Picture control Header

Buried in Nikon ViewNX is a utility that can create nine extra tone curves for a D90. It can also apply these custom settings to any NEF image produced after the D70.

Nikon ViewNX is more than just a viewer for NEF files. Not only can it use the NEF settings to immediately display a raw image, you can change any one of those settings after the picture has been taken. If you are continually missing the proper settings you can make a control file and transfer it to the camera so that next time you take a similar picture, the image will be correct for the NEF file as well as the JPEG file. Did I point out that Nikon ViewNX is FREE?

Now, after praising ViewNX, I'm going to have to knock it a little bit.
It drives me nuts. It is slow and does not follow Windows protocol on menu placement and they changed the names of the variables to be different from the camera and most editors. There is the usual pull down menus with typical names like, File, edit, etc but the important modes of operation are on a flyout menu on the left side with the menu names rotated clockwise and the flyouts go out the right. The top one shows the directory of files, the next one shows the internal info on the file selected and the bottom one shows the variables that can be changed.

Adjust the View pulldown and select Image Viewer to show pictures across the top and a typical picture underneath.

There are two ways to get to the Picture Controls Utility. The first way is to pull down the file menu and select the sixth item "Launch Picture Control Utility", the second is in the quick adjustment menu on the bottom left flyout.

If you have updated View NX to 1.3 or later you will notice that the picture being viewed appears as your test picture. This recent change simplifies the work flow very well. You may still load a different test picture if you want to. Going back and forth from the Utility to view is very much simplified by maintaining the picture currently displayed. Many photographers have a still life image that incorporates all the variables they will need in setting up their camera. For exposure, I have selected a white 3-D object to evaluate ability to record detail in highlights. Spectral highlights have a different place on the tone curve and are allowed to hit 255, but pure white objects should be clustered at 192.

Notice that the objects in my still life show a wide variety of black detail, white detail, saturated and subdued colors and the Kodak Q-13 test targets. Also note that there are three views of the test image, "Fit", 50% and 100%.

Take note of some of the things I have highlighted in the above example. Stored Picture Controls in the upper left has a list of PC sets. There are 6 standard sets which have a two character prefix with square brackets, also a number of optional created from the standard sets. The permanent sets are the same that reside in the camera. The permanent sets may not be deleted or renamed, but may be copied and renamed as custom sets by using the "New..." button in the bottom right corner. If the buttons for Export and Rename are grayed out it is because you have marked a permanent PC and have not yet pressed the "New..." button.

The bottom three items in the list shown are " custom" sets and were created in the camera and renamed for use in this utility for the purpose of further modification and return to the camera via "Export" to a memory card. The level adjustment circle shows that the selected set was based on one of the standard sets/curves residing in the camera, more fully explained in the next chapter. "Use Custom Curve" has been selected and therefore the "Custom Curve" box has been activated. Some sets can be created using adjustment variables in contrast and brightness which is shown grayed out.

Continue to Chapter 3

White Balance
Focus Your Camera
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Back Home to Exposed

1  History of curves and programmable contrast and gamma

2  Picture Control and Picture Control Utility

3  Creating and installing Custom curves in the camera

4  How to design a curve for your needs

5  Active D-Lighting

6  D-Lighting applied after the shot

7  Where to go for more information

8  The DOWNLOAD page


© Leon Goodman 2009

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