FilmPack Fine contrast question

Because I am working on a fairly small laptop screen at present I can’t easily do a side-by-side comparison, which is why I’m asking this question the answer to which might be self-evident if I could easily do such a comparison.

My question is about the Fine contrast Advanced settings. If I set Fine contrast slider at -50 and Midtones (advanced slider) at +100, is this the equivalent of setting the Midtones to +50 but setting the main slider to 0, and so on for any of the other Fine contrast settings? It is not that I would necessarily use the controls in this way, just that I want to understand the relationship of the controls and can’t easily demonstrate it to myself on my equipment.

It seems probable to me, but the subtlety of the adjustment (I rarely go beyond +25) makes it hard to be sure. Hopefully someone here is more certain about it. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes, I get the impression that it’s probably the same but I have the same issue with subtlety, and trying to remember what one setting looked like when I’ve lost it by re-setting the sliders to what I think is the same effect by different slider settings gets me confused (and nowadays that’s easily done!)

It has always been my understanding(and I could be wrong) that the fine contrast slider is a standalone slider just as the contrast and micro-contrast sliders are. These three sliders effect the contrast in their domains over the entirety of the tonal range of the image. The three sliders for highlight, mid-tones and shadows only effect the contrast within their narrow bands.

While there might be some overlapping, adjusting fine contrast effects the entire photo but adjusting mid-tones contrast only effects the mid-tones. Same for highlights and shadows.

My reading of what the the DxO manual says is that the three sliders in “Advanced” are appendages to the “Fine contrast” setting only, and don’t affect either the standard contrast or microcontrast settings. I appreciate that the “Highlight” setting, for example, allows the highlights to be raised or lowered, but only, I’m assuming, those highlights which come within the “Fine contrast” range (and the same for midtones and shadows), but maybe I’m getting this wrong.

I don’t know. I have to admit to not reading the manual, but it seems that if this was true then leaving the fine contrast set to zero and sliding the tonal contrast sliders would have no effect if no fine contrast was added, no? In practice this is not the case.

This is really what my original question was about.
I’m assuming that if you leave the “Fine contrast” slider at 0 but move the “Advanced” midtone slider to +20, you are then affecting just the fine midtones, which would be affected to exactly the same degree by setting the “Fine contrast” slider itself to +20. However, you would not then be making any adjustment to fine highlights or fine shadows unless you moved these individual sliders themselves from 0.

I hate to disagree with the manual but in my experience, it doesn’t work like that. :smile:

It seems to me that you have misunderstood, Mark. You can leave Fine Contrast at 0 and still adjust highlight, midtone, and shadow contrast with obvious results. Then if you increase or decrease Fine Contrast, that has an effect like increasing or decreasing all three of the other sliders. In other words, they all apply the same kind of contrast. Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood - thanks.

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Thanks Greg. I guess I’ll have to experiment some with this. In my past experience It did not seem to work this way. Re-evaluation time. :wink:

It would be good to get some definitive feedback from DxO on this, because clearly it is not entirely obvious how this works and it is not just me who finds the matter somewhat opaque (which is reassuring).


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Actually, I think the PhotoLab 4 user guide has a pretty straightforward explanation. Although it isn’t explicit beyond all doubt, I feel very confident that it implies exactly what you’ve been supposing - that the Fine Contrast slider and the three selective tone fine contrast sliders all apply adjustments in equal amounts. Here’s the text:

  • Fine contrast (DxO FilmPack 5 ELITE Edition installed): The Fine contrast slider brings out or softens medium-sized details, and is gentler in its effects than the Microcontrast, slider, making it appropriate to use with portraits.
  • Advanced settings (DxO FilmPack 5 ELITE Edition installed): The Advanced Settings section offers three additional sliders for Fine contrast that act in a selective manner on the following three light ranges:
    • Highlights
    • Midtones
    • Shadows

Each slider range goes from –100 to +100, with the default value set at 0.

A couple of options: If you still want confirmation from DxO, it’s possible that the right staff member will see this topic and respond - or, you can submit a support request at

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Fine contrast is less agresive then microcontrast.
Clearview and microcontrast is in skin and faces showing all dimple’s , cracks ,facial hair much more so those you don’t want to use in portret’s.
So finecontrast is a soft kind of contrast to saturate and ease skin kind colors.

About the other three sliders.
Highlight, midtone and shadow.
Those are usable for two things.
1 if you lower in selective tone highlights to much the white gets mussy grey.
By using the contrast highlight slider and also lower this, the negative contrast is lowering detail in the highlight white which causes to disapear that grey mussy smutching. So best way is if selective tone is -40 before you like it set both on -20 and start from there to fine max detail by pushing selective to -25 and recover detail by pushing highlight contrast back to -15.

