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Better BW JPEGs

Discussion in 'X-Pro2 and X-Pro1' started by dixeyk, Oct 12, 2017 at 6:10 AM.

  1. dixeyk

    dixeyk Dabbler

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    I shoot a lot of BW JPEGs and while I think they look pretty good they always seem to be missing a little something. It's tough to nail down what exactly but when I look at the BW JPEGs from the X-P1 they strike me as being a bit muddy in the mid-tones and a bit lower contrast that I would expect. Color JPEGs however look great so I'm certain that it's something that I'd doing wrong and perhaps has to do with the custom settings I use.

    BW
    ISO Auto (limit 1600)
    Dynamic Range: DR 400
    Film Simulation: BW+Red
    White Balance: Auto
    Sharpness: +1
    Highlight Tone: -1
    Shadow Tone: +2
    Noise Reduction: -2

    Also, I wonder if it has to do with fact that I shoot adapted lenses instead of native? When I've shot with native lenses I think images look terrific. I suppose it would be understandable if Fuji's were at their best with native lenses as opposed to with adapted lenses (that would be very similar to my experience with an Olympus OMD). FWIW my ancient Sony NEX produces great looking BW JPEGs with the very same adapted lenses which is a little frustrating given how Fuji JPEGs are widely considered to be among the best in mirror-less and Sony (form that vintage) among the worst.

    No matter, I am curious if folks have any strategies that I might use to get the best out of Fuji BW JPEGs. I know the X-P1 can produce lovely BW but it's a bit of a struggle for me to get there.
     
  2. Richard_R

    Richard_R Eclectic eccentric

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    I suspect that is the case. I have a couple of old adapted lenses that look similar and others that look good.
    You could try the old camera on tripod and two shots of the same subject one with the adapted lens and one with a Fuji lens with identical settings trick.
    Maybe the Sony NEX does more aggressive in camera image editing.
     
  3. dixeyk

    dixeyk Dabbler

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    I do think the NEX default settings tend to be more contrasty right from the start and that seems to suit some older lenses pretty well. When I use the 18/2 I get good results on the Fuji. If I’m going to keep the X-P1 I need to pick up another native lens to make it worth using.

    I’m planning to do some controlled side by sides but neither work nor the weather is cooperating at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017 at 6:57 AM
  4. Lead

    Lead Member

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    Both a minus highlight tone and a DR400 would tend to reduce contrast.
     
  5. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    I've never got B&W images out of the x-Pro1 I'm pleased with, nor indeed any other digital camera. I find them bland, sharp but bland. To get something I like means Raw and processing interventions. My usual default is Rawtherapee freeware, a pre-set called Pop B&W and tweak from there. That gives something like a pushed Tri-X look at 1600 ISO.

    Some phone apps give excellent black and white renditions, so the technology is clearly there. In fact of all the printed books I've produced in the last few years, the one shot on an iPhone with a app is the most like slow, high contrast 120 film. OTOH I can live with colour jpegs out the XP1 no problem.
     
  6. AdrianG

    AdrianG Premium Member

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    I suggest using the BW and yellow simulation for most purposes. It won't blow your lights as red does. Red really is a landscape filter for making skies black. With the yellow filter you can set DR to 100, which results in better contrast. You could always add contrast to the JPEG easily with software later.

    However, I never did like the pre Acros BW. I desaturated CC instead.
    Cheers.
     
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  7. dixeyk

    dixeyk Dabbler

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    Thanks, I’ll try that...and yes, I do have a little bit of Acros envy.
     
  8. dixeyk

    dixeyk Dabbler

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    I have been able to get nice BW using RAW but I figure if a 7 year old Sony can produce nice BW JPEGs then I should be able to replicate that with the Fuji.
     
  9. specLegacy

    specLegacy Premium Member

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    If you're looking for more contrast, try tweaking the highlight tone and DR settings, as @Lead noted above. Here are my (very aggressive) settings on the X-E2:

    BW
    ISO Auto (limit 6400)
    Dynamic Range: Auto
    Film Simulation: BW+Red
    White Balance: Auto
    Sharpness: +1
    Highlight Tone: +2
    Shadow Tone: +2
    Noise Reduction: -2

    And on the X-Pro2:

    BW
    ISO Auto (limit 12800)
    Dynamic Range: Auto
    Film Simulation: BW+Red
    White Balance: Auto
    Sharpness: +1
    Highlight Tone: +4
    Shadow Tone: +4
    Noise Reduction: -4
     
  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Dabbler

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    thank you
     
  11. dixeyk

    dixeyk Dabbler

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    Oops, I clearly misunderstood how that worked...:eek:, but I have also used that same setting with highlight one set to +1 without much improvement. I'll try it with DR set to Auto next.
     
