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Thread: CS5 Defaults to +50 Brightness and +25 Contrast

  1. #1

    CS5 Defaults to +50 Brightness and +25 Contrast

    My CS5 Defaults to +50 Brightness and +25 Contrast. I understand that Camera Raw (version is reading and automatically setting the brightness and contrast on my Canon 5D Mark II Raw files* but I am wondering if increasing the brightness and on the camera while exposing the image or changing the presets (contrast and Brightness) on the camera is better than having CS5 Camera raw do it. It seems to me that increasing the brightness and contrast in CS5 Camera Raw is degrading the image by artificially spreading out the histogram. I am using Photoshop CS5 Extended, Camera Raw (version and Canon 5D Mark II on a Mac platform. Can anyone clear this up for me and is there a way for me to calibrate my 5D Mark II so it will not need to be artificially ramped up by camera raw?

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    May 2008
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    Re: CS5 Defaults to +50 Brightness and +25 Contrast


    Welcome to the CiC forums from me.

    I'll start an answer and then someone else will correct me where I go wrong and fill in the bits I miss

    I see no point in trying to adjust the camera, if you're shooting RAW and using ACR, apart from White Balance, it ignores everything you set in camera.

    I think those are just the default settings ACR uses, they can be changed and saved as new defaults, but the starting position is always going to be independent of the image content, given there is no calibrated zero point on the scales of these adjustments.

    When I open an image in ACR, I tend to check the WB first and then hit Auto to get me 'in the ball park' with the image - I do this because it saves me time instead of doing all the adjustments (many of which interact) from scratch.


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    Join Date
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    Re: CS5 Defaults to +50 Brightness and +25 Contrast

    Hi Morgan,

    The short answers are "what Dave said" and "just leave it".

    The long answers are pretty long (and I can go into it if you REALLY want), but in the meantime - in summary - the camera is capturing a far greater dynamic range that you're actually using (or capable of displaying for that matter) - so manipulation of the histogram is a necessity. The other necessity is dictated by the fact that the camera DOESN'T record things the same way the human eye sees things, so again, post-processing is a necessity.

    In practice - I seldom touch the contrast control, but for outdoor portraiture, I typically push the exposure about 1 stop over in post processing (to get the highlights where I want them), and then reduce the brightness control to bring the skintones back into line. ACR defaults can be saved whereever you want them, but +25 / +50 are acutally a pretty good starting point.

    Don't worry about "degrading the image" by adjusting in post-processing - if it's done from within ACR (or even on a 16 bit file in Photoshop "proper") then your safety margin is about as big as the grand canyon! If you REALLY want accuracy and minimal degradation, give some thought to purchasing a monitor calibration & profiling device (such as a Spyder), and a Colour Passport (to create custom camera colour profiles which are then used by ACR).

    Hope this helps.

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