Well, I keep experimenting with the DNG files of the M Typ 262. This time I processed some photos from my last shoot. Actually these photos are a bit older (couple weeks I think) than the ones from the previous posts. I just haven’t come around to process them since I was not really happy with my results, so I postponed it till I felt better about the files I was getting out of the Leica.
I wonder if Leica users are embarrassed to recognize that their highly expensive cameras have trouble rendering certain colors.
The main problem I was experiencing here was the fact that the skin tones were going to hell every time. To me it is crazy that no one seems to have problems with this, I mean if you do a search you can’t find much about the “extrange” behavior of certain color on Leica files. Specially reds. I wonder if Leica users are embarrassed to recognize that their highly expensive cameras have trouble rendering certain colors. I personally don’t care to say it, love my Leica but the reds are crazy and skin tones suck! I’m talking here about processing DNG files. JPEGs are ok.
Skin tones always been a complicated thing. Back on the day, before my time, color film was created to render properly white people skin tones, but when photographing black people … my god! Film companies quickly reacted and found films that “worked” for different skin colors. Seems that film companies were able to react faster than people since today we still have skin color problems all over the world. Not talking photography here.
Digital came along and companies already put out there cameras that were doing a good job rendering skin tones, some better than others, but Leica still seem to have some trouble with it. To me my favorite camera maker, when it comes to skin tones, always had been Fuji, they just get it right … And I’m talking about the tones, not about the waxy effect that some cameras produced when shooting at 3200 ISO or over.
When it comes to develop the DNG from a Leica, it seems that is asking for a very neutral development. As soon as you try to “mess around” with it the skin get super red, and fingers and lips can get a magenta tone easily. Also I found that this is especially noticeable when underexposing an image. When you try to bring it up the skin gets red/orange (depending on your actual skin color) very fast. The funny thing is that in digital is recommended to tend to the underexposure since it is easier to bring information out from the shadows that recover highlights, but the skin looks better in slightly overexposed images … Go figure!
So basically what I’ve done is create a new set of presets on my LR library only dedicated to Leica. It makes sense since these presets have a common approach to DNG development. Tame the red, orange and magenta colors. So far I have one that is a bit more neutral, just a bit of contrast and make reds, oranges and magentas a bit easier on the eye. I have one to work the DNG into black and white, but it is pretty much crap; I actually found out that the best results on BW is using the JPEG that the camera generates in BW and give it some more contrast, increase the blacks, maybe a touch of whites, … you know; just play with it till you like it. and then I have some presets that mess around with the DNG quite a bit, like the images you been seeing here and in the previous post. They play with the colors and add noise to make look a bit more “analog”.
After that sentence probably is people saying “Well, if you want the film look, just shoot film!”. Agreed, but not. Maybe more on the matter on a later post.