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Why some DSLR files look "plastic"?

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Ok - just for the sake of fairness - and sorry for the waste of bandwidth - but i sharpened the M8 half to match the 5D sharpening.

Even allowing for the jpeg > psd > jpeg artifacting and other problems, I just think that sometimes the eye convinces itself of what the brain wants it to see...

 

Okay - lunch is over for me - time to get back to work

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Guest guy_mancuso
Maybe - I'm not really sure myself to be quite honest. I simply took the images that were posted on the other thread and applied a couple color manipulations on the Canon image to bring it into line with the Leica hues and saturation. Your comment reminded me that I then sharpened the file somewhat.

 

For the purposes of this thread, i downloaded the M8 file and put it together with the manipulated 5D image. I can sharpen the M8 half with the exact same settings as i did the 5D shot earlier, as I haven't used PS since this morning otherwise.

 

But to be honest, I think the comments would all be going the other way on a Canon user-forum.

 

PS: and also bear in mind that the Canon image was originally posted to show how inferior it was to the M8 capture.

 

Well that maybe true but one issue with Canon and this one has been around forever it seems and that is there Reds always have been off badly. More a red/orange issue and what i noticed was even the best profiles and raw processing i could never get a great Red like the leica reds seem to produce. i like to think of it in terms of film . leica being more Kodacrome looking with more warm tones and Canon more like Ectachrome. i think again part of what we see with color is somewhat distracting in a sense because we see the world in color and leica products like the DMR and M8 have Kodak sensors which to me have the best color, Canon has always seemed a bit washy although good but not quite having that saturation and tonal range. Nikon i simply could not get good fleshtones although that was the D200 only so hard to say. But going back to the past we always commented on lens tones Nikon cool , Canon warm. now how true that was is up to interpertation. Zeiss to me is cool and leica warm. Now does this give a plastic look overall with regards to color. i think it also adds to the effect of it to . The little girl in the bathing suit the color just looks dreadful to me, it just looks washy. So my feeling is color does have some effect on that plastic look along with a combo of other factors. i don't think we can point to one issue and say that is the cause but a combination of several things is it.

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Is this what you mean by plastic? That picture looks too light and too blue to me. It is getting washed out.

 

Default settings in raw converters are just a starting point. Still, turning up the brightness and contrat is a mistake in this case.

 

Here it is with a little bit of yellow and a little darker. It's getting a bit posterized because the jpeg was too light and I'm sure I'm adding additional jpeg artifacts by recompressing.

 

I am working on a laptop so I can't say if what you'll see matches what I see.

Try reducing the exposure about 1/2 stop and add a little yellow. You may want to lower the contrast a hair. I think it would be fine.

If you want to email me the raw file, I'll show you what I can do and then tell me if you still think it looks plastic.

 

Well- to be truthful, the skin tone looks a lot better here, but that only serves to emphasize that the skin structure looks like a wax dummy.

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Fascinating how much of what AlanG says here gets glossed over....

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Fascinating how much of what AlanG says here gets glossed over....

 

 

I don't think anyone is glossing over what he said.

 

It's just that the root of the problem is elsewhere and you can adjust your frame as much as you want in the RAW converter, but that's not going to bring back the high frequency information that was eliminated by the AA filter and noise suppression, before the file was ever written to the CF or SD card. The information is just not there for you to adjust.

 

Here is a simple test to demonstrate what I am talking about.

 

Take a high resolution scan or M8/Nikon file (little or no AA filtration) and run a low level median filter on it. If you push it far enough, it starts to look like plastic, because while there still is detail, you have eliminated the smallest, low level details (high frequency).

 

There also is a difference in the finger print that CMOS and CCD chips produce. Many people agree that CDD sensors produce more natural or even film like results.

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That is perfectly true. That is exactly what I did to that mountain shot a bit higher up. Only that was originally a scan from Velvia 100 slide film

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I agree, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Digital Rebel.In the right hands it can product some awesome images.The previous samples shown here are not doing the canon gear any justice.

 

Indeed. Also, as another poster has pointed out, few people seem to understand AlanG's point about the importance of sound technique and understanding of how to properly 'process' a digital file. I have a Canon DSLR that I've used on a number of jobs. Many times I've deleted images that are not up to the mark. Each time it's because I'm not happy with the composition, the lighting wasn't right, or even that I've cocked up the exposure or focus. I've never rejected (or had a client reject) an image because it looked too "plastic".

 

Which brings me to a more general (and very obvious) point. I think many users need to start worrying more about what's in front of their cameras than what's inside it. CCD vs. CMOS, AF vs. MF, AA filters or not, blah blah - these are all essentially trivial differences within the wider question of "how can I take better pictures?". There comes a point in any photographic hobby or career when you have to leave behind the 'camera club' obssession with the tools and start thinking about what you are pointing the camera at.

