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Old 05-07-2006, 11:21 AM   #1
BobRoosth
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Default Film 'look' from digital

I have a friend who has been a professional photographer for many years, mostly shooting medium format. He recently started using a Canon 20d. A major issue for him is the quality of the color. He would really like to find a way to process the images to achieve the 'look' that he is used to from negative film. It has to do with color balance and saturation. To his eye, the digital images are not as 'real' as what he got from film.

He understands that many of his clients are perfectly happy with the digital images, but being able to achieve the look he likes would give him the best of both worlds.

I am looking for suggestions of Photoshop plug-ins that might be helpful to him? Or books that would guide him?
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Old 05-07-2006, 11:55 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth
I have a friend who has been a professional photographer for many years, mostly shooting medium format. He recently started using a Canon 20d. A major issue for him is the quality of the color. He would really like to find a way to process the images to achieve the 'look' that he is used to from negative film.
(...)
I am looking for suggestions of Photoshop plug-ins that might be helpful to him? Or books that would guide him?
You don't mention a platform - not all plugins are available for all platforms.

That said, I have a nice collection of bookmarks for "candidate" plugins, and browsing that I found a few candidates for your friend to look at:
  • Cybia, notably their Fotomatic set (but look at the other stuff as well)
  • Opanda (free)
  • optikVerve Labs: virtualPhotographer (also free) sounds interesting - have a look at the Help page for a more detailed overview of features.

I have not actually tried any of them yet - but merely bookmarked them because they seemed worth a closer look at a later time.

   
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Last edited by iamback; 05-07-2006 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 05-07-2006, 01:59 PM   #3
PeterArnel
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Bob I am in the UK and dont know where u are
Photographers that I have seen - alway shoot with a colour patch in the picture and calibrate to that- if u are in the UK Ian Read at Bodon should help - if not someone like Gretag might point the way
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Old 05-07-2006, 05:01 PM   #4
Bo Aakerstrom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth
He would really like to find a way to process the images to achieve the 'look' that he is used to from negative film.
Kodak has got two Photoshop compatible filters , both are available in a standard and a pro version.

Or he could do what I did, if he's got some time to spare...

In Canvas I can save a sequence of actions and recall them (in effect as a macro) and I'm quite sure you could do that in Photoshop as well.

I did spend some time with that and have instant image correction in one click nowadays, which saves a bundle of time. As long as the images comes from the same source (camera) and if they are correctly exposed, one set of corrections should do the trick.

To me, the difficult task is to emulate film grain, which by its irregular nature is far easier on the eye that the pixelation you can get even from professional digital cameras in some situations.

   
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Old 05-07-2006, 05:04 PM   #5
Norman Hathaway
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isn't that why god invented Grain Surgery?
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Old 05-07-2006, 05:43 PM   #6
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This is what the Exposure plugin is supposed to be about. It has presets that mimic the look of standard film. As to how well it does this, I don't know. I don't have a feel for what different film looks like. But maybe your friend can try the demo and let us know. http://www.alienskin.com/exposure/index.html
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Old 05-07-2006, 05:57 PM   #7
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I was preparing to trash it after looking at the first few grain examples-
but was then impressed by the Push Processing and more so by EES example. If you compare the latter, to the GAF 500 example, you can see the difference.

Split tone looks good too. Softness looks like the only obvious clunker.
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Old 05-07-2006, 07:28 PM   #8
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Thanks to all who made suggestions.

Exposure sounds precisely like what he needs. I'll forward the link. I don't think grain is the issue. It is much more about film and paper stock.
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Old 05-07-2006, 10:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth
Thanks to all who made suggestions.

Exposure sounds precisely like what he needs. I'll forward the link. I don't think grain is the issue. It is much more about film and paper stock.
The Cybia filters cover some of that as well. Always good to try various options...

   
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Old 05-22-2006, 08:57 AM   #10
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If the 20d is like my 10d, and I think it mostly is, you can go into the menus and set the color temperature (and a lot of other things that affect the look of the image). You can also inadvertently produce strange pictures by pressing one of the array of buttons near the shutter button, and some of the settings are 'sticky.' It might not hurt to check the exposure compensation etc. once in a while and see that they're on zero. (This is probably insultingly elementary to a professional --but my husband came from the film world to the EOS film camera and never learned to cope with its electronics, and gave up entirely when it came to the digital back, so forgive me.)

Photoshop CS absolutely ruins the color of the EOS images --they use different 'color space' specs. (I'm still waiting to get CS2) The camera can be set to a Photoshop RGB color space but I haven't tried it. I haven't found a way around this within Photoshop --there ought to be one. All you sophisticates will know how to calibrate screen, color space, and camera so things match --I've never acheived it.

The built-in CS plugin for Canon RAW files is a pain to use --you might tell your friend to check and see if it's keeping the 48-bit RGB when he loads the image into Photoshop. Mine changes it to 24-bit by default, and in a large print the 48-bit has just that tiny bit more depth that makes the photo more 'real.' He probably has a super-high-res dye-sub printer but it could be that some adjustment there would help if it's prints he's fussing about. That's the case with my HP Deskjet.

I use ThumbsPlus for the preliminary editing of all photos (about 99.9% Canon RAW (.CRW) files now). It could be that the Canon software is OK --I've never looked at it.

The first thing I do is open the camera card in Explorer and delete all the .THM files --they're sidesaddle thumbnails compulsory with the RAW setting with the 10D, and a real pain in the neck with other software. Then I 'select all,' drag to the day's empty TP file I've just created, select 'move' in the dialogue box that appears, and go have a cup of tea while the Digicam plugin works away.

When the files and thumbnails appear, I look at the pictures as a slideshow --far faster than trying to load one at a time. Since I'm an incompetent amateur struggling with (my husband's) professional equipment, and digital is my native photographic mode, I often have ten or so views of the same subject, of which I may keep only one or two for further consideration. Film is cheap with digital. I delete the obvious hopeless duds as I go, with the slideshow in a window. Then I close the slideshow and re-open it fullscreen and delete some more.

THEN I select all the remaining .CRWs and, using the 'Quick Process' context menu, 'convert to' TIF files. The batch process by default converts to the same color depth and resolution as the original. I drag the CRW files into their own directory and work with the TIFs from then on, either in Photoshop or ThumbsPlus. ThumbsPlus has a really nifty cropping preset set --far easier to use than Photoshop's if you want to keep a proportion. This way I not only have the uncropped unchanged originals but a record of any progress I may make over time (framing, focus, etc.).

The 10D files are the equivalent of 4x6 prints and often that extra length is superfluous. The TP preset for 8x6 takes care of that in a second, and you can change to other preset proportions almost on the fly. You can't rotate the crop frame but you can straighten a picture before cropping with a 'rotate to line' function, very quickly and easily (anyone who's tried to straighten a text scan with Photoshop's crop frame will appreciate what I'm talking about --has CS2 joined the 20th century with a 'straighten' utility that works?).

With this system I never lose the original (the CRW) but I can also do a 'save as' on a TIF and keep working, if I need to. It's also much easier to produce a JPEG from a TIF (or anything else) in ThumbsPlus and the file size calculation is accurate --PS JPEG conversions are always bigger than the estimate. There's a choice of conversion algorithms in the 'save as' dialogue box.

Whew. But maybe this will help some other amateur who's been backed into becoming a photographer by the digital age avoid some of the struggle I went through.

A TIF with LZW compression will be about 35 mb with the 10D --same size as the PSD Photoshop will save the CRW as. Quite easily handled by any newer computer.
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