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pictures look slightly overexposed and colours are washed out

Jules johnson , Apr 19, 2007; 01:48 p.m.

I have been having some trouble with my camera. The images are sharp and crisp but the color seems washed out and the pictures look slightly over exposed. Im shooting in AV mode the majority of the time and using auto white balance.

Ive been shooting on sunny days so I realise this will have an effect but I compared some shots with a friends point and shoot on the same day and hers seem much better exposed with richer colors.

The pictures on my monitor and lcd screen on the camera look very similar so I pretty sure its not the monitor.

Any ideas?

f/9 s.speed 1/160 iso 400 aperture priority auto wb


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Ken Papai , Apr 19, 2007; 02:53 p.m.

Yes -- shoot in RAW, buy a book on RAW, what camera you use?

Also improve your software post processing skills. What do you use, Photoshop? Do you know the difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB?

Lens also affects your color and contrast.

ISO does too. Don't expect the best from ISO 400. All are basic concepts.

Frank Kimble , Apr 19, 2007; 02:55 p.m.

What camera are you using? I like to use a polariser filter to reduce the glare off the leaves etc, this helps with the washed out look and increases contrast and makes the colors more vibrant.

Mark U , Apr 19, 2007; 03:04 p.m.

Have you checked whether the camera is set for Adobe RBG or sRGB? The Adobe colour space needs to be rendered via a suitable colour profile, whereas most software tends to default to the sRGB colour space.



TJ Toedebusch , Apr 19, 2007; 03:12 p.m.

If this is a Canon XT, try setting Exposure Compensation to - 2/3 be default and your color saturation to +2.

This is total conjecture, but I have read the XT can overexpose and the saturation is low... but no one is saying it's gospel.

Jim Simon , Apr 19, 2007; 03:18 p.m.

the P&S by default has a contrast curve, saturation and sharpening that your camera will not unless you set up the JPEG option to do all those things. I can't comment on the overexposure perception, but at least you can start experimenting with your post production. Just sharpening will often change the contrast. Learning to add an S curve will also do wonders. You can't judge by the camera LCD and even your montior, unless calibrated, won't tell you what is happening. Print the files.

Dan Mitchell , Apr 19, 2007; 03:23 p.m.

There are some tricks to getting the best exposure. One simple one is to set your camera up so that it shows the historgram display right after you take the photo. Look at the histogram curve. In general, you want to see a rounded (or sometimes more complex) curve that is not cut off abruptly at the right end of the display. If it is cut off, there is a good chance that you have overexposed the highlights. (Your camera can also probably show blown out highlights by "flashing" the blown out areas in small version of the photo shown in the display.)

If the curve is cut off, the exposure warning flashes, or you otherwise think that you overexposed, reduce the exposure by using the exposure compensation controls or by using manual settings.

Another trick that works in some circumstances is to point the camera at the brightest portion of the scene to capture the exposure info, then recompose. Be aware that there could be focus issues that I won't try to explain right here.

As others mentioned, one of the advantages of shooting in RAW mode is that you have both greater dynamic range and more ability to compensate for exposure errors after the fact.

But use of the histogram display will reduce the need for this a great deal.


O. Wagner , Apr 19, 2007; 03:24 p.m.

I never shoot on AWB outdoors. Try open shade or cloudy. I guarantee you will see a difference.

Michael Schrag , Apr 19, 2007; 03:34 p.m.

My appologies for manipulating your picture. Try a little post processing and/or some of the camra settings suggested above. I bumped up your saturation and added a little contrast in photoshop. You can use photoshop or elements. Good luck

hopefully better?

Steve Dunn , Apr 19, 2007; 03:58 p.m.

As was briefly mentioned above, it's not fair to compare the output of a P&S with the output of a DSLR. P&Ses tend to crank up sharpness and saturation and contrast to ridiculous levels, partly to compensate for their limitations (sharpness and contrast limitations are inherent in their tiny sensors and lenses, and cheaper ones have cheaper lenses which tend to wash out contrast and saturation) and partly because it's assumed that a P&S owner is going to print directly from the camera/card without doing any editing so the pictures have to look snappy.

For best results, as others have said, shoot RAW. Use the histogram to expose to the right. You can adjust tons of stuff, including WB, saturation, contrast, and sharpness, when you do your post-processing.

If you can't shoot RAW, then you still need to use the histogram to judge exposure; never judge exposure by eyeballing the LCD image. The default sharpness, contrast, and saturation settings on DSLRs tend to be conservative, and will typically yield reasonably accurate pictures; if you want punch rather than accuracy (i.e. you want your DSLR's photos to look more like P&S photos), you'll need to crank these settings up.

All the standard pre-digital stuff applies, too. Use a good lens. Use a lens hood. Choose your aperture wisely. Make sure the shutter speed is appropriate, both for the subject matter and for your ability to handhold or use a monopod if either one applies. Use the lowest ISO that does the job.

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