View Full Version : "Gonzo Color"

Don Kellogg
20-Jan-2007, 08:04
I recently attended a workshop where we were asked to bring along a portfolio of our recent work. Some of my color prints were rather harshly critisized (albit mainly by the b&w folk) for being "too saturated" especially with the greens. Most of these images were taken with Carl Ziess lenses (I've been migrating from medium format to LF) with Fuji Velvia 50 and 100 film (which I know is reputed to emphasize the greens---green box you know). Most of the images were not really pumped up as far as the saturation was concerned in Photoshop. I've been told that the Ziess lenses tend to have more brilliant and more saturated colors than the commonly used LF lenses like, say the Schneiders. Does the color rendition significantly vary among various lenses brands?

20-Jan-2007, 08:42
Well, I've used Rollei's Zeiss Planar for the 6008i as well as LF lenses from Fujinon and Rodenstock and I can't tell any difference with respect to colour rendition. As per black and white photographers criticizing your saturated photographs, well, never be disheartened by the old geezers. More than likely you wouldn't like what they produce either. :)

Ralph Barker
20-Jan-2007, 08:53
From my experience, I'd say the so-called short answer is, "No".

But, the longer answer is "Maybe". That is, the difference in color rendition between brands, where the lenses are of the same vintage, will be very subtle. Differences between uncoated, single-coated, and multi-coated may be more apparent, but often due to flare that wasn't noticed or considered (and thus not properly shaded) when the exposure was made.

Specialty lenses (Verito, Veritar, Heliar, etc.) that produce a special look fall into a separate category, I think.

David A. Goldfarb
20-Jan-2007, 09:04
There can be subtle differences, but they are small compared to film choice, and Velvia is just a highly saturated film (or group of films).

Kirk Gittings
20-Jan-2007, 13:18
No, but the color rendition significantly varies between printing methods and workflows.

20-Jan-2007, 13:20
No, but the color rendition significantly varies between printing methods and workflows.

And how the color is adjusted (hopefully as close as possible to the original) by whomever is doing the digital work.


chris jordan
20-Jan-2007, 13:52
Hi Don, no it's definitely not your lens. I suspect that it's a Photoshop issue. When correcting a scan, it is easy to accidentally increase the saturation of all of the colors. Curves adjustments that aren't intended to affect the color should all be put in "Luminosity" mode; otherwise they may inadvertently pop your colors. Then when you want to do something to the color, put that layer in "color" mode so it doesn't affect the brightness/darkness of the image. Does that make sense?

20-Jan-2007, 14:15
Another thing to consider is your display. When I finally acquired a GMB Eye-1 Display, life got a little easier.

Edwin Beckenbach
20-Jan-2007, 14:45
If you use Velvia and your prints look anything like your transparencies then you really only need to worry if the B&W folk DON'T take you to the woodshed :)

Bruce Watson
20-Jan-2007, 15:14
Some of my color prints were rather harshly critisized (albit mainly by the b&w folk) for being "too saturated" especially with the greens. ... Does the color rendition significantly vary among various lenses brands?

It's not the lenses.

In my work with color (all negatives, mostly 160PortaVC) I've found that I normally have to desaturate my images some just to get the colors inside the gamut of my printer/ink/substrate. If you do a gamut check in Photoshop (you have to set up softproofing [View...Proof Setup...Custom] to do this) you can pretty rapidly see the out-of-gamut colors in your file.

If I don't do this I sometimes get what I call "clown colors" which, while interesting, do tend to cross that boundry between plausable and implausable.

Two other things. First, almost any color film has a larger gamut than just about any print system. In general, the more saturated films just exceed what the various printing methods can handle by more than less saturated films.

Second, most colors in nature aren't very saturated. But research has shown that humans tend to like more saturated colors in their prints. This is at least partly responsible for the saturation level in modern films, and for the range of saturations available.

I don't have any idea if any of this is helpful to you. It's just something to think about.

Don Kellogg
21-Jan-2007, 18:12
Thanks everybody for your helpful suggestions. I frankly don't think that it is a problem with the Zeiss lenses either but I had never heard of that explanation before. I do have the Gretag MacBeth Eye-One Match monitor calibrator installed and working. I also use adjustment layers, mainly "curves", in Photoshop so I am not irreversibly changing the original scan. One thing that I didn't mention that some of these images were taken in overcast conditions (actually, light rain) with a Singh Ray warming polarizer. Would the "warming" part ---I think it's equivalent to an 81A or B filter---make the greens more saturated? Also, I guess that I like the greens to "pop" a little as a matter of personal preference ("nothing in excess", though, as Socrates would add) regardless of what the purists might say. I will admit, however, that I am ratcheting back on the intensity of my prints and I suspect that this is not an uncommon situation among a lot of print makers.

Edwin Beckenbach
21-Jan-2007, 19:08
Warming is appropriate in overcast conditions when the light is diffuse and blue. The polarization is what really reduces contrast and boosts the saturation. For a more natural look try rotating the polarizer somewhere short of full strength so you retain a small amount of reflected light.

Martin Courtenay-Blake
22-Jan-2007, 09:53
It is well known that the Carl Zeiss T* coated lenses for the Contax range of 35mm SLRs, whilst exhibiting incredible definition and control of distortion and aberations, consistently produced images lacking colour depth and suffering a cool cast. This was seen across the whole lens range, so much so that they were not recommended for use with some of the older emulsions such as ektachrome which already had a muted colour palette and tendancy towards coolness. It was even apparent on the overblown emulsions such as Velvia 50. These characteristics were also reported by some to be present in the lenses for the G1 rangefinders.

This may have been due to the T*coating (which can look very very blue) and it would be interesting to see some comparisons between the Zeiss and Rollei produced lenses made for the Hassy and 6000 series.