Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

"Digital Velvia: Improving Saturation"

by Uwe Steinmueller

No one would probably claim that Fuji Velvia is a film with exceptional true color. Why do many photographers love it (besides being very fine grained)? It adds a lot of saturation to the photo and makes them more expressive. True color can be sometimes pretty boring.
As we have had our hands on nearly all current dominating digital SLRs we think that the Nikon D1 can get you quite good true color (don't discuss skin tones here as we don't have any experience in this sector). But as said this can also be seen as missing some "punch", some Velvia. The D30 and the S1 might be a bit more off the "true" color but can show more film like (expressive) colors. See some great examples here.
Ok adding saturation can be easily done in Photoshop with the "Hue/Saturation" tool. But adding saturation is tricky as it can introduce some nasty color shifts. In the search for better (more subtle) control off the saturation I found a free Photoshop plug-in by Timo Autiokari: the "Space Hunter". First it is free and it is even a 16bit filter (download). This tool is not a universal cure but I would like to invite you to give it a try.

Space Hunter dialog

I left the selector to "AIM, Apple RGB, Triniton" and only used the gamma and saturation controls. Especially useful is the combination of gamma and saturation. Probably using the other controls might get you some interesting results too.


The following crops compare the effect of different Photoshop and "Space Hunter" settings to the original. The differences can be subtle but worth the effort.
Photoshop Saturation +10
Space Hunter Saturation +10
Photoshop Saturation +20
Space Hunter Saturation +20
Space Hunter Saturation +10 Gamma 110

Space Hunter Saturation +10 Gamma 110

Overall I think the "Space Hunter" is a tool worth to have at hand. Thank you Timo!


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