I've been following the threads relating to custom curves. At the moment my thinking is as follows. There is no one curve that will work in all situations. In any situation you must have data to work with for post processing. If you blow stuff out by going +.5, which has been happening to alot of the photos I tried with that setting, you can never gain it back. If the info is there and you learn how to use PS, then you can make your adjustments on a case by case basis. There is no magic bullet. For the time being I will use compensation pretty much the way I would with my F5. Of course the nice thing about the D100 is that I can check to see if my compensation was right or not at the time I chose to use it.
One more note on the fotogenic curve. If you look at the curve you can see what is happening by the shape of the curve. You get more contrast in the shadows where the curve steepens, slight loss of contrast in the high mid tones- where the curve flattens a bit going back to normal, and you open up the area where the curve leaves the original 45 degree line. That's all that is happening. It's right for some cases, but not all, and can be done easily in PS if needed.
I'm completely with Preston here. There is no silver bullet. I leave the "tone" on my D100 to normal and make final adjustments in PS.
By no means do I claim to be an expert at PS, but I have read a great deal of what Bruce Fraser has written, particularly his book "Real World Photoshop". He has a large section devoted to working with curves, and the time I spent reading that yielded an enormous return.
I make frequent use of the camera's histogram and highlight feature to make sure I'm not blowing out or grossly underexposed, and take care of the rest later.
First of all, I have to admit, if you take all your photos in RAW, then the tone curves don't really do anything since you'll be able to alter the photo in Photoshop with the exact same effect.
However, here's the kicker: If you take JPG's, the custom tone curve applies the curve when the photo is in 16 bit mode before it is converted to JPG 8 bits. Altering a jpg afterwards will not give you the same results.
One person in particular in the DPReview forum tried to apply the exact points in Photoshop to a JPG image in normal and compared it to a photo taken with the custom tone setting, but the results were not the same (I believe this has to do with the bit depth or perhaps Nikon's histogram is mapped differently than Photoshop's).
The only thing this tone curve was meant to do is add the equivalent of +0.5 EV without having to set the EV correction in the camera, which many people already do. The reason why I chose +0.5 EV is because I found that actually applying +0.5 EV created gray card photos with histograms centered at the center of the histogram, where they should be in the first place.
I am not claiming this curve does anything else than set the brightness level to what you would expect out of any other camera, without blowing out highlights any more than if you simply used the normal tone setting. That's all. It's not magic.
>One person in particular in the DPReview forum tried to >apply the exact points in Photoshop to a JPG image in normal >and compared it to a photo taken with the custom tone >setting, but the results were not the same (I believe this >has to do with the bit depth or perhaps Nikon's histogram is >mapped differently than Photoshop's).
You see this effect even more plainly if you apply a curve using the 'Curves' panel in Nikon Capture editor: the results are not the same as if you'd applied the curve in-camera. I'd assumed this was down to the fact that the camera had already applied the Normal (or whatever) curve and you were working 'on top of' the changes that had made to your data - whereas when you use the custom curve option in the camera you're affecting the translation from the CCD's linear space to the finished image.
Whatever: the in-camera custom curve is a very useful option if you want the camera to produce immediately usable results in the style of the compact digitals.