Complete Guide to the Nikon D200- P23

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Complete Guide to the Nikon D200- P23

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Complete Guide to the Nikon D200- P23:As with all my books, a full draft was reviewed by volunteers to weed out unclear language and misstatements. This book is better because of them.

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  1. V1.03 Gray Point if you want to click in the image on a neutral area and have color casts removed. • Apply exposure compensation. Select Show Tool Palette 2, if necessary, from the View menu. Click the Apply button for Advanced Raw ( ). This opens a tool area that allows you to change a number of camera settings (Exposure Compensation, Sharpening, Tone Compensation, Color Mode, Saturation, and Hue Adjustment [see note at end of section]). Drag the slider or enter a value directly to the right of the slider. Note that you’re not actually changing the exposure, though it will look like it. What you’re doing is adjusting the linearity curve by which data is taken from the raw file and converted to pixels. If you “increase exposure” you may see noise become worse as the low values are shifted into visible range. If you “decrease exposure” you may see 158 posterization of highlight data as Capture tries to deal F with fitting too few captured values into a larger portion of the exposure. • Work with dozens of other tools. Color Balance, Noise Reduction, Size/Resolution, and Vignette Control are amongst the other tools that allow you to manipulate the NEF image directly. The entire list is actually quite impressive, though Nikon has managed to strew these tools willy nilly across palettes. Don’t worry; we’re going to go through each tool individually, so that was just a broad sweep through what you can do. Note: Nikon Capture is not a full-featured image editing program. It has a nice set of tools that allow you to make most of the changes to how the raw sensor data is processed into an image, but it is not a substitute for a full-featured product, such as Adobe Photoshop CS2. Personally, I use Nikon Capture only for its unique tools (camera control, interpolation of NEF images, and post-image manipulation 158 Posterization: gaps in data in a tone ramp. Shows as gaps in histogram. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 661
  2. V1.03 of exposure and white balance on NEF images), and use Photoshop CS2 for almost everything else. Note: Changes you make aren’t permanent if you save your work as a NEF file. Nikon Capture saves the tool settings but doesn’t change the original data. If you save your work as a TIFF or JPEG, obviously the effects of your changes are permanently embedded in the image data that’s saved. Individual Palette Tools Since many of the help file messages in the Capture Editor are essentially “the widget tool allows you to control the widget,” I’m going to step through each of the tools one by one and try to put a bit more meat on the table than Nikon did. First up is the Curves tool. We have four primary things we set with this tool (plus we can do the same for individual channels): • Black point. The black triangle on the bottom of this control allows you to set what will be “black” in the output. If you had used the full exposure range of the camera, it would normally be 0, but as you can see on Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 662
  3. V1.03 this example (sand dune in Death Valley), there wasn’t much scene contrast, so I can pull the black level all the way up to 106. Normally you’ll pull the black level up to the bottom point of your histogram data. You can also use the black dropper icon to set the point by sampling from the image. • White point. Like the black point, but now we’re working the right hand (white triangle). Normally you’d pull this down to just above the top of your histogram data. You can also use the white dropper icon to set the point by sampling from the image. • Gamma. The middle gray triangle is the gamma point, which controls the definition of what middle gray is. You don’t move this control as often as the others, but sometimes you’ll enter a value slightly larger than 1.0 to boost midrange values on dark images. You can also use the gamma dropper icon to set the mid-point by sampling from the image. • The “Curve.” The straight line that goes from the black point up to the top of the graph above the white point doesn’t have to be straight. You can click on any point on the line and then use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move that point up, down, left, or right. What you’re changing is the relationship between input value and output value. By default, an increase of 1 in the input value is an increase of 1 in the output value. When you start changing any of the options in this control, you break that relationship and create a new one. In general, many D200 images look a bit “better” with a very slight upwards curve in the upper highlights. There are more controls and many more nuances in the Curves control than is fitting to describe in detail on a book about the D200. If you’re doing more than I’ve just described, you’re considerably deeper into image processing than we’ve got room for in this already long tome. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 663
