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Best M8 DNG converter?

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Thanks for all the replies. I only have three Leica lenses that I bought for my Kodachrome project, sharpness for that comes first, so I am not really into parting with key glass. On that note, my recently CLA'd 50 1954 collapsable Summicron is really, really good on the M8.

 

The aspherics in mid to flat light are **awesome** on the M8 so I will be careful with the contrasty scenes and maybe just consider the 5D for the critical advertising work. The other thing is that if I do send clients files for advertising or stock from the M8, they will have to be TIFF's, not the low compression JPEG's I have been fine with sending from the 5D. Even one fold of the proverbial paper might add undeserved artifacts to the M8 files.

 

But overall, the files from this camera are really good, better than any other 10 MP camera that's for sure...and it is a Leica..:-)

 

Off to pick up models and go shoot some star-gazing, meteor shower stock.....

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Guest Walt

I agree with all the above re lens contrast and exposure. The ASPH lenses are sometimes just to contrasty, and I always underexpose by 1/3 to 2/3 stops.

 

But I want to add another issue here, which is infrared light. Though shooting only BW (RAW converted), I am now always, always using IR filters. They dramatically reduce blown highlights as well as the thing you call "blobbing." When a highlight is also an infrared reflector (and/or, I think, an emitter) highlights and surrounding detail become much more problematic--both blocked and smeared. This is very apparent in foliage photographed with this camera. Tree leaves with shiny highlights and specular highlights can turn into a mess, not unlike your paving stones. I did a few tests on this to confirm what I thought I was seeing and the IR filter pulled maximum highlights on certain subjects down by 7-10 RGB points (e.g. 251 to 243) and provided obviously better clarity in these and immediately surrounding areas of the image. This difference is with in-camera metering. I guess the meter does not have the IR sensitivity of the sensor itself. And the meter certainly cannot compensate for IR "bleed" into surrounding areas.

 

Others have disagreed with the observation on IR in the past, but I am now convinced that IR is a problem with this camera well beyond the "purple problem." I am also aware that the IR sensitivity, unfiltered, can somewhat extend the dynamic range into the shadows. But, for me, this is a small benefit compared to what I have gained by using the filters.

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Indeed that is a slick trick -- I use it on the highlights when the histo is skewed towards the top, but never felt the need in the shadows -- and it certainly helps the M8 DNG...

 

LOL!! That's because you're not constantly taking pictures of people dressed in white--and black--next to each other walking around in full sunlight

 

But even still, if you need to curve those upper values later in post, you're sometimes hosed. Not always, but often enough, those upper tones will band with a mildly agressive S...

 

Yes you're right, and that's where luminance / LAB tricks come in handy, along with grain (not film grain).

 

I think what Sean said is absolutely true--there's about a stop of headroom on the M8 files (plenty in the shadows) but once it's gone, it's really gone.

 

Of course, as I said before, I don't know of any dSLR or other small digicam that's any different. The 5d and 1ds2 are exactly the same under the same conditions (wedding dresses become a nice bandy "pink" in post when you've blown them with a Canon; at least with the Leicas the blown parts are white

 

Maybe the Fuji S5 is better this way, though I haven't actually used it to tell.

 

IOW hard light is hard with digital.

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LOL!! That's because you're not constantly taking pictures of people dressed in white--and black--next to each other walking around in full sunlight

 

You're right there! LOLOLOLOL!

 

The 5d and 1ds2 are exactly the same under the same conditions (wedding dresses become a nice bandy "pink" in post when you've blown them with a Canon; at least with the Leicas the blown parts are white

 

Hmmm... I think I have to disagree on this one Jamie. IF the initial exposure with the Canon is good (not blown on any channel) and IF I have a good profile for it, I don't run into that problem with highlight whites. Also, if your white is really white and your profile is linear and balanced, then you should not blow whites to pink with a luminance adjustment unless they weren't really white to begin with; IOW a L95/0/0 (240/240/240) capture white should blow to L100/0/0 (255/255/255) white in post with a luminance adjustment -- if it doesn't, your profile is bad... (FWIW, my 5D calibration actually has an *S* curve up top to correct the highlight linearity!)

 

Now the M8 may act similarly with a good profile, and I have not bothered to make one yet, so maybe I need to shoot the MacBeth card later this week and go to work before I say anything else

IF I could eek another 1/2 stop out of the top, it would be worth it...

