Very flat pictures (lack of contrast) with Nikon D100

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by NL, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. NL

    NL Guest

    Hi. I just returned from a trip in Asia and many of my shots i took turned
    out flat, in terms of colour and contrast. In fact I have noticed that from
    day one since I bought the D100 2 years ago.

    A friend said that it is the characteristic of the D100 and many other
    digital SLRs.
    Just about every shot needs to be corrected in Photoshop with the Auto

    I am using the D100 with a Tamron 28-300mm zoom.

    Is this a a problem with the lens that gives my pictures a lifeless look, or
    is it the camera or a combination of both?

    Will using a non-zoom lens correct this problem?

    And also should shots need to be sharpened before being sent for printing?

    thanks in advance.

    NL, Jan 24, 2005
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  2. NL

    [BnH] Guest

    It is somehow a Nikon out of the box sensor character.
    If you like contrasty and saturated picture, try Fuji DSLRs .
    Beginning from a S1 Pro and S2 Pro background, I always wonder why Nikon
    colours are not that contrasty & saturated [read : lots of PS work needed
    :( ]

    Non zoom [ primes ?] won't correct this problem.
    as I have 50 / 1.4 , 50 / 1.8 , 35 f/ 2.0 , 60 micro .. and all of them
    gives the same colour contrast when compared to 80-200 / 2.8 , 28-105 ,
    28-70 and many more.

    re. sharpening .. its up to you. Somehow when I print my shots at 6R ... it
    is much sharper than when in my screen.
    And my sister who did her photo shoot a while said she does not like
    sharpening as the operator we know already tweaked her shoots to be

    [BnH], Jan 24, 2005
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  3. Flat on screen or in print or both? Can the D100 take different tone
    curves... if so, have you tried loading a different one that suits your
    taste? What colour space are you shooting in... sRGB or aRGB? If aRGB are
    you "applying" the correct profile in Photoshop, as failure to "apply" aRGB
    will result in flat images?
    I don't think so.... I see many D100 images come across my desk and while I
    am not a big fan of the D100 colours, they are anything but "flat". (I
    actually find them too saturated in the reds)
    Auto Levels does little to "correct" an image... more often than not it will
    make things worse. The auto functions can be modified in PS to give a more
    accurate result, but many people do not realise this can be done and simply
    use the defaults (which IMHO are crap).

    You would be better off learning how to use PS's curves/levels/colour
    balance features and adjust manually.
    While some lenses will provide better colour rendition & contrast than
    other, I would doubt if your lens is bad enough to make images "flat".

    Depends on how you have your in-camera or (RAW) sharpening set.... certainly
    an image needs to be sharpened straight from the sensor.... but this can be
    done at varying levels of your in-camera processes (or RAW processes). Many
    have found that straight from camera images are good enough using the
    cameras sharpening, while others like to reduce sharpening in-camera and
    apply it later in PS. This all comes down to personal taste and workflow.

    a couple of links...

    Getting back to colour..... all of the above means nuff'n if you have not
    correctly calibrated you monitor.
    Russell Stewart, Jan 24, 2005
  4. NL

    nb Guest


    Read what Russell has said and take note. What he has said is correct.

    nb, Jan 25, 2005
  5. Off topic : I belong to a bushwalking club and we often have slide shows. Up to
    relatively recently of course these have consisted of "real" slides, but all the
    recent digital slide shows have been totally disappointing - flat washed-out
    unsharp images that look like badly hand-colourised prints from 60 years ago.
    What gives - digital cameras that were used were not good enough or lousy
    projection equipment or both (and lousy image-takers also I suppose) ?

    David Springthorpe, Jan 25, 2005
  6. If it is "all" the recent digital shows that have been lousy, then the first
    place I would look in the projection equipment....

    ....Is it a bright enough data projector?
    ....Is the room dark enough?
    ....What is feeding the projector? ie is the image being sent from a profile
    aware application?
    ....What colour profile are the images? (I would suggest sRGB for most data

    Think of the projector as a monitor... without proper profiling of both
    image and hardware it will not display images correctly.
    Russell Stewart, Jan 25, 2005
  7. NL

    Dave E Guest

    Hi Nelson,

    When I purchased my D100 some time ago I had the same issues as you're
    having. I've almost always shot Velvia (some would say over-saturated in
    some situations) and the digital shots seemed flat and lacking life.

    The simple solution is to use a custom curve. Have a look at to see how to do
    this. Essentially it uses a curve inside the camera to adjust the shot real
    time, saving you a workload later.

    For bringing out the tones in your shots, have a look at
    and see how his Digital Velvia affects you. I know it made an immense
    difference to me - selectively saturating colours to simulate Velvia (fairly
    obvious!). Doing a straight saturation in PS will give you unnatural colour
    shifts and so this PS action is a wonderful thing - and only about USD12
    (and I don't have shares!). :)

    So don't despair - for a few dollars and a little of your time you can bring
    those shots alive. Let me know how you go.

    Dave E
    a = deldridg, b = ozemail,
    ....damned mathematicians...
    Dave E, Jan 25, 2005
  8. NL

    Ryadia Guest

    There is some information you are leaving out of the 'picture' which would
    help others advise you.
    The D100 image faults are mostly when you try to use higher ISO numbers and
    encounter 'digital noise' in deep shadows. Otherwise they have a slightly
    flatter contrast than say an Olympus sensor but nothing I would describe the
    way you have.