  4. V1.03 Next on our list is the Color Balance control. The temptation for novices is to use this control for image corrections because it seems simple (brightness, contrast, red, green, blue) and sort of mimics what they’re used to on their televisions. My word of advice: leave it closed and inactive. These adjustments are crude, and there are better ways to do every one of them. Brightness and contrast are better controlled with Curves, and the colors are better handled by both Curves and the LCH setting, sometimes both. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 664
  5. V1.03 The Unsharp Mask is next on the palette. Nikon Capture uses different values and definitions for this tool than does the Adobe Photoshop Unsharp Mask filter (this is true for a few other image editing programs, as well). Here’s how the two compare: Nikon Name Nikon Range Adobe Name Adobe Range Intensity 0-100% Amount 0-500% Halo Width 0-100% Radius 0-20 pixels Threshold 0-255 Threshold 0-255 Example: A setting of 20%, 5%, and 0 in Nikon Capture is approximately the same as a setting of 100%, 1 pixel, and 0 in Photoshop. (If you don’t remember what each item does, go back and re-read the section on Sharpening earlier in the eBook [see “Sharpening” on page < 328>]). H I’m not a big fan of Capture’s sharpening, though some like it a lot. It definitely has a slightly different “texture” to the effect than does Photoshop’s similar tool. As you’ll discover in “Other Manipulation Tools,” I suggest that you get a dedicated sharpening tool, as you’ll get more control over the process. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 665
  6. V1.03 The D-Lighting tool is the replacement for DEE in previous versions of Capture (Dynamic Exposure Extender). D-Lighting is a second way of altering exposures in Capture (Curves was the first; there will be more). In a way, D-Lighting is a method of building a curve that deals with just the shadow area, just the highlight area, or both. (Note that you have to click the Better Quality radio button to see all the controls in this tool.) This control is cruder than Photoshop’s Shadow/Highlight adjustment, but still effective. Usually you’ll set the Highlight adjustment to 0 and then try dragging the Shadow adjustment control. Moreover, I find that you can really only effectively use this control for shadows or highlights, not both simultaneously (if that’s what you need to do, use Photoshop’s controls). Without D-Lighting With D-Lighting Note: It pays to have Curves open and visible when you’re playing with DEE, as the histogram will be updated and provide you additional feedback. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 666
  7. V1.03 Capture does an excellent job of resizing images, if you need that (though it only goes to 200%). Indeed, some people think that it does a slightly better job than Photoshop’s bicubic resampling. First, enter the dots per inch for your printer (most inkjet users should enter 240); note that before you enter the dots per inch, you may need to change the width and height units to something other than pixels. Then enter a new value for Width or Height. The Scale value will tell you how much the image had to be scaled to meet your demand. Note: To cancel a resizing, click on the " icon for the tool and select Reset to 100%. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 667
  8. V1.03 The Bird’s Eye option isn’t really a control, but a navigational tool. When you’re zoomed in on an image it shows you the location of your zoom and allows you to drag the red box that shows your current location to another place on the overall image. Information tells you the position and value of the pixel at the current cursor position on the main image. That’s useful, but there’s an even more useful ability: if you want to compare two (or more) points, click on the crosshair icon, click on a point in the image, and now as you move elsewhere in the image you’ll be able to see how the values differ: A little crosshair icon is placed along with a matching number on the image so you can remember which point is which (right-hand image, above). Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 668
  9. V1.03 Color Booster is a saturation control, but with a bit of a difference. If you select a Target Type of People, skin tone colors won’t be boosted but others will. If you select Nature, all colors are boosted. New in recent versions of Capture is Photo Effects. Like a number of Capture’s tools, it’s actually quite versatile, but not well explained or self explanatory. First, Effect allows you to change the image to monochrome. The thing that throws some folk is that Tinted doesn’t seem to tint the image (hint: you have to then use the color sliders at the bottom of that tool). The top slider is Brightness, the bottom three sliders Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 669
