Default Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation Settings?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DirtRoadie, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. DirtRoadie

    DirtRoadie Guest

    Let's assume the following:
    (1) I can manipulate an image to my heart's content in Photoshop.
    (2) My digital camera allows adjustment of image contrast, saturation
    and sharpness to 3 settings (designated + , - , neutral or default.)
    (3) There is no RAW mode, and although there is an uncompressed TIFF
    option, most images will be saved as JPG (no choice of compression).

    Assuming that I am willing to do the necessary post-processing in PS,
    is there any reason to set any of the image parameters in #2 above to
    anything other than the lowest setting? (For each setting, default is
    be the middle of the three choices) I understand that doing this may
    not give me ideal "straight-from-the- camera" images. I'm more
    concerned with having images that can always be as good as or better
    than (subject to taste) what the in-camera processing might create.

    DirtRoadie, Oct 25, 2003
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  2. DirtRoadie

    Rafe B. Guest

    Your TIFF files will be quite large compared to JPGs.
    Personally I don't see TIFF being terribly practical as
    a digicam image format. But hey, memory is cheap.

    To assess the difference in quality, why not shoot a number
    of test images in both TIFF and JPG. JPG may do better
    than you expect.

    It sounds from your tone that you should be using neutral
    settings on the camera. I'd have suggested using the
    best possible JPG setting, but you say there's no choice
    in the matter, so you gotta use what you've got.

    It sounds like next time, you might want to get a camera
    that offers RAW mode and more choices in storage
    format (eg. JPG compression level.)

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Oct 25, 2003
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  3. Sharpening is clear: in-camera sharpening aggravates noise. Turn it off.

    Contrast is also clear: the contrast should be set to the highest setting
    that can handle the whole range of contrast in the scene. That's usually the
    lowest setting.

    Color saturation: I haven't a clue, and would love to know the answer...

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Oct 25, 2003
  4. Try to adjust the camera so it produces images very close to your
    tastes. It's better to do the heavy adjustments before it's converted
    to JPEG. If you're not sure, it's better to error on the subdued side.
    You can't recover saturated pixels unless you feel like painting over
    them by hand.

    Don't get into thinking that there's any perfect combination of
    settings. They're meant to be changed to suit your needs of the moment.
    The LCD review mode gives you the feedback you need.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Oct 25, 2003
  5. DR,

    Photo file formats: TIFF is preferable, unless you are sure you
    don't mind the JPEG artifacts. You'll have to run some tests to
    find out. JPEG artifacts are most disturbing when you photograph
    some fine colored structures like a map, then look at some
    enlarged detail. JPEG is also weak when it comes to slight color
    changes over an area. But, of course, TIFF needs a lot more
    memory, so buy a big chip. A Gigabyte should be fine, depending
    on the resolution and your demands.

    Contrast: Here you want the essential part of the photo
    resolved. The compromise is this. If you turn up the contrast,
    some areas will drown in black or white. If you turn the
    contrast low, you will get stepped brightness changes, as the
    number of brightness levels is reduced for the same brightness
    range when you increase the contrast later in Photoshop.
    Generally a lower contrast is preferable, if you don't go to
    extremes. Check the histogram function in Photoshop or in the
    camera, if it has that, to get a better feeling for the contrast

    Color saturation: This is a matter of taste. Recently higher
    saturation levels are en vogue, along with the new high color
    saturation films from Fuji and Kodak, so turn that up a little
    bit and see if you like it. Don't overdo it, because again some
    colors can get saturated on the photo even though they are not
    saturated in nature. However, the problem is less critical than
    the similar contrast problem. Unless you drive some color into
    saturation, it is better to increase color saturation in the
    camera than later in Photoshop because you have only so many, or
    so few, color levels for each color, usually 256, which is
    already less than the human eye can resolve. (I won't go into
    color dithering here.)

    Sharpness: You don't want the camera to add more sharpness than
    nature has. You do want to counteract the loss of sharpness in
    the lens and on the sensor, if that is possible. My
    recommendation is to set the camera to a neutral setting. If the
    camera has sharp and soft, set it to medium. If the camera has
    neutral, sharp, sharper, very sharp, set it to neutral or run a
    test series with the lower sharpness settings. Sharpness can be
    increased pretty well in Photoshop if you want some special

    Hans-Georg Michna, Oct 25, 2003
  6. DirtRoadie

    Flycaster Guest

    A level 2 canon tech explained to me that, for the D60, you want to set the
    parameters to "off" (as in full *negative*) if you want to collect as much
    information as possible in the JPG format. Futhermore, he said that at full
    negative settings, a JPG will be an 8 bit equivilent to the RAW file, albeit

    The tech explained this default as being set up so their cameras will output
    nice photos with little, or no post-processing. I've shot several tests,
    using both JPG and RAW, and he seems to be right. IOW, the "default" camera
    settings are, in fact, quite tweaked already. It is especially noticeable
    in the overall latitude of the image.

    Now, a word of caution....this may not be true for other cameras.
    Flycaster, Oct 25, 2003
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