Two Heads are Better than One

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I had an interesting weekend in terms of photography. I didn’t take a single image but I did improve my work and made some substantial breakthroughs. What gave raise to this? Well one of my friends came over and we spent time reviewing our work and suggesting improvements.  This was great in terms of development but it also allowed me to discuss some frustrating aspects of micro 4/3 photography with a second person. The most frustrating of these is the colour produced by my Panasonic cameras when converting RAW files.

You see I have long thought that the RAW files from my LX5, GF1 and now GX1 produce colours that don’t seem entirely natural. Greens, reds and blues all seem too strong and saturated. It is however difficult to judge on your own so yesterday was a great opportunity to discuss this with a very knowledgeable photographer whose views I trust. The result was that we agreed the colours were off. Whilst the image at the top is a black and white conversion I am showing the original colour image here together with a colour adjusted version we created.

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The original colour image with the defauilt RAW settings is shown above

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Here is the corrected image. Notice the orange of the cylinder on the right. In the uncorrected image this is a false orange and is also over saturated. Also notice the red plastic can on the left. In the original this looks raspberry and is too saturated.

To create the colour adjusted image we needed to:

  • Increase the colour temperature by 300K
  • Shift the Orange Hue and reduce its saturation
  • Reduce the saturation of blue in the scene

These are subtle adjustments but they are enough for your brain to pick up that something isn’t quite right.

The reason for these odd colours is not however down to Panasonic but the Adobe software I am using to convert the RAW files. It’s the calibration Adobe bundles with their colour engine that is causing the issue. I have therefore taken the step of purchasing a colour passport checker to use with my Panasonic cameras in future. I hope this will allow me to correct the problem and will report again in the future.

4 thoughts on “Two Heads are Better than One

    pjs28jack said:
    July 10, 2012 at 8:26 am

    This is very interesting & something that I had not noticed with my LX5. I look forward to hearing the results using the colour passport checker. How ever is it really necessary to use the colour checker now that you know of the issue & can dial this out when doing the RAW conversion?
    I have just checked some immages that I took a couple of months ago that are mainly blue & yellow & I cannot see this issue happening. Please see

    St Huberts

    The colours here are exactly as seen at the scene.

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      July 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Whilst I could dial out the problem on that particular image the lighting conditions and tones in other scenes will probably require different settings. I am hoping the colour checker will allow me to create a RAW calibration for Lightroom that leaves me with less to do and handles most images. Whilst you say it doesn’t seem to be happening to you, are you using Lightroom 4 to convert your images? I would also say that the image you show (it’s a lovely scene and capture) look a little too blue. The sky is a very strong blue which on my monitor looks a little too strong and the yellow in the flowers seems to have a slight blue cast. I’m not saying its wrong but its something that I have found frustrating. I think this is interesting in that you do have white clouds rather than them being shifted to blue. I also find the effect is much more pronounced on manmade colours rather than colours in nature. Thanks for posting the comment its good to hear others perspectives.

        Paul Stone said:
        July 11, 2012 at 8:22 am

        Thanks for your comments Robin.
        I use Lightroom 3 for RAW conversion. Not upgraded to Rel 4. Is it Rel 4 that is giving you the problems?
        I am also up for anything that speeds up post processing & less time infront of the computer.
        I hear what you are saying about the image on flickr & up until just yesterday putting images on flickr has resulted in colour changes. I always thought that this was flickr causing the problem but I discovered yesterday that it is a small software package that I use to do multi resizing prior to loading images on flickr. Needless to say I have now stopped using that software. However, in defence I have to say that the sky on that particular day was extremely blue with obvious knock on effects to everything else. I must learn to look out for that situation again & check for the resulting blue cast.
        Interesting that the colour issue is more pronounced on man made colours.
        Regards
        Paul

        thelightweightphotographer responded:
        July 11, 2012 at 8:28 pm

        It’s not just Lightroom 4 that I see this problem on. I was just interested. The problem is also not that obvious and only seems to require minor tweaks. It is just something that had been nagging at me when I looked at my images. I have noticed a slightly warm cast with my old Canon images also. Hopefully the Colour Checker will help.

        Frustrating isn’t it when software modifies your images without your knowledge.

        All the best
        Robin

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