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View Full Version : Correcting exposure on digital photos. Which program?



Billy T
26-02-2005, 06:49 PM
Hi Team

I need to do a lot of exposure correction on digital photos, and the image handling programs I have installed at present are Kodak Easyshare, Kodak Imaging, Irfanview, Freeview (great for quickly flipping through the contents of a folder) Photoshop Elements Starter Edition (and the full V 2.0 program but not installed), MS Photodraw 2.0, and Fuji FinePixViewer. Apart from the two camera programs it is an odds & sods collection, accumulated at random or bundled with other software.

At present I find that Kodak Easyshare offers the only true and effective "exposure correction" facility. Everything else I have can only offers brightness and contrast correction, and neither of these is able to do a true exposure modification.

Kodak is well out in front because its exposure correction seems to correct gamma as well as brightness and contrast and it is fast and effective to use, but it is a pain to import pictures into. Fuji FinePixViewer is a good second because its brightness correction appears to include gamma as well, preventing washed out pictures, but it is not user-friendly, I can't change the default directory which is always "My Pictures", and I don't really like the way it operates.

Correct exposure when taking the picture is not an option unfortunately because most are taken on industrial sites under adverse lighting conditions, and in situations where flash would be no help at all. I also have to operate with the fastest shutter speed the conditions can manage to avoid camera shake.

Is there anything in the free download category that does good photo correction, and if not, what is the best to buy?

Cheers

Billy 8-{) :help:

gibler
26-02-2005, 07:07 PM
I just use Photoshop mainly to change the Levels value of a photo. You can chnage virtually everything else as well ,but if you have poor shots to begin with you don't get miracles. You also have to consider whether your monitor is any good and if you need to print out the pics.

Sounds like you need a monopod/tripod and then to set the exposure yourself. My camera comes with an options to automatically take 3 pics with different exposure values.

The Gimp probably will also do the job.

Scouse
26-02-2005, 08:02 PM
Hi gibler. My camera comes with an options to automatically take 3 pics with different exposure values.. Sounds interesting. What is it? Thanks. :cool:

Metla
26-02-2005, 08:08 PM
No idea if it will do the job to your exact needs but Picasa2 is a fully fledged and polished product, able to grab pics on mass without changing the file association.

Plus its free,easy to use and packed with tools.

Billy T
26-02-2005, 08:25 PM
You also have to consider whether your monitor is any good and if you need to print out the pics.

Sounds like you need a monopod/tripod and then to set the exposure yourself. My camera comes with an options to automatically take 3 pics with different exposure values.

The Gimp probably will also do the job.

Monitor is fine, printing is not often needed, it is ability to see detail on screen that is usually the main priority.

I do set the exposure, but in low light conditions the options are limited. I have a monopod but it would rarely be possible to deploy it, but I have been a keen amateur photographer for many years so hand-held stability is rarely a problem.

I was trying to avoid the Gimp because it is a bit of a monster, but I could try it if nothing more manageable turns up.

Thanks for suggesting Picasa2 Metla, I'll take a look at that too.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

Bazza
26-02-2005, 08:51 PM
Hi Billy, A good, simple, free one is Digital Camera Enhance v1.3 from:

http://www.mediachance.com

The download is only 524kb. It has 5 slide controls that change the:
White Balance
Colour
Midtones
Enhance
De Noiser

One can see the resulting image changes as the sliders are varied.
The midtones makes a good job of correcting underexposure.

Cheers.

AMD1
26-02-2005, 09:19 PM
Is there anything in the free download category that does good photo correction, and if not, what is the best to buy?

With camera shake you could use a tripod.

If I was about to buy new digital camera software I would buy PaintShopPro 8. This gives you a one step photo fix which should fix exposure problems. It is not nearly as expensive as PhotoShop 7 which I also have. I sometimes use Adobe PhotoShop 7 for layering but mostly I use PaintShopPro 8.

I also have Picasa2 which is free to make albums and screen savers.

You can get a free trial of PaintShop Pro

Safari
26-02-2005, 10:12 PM
http://www.fotofinish.com/

godfather
26-02-2005, 11:40 PM
I support metla's choice, I have found that Picasa2 makes a better job that the higher end programs.

Odd considering it is free.

It even seems to display better, have not quite figured that one out.

quarry
26-02-2005, 11:52 PM
This is only a suggestion - (I am a photo/computer pro & digicam tutor) - rather than messing with after shots, learn to use the digicam - e.g. it has a white balance function - I take shots in factories, shots of neon signs etc - the WB allows you to get a more natural result. read the manual or do a search, you won't regret it. Use the highest ISO speed + use NR, a tripod or monopod only costs $60+. At $200 p.h. my clients expect me to get it right the first time.

gibler
27-02-2005, 12:15 AM
Hi gibler. My camera comes with an options to automatically take 3 pics with different exposure values.. Sounds interesting. What is it? Thanks. :cool:

Canon G3. I'd go for a SLR these days. Of course you have to wait for the shutter three times - helps if the memory card is fast.

As someone else suggests looking at your ISO settings is a good way to go but at the risk of some introduction of noise.

