Posts Tagged ‘CONTRAST’

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Dynamic Black & White – from a digital camera, it doesn’t get any better than this !

Some say that monochrome represents the absolute purity of an image – no colour to get in the way, to divert attention from the photographer’s intended portrayal of the subject.

One of the most interesting aspects of the LX3, and certainly a very influential factor in my decision to buy one, was – and still is – the Dynamic Black & White setting, to be found within the selection of Film Modes. This setting, in combination with the 16:9 format, is one of my very favourites … albeit jpeg output only. I can forego the flexibility of RAW files when the DBW results are just so good, and get so close to the look of film. Deep blacks, tons of contrast, and yet a decent level of detail, all combine to make it a very hard act to follow.

For film buffs, think along the lines of Fuji Neopan 1600 / Ilford XP2 …  

Indeed, this LX3 look is very tough to replicate on a colour file without a lot of messing, unless you use a dedicated ‘conversion’ program, such as DxO FilmPack or Nik Silver Efex Pro …both superb, although even then, there’s still something about the LX3 DBW file that just looks immediately stunning, and that isn’t easily matched otherwise.

Talking more generally for a moment, the internal processing engine within LX3 is dramatic in its ability to provide a brilliant  – and customisable – interpretation of what you saw with your own eyes when you made the image. Within the Film mode selection are six colour versions :  Standard – Dynamic – Nature – Smooth – Vibrant – Nostalgic

For Black & White, rather than just the one token effort seen on so many compacts, there are, unusually, three different LX3 modes :   Standard – Dynamic – Smooth

The shot above was made in Dynamic BW mode, with settings altered to my own preference, after some – but not very much – experimentation. Already very contrasty to start with, just as I like it, the Dynamic BW is modified on my own LX3 as follows :  Contrast +1 / Sharpness +2 / Noise reduction +1

You may already have found that the Multi-Film mode on LX3 gives the photographer a massive amount of flexibility for up to three custom ‘looks’, recorded in sequence at a single press. Again, although not available in RAW, these jpeg outputs can each be altered to taste, and the quality and accuracy of the white balance becomes important in this instance – you’re relying on it to provide the right colour balance overall, and it’s awkward to change it after the fact and achieve good results …so getting it right in-camera, as far as possible, is important.

Dynamic Black & White could also come to the rescue if you’re facing some impossibly tough mixed lighting in a certain situation. Whereas the different light sources can on occasion produce a truly ugly result, the DBW setting on the LX3 can cut through all of that, and produce something you can be proud of – and look really professional without too much effort … once you’ve got the right composition, exposure, focus,  etc !

Incidentally, with the LX3, I’ve shot more Black & White in the last few months than in the previous 10 years – the  Dynamic Black & White mode is that good.

As usual, you’ll find that there’s an entire folder dedicated to this amazing LX3 monochrome mode  – go to  http://nickbland.zenfolio.com …. just look for ‘LX3 :: Dynamic B&W’, where you’ll find 96 images … and enjoy !

CARBON-FIBRE KUN VOCE

CARBON-FIBRE KUN VOCE

Something a little different this time : in the last six months, my LX3 has proven to be a fantastic camera for product images, and much of this is to do with – again – that f2-2.8 Leica lens, often in ‘macro’ mode, in combination with relatively larger pixels on a 10MP sensor, and a successful in-camera processing engine.

I was taking these shots this morning, and decided to try capturing the product against both white and black backgrounds. So What ?

Here’s a thought … take a look at the two images, taken with pretty well the same LX3 settings. If you ignore the background colour in each, and then take a look at the different colour rendering and detail between the two…

 Although the product is made of carbon-fibre, and is carbon grey in colour, with a satin but reflective finish, notice how the white-background version on the left has reflected right around the product, diminishing contrast. There’s also a warmth to the image, which was not my aim, and which I could have corrected in post-processing. 

The dark background – by far my preference for this image – has not added extra light, and the result seems much closer to the look I was after. The background has a huge effect on any image, rather than just the obvious, and some images of course suit high-key, and some low-key, against whichever background. It’s certainly an area worth thinking about in your own images, safe in the knowledge that the LX3 will perform very well, whatever your choice for the final ‘look’.

If you’re into product/macro subjects, you’ll find more LX3 galleries that relate at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com … and don’t forget that the LX3 is less expensive in itself than even some ‘average’ DSLR macro lens (only) … also, with its proven light-gathering capability and superb image stabilisation, you’re likely to get way better-than-average results every time !