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Tone Compensation

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by jklofft, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. I’ve read that a lot of people set the tone compensation on their D2H and D2X to low even when shooting raw. A couple of questions

    1 – I thought that the tone compensation was applied to the raw data and would be reinterpreted in Capture with without any loss. Is that correct?
    2 – Does setting tone compensation to low give a more accurate view in the LCD histogram? More so than when it is set to auto?
    3 – I have found that setting the compensation in Capture any higher then normal produces very poor results. What is other people’s experience?
    4 – I have found that when the contrast set to low (and occasionally medium low), the colors seem to go flat. What is the best why to correct that?

  2. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    It may be that there have been no responses because you lmited your question to D2H and D2X users.

    I don't know if those cameras handle "tone compensation" any differently than a D70, but Nikno Capture is the same no matter what camera is used.

    1 - I do not believe NC reinterprets the data. NC displays the shot with any and all camera settings in effect. From there you can adjust them all.

    2 - The Histogram depicts the exposure and is not particularly affected by tone compensation any more than it is by any other exposure settings.

    3 - Compensation in NC works well, but usually has to be applied in very small increments.

    4 - Flat colors can be adjusted with several tools in NC to be as you like.
  3. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  4. Paul & Ken,

    Thanks for the info.
  5. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    This is not true, at least not on the D70 and I would assume the other Nikon DSLR's are similar. The in-camera histogram is based on in-camera processing, which means things like tone curve and WB definitely have an impact on the in-camera histogram.
  6. marc

    marc Guest

    any settings and changes to those settings, will change the histogram, although, you probably need to give a good look to determine the changes
    some changes are very slight and are not easily seen.

    contrast or the lack thereoff, will definitely, change the look of the histogram
    contrast is the addition or subtraction of luminosity.

    go to nc and play with the contrast settings, you can see for yourself, how the curves or histogram changes as you add or subtract contrast.
    it can be very dramatic.
  7. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    I'm also a D70 user, but I hope this goes for your DSLR as well:

    That's what I believe too. You may want to read one of Thom Hogans D2X or D2H guides - see http://www.bythom.com/) - in the D70 guide he seems to imply this.
    But: NC's Advanced Raw menu with the tone compensation controls defaults to "Unchanged", which means it takes the settings from the camera. So if you set Tone Comp to High in-camera and keep the NC setting at Unchanged, you'll be working on a high contrast image.

    I agree with Jeff Kohn. WB setting definitely has an impact on the histogram in the D70. But you can easily try WB and perhaps tone comp - try shooting under incandescent light and play with the WB. With tone comp you probably need to find a scene with little contrast to see the effects.
    Regarding the "Auto" Tone Comp, the camera decides on the contrast setting. In some cases the scene can be misleading. When you have a bright object against a dark background, the camera may reduce contrast as it assumes the scene is a "high contrast scene". With a fixed setting, you get constant results that you can change afterwards to your liking.

    On the D70 it's the same - there are very few occasions I would set the Tone Comp to higher than normal. But sometimes that's exactly what's needed.

    I always shoot RAW, use AdobeRGB color space and contrast to low (sometimes normal). This produces rather flat out-of-the-box images. I prefer this for the reasons Paul mentioned. Contrast can be easily added by either selecting a different contrast setting in Tone Comp, or via the curves tool in NC, or in the LCH menu using the luminance curve. You can just set a new blackpoint and whitepoint (left and right sliders). I usually prefer the curves tool. Another way is to use the Photo Effects (top slider) and tick "Enhance Dark Tones".

    Another thing I noticed recently that made a big difference on color and perceived contrast is the WB setting. I assumed that setting the camera to "Sunny" when shooting under bright sky would be fine. Nikon uses a setting of 5200K for sunny, while white-balancing with a grey card changes both red and blue channels in a way hard to get via the Kelvin color temperature WB scale (it's closer to 5500K, but it depends on where you're located, sun, etc.). Using a grey card for WB put the colors right into place on subsequent shots under same/very similar conditions.

    Don't take this as advise, just as ideas to experiment with.
  8. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I think this is a point worth reiterating. If you want images with "snap" and no post-processing required, normal or medium high might be OK, but when I was using NC I found that even Normal would sometimes block up shadows and clip highlights, so I usually found myself using Medium-Low. Now with ACR 3.x I'm not using in-camera curves for RAW conversion anymore but when converting I still tend to favor a fairly conservative tone curve. After all, one advantage of RAW is maximizing dynamic range, but if you apply an agressive tone curve during conversion you're throwing some of that dynamic range away (just like the in-camera JPG processing does). Once you have the image in Photoshop there are numerous ways to increase contrast with varying results, plus you have the option to limit your editing to portions of the image through masking, history brush, etc.

    On the other hands there are times when you need to batch convert a large number of images and spending a lot of time post-processing each image isn't feasible (or desirable). In those cases using a more contrasty tone curve during conversion might make sense.
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