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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Speed Up To Slow Down

Slo-Mo Video • What You Get Isn’t What You Got • False Magnification?

Labels: ColumnTech Tips
What You Get Isn't What You Got
Q Is it too much to hope for an image on my computer to look anywhere close to how it looked in my camera? I use a DSLR and shoot in RAW format, using my histogram for proper exposure. When any image is downloaded and opened with Photoshop Elements 5, everything is overexposed by several stops. The image that looks the best when printed on paper is adjusted to appear underexposed on my computer monitor. I'm so frustrated with digital that I'm thinking of going back to film.
D. Rea
Erie, Pa.

A If your LCD is set to the middle brightness setting, the image it shows you should look the same as it does on the computer. And if the histogram when viewed on the LCD indicates proper exposure, that rendition should be the same when viewed on the computer. I suspect the problem lies in your software, which is an older version that may not support the RAW format from your DSLR. You may achieve an immediate fix by upgrading to the current version (Elements 9). To test this out, download the 30-day free trial.

But if you want to run some tests first to clearly isolate the problem, take your capture media, with the original RAW files, and ask someone else to upload them to his or her computer. If the files read accurately on a different computer with newer or different software, then the problem definitely isn't in your camera or media, but rather in your own post-capture processing system.

If colors and brightness display properly when you're performing other tasks on the computer (such as working on the Internet), the problem probably isn't your monitor. If it looks good otherwise, consider whether the display is of comparable quality to the LCD screen on your camera. Older monitors aren't up to the task of digital photography. You also should calibrate your monitor periodically to set the display to standardized color rendition. Calibration has a strong connection to optimal printer output because you need to know that your computer and your printer interpret color data in the same way.

That said, most images will need to be fine-tuned as they're printed, and the photographer's ability to accomplish this without a wet lab is one of the best things about digital. To achieve the best output, invest in a photographic printer with a wide range of ink colors; these are available from Epson, Canon and HP. One of the best features of the Canon printers is the ability to make small adjustments to color and saturation with software that "plugs in" to Elements and Photoshop, and to save those changes as a particular set of instructions that you can apply to the same image again and again.

There's no doubt that learning to process digital images can be frustrating, especially if your equipment isn't up to the task. But once the photographer has gained the necessary skills, digital imaging can be far easier and more versatile—and produce much better results—than film. I personally have no desire to ever shoot another roll of film. But that's just me.


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