I've seen some shocking results of indoor shooting with digital camera before.

the highlander
27-02-2005, 12:28 AM
I use photoshop elements for semi serious enhancing of pics but I can achieve 90 % of the improvement I can gain in PS in a tenth of the time using irfan view's gamma, saturation and basic colour controls.

Arnie
27-02-2005, 12:39 AM
Hi Billy

While all the programs suggested above will all do a certain amount to correct problems with your photos, the idea is to take as accurate as possible photo first according to the conditions and all most all of the programs suggested will turn a good photo into an excellant one

Rob99
27-02-2005, 12:49 AM
Picasa2 :thumbs:

moldboy
27-02-2005, 06:42 AM
Picasa2 all the way, You can even do batch processing, and tilt correction. Plus it doesn't change the actual image, just makes a log of what changes need to be done and then does it on the fly!

Oh and by the way It wasn't free then google came along -- and well -- the rest is history!

katharinem
27-02-2005, 02:17 PM
I agree that having the camera set up correctly is the easiest answer but even with a reasonably good camera like mine - FujiFinePix S5500 - I find some photos need a bit of tweaking. I use Photoshop 7 - image - adjustments - try the various methods offered there. Second choice is ACDSee 7 - modify - adjust image exposure - auto exposure. Always good to try the various other controls even though they don't specifically mention exposure - I find "curves" in both programmes - helps a lot.

Billy T
27-02-2005, 02:57 PM
Well, I have given Picasa2 a good workout on a whole pile of photos taken in all sorts of circumstances, including some taken by my kids and drastically under-exposed.

My conclusion is that Picasa2 can recover surprisingly good results from images I would have thought werre lost causes, and for the degree of correction I normally require, it is a breeze.:) So thanks Metla, and thanks for all the other suggestions guys.

I appreciate the comments re tripods, monopods and "getting exposure right the first time" etc, but as I said in an earlier post, I am an experienced photographer and already take all the reasonable steps available. My problem is that tripods & monopods are not often usable, flash is not an option because the range is too limited and use would lead to a well exposed foregound and an obliterated background. Lighting is variable from poor down to dreadful, and all I usually want to do is be able to use the image information as a record of the site detail. Very rarely would I need to print out a photo.

I usually set shutter speed and aperture manually to the values I want and do any correction needed in software, though I have had amazingly good results for non-business related night shots using our kick-around Kodak CX6230.

I will also look at some of the other programs recommended, and I'll try to find the gamma correction features in Irfanview, but it escapes me where they are. I have version 3.85 so maybe it is a bit old.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

Nomad
27-02-2005, 04:47 PM
I wouldn't go so far in using higher ISO and running NR. My cam NR is only option when you get to a shutter speed of 1sec or longer.

In PS Elements is there something like curves, levels, highlight/shadows?

Bazza
27-02-2005, 06:21 PM
Billy, I am currently using Irfanview V3.92. In there after opening an image, click on the 'image' option at the top. Select 'enhance colours'. This opens a new window, with slider controls for brightness, contrast, colour balance RGB, saturation, and also Gamma. Is it there in your V3.85 ?

Billy T
27-02-2005, 06:34 PM
Billy, I am currently using Irfanview V3.92. In there after opening an image, click on the 'image' option at the top. Select 'enhance colours'. This opens a new window, with slider controls for brightness, contrast, colour balance RGB, saturation, and also Gamma. Is it there in your V3.85 ?

Nope, but it sure is there in V3.95 which I have just downloaded. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! I am getting more new options than I thought possible, and I haven't downloaded all the program options yet.

Of course, that is why I posted the question, to tap the collective knowledge of PF1 members, so why should I be surprised at the result? :p

Cheers

Billy 8-{) :D

Murray P
27-02-2005, 09:37 PM
I use and am satisfied with PS Elements. I use Irfanview mainly as a thumbnail viewer only. Looks like I'll have to check out Picasa though.

I know what you mean about dodgy conditions often working against you without having much control of them Billy.

I take lots of shots of buildings (inside and out, in roof spaces and subfloors) and construction sites. There is often no chance to wait for the right conditions or to set them up artificially. Most photo's are taken in a logical order with your work and accompaning field notes.

Information is the only reason the photo's are taken, there is no artistic content, photography is a tool along with a pen/pencil and paper, dictaphone, test equipment and whatever other tools are required to get the job done.


In PS Elements is there something like curves, levels, highlight/shadows?

Yes, in PSE 2.0 under the Enhance menu, in Quick Fix there are a number of slider adjustments you can make, with the usual preview before changes are made.

For more options, detail and control, head down the menu a little.

Billy T
28-02-2005, 10:36 AM
I know what you mean about dodgy conditions often working against you without having much control of them Billy.

I take lots of shots of buildings (inside and out, in roof spaces and subfloors) and construction sites. There is often no chance to wait for the right conditions or to set them up artificially. Most photo's are taken in a logical order with your work and accompaning field notes.

That's it in a nutshell Murray. You won't be disappointed by Picasa2 though, it can retrieve usable images from gross under exposure.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)