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Well- to be truthful, the skin tone looks a lot better here, but that only serves to emphasize that the skin structure looks like a wax dummy.

 

Were you there? Did you see what that girl's skin looked like in that light? Did you shoot a better picture with another camera?

 

So are we supposed to judge all dslr cameras based on one 20D jpeg that wasn't converted as well as it could have been and has been compressed several times?

 

Well I deal with images and not theory. And I am not seeing too many posted that illustrate this specfic "plastic" theory. I'm not sure if we are even talking about some kind of defect, poor technique, or personal preferences. I've seen plenty of poor skin tone images posted from M8s but I chalked them off to the user or the situation.

 

If DSLRs universally produce such plastic images, then that must be what is in demand because I know a lot of top pros in the world of advertising, editorial, portraiture, and other fields who are pleasing their clients with them

 

Pretty much what everyone is saying here about a plastic look and AA filters, microcontrast, etc. has not been apparent to me in my work. And I'm not sure what point is being made by the flower photos that were posted. (How can we judge the sharpness of a lens from a small image on screen.) I also don't see how we expect to have a conversation about delicate color differences or other aspects that can contribute to a "plastic" effect or poor color reproduction when we are all viewing on different monitors. We are not using any kind of reference standards other than our own biases and opinions.

 

It might be interesting to see a series of accurate comparison photos made with two cameras side by side shooting a variety of subjects. And I'd probably need to have the raw files to adjust for myself before I'd even venture to form any conclusions.

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Which brings me to a more general (and very obvious) point. I think many users need to start worrying more about what's in front of their cameras than what's inside it. CCD vs. CMOS, AF vs. MF, AA filters or not, blah blah - these are all essentially trivial differences within the wider question of "how can I take better pictures?". There comes a point in any photographic hobby or career when you have to leave behind the 'camera club' obssession with the tools and start thinking about what you are pointing the camera at.

 

It may be obvious Ian, but it's still worth saying. This is a manufacturer's site and a consequence of that is that the discussions become very gear obsessed at times. But truthfully, would any of us give up photography if we had to use a 'lesser' make?

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Come on, Alan, that is no argument. There is no person in the world with this kind of skin structure, and if it makes you any happier, I find that one of the main weaknesses of any digital camera.

This one was posted as an example and I commented on that example. If it is not meant to be commented on, don't post it or say so in your post. Nobody says all DSLR's produce plastic images, certainly not me, as I posted a FILM shot to show that misprocessing will produce a plastic look in that case as well. So don't put words in my mouth please.

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It may be obvious Alan, but it's still worth saying. This is a manufacturer's site and a consequence of that is that the discussions become very gear obsessed at times. But truthfully, would any of us give up photography if we had to use a 'lesser' make?

 

Note that it is Ian who said that, not me. But I do agree with him. I don't think that most of the discussions over some "wonky" aspects of photography are very germaine to the final result.

 

I have a good friend who currently shoots a lot of location portraits with Canon DSLRs. He also uses Leica M film cameras. He's considering getting an M8. Not because of microconctrast, plastic look or anything else. He simply likes using Leicas for some of his work. He shoots for major magazines, ad agencies, and top corporate assignments worldwide.

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Come on, Alan, that is no argument. There is no person in the world with this kind of skin structure, and if it makes you any happier, I find that one of the main weaknesses of any digital camera.

 

Maybe I don't know what you are getting at. Even after knowing why that image is not producing the best from the camera, you feel there is validity in drawing a conclusion from it? (I darkend a light jpeg image so I am just filling in the lighter areas with an overall darker shade, not adding delicate tones. Of course it has issues.) I suggested that Alan Sheng go back and re-convert the file to see if he can make it look "better."

 

When I said: Are we to judge all DSLRs from this one photo? I wasn't addressing your statement personally, but the overall generalizations that comprise this thread.

 

You are certainly welcome to your views of the main weaknesses of all digital cameras. I have no desire to persuade anyone to use anything.

 

In any case, the way the image appears on my screen, the adjusted image would satisfy many people and I don't think they would find it plastic. I'm not sure how you see it. I've never used a 20D so I can't present any personal opinions about how that camera records an image.

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It appears that most folks chose to ignore my posts but I'd try again nevertheless ... LOL

 

Being at the same skills level, using the same camera and adopting the same PP procedures, your pictures shot with a Leica lens will look different from the ones you shot with a Canon lens, ok?

 

Now I'm done and you guys carry on.

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Well- to be truthful, the skin tone looks a lot better here, but that only serves to emphasize that the skin structure looks like a wax dummy.