 

Cheers,

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The aspherics in mid to flat light are **awesome** on the M8

 

I agree and it holds for the ZM lenses as well. As a rule, I tend to like higher contrast lenses in flatter light and lower contrast lenses in more contrasty light.

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I agree with all the above re lens contrast and exposure. The ASPH lenses are sometimes just to contrasty, and I always underexpose by 1/3 to 2/3 stops.

 

But I want to add another issue here, which is infrared light. Though shooting only BW (RAW converted), I am now always, always using IR filters. They dramatically reduce blown highlights as well as the thing you call "blobbing." When a highlight is also an infrared reflector (and/or, I think, an emitter) highlights and surrounding detail become much more problematic--both blocked and smeared. This is very apparent in foliage photographed with this camera. Tree leaves with shiny highlights and specular highlights can turn into a mess, not unlike your paving stones. I did a few tests on this to confirm what I thought I was seeing and the IR filter pulled maximum highlights on certain subjects down by 7-10 RGB points (e.g. 251 to 243) and provided obviously better clarity in these and immediately surrounding areas of the image. This difference is with in-camera metering. I guess the meter does not have the IR sensitivity of the sensor itself. And the meter certainly cannot compensate for IR "bleed" into surrounding areas.

 

Others have disagreed with the observation on IR in the past, but I am now convinced that IR is a problem with this camera well beyond the "purple problem." I am also aware that the IR sensitivity, unfiltered, can somewhat extend the dynamic range into the shadows. But, for me, this is a small benefit compared to what I have gained by using the filters.

 

 

Hi Walt,

 

That's a very interesting point. I'd like to do some tests this fall to see how it plays out.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Of course, as I said before, I don't know of any dSLR or other small digicam that's any different.

 

Depending on which lenses are used on each, I can pull a bit more out of the highlights with the 5D. The Canon doesn't cut out quite as abruptly on the high end of the tonal range. Again, I think (although I can't say for sure) that this is exactly where we lose something with the 8-bit DNG. The M8 DNG works fine until and unless the highlights go more than 1 stop over.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Guest tummydoc

The files that now enter CS may look a bit soft, but *if* sharpened properly there, should exhibit excellent detail

 

That's an interesting concept. If I read correctly, in order to reduce artifacts one must first manually perform the function of an AA filter, and then re-sharpen? Isn't one of the key selling points offered up repeatedly by proponents of the M8 that the files require very little if any sharpening, compared to the "mushy" files produced by those unfortunate Canons and Nikons?

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Sure, Vinay, but two things: 1) You don't need to soften globally, but can concentrate on image areas where it is needed, and 2) You don't do it to all images, even those which don't need it.

 

Edit: After Jack's post below, I feel compelled to mention that he seems to be talking about sharpening artifacts, whereas I was talking about moiré.

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That's an interesting concept. If I read correctly, in order to reduce artifacts one must first manually perform the function of an AA filter, and then re-sharpen?

 

Actually, "No."

 

One must not oversharpen what is already sharp and thereby induce artifacts that weren't there to begin with; artifacts which will then likely get further accentuated in post.

 

Cheers,

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I use the Photokit sharpeners and when sharpening internet bound Jpegs I typically reduce the opacity of the sharpenning layers to 70%, otherwise an image can look oversharpened. I never had to do this with any of the other digital cameras that I've owned.

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Guest Walt

Sean-

 

Yes, it would be helpful for someone more credible to say something more systematic on this. After a few months of fiddling with the problem, I can now look at many BW images and tell when there was no IR filter--bad highlights and "blobs" and peculiar "artifacts.". I am very relieved to find this because images are better and are easier to print and I am virtually never dealing with blocked highlights. I don't mind at all using the filters--I always used UV filters anyway, just for lens protection--but Leica needs to say something. I think they must feel that the "just purple shirts" problem is easier to swallow than the idea that the issue is much broader.

 

Walt

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I use the Photokit sharpeners and when sharpening internet bound Jpegs I typically reduce the opacity of the sharpenning layers to 70%, otherwise an image can look oversharpened. I never had to do this with any of the other digital cameras that I've owned.

 

 

Steve do you like the Photokit sharper? What do you think of it compared to other sharpening plugins. Do you run it on CS3?

I've been thinking of buying it.

