Aperture 3 Nikon D7000 Presets - The Story

Nope, not another excuse or explanation about my bogus post the other day… Just some answers to a bunch of questions that I received via email over the last week regarding the, how, what, why, where, on the D7000 presets for Aperture 3. So not in any order here we go…

What is the issue here, why the need for presets, and what do you mean when you talk about the color being "off". Answer … hmmm. Let's take the color being "off" first and I will get you the others as I move through this a in a bit. Take a look at the image below…

This color chart which is a default Aperture 3 RAW conversion with no other settings applied showcases a few things. The first bugaboo is what I call the yellow-green crossover issue. Find the patch on the right side of the colorchecker that is clearly yellow (third row from the top and three over). Now look at the patch up and to the left of that. These two patches are soooooo close in hue that they are hard to separate that is because most greens are too yellow in the default conversion. Now the big problem is that if you shift this color to green - the yellows also go green, if you don't all your greens look yellow. Big problem and one that is almost impossible to develop a preset that will render all scenes in a reasonable and attractive way. My presets will not deal with this completely for all scenes - you pretty much have to choose - optimal Nikon yellow (which are great) or better greens. Next look at the cyan patch in the top row. Also take note of the diagonal line of blue patches with the most saturated blue ending up at the bottom. Compare them to this next image which is NX2 color (standard picture control)

Notice how different the blues are. Nikon blues are way more towards purple where Aperture 3's are more towards green. Notice how the "cyan" patch up at the top is completely different - different hue - different everything. Neither of them are "correct" as I compare them to my color targets but here is the deal. If you match the Aperture 3 blues at the bottom other blues that shouldn't be that purple go too purple in real world photographs. A good example is the sky. The sky is different hues depending on time of day, different days, time of year. Not just saturation - the actual hue - the color number. If you shift Aperture blues in general towards purple sometimes the sky goes tooo purple if it was in the range of blues that Aperture 3 doesn't shift too much. Other times since Aperture 3 has a tendency more towards green it goes cyan if not shifted toward blue. Nikon NX2 doesn't do this.The reset of the colors are not a big issue but these should be pretty clear to anyone that is not blind.

Now the rest of the answer… Default gamma or maybe contrast is a better term for everyone. The Nikon picture control settings have some pretty nice default contrast curves that people seem to like. Aperture 3's default gamma is all over the map depending on what Nikon camera you are shooting. For the D7000 it's not too horrible but still not as attractive as any of the OOC JPEG's So the other aspect to my presets is matching the gamma/contrast curve for all the various Nikon picture controls as closely as possible which unfortunately is not just manipulating the end points of the curve it's a bit more complicated.

Now, why is it taking me so long? To be blunt - no one preset is going to match Nikon color and gamma on any given scene. It cannot because of what we are left with after the initial Aperture 3 conversion. I have a work-flow and look that I like and deal with all of my Nikon RAW images individually. That's pretty hard to package up in a preset. In fact I am not able to do that nor will I try. Instead I going to include a bunch of variations that should be generally useful starting points for a lot of images.

One set tries to deal with color, contrast, saturation, everything. Are they perfect - no. Especially if there are greens and yellows in the scene or depending on what the color of the sky was on that particular day. I am also providing another set that deals with gamma only - that's it, no color adjustment whatsoever. Another set of presets deals with gamma and saturation with no hue shifts. Lastly some variations on dealing with only optimizing a particular set of colors. So, the presets are actually a bunch of presets depending on what would be a useful starting point for you, your work-flow, and your images. That and I have to test them against real world images to see how useful they are. You cannot just check them against this chart and be done with it.

That is one of the reasons I am very curious to see how the new Datacolor color calibrator for Aperture 3 actually works in the real world since it uses the selective color tool that I am using. My guess is it will not be that great. Unfortunately I don't want to buy it just to find out how bad it is.


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