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jonoslack

Freedom from Filters (here lies heresy)

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HI There

I've been waiting to post this message for a few weeks now, until I'd really clarified my thoughts and tried filters with all my coded and uncoded lenses and with the new firmware. Apologies if you've already waded through it at dpreview.

 

I should emphasize that this is directed at landscape photography, and is mostly relating to greens and other colours in natural light. I'm not talking about street or event photography, where filters are normally vital.

 

I now have filters for all my coded lenses (except the WATE), and I have done some serious comparisons.

 

By this I mean that I have done my very best to get colours right, and then printed and taken the print out in the same lighting conditions and compared it with the original. I've done this with lots of different types of foliage, large scale landscapes, bosky woods, colourful market places. Yes, I've even taken pictures of grass, printed it out life size and then gone and put it on the original grass!

 

The best I can get to describing what I feel is something that I was told about hi-fi systems - I can't remember the exact values, but someone did a test with lots of people where they checked what frequency they could hear - say it was 12,000 , and then started filtering the higher freqencies out - most people could tell an obvious difference at around 17,000 - much much higher than they could actually hear. Of course, I'm not suggesting this as a technical consideration per-se

 

Using filters in both sunlight AND in shade gives foliage a nice bluish tinge (you might say that it removes a nasty yellow one!). To my eyes (and of course, this is another BIG can of worms) this is actually wrong, what's more, it's almost impossible to correct. Extra infra red DOES need correcting for, but this is usually simply a matter of adjusting the yellow hue and saturation. The adjustment needed will be slightly different for each lighting situation, but having organised it for a batch of photos, it's easy to paste the settings to the other photographs.

 

Now, I will say at this point that I've given up on lightroom, as I feel it over-saturates everything, and even using 'flat' controls for the M8 gives odd colours - I gave it, and filters, 6 weeks, and I'm now back with Aperture - which requires the extra step, but gives you nice unemphasised files to work with.

 

Forget the cyan corners (I have) because I firmly and honestly believe that I'm getting much better colours for landscapes using no filters and making adjustments depending on the lighting situations. This is not an attempt not to have to deal with colour casts, it's a quest for decent complex greens, unlike the simplified ones that using filters seems to create. Of course, not having to worry about cyan corners and colour drift is not a hardship!

 

What I will say is that in many cases I've thought that the filtered shot 'looked' better at first glance - but in EVERY case when I've made an adjustment and gone back to the source and compared, the unfiltered shot has been more accurate.

 

It seems to me that the ‘filters needed’ mantra has been accepted completely by pretty much everyone, and although they really were needed with previous versions of the firmware, there are conditions where colours are better with the new firmware without filters.

 

At any rate, my filters are sitting in a nice pile of silver and black boxes, and I’m more satisfied with the greens I get from this camera than any other I’ve owned (with the possible exception of the jpg files in the Olympus E1).

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Guest tummydoc

Apparently the M8 treats different foliage differently. I was in Hawaii for a meeting and shot some photos without IR filters, and palm fronds all came out reddish-yellow. With filter they were green as they should be. The problem not using filters is that only select objects are colour skewed and colour balance adjustments affect everything. Lassoing only the skewed objects and correcting them is a giant pain. I'll stick with the filters.

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Food for thought - An interesting take and I will be playing with it. I share your opinion on Lightroom - it is not my cup of tea either. I deinstalled the demo.

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Hi Jono,

 

You may want to also try these comparisons in C1. One of the confounding variables in the comparison is that Aperture may not yet have a specific color profile for the M8 with Leica IR-cut filter.

 

Then my second thought is that accuracy, per se, may not be what you are after. I talked about this in my review of the CV 40 but down in Florida I got interested in letting the M8 "have its head" (as one says when loosening the reins on a horse) with color work. The photographer Robert Bergman (who has perhaps used color better than any other photographer I've seen) believes in "printing the negative". That is, following through the picture that is begun in the camera, even when the colors recorded are not accurate or even naturalistic. I need to keep color accurate for the work I do for clients but for those rare times that my personal work is in color, I'm interested in letting the M8 do what it's gonna' do.

 

So, setting aside the question of accuracy, you may just like the color better with no filter and if that's the case, I'd say follow your instinct. If I recall correctly you're shooting for yourself, not clients, so you can let the color take any path you want.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Guest sirvine
"Now, I will say at this point that I've given up on lightroom, as I feel it over-saturates everything, and even using 'flat' controls for the M8 gives odd colours - I gave it, and filters, 6 weeks, and I'm now back with Aperture - which requires the extra step, but gives you nice unemphasised files to work with."