This behaviour is also in shadows and midtone.
Lifting shadows which are unrecoverable but you need some from the ground, black, you can use shadows constrast to lose the detailing aka shadownoise in those lifted parts by apply negative contrast.

Thank you Peter for your explanation. I’ll experiment a bit more with these controls today. I do hardly any portrait photography but I find the fine detail useful for adding texture in landscapes.


your welcome Jul,

i don’t do portrait as in premeditated, but if it happens i always find the “skin mode” a good start.
(dxo portrait)

i forgot the “2” of the “things”

What you basicly can control is the detailing in a tone section with the three sliders in advantaged contrast. By balancing tone and contrast combined with clearview, microcontrast, fine contrast you can meander the contrast in your image, placing more where you want and less where you need it.
it’s subtle but noticeable and global over your image in tonesections highlight, midtone and shadow.

Combined with local brushes and there contrastcontrols you can mold the landscape’s in your hands.
I don’t have a example found fast but i suggest you take a image make a few Virtual Copy’s of it when the basic editing is done and start on each with an other aproach.
Say 5.
your normal export kind of editing.
using tone and advanged contrast only
using local controls in all matter controlpoints, brushes, etc.
using the HSL color control and Tonecurve
and finally when you have all tested a combination of all.
(this sounds dumb but it sharpens your skills and prediction of which tool helps you when. )
And because it’s non destructive it doesn’t matter if you layer all tooleffects as a stack.
Use the history and on off switches to do comparison of your work.

It’s fun getting different image’s out one rawfile.

(edit: don’t forget to export them as jpeg for the full rendering of the contrast applies for side by side comaprison.)

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UPDATE: I have run some tests and yes, you guys are right. On several RAW files I tried variations of -100 on fine contrast and +100 on all three of the shadow contrast, mid-tone contrast, and highlight contrast and vice versa. I could see no difference between these files and the unedited RAWs. None whatsoever! I am surprised and a little disappointed.

All this time I thought that Contrast applied global contrast over the whole image, Microcontrast applied a very tiny(between pixels) contrast to the entire image, with the Advanced Contrast sliders varying normal contrast(same as Contrast slider) in their respective areas of influence(shadows, mid-tones and, highlights). Then the Fine Contrast slider provided an extra layer of contrast globally that was somewhere between microcontrast and contrast. This is not the case as the FC slider performs the same duties as the AC siders do, only globally instead of locally.

This arrangement puzzles me as I now see very little use for the FC slider at all. My usual workflow has sometimes included adjustments to the Selective Tone sliders and AC sliders in tandem in order to get the tones and contrast as I like it. Then when I finished with these I would decide whether or not some contrast, microcontrast, or fine contrast should be added or subtracted. I’ve gotten some beautiful edits this way, but imagine my surprise to learn that adjusting the FC slider was only messing up my precise adjustments to the shadow, mid-tone, and highlight sliders.

Using my workflow, I now see little use for the FC slider at all. The only two possible uses that I see are: 1.) if I want to increase or decrease FC globally it saves me from having to adjust all three AC sliders to the exact same point. 2.) If I want one or more of the AC sliders at more than +100 or less than -100, then I could adjust say highlight contrast to -100 and FC to -20, if the value that I needed was -120.

These two scenarios would rarely happen to me so I don’t see needing to use the FC slider but ever so rarely. I guess that will teach me not to read manuals. :sob:


Thanks. Yes, I should make more use of the virtual copy function. I did try out the advanced highlight slider in combination with the Selective Tone highlights adjustment slider to improve definition in breaking waves and got an idea of what is possible, but I’ll try your other suggestions.


Microcontrast is blacklevel dot’s.
Fine contrast is shadow contrast dots, less deep black. Less visual.
By plus 100 all sliders of high mid and shadow you basicly counter effect fine contrast
Probably -100 fine contrast and +100 shadow does nearly enough to have no visual effect.
The mid and high contrast is adding or losing detail by dotting shadowdots.
That’s why you can lose artifacts by lowering detail/contrast make the planes more homogene. (note the HSL third slider does more or less the same. Making edge(detail and thus a border between to colors) or soften the difference in color nuances.

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Hi Peter. Thanks for the info. Yes the FC and AC sliders do affect the same type of fine contrast so FC slider simply adds to or subtracts from the effects of the AC sliders. I still see little use for the FC slider. :crazy_face:

I reckon the background/reason for this behaviour can be explained, Mark;

The “Advanced” contrast settings are only available (as you know) if one has a FP-Elite license - So, without this license, the “Fine Contrast” slider provides a gross/broad equivalence. As a result, tho, for users with a FP-Elite license there’s little point using “Fine Contrast” slider, as you suggest.

All the same; this has been a good reminder …

John M