make a difference.
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Old Oct 3, 2009, 10:21 PM   #3
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It's amazing to me Olympus does not offer such a commend in their own software. The current version of Studio is the best they've had, will no doubt continue to improve and is very easy to use in processing RAW files, and while it definitely has some holes in it as far as being a complete answer, it also cost much less than what it's taken for me to both buy Photoshop and subsequently upgrade twice!

And I like the results with Studio better when working with a file that allows Studio to do its' best.
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Old Oct 4, 2009, 1:40 AM   #4
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I know I am in DANGER territory here

But do you know if Sony software can achieve this???

I really liked the first one.....
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Old Oct 4, 2009, 2:01 AM   #5
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I've not ever used a Sony digicam or DSLR and have no experience with their software. I would not doubt there's some feature in their camera that is similar to the low gradation setting.

In looking at the review of the Sony a380 at DPReview, the brief description of the software describes a way to adjust the tone curve, which is basically what the gradation feature is...

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydslra380/page13.asp

Whether that adjustment is simply a tone curve, slider system or something else I am not sure.

I see there is a "Dynamic range optimizer" in the camera with options of Off, Standard and Advanced. I don't see the ability to bias the system towards a low or high-keyed subject, which is what Low and High-Key gradation in the E620 does, but that doesn't mean it's not there and DPReview just did not include it in their article.
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Old Oct 4, 2009, 7:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Chappell View Post

Studio has no controls I have used till now that have been able to save any clipped highlights. Dialing back exposure compensation just turns areas of clipped highlights from white to grey with no recovered detail, but in images where there was just a little bit of clipping going on, going from Normal Gradation to Low was doing the trick where I tried it.
Thanks, Greg - that's very interesting. I use Contrast = -1 and then adjust contrast in CS3 - I'll have to try playing with the Gradation.

Ted
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Old Oct 4, 2009, 4:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by tkurkowski View Post
Thanks, Greg - that's very interesting. I use Contrast = -1 and then adjust contrast in CS3 - I'll have to try playing with the Gradation.

Ted
It's definitely a good option for one wanting to shoot JPEG but still can't touch having a RAW file to work with. I shot this image RAW+JPEG, opened the RAW file up in Studio and still couldn't completely get all the clipped highlights back and I used Low Gradation in-camera when I shot this. There's no combination of settings I can see in Studio that gets these clipped highlights back.



Then I opened the RAW file in Adobe Camera RAW of CS4 and without even having to use the recovery slider was able to completely control the highlights because in Adobe Camera RAW you don't have to start out dealing with the tone curve still being applied in Studio that you cannot turn off as far as I can see. I could have easily bumped the contrast a little to mimic the Studo results more than I did here and still kept the highlights under control with the recovery slider. Even looking at the little patch of sky in the far background, in the Studio image it's a completely blown white where the ACR processed image shows it a natural blue.


Last edited by Greg Chappell; Oct 4, 2009 at 4:54 PM.
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