 

This has nothing to do with Lightroom vs. Aperture. This has to do with your level of patience for customizing the settings on your RAW convertor. As I've said elsewhere, Adobe tunes Lightroom's default conversion values for stupid amounts of brightness and contrast, but there's nothing you can't fix and apply in batch on import. I rarely get objectionable colors with or without filters these days, unless the plastic clothes get into a shot without.

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So do you folks have any default settings that you use to avoid those yucky digital camera yellow greens that we seem to get by default these days? I actually prefer the bluer, more film-like, greens and the standard jpg rendering of the M8 seems to preserve these compared to any of the raw converters (including C1).

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Guest sirvine

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I posted my Lightroom presets a while back, but there's no real one-size-fits-all solution. What works for me is to establish neutral camera calibration settings which apply to all presets, and then have different settings for curves and colors for various color and B&W scenarios.

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Jono, haven't received my filters yet, but can firmly state my 50 'cron doesn't seem to need them. Now the CV 15 is a whole different can of worms...

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Jono, haven't received my filters yet, but can firmly state my 50 'cron doesn't seem to need them. Now the CV 15 is a whole different can of worms...

 

The reason for using the filters is because of the sensor isn't it? Certainly I've seen magenta issues with _every_ lens I've used, including my 50mm Summicron

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Apparently the M8 treats different foliage differently. I was in Hawaii for a meeting and shot some photos without IR filters, and palm fronds all came out reddish-yellow. With filter they were green as they should be. The problem not using filters is that only select objects are colour skewed and colour balance adjustments affect everything. Lassoing only the skewed objects and correcting them is a giant pain. I'll stick with the filters.

It certainly does treat different greens differently - holly leaves are particularly tricky (most dark evergreen leaves seem to reflect more infra-red), but it's still a fairly simple issue to sort them - no lassoing required.

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Hi Jono,

 

You may want to also try these comparisons in C1. One of the confounding variables in the comparison is that Aperture may not yet have a specific color profile for the M8 with Leica IR-cut filter.

 

 

Hi Sean

As for C1 - I spent quite a lot of time with it in the autumn, and although I know that things have changed, I'm just not going back to that sort of workflow again, so it's not really worth the effort (for me at any rate).

 

 

Then my second thought is that accuracy, per se, may not be what you are after. I talked about this in my review of the CV 40 but down in Florida I got interested in letting the M8 "have its head" (as one says when loosening the reins on a horse) with color work. The photographer Robert Bergman (who has perhaps used color better than any other photographer I've seen) believes in "printing the negative". That is, following through the picture that is begun in the camera, even when the colors recorded are not accurate or even naturalistic.

 

Well, first you have to define accurate - and in most landscape situations you have mixed light and shade, so that the different white balance requirements make 'accuracy' virtually impossible - always assuming that you can define it properly in the first place. The fact that the human brain makes some of these calculations for us - presumably differently for different people, makes the whole concept of 'accuracy' a moot point in my opinion.

 

I need to keep color accurate for the work I do for clients but for those rare times that my personal work is in color, I'm interested in letting the M8 do what it's gonna' do.

 

So, setting aside the question of accuracy, you may just like the color better with no filter and if that's the case, I'd say follow your instinct. If I recall correctly you're shooting for yourself, not clients, so you can let the color take any path you want.

 

 

Well, for accurate colour you need controlled lighting - for landscape and travel work most of us want it to LOOK right rather than to BE right (otherwise Fuji would never have sold a roll of Velvia).

This stuff is for myself - I do some work for clients, and it's mostly people, and of course one needs to use filters under those circumstances.

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This has nothing to do with Lightroom vs. Aperture. This has to do with your level of patience for customizing the settings on your RAW convertor. As I've said elsewhere, Adobe tunes Lightroom's default conversion values for stupid amounts of brightness and contrast, but there's nothing you can't fix and apply in batch on import. I rarely get objectionable colors with or without filters these days, unless the plastic clothes get into a shot without.

I'm sorry, you're quite right - I also had a set of presets which worked perfectly adequately. Of course, things may change when Aperture supports the M8 'properly' but in the meantime it does a good job - I have other reasons for preferring Aperture - but now isn't really the place for that discussion I guess.

Thanks for posting.

