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View Full Version : Curves VS Levels in PS



barnesquared
09-29-2005, 02:37 AM
which do you tweak more when post processing in photoshop? Are there advantages to using one over the other in certain pictures slash when wanting to achieve certain effects?

I adjust curves way more than I do levels, and when i mess with levels I usually just hit auto levels, and if it comes out worse than the original I Ctrl+Z it... and then mess with curves. haha.

Anyway, anyone have tips/ideas?

paul_kelly
09-29-2005, 05:16 AM
When I first started with Photoshop I used to always use levels - possibly because I wasn't quite sure what curves did! Now I hardly ever touch levels, I find curves much more intuitive and easier to get any desired effect with. I also find colour correcting much easier with curves.

There's a good tutorial on Golden Mean (http://www.thegoldenmean.com/technique/curves1.html) that gives a good into to curves.

Paul

Tyger
09-29-2005, 07:21 AM
quoted from A Tutorial by Miles Hecker

Like the Levels command, the Curves command allows you to adjust the tonal range of an image. However the range and quality of adjustment is much greater. Levels is similar to using a hatchet, Curves is more scalpel-like in its precision. The Levels command limits adjustments to just three variables, highlights, shadows and midtones. With the Curves command, you can adjust any point along a 0 - 100% scale while keeping up to 15 other values constant.


In my experiences sometimes you can use one or the other, if it's something simple like wanting to adjust highlights, midtones, or shadows, i normally use levels. If i want more control, or i'm dealing with areas of detail curves is the way to go.

John_Reed
09-29-2005, 01:24 PM
which do you tweak more when post processing in photoshop? Are there advantages to using one over the other in certain pictures slash when wanting to achieve certain effects?

I adjust curves way more than I do levels, and when i mess with levels I usually just hit auto levels, and if it comes out worse than the original I Ctrl+Z it... and then mess with curves. haha.

Anyway, anyone have tips/ideas?I like its ability to bring up the dark areas in a photo without jacking up the highlights too, or conversely, suppressing over-exposed (clipped) highlights so they don't glare out at the viewer. A very handy tool, I think.

D Thompson
09-29-2005, 08:03 PM
I'll use both a lot of the times. I try to get the exposure pretty close when I convert from RAW, but use these to fine tune.

Typically, I'll start with levels to bring the slider just to either the black or white point. A little tip - if you hold down {Alt} and click on the little triangle and start dragging you will see where your black or white point will start clipping. Keeps you from blowing out the highlights especially. I seldom move the middle triangle and when I do it is usually just a small amount.

Next I'll add a curves adjustment to fine-tune. A little can go a long way. Most of the time I'll use either a S or M shaped curve. Very powerfull tool.

TheObiJuan
09-30-2005, 01:31 AM
I adjust the exposure with levels, then adjust the contrast with curves.

pacman
10-07-2005, 06:16 PM
I always use curves, I love the ability to change the contrast/brightness of different isolated areas of a picture, and adjust the color casts in the same tool.

A common flaw is to shot a subject against a bright background, for begginers it gets difficult to get proper exposure in both things; it's like when you wanna take a nice building with nice bright clouds behind, but the camera overexposes one and underexposes the other and vice versa, in cases like these i use curves and decrease the bright in the sky as I increase the exposure in the building.

Curves also work when the day is hazy, the clouds reflect the UV rays all around and you ain't got a polarizer filter to screw on your camera lens... the result: a dull picture with lifeless colors. Curves make the haze go away and bring colors to life like magic.

and a lot of things you can't simply do with levels.

SilverTurtle
10-08-2005, 07:12 AM
I rarely use levels, although this wasn't always the case. I was asking a friend how to adjust something, and she showed me the Magic of the Curve Tool. Then she told me that none of her professors (at a really great art school) every use levels, they all used curves exclusively. I figured they were on to something and just started experimenting. I agree that curves give you so much more control.