Special Curves For Nikon DSLRs
September 3, 2011 5 Comments
If you use a raw converter like Capture One, you obviously have an interest in achieving the best quality possible. You’re not one of the photographers who presses the button and simply expects the JPEG file to be as good as it gets!
The advantages of shooting in raw and processing your files in an application like Capture One are well-known, but perhaps not so well-known is the range of processing methods at your disposal in Capture One.
Take tonal curves, for example. Most people accept the default curve when processing their files, but the engineers at Phase One realise you can get so much more out of files if you apply a curve that is better suited to the subject.
For instance, Nikon users have a choice of six curves when processing their files in Capture One: Film Standard, Film Standard V2 (an improved standard curve), Film Extra Shadow, Film High Contrast, Portrait and Linear Response.
Capture One includes a range of specially designed tonal curves for Nikon D3s, D3x, D3, D2x, D700, D300, D300s and D90 DSLRs. To apply the curve, go to the Base Characteristics menu in the Quick Menu tab and click on the Curve selection box.
In this screen grab, the image is shown with two identical variants, but with different curves attached. You can see slight differences.
Film Standard V2
The first image has been processed with the Film Standard V2 Nikon curve. The image has a good range of tones, but the background is quite dark in places and the highlight on the girl’s skin and t-shirt is a little strong. It’s a good ‘overall’ curve, but perhaps not the best match for what is quite a high contrast lighting situation.
Film High Contrast
Talking of high contrast, one of the curves provided by Capture One for Nikon DSLRs adds in contrast and is ideal for photographs in soft lighting. However, in this situation, you can see that applying the Film High Contrast curve has simply made the dark shadows darker and has done little to improve the highlights.
The best two curves for a photograph like this are the Film Extra Shadow, which lightens up the shadow areas, and Portrait. Portrait also lightens up the shadows, but not as much as Film Extra Shadow. It also smooths off the transitions between highlights and shadows, which is exactly what you want for portraiture. Notice how the sunlight wrapping around the girl’s shoulder and legs is much smoother and better rendered. This has been achieved by applying a suitable curve to the raw file.