  10. V1.03 are the equivalent to Photoshop’s Color Saturation tool and adjust the complimentary color spectrums (Cyan/Red, Magenta/Green, and Yellow/Blue). Note that you can use these color sliders even if you don’t choose an effect. Egads, we’ve now got dueling brightness and color controls! That’s one reason why I suggested earlier to use a default of all tools turned off. Only turn on those you use to change an image. It’s very easy to get multiple tools turned on that make similar (or even the same) adjustment to an image, which can make it tough to make subtle adjustments. Our last tool on the first palette is Red Eye Correction. 159 F You’ve got two choices: let Capture do it automatically, or click on the eyes and let Capture do it automatically. The difference is that in one case you help Capture find the eyes (it might correct something small and red that isn’t an eye), in the other you trust Capture to do the right thing. As good as the all-automatic version is I suggest that you always use Click on eyes. 159 Okay, the UI designer in me has to make a comment. When you turn this tool on it is initially off. Yep, it’s got two “off” controls. It really seems like Nikon doesn’t have a real UI designer working on this program. The “wizard behind the curtain” is doing all kinds of interesting and wonderful image alterations for us, but telling him what to do and when to undo is a lesson in disorganized user interface. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 670
  11. V1.03 In the second tool palette, we have an additional set of options: The White Balance tool allows you to set a color temperature setting (and actual Kelvin value; as shown here I’ve bumped Cloudy up a bit using Fine Adjustment). You can also select a neutral area of your shot and use it to set white balance: Hint: the Start button is necessary to begin the process of selecting a pixel or pixels in the image to use as the neutral reference. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 671
  12. V1.03 Three controls live in the Noise Reduction tool, and they all do different things: • Color Noise Reduction: this function is used to reduce the colored patterns noise takes on when you use high ISO values. The D200 doesn’t really produce much chroma noise, and I find this tool useful only at ISO 1600 and above. • Edge Noise Reduction: this function tries to remove noise from distinct edges, which, theoretically, makes those edges more distinct. • Color Moire Reduction: this function only works on NEF images and it has limited control. Still, it’s worth a try if you find an image with moiré in it. But I’d generally say avoid Capture’s Noise Reduction tools if you can. The programs I mention in “Other Manipulation Tools” (see page < 707>) do a better job. H Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 672
  13. V1.03 If you took a dust reference photo, here’s the tool that allows you to use it. Click on the Change button and point to the dust reference photo you want to use. This function sometimes takes a long time to process. And you’ll sometimes see the downside: occasionally you’ll get a message like this: See: you still have to clean your sensors sometimes, folks. Vignette Control only works with NEF images. Nikon doesn’t tell us much about the Vignette Control, though their documentation seems to imply that the control varies to correct the amount of light falloff exhibited by the lens detected in the EXIF data. Based upon my experience with it, it’s only marginally accurate at that, though it’s far better than nothing. Don’t expect huge differences that are easily visible. Most lenses on the D200 have far less than the 15% center-to- edge difference that would be easily visible to the naked eye. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 673
  14. V1.03 We’ve now come to two of the more important controls. Advanced Raw is tricky, so be careful. Most people turn it on to allow post shooting exposure compensation (top control). What they don’t notice is that the controls underneath all say Unchanged (I’ve used my normal set here, so only Color Mode is Unchanged in the dialog I show). It’s easy to interpret the word “unchanged” as meaning nothing will be done, but that’s not correct. What it means is that the camera setting will be used for that item. So if you set Sharpening to High on the camera, Unchanged means High! Don’t fall into that trap. Indeed, this is one of the controls where I strongly suggest that you save and load a standard set of values, as I have here. Note: If you used prior versions of Capture or also use a D1, you need to note that the current versions of Nikon Capture show the Hue adjustment value differently than the D1 (and all versions of Capture up through 2.0). On those products, the Hues were specified as a value from 0 to 6; in Capture 3.0 and later, Hues are shown in values of -9 degrees to +9 degrees. Here’s how the two equate: Old New 0 -9 degrees 1 -6 degrees 2 -3 degrees Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 674
  15. V1.03 3 0 degrees 4 +3 degrees 5 +6 degrees 6 +9 degrees So what are these “degrees?” They are shifts on the traditional color circle, where the three primary colors are 120 degrees apart (see “Hue” on page < 296>). H Our last tool is a four-parter: the LCH tool (Lightness, 160 Chroma, Hue) . This tool comes to Capture from the Nikon F Scan software, where it has been available since version 3 (thus, it’s not a new tool just coded, but a mature one). You’ll note that the Master Lightness portion of the tool looks exactly like the Curves tool. Yep, it works the same way, so you already know how to use it. Whereas Curves works with RGB data, LCH works with Luminance and Color data (sort of the CIE Color Lab mode, only expressed a bit differently, as we have no A and B channels). Normally, you’re only going to pick one or the other to use (Curves or LCH), not both, as they interact, and you can get lost in the sub effects they have on each other. 160 Yes, I know I said four parts. The lightness control now comes in two forms: Overall Lightness and Color Lightness. I guess no one at Nikon wanted to rename it the LLCH tool. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 675
