Saturday, March 3, 2012

G1X: JPEG Variations

HannahAs promised by the weatherman, today was rainy, overcast and cooler than I wanted.  Instead of searching for a scene to turn into a work of art with my new G1X, I decided to test variations of its in-camera processing.  Normally, I prefer to shoot in RAW mode which means that each shot is considerably post processed in Photoshop following conversion from Canon’s RAW format in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).   There is no doubt in my mind that shooting RAW ultimately yields the best print – especially for me.  Even so, there are advantages, particularly in economy of time, to using the so-called Straight-Out-Of-Camera (SOOC) image. 

Although some still talk as though the Straight-Out-Of-Camera image is the only truth, SOOC is actually misleading.  Modern digital cameras include a number of image adjustments – sort of an internal Photoshop.  When shooting in JPEG (only) mode, the G1X allows adjustments in color saturation, contrast, sharpness and individual color adjustments to red, green, blue. There are also dynamic range adjustments to both highlights and shadows.   In addition, the G1X offers a number of effects such as HDR, B/W, Sepia, etc. which were not included in today’s testing.

I coaxed Hannah and her friend into posing even though it was still cool outside and quickly set up this attractive composition to include several colors and distances.  The sky, though, remained overcast with resulting soft lighting.  The first photo of this post was made with all “normal” settings in JPEG format shooting in Av mode at ISO 400.  That is, SOOC.

HannahHere’s a shot with saturation, contrast, sharpness and red turned down one notch in the “My Colors” menu.  Such settings are sometimes recommended by photographers who do not use RAW format but still tweak the files in various photo editing software.  I was surprised to see so little variation between this image and the “normal” (first image shown) image.  The differences are visible in the full size files on my screen but probably are not so apparent here.  I don’t like this variation.


HannahThis shot is the near opposite of the above “turned down” image; call it the “turned up” image with contrast and sharpness turned up one notch but saturation normal and red still turned down one notch.  Looking at the “turned up” and “turned down” images, I hope the difference in contrast is apparent even if the difference in the other parameters is not.  I actually like this one but have a tendency to overdo both contrast and sharpness (and I’m not the only one!).


HannahNext is a shot taken with all settings “normal” except that highlight and shadow recovery (Dynamic Range) have been forced to maximum.  I don’t like this one; it looks washed out with low contrast.  The problem (I think) was that the overcast sky prevented bright highlights and dark shadows from occurring in the first place.  When Dynamic Range Improvement was set to “Auto” the result(not shown) was essentially the same as a “normal” picture thus indicating that Dynamic Range Improvement was not significantly applied.  I need to test this feature further but, for now, my thinking is to be sure to use RAW image mode when highlights and shadows are strong.

My conclusion?  I’ll be leaving all the “My Colors” settings at “normal” with the possible exception of Red saturation.  If I’m to do post processing of image files then I might as well shoot in RAW to begin with.  This is a convenient conclusion because the “My Colors” adjustments do not apply when shooting in RAW+JPEG and most of my JPEG shots are produced via the RAW+JPEG combination.  If I were down to the last Gigabyte of the memory card and forced to switch to JPEG only then I’d set “My Colors” for Red turned down one notch and would also think about using Dynamic Range Improvement.  In such a case, I’d probably turn down the sharpness as well in anticipation of tweaking the JPEG file myself. 

Straight-Out-Of-Camera?  What are the camera settings?

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