    Are you shooting in RAW capture mode?
    Are you looking at the pictures on the screen of your monitor or, prints you
    have recieved from a lab?
    The 28~300 Tamron is not a lens I would recommend for a DSLR however it
    would not, on it's own, produce flat pictures. If your pictures from a Nikon
    DSLR need to be sharpened, then the rear focus distance from the back
    element of the lens to the sensor probably need calibrating. Canon cameras
    use an anti alias filter which softens the pictures. Nikon do not so
    pictures from your D100 should be very crisp and sharp.

    Without knowing the answer to the missing information, I could not make a
    reliable conclusion but if your Tamron lens has a rear focus issue, it may
    well have other issues and these could contribute to the flatness. Why don't
    you go to a camera store with your camera and shoot some test images with a
    few different lenses? This way you will see any difference and if they all
    need sharpening, take the camera in for service. If only the ones from the
    Tamron are fuzzy, think about replacing it.

    Ryadia, Jan 25, 2005
  9. NL

    viz Guest

    Russell - what camera are you a fan of - in terms of colours? (In the market
    for a new one...)

    viz, Jan 25, 2005
  10. I am a Canon man from way back..... but regardless of my pre-digital bias I
    do prefer the Canon CMOS sensors for their silky smooth colour. Best
    results in my opinion are produced from Canon RAW, converted with Capture
    One ( using the profiles
    Russell Stewart, Jan 25, 2005
  11. NL

    Michael Guest

    It's not a fault with the lens. its the camera.(typical dslr fault)

    Michael, Jan 25, 2005
  12. "typical dslr fault"

    I think not!

    A DSLR is perfectly capable of producing images full of colour & contrast.
    Pick any magazine and tell me what photos have come from DSLR and ones that
    have not...... I would bet my house that you couldn't do it.
    Russell Stewart, Jan 25, 2005
  13. NL

    bear Guest

    I tried 2 of these super zooms on a D70 and both were the same, flat and
    lifeless when shooting contrasty or bright scenes. No problems with my other
    Nikkor or Tamron SP lenses using the same custom curve.
    Using the lens hood? Otherwise you'll have buckleys
    bear, Jan 25, 2005
  14. NL

    NL Guest

    Hello. Thank you so much to all who have responded to my questions. it is
    much appreciated.
    very helpful information indeed.

    NL, Jan 26, 2005
  15. NL

    viz Guest

    Even National Geographic are using DSLR's for cover work...

    viz, Jan 26, 2005
  16. NL

    Witold Guest

    I think that the Nikon D100 does use an anti-aliasing filter on the CCD.
    The Nikon D70 supposedly uses a less strong anti-aliasing filter, hence its
    images may be a little crisper. There is more chance of moire distortion in
    the image when a weak anti-aliasing filter is used. Some of the Kodak
    digital SLRs don't have an anti-aliasing filter, and I think some in some
    Kodak models it was removable. Compared to the D70, the images from the
    D100 are reputed to be not quite as crisp and sharp. The details are still
    there, and need some post-capture application of unsharp mask to bring them
    Witold, Jan 26, 2005
  17. NL

    Witold Guest

    The way the D100 meters the scene is to try and retain as much detail in
    the highlights as possible. This means that your images will often not
    have the "punchiness" of those produced by point-and-shoot digicams. It
    is possible to adjust the images in Photoshop, but you can also download
    a custom curve into your D100 that will boost the midtones somewhat to
    give them more punch and bring out the colors. There are some available
    on the web which might be useful for you, as they show before and after
    examples for the reader to see.

    Although this is not the sharpest of zooms, owing to the focal length
    range it tries to cover, it shouldn't be the dominant cause of the
    problems you are experiencing. Certainly a better lens will produce a
    different color rendition with better sharpness, but I think that the
    D100's approach to metering will still come into play in a big way.

    Note that another factor that has a great bearing on how the photos come
    out is the white balance. This is particularly important if you are
    shooting jpegs, as there is less scope to do white balance corrections
    after the fact. Some D100 shooters prefer to use preset white balance,
    such as Cloudy, rather than relying on the auto white balance to get
    things right and/or to their liking. Using Cloudy will help bring out the
    colors, and should offer warmer tones. There are lots of ways to control
    the color rendition of your D100 using its builtin controls, which are
    probably worth investigating and trying out for yourself.
    Witold, Jan 26, 2005
  18. NL

    Michael Guest

    I have used a few dslrs in the past (try-outs) and found a few
    of them lack any detail in shadows. also I'd bet that some
    magazine shots have been doctored up to look better. It is very
    easy to pick photoshop alterations. some dslrs dont pick out detail
    aswell in skin tones, I took photo's of family and friends with both
    digi and film the digital was good, plastic looking but good. the film,
    sensia 100, picked out all the minute detail on peoples skin right down
    to the pores.
    Michael, Jan 27, 2005
  19. NL

    Michael Guest

    They do use DSLRS, yes, and are impressive photos.have you seen the
    specs of their digicams, upwards and over 16mp. those cameras in
    australia retail for roughly $15,000aud (eg canon 1Ds MkII). out of
    reach for most people. others they use are the Mamiya 22mp.
    Michael, Jan 27, 2005

  20. Lets just agree to disagree.
    Russell Stewart, Jan 27, 2005
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