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I am using Nikon D5600 with 18-55 mm kit lens. When I take photos of open fields or other landscapes, the color combination comes out dull. I compared it with Canon 1500D photos. Photos from Canon are rich and appear professional.

Appears I am missing required camera settings, which I am not aware. I want to know:

What are the required settings for Nikon D5600 for capturing sharp landscapes?

Below is one of the sample photo which I have recently taken of an open field using my camera: Nikon D5600. The image appears out of focus and not vibrant as well.

Photo Information:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec.
  • Aperture: f/8
  • 36 mm
  • ISO: 160

enter image description here

  • There are three potential questions about color settings, sharpness, and filters. It's preferable to work on one issue at a time (eg, dull colors). You can edit to narrow the scope of your question. Some answers might include information addressing your other concerns (eg, filters). If not, you can ask follow-up questions later. – xiota Jan 7 at 7:00
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    Duplicate? Why photos are not vibrant by default in Nikon? – xiota Jan 7 at 7:08
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    What do you mean by "dullness"? I interpreted the question as asking about color, but you also refer to "sharpness". Are these two different concepts, or are they both relating to color? – xiota Jan 7 at 7:11
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    For what it's worth, I find the original much nicer to look at than either of the pushed-up contrast/saturation examples in the answers so far. – Please Read My Profile Jan 7 at 18:39
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    What did you process the NEF in? If the answer is anything other then ViewNX-i then try that instead. [comment swapped out, confusing typo in previous version] & for @mattdm I agree, the answers so far really overkill it. – Tetsujin Jan 7 at 18:42
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You're asking about the camera settings which I can't help you with but the image may be ok once it's corrected with photoshop. All digital images need to be corrected. The camera settings definitely define the image but the digital processing defines the digital version. Quality digital processing makes a poorly taken photo look a million times better than the greatest photo with poor processing.

Here are the first basic steps to processing images. These are not to change or enhance the image in any way. These are to bring what you see on the screen closer to reality. Only the last step, the curves, is distorting and it's only doing a very general distortion to the overall image color and contrast balances. If you only do a little curves, it's towards reality.

The basic idea in levels, or the shape in the back of histogram, is to get rid of the empty or very low areas. You can look into what it represents and what you're doing when you do this but the action is simple. Below you see the arrow pointing to where your picture is empty and flat at the left end:

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Slide the slider over to crop out the empty or very low part:

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Next, fix the saturation. Max out the saturation to see where distortions happen. Usually images need about 20 saturation added to get real. Distortions usually start happening at around 40. Here's maxed out to see the distortions:

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This is setting it to around 23. Those green flowers are bright but not distorting and the color feels much better

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Next is contrast. Contrast is also usually best at around 20. The contrast got a good fix with the levels but it also needs this fix.

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Check the image now and see how you feel about it. These changes should have brought it back closer to reality. The last thing to maybe do is curves. Curves is to change the overall color and contrast. If you make minor or little changes, keep the curve near the line, it could help get closer to reality, if you change them a lot, it gets off into distortion.

enter image description here

You can see how light curves makes things more rich but you can see how it's sort of distorting the brown patch and that green spot in this particular photo. I would play with the curves for this. You can look up tutorials on this. It's a little complicated but not bad.

Besides curves, these are the basic changes that should be done by eye to every pic. They are really fast too. Once you learn these, it takes only a minute. You can also save them and auto apply to groups of photos.

Here's before and after - the original pic:

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The image after processing without curves:

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The image with curves changed:

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Part of the answer is that you picture is overexposed. The histogram (the light diagram in the background of the curves) shows that there are no truly dark areas (histogram doesn't go to the left border) while parts of the images are blown out (histogram has a line along the right edge).

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Just fixing this (here with the Curves tool in Gimp, but PS has an equivalent tool) improves the image somewhat (slight "S" shape of the curve also increases contrast a bit)

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So obviously you can fix that somewhat in post-prod, but when taking picture you can check the histogram on your camera (it certainly has this capability...) and make the necessary corrections to the camera settings before re-taking the shot, because it's best to get it right in the camera, color correction always entails some amount of information loss.

Even though my camera is a Canon, I don't think the Nikon is much worse and you could have just changed the exposure compensation a bit which makes your camera overexpose your photos. Also, DSLRs usually have a less "agressive" image processing by default (because if the image has been processed to much in the camera, you can't improve it further). Your camera likely has settings to increase contrast and saturation in the rendered JPEGs (like the 1500D you compare it too...).

Otherwise, it is also a matter of lighting, the gray sky can also dull colors.

  • Any good tutorial on how to read histograms? – RKh Jan 7 at 8:50
  • The link to Wikipedia should explain most of it... The histogram should reach both sides in most shots. – xenoid Jan 7 at 9:05
  • Most of the time photos taken are far better than my camera. Only advantage I get from camera is using telephoto lens for bird photography. – RKh Jan 7 at 9:38
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    @RKh That's because the camera is a tool, and the more advanced the camera, the more it depends on your expertise. Asking how to get this the way you want is the right thing to do, but don't expect a magic button. – Please Read My Profile Jan 7 at 18:39
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    The only part of the image that's blown is the couple of white slashes at the bottom. The rest is "exposed to the right"… a long way, but not too far to be rescued. The white-out sky doesn't help the colour pallet, but it's not blown. – Tetsujin Jan 7 at 18:41

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