  12. Lead

    Lead Member

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    AutoDR can select DR100 or DR200, for max contrast I'd select DR100 manually.
     
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  13. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    I tried that combination and it isn't half bad. However those parameters didn't allow Auto Dynamic Range, just 100% to 400%. With Manual exposure the highlights were burnt out.

    Edit: it allows Auto DR in auto exposure.
     
  14. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    Just tried it, DR100 is punchier.
     
  15. Lead

    Lead Member

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    DR100 can be set manually and is essentially DR off.

    DR200 can be set manually.

    DR400 can be set manually.

    AutoDR allows the camera to ascertain itself the level of DR it should give.
    Early X cams, such as the X100, allowed AutoDR to set 100, 200 and 400. In later X cams the AutoDR only allows 100 (off) and 200.
    400 always needing to be selected manually.
     
  16. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    Thanks for that. As I discovered, Auto DR is not available in manual exposure on the X-Pro1, but is on auto exposure. As noted above, DR 100 gives things a "filmier" look. At DR 400 in manual exposure highlights were definitely burnt out, even though it was within ISO and shutter speed parameters, and compensation was 0.

    Always happy to eat my words based on better data, and that's quite a characterful setting. Much more interesting that the typical sharp-but-dull OOTC jpeg.
     
  17. Lead

    Lead Member

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    I would have expected DR400 to retain highlights better, that's what the DR functionality is for, in JPGs. In RAW it would, effectively, underexpose, again protecting highlights.

    DR200 requires minimum ISO of 400, with DR400 needing 800. Perhaps you are restricting your manual exposure to ISO200 and therefore not allowing the DR function to function.
     
  18. streetsntravel

    streetsntravel Premium Member

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    Wow, it really depends on what you want to shoot. IMO not image is B&W worthy and not every B&W worthy image looks good with blown out highlights, blocked shadows and muddy midrange.

    To prevent the muddy midrange, set the dynamic range to 100. Don't let the camera stretch the midrange by automagically stretching the shadows and compress the highlights.

    While you are experimenting, I'd lose the red filter simulation, you want to be in control. It's always a good idea when you are trying to work out something like this to remove as much of the "auto" implementation until you can see what controls actually move your results in the desired direction. AutoWB is likely not a problem.

    Sharpness and noise reduction typically don't affect the B&W rendering but do affect how the results look on the LCD which may "emotionally" influence you.

    Next try taking an image of one of your typical B&W subjects, preferably with your camera on a tripod, starting with Highlight Tone and Shadow Tone set to zero. For successive images, vary just one of the tone settings by +/- two till you cover all the values; then return that setting to zero and repeat for the other.

    Look at these images on your computer carefully and see if the range of detail in just the shadows or highlights meet your expectations. You get the idea; we're trying to find out how to expose for the highlights and develop for the shadows.

    Reset the camera to the shadow position and the highlight value that you think has the deep/bright tones to give your image impact. Now add in the red filter and see if that makes the difference you expect. Not all subject tones respond well to the red filter.

    This is an exercise that needs to be repeated. On the X-Pro2, the ISO value also makes a difference in how the grain effect is added into the image. For that camera, I usually fix ISO at 2000 or above to take advantage of the look I want, but I don't know if your jpg engine has the same capability.

    Don't be discouraged by this, you will eventually begin to recognize which controls help get the image you want.

    I currently use the ACROS simulation so I don't think my typical choices will work on your camera.
     
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  19. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    On Manual exp I shot a two interiors and two outside. The inside test shots were at 3200 ISO and exteriors were 800 ISO, both f8 and DR400. The 800 ISO photos had totally bleached highlights, the 3200 interiors were much better. It's a greyish evening here, so no super high contrast.

    edit: I haven't had chance to look at the DR 1oo shots on my large desk top screen, only the XP1 rear screen, so highlights may be blown there too. The DR400 photos were viewed on a large screen. Some experiment need I think, perhaps shooting manual and minus 1 stop exp compensation.
     
  20. Lead

    Lead Member

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    You can also take a single RAW image and use the in-camera RAW to JPG processor to try out as many variations of exposure, shadow, highlight, NR, sharpness, film sim etc values as you like, all based on exactly the same single image. From there decide what you like and dislike.
     

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