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Gradation question

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Sophia5, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Sophia5

    Sophia5 Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2012
    Not sure if it was addressed before, but what is your preference in terms of gradation setting? Auto or normal? I noticed that Auto gives you more detail in the shadow but washes out the rest of the scene, at least in Natural. Am I doing something wrong here?
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The gradation options are intended to compensate for differences in dynamic range in the scene you are photographing. They allow you to squeeze a wider dynamic range in than normal, which can help if you've got some extremely bright highlights and shadows in which you want to retain some detail in the scene.

    If the chosen gradation setting does not match the range of the scene you will run into problems which can include the one you report of having detail in shadows and the rest of the scene washed out.

    HOWEVER the result you get is also dependent on how you metered the subject. The choice of metering method and what part of the scene you meter if you're using either centre weighted or spot metering can also cause the sort of problem you describe.

    Basically you need to match the gradation setting to the dynamic range of your scene, and expose to get/keep detail in the areas that you want to retain detail in. There is no single combination of gradation setting and exposure method that will work perfectly for all scenes. If you try to use a given combination of gradation setting and metering method for everything you are going to get bad results some of the time.
  3. Sophia5

    Sophia5 Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 17, 2012
    So, if I understand it correctly, unless I want to bring out the detail in the shadows or highlights areas I should use "normal" setting. i use the overall metering and smallest size focus. Makes sense. Thank you
  4. You've got a perfect storm of a high dynamic range sensor, auto gradation which extends and flattens the tone curve further, and a natural jpeg colour which also uses a flat curve. Essentially you're creating a recipe for low contrast. I would try a different colour setting or if you like the natural colors, adjust the in-camera tone curve, or change the contrast setting.
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    You're not doing anything wrong... Auto Graduation is generally just bad. :)  Stick with Normal.

    Auto Grad will artificially boost the exposure in the shadow areas and introduce a lot of noise to your image but "evens out" the overall exposure (reducing contrast, as Nic says). This is much better done in post-production if necessary.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Auto Gradation adds visible noise to my E-PL2 images, but not much at all with the OM-D.

    If you shoot JPG, it's easier to add contrast in post processing than flatten an image. You can't unbake an out of camera JPG.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. MrDoug

    MrDoug Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2011
    Boise, Idaho
    Hi Ned.. I agree with you 100% .. Auto grad is Bad.. I have found that out.. I will stick with Normal..
  8. Ig7

    Ig7 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 24, 2011
    Interesting observation. I did find auto somewhat helpful when I was taking a picture of a house with a lot of shadows in bright sunlight. Is there a better solution?
  9. Agree with this ^^

    Gradation on the Pens is a lot different to gradation on the E-M5 and even though they are essentially doing the same thing the results are very different. It's actually rather unfair that you can expand the DR of the E-M5 with much less consequence than you can on the lower DR Pens. What Auto Gradation does is underexpose by 1/3 stop to protect highlights, and then adds a big tweak on the tone curve to raise the shadow exposure. To maintain some contrast, it then applies some "micro contrast" to the image which is why there is more noise present with Auto Gradation. On the more inherently noisy Pen sensor the results were seldom pleasant. If you only shoot jpeg, this is the only way you'll get access to shadow or highlight detail that would normally be lost.

    The thing to remember though is that you don't always want so much DR, so you shouldn't expect Auto Gradation to give the ideal result for every image. If you don't like the result on some images you can always give the images a big tweak of contrast and remove the detail and noise, but you can't do this procedure in reverse to a normal jpeg.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Not really if you are shooting jpeg, although you can try some of the adjustments suggested here. The better solution remains to shoot in raw and perform your own Auto Gradation like effect in post processing where you can fine tune the effect for each image.
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