Colour Shift Problems


This story was originally published in October 2011.

I want to shoot some pictures of clothes at a boutique that does not receive any natural light. The resultant images are a little soft, with splotches of grain all over. Also, the red garments look maroon, while most other colours seem to be fine. Am I facing these problems because my compact camera is choosing an ISO value of 1600?
Samantha Gonsalves, Mazgaon

Compact cameras usually do not produce good results at ISO settings of 800 and above. The amount of noise in the image increases, and consequently, the camera performs excessive noise reduction that makes the images soft. This is the reason why a higher ISO is actually giving you a softer image, with the coloured splotches being traces of chrominance noise. Usually, people associate a high ISO only with increased noise, but these settings also cause other problems in terms of image quality. Sometimes, the dynamic range decreases and the colours tend to shift. Shades of red and black, particularly, see a shift of tone which affects the overall colour accuracy. To combat the low light inside the boutique, use an ISO setting of 80 or 100. The camera will automatically choose a slow shutterspeed, due to which will need you to put the camera on a tripod. While it may mean some additional work, this will ensure that the images are noise free and the colour reproduction is optimal.

Tags: Question of the Day, Compact cameras, ISO, color shift, clothes