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I can't be bothered using the IR filters. I have two Zeiss ZM lenses, the 21 and 24. They can't be easily coded so if I use filters there's the cyan drift issue. In C1 Pro I'm using the colour profiles provided by Jamie Roberts and they do me fine. The coded 50 summicron I also have is used just for head and shoulder shots - no black cotton or acrylics to worry about there.

 

So, all in all I reckon I can find something more important to worry about then infra-red light.

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I can't be bothered using the IR filters. I have two Zeiss ZM lenses, the 21 and 24. They can't be easily coded so if I use filters there's the cyan drift issue. In C1 Pro I'm using the colour profiles provided by Jamie Roberts and they do me fine. The coded 50 summicron I also have is used just for head and shoulder shots - no black cotton or acrylics to worry about there.

 

So, all in all I reckon I can find something more important to worry about then infra-red light.

Congratulations!

The point of my thread really was to try and give confidence to people like me who were wondering about it. It seemed to be so much the conventional wisdom that colour was 'wrong' without filters.

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Hi Sean

 

 

Well, for accurate colour you need controlled lighting - for landscape and travel work most of us want it to LOOK right rather than to BE right (otherwise Fuji would never have sold a roll of Velvia)...

 

Hi Jono,

 

You may have missed my point which was, essentially, go with what looks good to you and to heck with accuracy if need be.

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The reason for using the filters is because of the sensor isn't it? Certainly I've seen magenta issues with _every_ lens I've used, including my 50mm Summicron

 

Yes, you're right, infrared is infrared and color is color. *If* one does not like the color changes created by the sensitivity of the M8 to IR then he or she must address that with any lens. Cyan drift varies with lenses but IR-sensitivity does not.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Hi Jono,

 

You may have missed my point which was, essentially, go with what looks good to you and to heck with accuracy if need be.

Hi Sean

No - I didn't miss the point - which I do agree with, I was countering that under mixed lighting 'accuracy' was a bit of a non concept anyway.

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Well Jono, what you are experiencing is simply your own color preferences. A few years ago, I was occasionally given new 4x5 emulsions to test for Kodak. Part of the process was filling out forms that asked various questions about what I thought of the film's response. I almost always shot them along with my standard film as a reference for myself.

 

I also spent a little time with Kodak examining similar pictures shot by others on various emulsions for my opinion. Apparently Kodak, and presumably other film companies and now digital companies, do a fair amount of surveying and testing to see what kind of color response most people like.

 

So you have found what you like.

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Guest tummydoc
It certainly does treat different greens differently - holly leaves are particularly tricky (most dark evergreen leaves seem to reflect more infra-red), but it's still a fairly simple issue to sort them - no lassoing required.

 

I'd like to know how you do that. I had shots of palm fronds in terracotta pots behind two lovely young women seated at a table, one wearing a green blouse and the other a yellow blouse. The palm leaves came out reddish-brown and nothing I did with any colour adjustment in any software corrected the leaves back to proper green without skewing the pots or the women's blouses, not to mention their skin tone. When I used Magnetic Lasso on the leaves then I could attack them without throwing off the rest of the shot. I still couldn't quite get the leaves quite to where I wanted. I regret having deleted the shot because I would love to try whatever technique you call "fairly simple". Nothing I'd love more than to relegate the IR filters to use with black fabric.

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Well Jono, what you are experiencing is simply your own color preferences. A few years ago, I was occasionally given new 4x5 emulsions to test for Kodak. Part of the process was filling out forms that asked various questions about what I thought of the film's response. I almost always shot them along with my standard film as a reference for myself.

 

I also spent a little time with Kodak examining similar pictures shot by others on various emulsions for my opinion. Apparently Kodak, and presumably other film companies and now digital companies, do a fair amount of surveying and testing to see what kind of color response most people like.

 

So you have found what you like.

Partly Alan - partly! Printing a picture of a section of grass, and then going out and laying it on the patch of grass seems pretty objective to me.

 

There is much talk about using filters to get 'correct' colours - I actually don't subscribe to any such thing when taking mixed light shots outside - the combination of various white balances and the processing we each in our own brains do pretty much make it a non concept. Doing my 'patch of grass' shot with part of the grass in shadow makes it pretty impossible to get a match without processing the lit and shadow bit separately - whether you use filters or not.

 

For landscape work, and especially with wide angles, using filters has some real downsides, I'm just trying to point out that a doctrinaire approach is questionable (for greens in natural light at least).

 

Clearly I'm looking for (and have mostly found) a way of getting the colour I want - but that wasn't the point of the post.

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