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i really recomend to try the silverfast hdr48-studio or the more digi camera dedicated version........

the conversion is a little differrent but of high quality....... at the botton line..... i have to say that silverfast outcome file is the best processor in my taste ..... not as modern interface as lightroom of course but M8 files are simply great in it.....

if u try it, give some time to get used to it and learn the procedures of silverfast.....

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{snipped} Also, if your white is really white and your profile is linear and balanced, then you should not blow whites to pink with a luminance adjustment unless they weren't really white to begin with; IOW a L95/0/0 (240/240/240) capture white should blow to L100/0/0 (255/255/255) white in post with a luminance adjustment -- if it doesn't, your profile is bad... (FWIW, my 5D calibration actually has an *S* curve up top to correct the highlight linearity!)

 

Jack--now I'm slapping my head of course. I'm using the C1 Magne profiles for 1d2, 1ds2, and 5d. They all do the same thing in over-exposed harsh light--they band quite badly.

 

But remember, I'm talking over-exposed here, not properly exposed....

 

IOW, what happens when you exceed the headroom that's there, as in some of these posted shots with large speculars (like the wet bricks reflecting sunlight).

 

I'm sure ACR is better for this, especially now that RSP is under the hood and it can do "recovery".

 

So I'll retract my global statements and just say under similar, canned profile conditions in C1

--blowing the highlights seems more pleasant to me on the m8 than on the Canons. That could be the profile though.

 

Now the M8 may act similarly with a good profile, and I have not bothered to make one yet, so maybe I need to shoot the MacBeth card later this week and go to work before I say anything else

IF I could eek another 1/2 stop out of the top, it would be worth it...

Cheers,

 

Good luck and let us all know how that goes. A lot of workflow goes into optimising here, but I'm interested in what you can do. Like Sean, I've found the M8 has but one stop to blown on the top...

 

@ Sean, btw, I'm going to look more closely at the 5d upper highlights; I can't seem to get more than a stop out of them either, but I could be metering a bit loopily...

 

Lenses definitely make a difference.

 

Also, I've not seen any blobbing due to IR without filters, but I'm willing to be corrected (I always shoot the really important stuff with filters).

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i really recomend to try the silverfast hdr48-studio or the more digi camera dedicated version........

the conversion is a little differrent but of high quality....... at the botton line..... i have to say that silverfast outcome file is the best processor in my taste ..... not as modern interface as lightroom of course but M8 files are simply great in it.....

if u try it, give some time to get used to it and learn the procedures of silverfast.....

 

Vic, I'm a long-time SilverFast user with a scanner, but I haven't tried it at all for RAW files. Thanks for the tip.

 

What would you say the key advantages are here, in your opinion?

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Jack--now I'm slapping my head of course. I'm using the C1 Magne profiles for 1d2, 1ds2, and 5d. They all do the same thing in over-exposed harsh light--they band quite badly.

 

 

LOLOLOL! Good Jamie -- you had me worried and I feel better now that's cleared up! (

) And yes I agree, in a hard over-exposure they'll *all* band.

 

Also, like you I only have about a stop of headroom in my 5D files, but that is after my ACR calibration which S's the top. With the standard ACR top curve, I might have another 1/2 stop. I am sure Magne also linearized the top end of his C1 profiles too... Soooo, if Sean is using ACR or Lightroom, it might explain why he's seeing some extra headroom.

 

Re the earlier comment on blobbing without IR filters. I meant to reply to it and your comment reminded me -- I haven't seen it either. The bottom line is it shouldn't matter to the histogram if the IR cut filter is on or not. The histogram responds to any energy that makes it to the sensor, and if it is not blown the exposure is fine.

 

Cheers,

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Hmmm.....now this is interesting, I don't yet have my IR filters, shoot with regular B&W UV Pro.

 

I will be curious to see how things change with the filters...

 

Sean-

 

Yes, it would be helpful for someone more credible to say something more systematic on this. After a few months of fiddling with the problem, I can now look at many BW images and tell when there was no IR filter--bad highlights and "blobs" and peculiar "artifacts.". I am very relieved to find this because images are better and are easier to print and I am virtually never dealing with blocked highlights. I don't mind at all using the filters--I always used UV filters anyway, just for lens protection--but Leica needs to say something. I think they must feel that the "just purple shirts" problem is easier to swallow than the idea that the issue is much broader.

 

Walt

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Daniel,

 

All of my Leica M8 & Nikon D2X image processing are broken up in this pie:

80% = LR

15% = PS/CS3 (ACR)

5% = NikonCapture NX

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