 

Well that is the reason I started this thread. i have processed this and many others shot at the same occasion, and many of them have this look no matter how I adjust tones. i admit I am a novice and partly color blind, but I don't have the same problem with the M8. Yes, I have shot similar photos under similar conditions. But I won't post any M8 examples. They will only serve to start other arguments about exposure, processing, lighting, etc.

 

By the way, she was not wet nor had sun tan lotion/oil on. Always dried and changed between events.

 

I am not saying all shots from the 20D look like this. Only very obvious under these conditions. Note the title I used is "why some files..." Not my intention to denegrate any DSLR, just a technical question.

 

Alan

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Not to take sides here, but simply to add some perspective: Where I work we publish 11 magazines and use files from every type of digital camera imaginable -- many of them shot in-house. To the trained eye there are often noticeable differences between cameras and lenses, but these differences rarely have an impact on whether or not a photo is published. However, photographers who sell prints directly to clients and publishers using offset printing may see the need to be more selective.

 

Larry

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I am not saying all shots from the 20D look like this. Only very obvious under these conditions. Note the title I used is "why some files..." Not my intention to denegrate any DSLR, just a technical question.

 

 

So perhaps after using it for a while you will decide that this camera doesn't measure up to your needs. That happens.

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There was some nice M8 vs. 5D comparison here months ago, but it's impossible to find now. The images showed some building's roof in the snow.. it was really quite clear the lack of an AA filter had a profound effect, I think the M8 had finer detail in spite of the sensor's lower pixel count.

 

The Canon JFIF engine does use some clever noise reduction, but you can always get a file without any digital NR by converting from raw capture. The slightly mushed look remains. To some extent, it could be the analog noise reduction the sensor supposedly uses.

But of course a lot of it has to be attributed to the AA filter, and I wonder why this even gets debated. Generally, a Bayer sensor with a normal AA filter loses about 1/3 spacial resolution (=1/2 pixel count). Sensors without it deliver images much nearer their pixel count.

This effect is obvious and clearly visible, unless the filter is very weak. The 5D's, in spite of visibly costing resolution, is weak enough to cause problems with moire in many situations. The 1.6x cameras have "safer" filter characteristics, it's pretty much impossible to produce moire with them. That should be the reason for the FF camera's files being better on the pixel level.

 

As for Canon reds, on an uncorrected raw file with no offset applied to the red channel, even deep red actually is orange on Canon sensors...

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There was some nice M8 vs. 5D comparison here months ago, but it's impossible to find now. The images showed some building's roof in the snow.. it was really quite clear the lack of an AA filter had a profound effect, I think the M8 had finer detail in spite of the sensor's lower pixel count.

 

What you're seeing is the quality difference between Leica and Canon's optics ... I wish I could show you some pictures taken with a 5D with/without AA filters but I can't.

 

As I've repeated numerous times in this thread, you could go rent a Mamiya ZD if the dealer also happen to have the optional slot in AA filter for you to test ... won't make any visible difference.

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Guest stnami

plastic!!!!!!!.............................................. here .......................imitation plastic vinyl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interesting enjott. There is more behind the sensors than we know and about filters.

Would be nice if someone who owns both does some test just on these issues with subjects specifically choosen for colour.

 

Obviously its not just the lenses, the 5D is a very different system than the M8. I read the M8 was developend around the concept of using the Leica lenses is the first place. Compromises had to be made to construct a camera and sensor to allow the lens to be so close to the camera. The whole M8 system had to be like this because of practical reasons as well, not just image quality reasons. I am not well informed enough to elaborate on this.

 

To me the quality differences must be there between the 5D and the M8 but those are found on the outer edges of where people look for those differences. Both cameras will please a highly critical audiance. And so I think althought there are differences they are too minor to be concerned about when making a choice for one or the other. Practical reasons for a choice are more obvious like if you want tilt shift lenses or already own lenses by on or the other brand, using tele photo zoom lenses or small and great less distorted wide angle lenses. If you want to make a jump into higher file quality than I would consider medium format digital or medium or large format film based systems.

 

The 5D and M8 files can be adjusted to please any colour spectrum I suppose.

As far as what I see on the web I find it hard to find M8 files truly good looking compared to the loads of gorgeous 5D files that are easily found everywhere. The majority of M8 files that I have seen are less well metered, out of focus or have a weird colourcast. There are some that are great though. M8 files are often in black and white and often are postprocessed to look like very old film scanned images. I don't know why many M8 owners like to overprocess their files into artsy looking picts. It makes we wonder if there was something wrong with the original image if the photographer feels such a need to alter the original file.

I really like the CV12 and 15 files that come up now and than. Better than the 16-35, 14 and sigma 12-24 examples I have seen on 5D's.

 

I think I want a 5D and a M8 as well knowing I can get great files out of them wether they look plastic ot not. The files will look old fashioned anyhow in about 10 years time ...lol.

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