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Modified D100 Tone Curve

Valkeerie


14 posts

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Valkeerie Registered since 30th Aug 2002
Wed 16-Jan-08 01:07 PM

In a previous thread I commented that the D100 produces flat, dull images by default, and these need to be processed to produce the finished item. I won't repeat the conclusions of that extensive discussion (which aren't negative), but I did want to report on one of the consequences, which was that I used NC 3 to upload a modified tone curve into the camera.

The issue for me isn't that I can post-process images in NC 3 or Photoshop or Photopaint to produce lively images. I can do that. The problem is that I can't remember what things looked like. One of the things I want a camera to do for me is to record _what things looked like_. The images I was getting from the camera weren't what I was seeing. Not even approximately.

I produced a tone curve in NC 3 by taking a picture from my study window, and then adjusted the tone curve to produce an image which was close to what I saw. I then uploaded it into the spare/user tone curve slot in the camera.

I have posted some of the results below. Everything was default, apart from white balance, and I toggled tone between auto and my own curve. The brighter images are those taken with the modified curve. Note that no processing of the resulting JPEGs has taken place, other than resizing and compressing.

As I understand it, this is _not_ the same as upping the exposure. The exposure is identical in both cases, and the NEF image captured is also the same. What is happening is that the camera is processing the image internally, and the modified tone curve ups all the pixel values, but as it is non-linear it lifts the highlights more. This doesn't necessarily produce a better photo (in the building example, much of the sky detail is lost) but it produces a picture that more accurately captures what I see.

So, much of the review material on the D100 is incomplete without an understanding of this very powerful feature. You can stick any tone curve in there that you want, and the camera will behave completely differently. Fiddling with exposure, sharpness etc in an attempt to "lift" the default images isn't a way forward, as overexposure is a poor way to apply a corrective tone curve to an image!

I feel happy with this. I can make the camera do what I want, and I can endorse Nikon's visual austerity when I am in difficult lighting situations.

Colin

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