  16. V1.03 If the first part of the tool looked familiar, we’re now on unfamiliar ground when we pick Color Lightness or Chroma. These options have a very interesting (and unusual) implementation. The vertical axis is brightness or saturation. If you wanted to saturate or desaturate the color for everything a bit, you’d move the black line up or down with the handle on the side of Chroma tool. Nice. But even nicer is that you can click on the line at any point and drag that point up or down, essentially changing the color at that point. Try it. Choose one of the two options with a picture that has some points of specific color in it, find that color’s position on the line and then drag a point up or down. When you do this, a slider that controls the width of the curve pops up under the color chart. Want to increase green and yellow saturation but pull down blue? Try something like this: Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 676
  17. V1.03 Wondering how you might use Color Lightness? Well, pick an image with a blue sky and pull the blue point downwards (darker). Instant polarizer! If that isn’t crazy enough, the Hue option works the same way, only you have to think at an angle: If you drag up from where yellow intersects the line, you’re moving yellow towards green; if you drag downward you’re moving yellow towards red. Click on the little number under the color chart to change the angle of interaction between the colors (i.e. how fast the change from one color to another is made). The LCH tool is wickedly crazy, but very fun and useful. Unlike the general Hue control where you’re changing all the colors in relation to one another on the color wheel (you can do that here by moving the line up and down), the Hue portion of LCH allows you to affect individual colors. This is a control that has to be played with to see its impact, so I suggest you do just that on some of your images. Where I find it most useful is in dealing with slight color tints that occur Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 677
  18. V1.03 because of multiple color temperature sources, but I’m sure you’ll find your own use. I’ve really only touched the surface of the Capture Editor tools. While Capture has always had some interesting abilities, recent versions have added some very unique and useful tools (like the LCH tool I just covered). One Image Processed by Capture Let’s try to put all the information about the Capture tools together by walking through a NEF image I took on a recent trip with my D200. I’m going to pick an image that is a little unusual so that I can show off how some of the tools can 161 make short work of an otherwise tough image . F I generally start in Nikon View, using my folder structure to quickly get to the image I want to work with (look at the title bar for the screen shot). As you can probably see, I have other images similar to the one we’re going to work with. But all of 161 This kind of step-by-step process is something I try to do in every issue of Nikon DSLR Report (albeit in even more detail), usually with the cover image. So if you find this section useful and interesting, you might want to subscribe. See for details. Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 678
  19. V1.03 them are tough sunset images with extreme exposure ranges. Let’s see how the selected image looks in Nikon Capture: Eek! What a mess. It looks like I’ve painted a DayGlo orange filter over the whole thing, losing the subtlety of this nice sunset over Iguazu Falls. The falls (lower left) are barely visible. Overall, though the image looks very high in contrast, it’s underexposed in the lower areas (note the black bar up the left side of the histogram). The horizon line is also a bit off (downhill left, though the hills behind the falls are a bit misleading). I’ve got a lot to do to make this into a usable shot. Normally, you’d work with the Curves tool to “fix” the tonal range adjustment of the histogram. Instead, I’m going to use the LCH tool for this image and show you an alternative way of working. (Remember, the difference is that with Curves we’re working directly with the three RGB channels; with LCH we work with luminance separate from color— personally, I’ve become a big fan of the LCH tool.) Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 679
  20. V1.03 My first adjustment is with the Master Lightness option of the LCH tool. Here I’ve brought the white point in to better match the data that was captured. (White triangle underneath the right edge of the histogram; see the dotted line going upwards from it, that’s my new white point). Note how the image appears a bit brighter. Normally, I’d be adjusting the black point, too, but we’ve got data right at the boundary we need to preserve, so I’ll leave it untouched. You may wonder how I figured out where the black and white points should be. Capture has two tools that are excellent for making this adjustment. First, work with the black point. Press the S key on your keyboard (for shadows). You’ll see something like this: Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon D200 Page 680
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