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Old Sep 22, 2007, 9:36 PM   #1
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Does anyone have any simple tips about processing raw files. There seems to be so many options that I'm mostly confused. I did one and it looked no different from a jpg file that I also took. Thanks for any hlep.
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Old Sep 22, 2007, 11:15 PM   #2
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Well, the results you get are going to vary by camera model and by the raw converter you use.

Some cameras have better jpeg processing compared to others, and some raw converters work better compared to others.

The biggest advantage of shooting raw is that you have more flexibility for things like exposure and white balance. So, if your exposure is off, you can change it more without posterization causing image degradation when you shoot in raw. Shooting raw also allows you to make changes in things like White Balance easily later.

If you've ever accidently left your White Balance set to incandescent (tungsten) and went outside and shot in daylight, you'd appreciate that feature (ability to set your white balance later). ;-)

Depending on the raw converter being used and the camera's jpeg processing, you may be able to get a bit more dynamic range shooting in raw, too. Some raw converters can salvage detail in shadows and highlights that would have been lost shooting jpeg. But, again, that varies by camera model and raw converter.

When you're shooting raw, no processing has been applied by the camera yet (white balance, sharpening, contrast curves, etc.). If you shoot jpeg, your options are more limited (for example, you can't undo oversharpening). ;-)

There are pros and cons to shooting raw. Some people only shoot raw. Some people only shoot jpeg. More often than not, I shoot raw + jpeg. Most of the time, I'm happy with the jpeg. But, sometimes, I'll want to use the raw file to extract a bit more out of an image, especially if the exposure or white balance was tough to nail in difficult lighting.

If you're using the camera manufacturers software to perform the conversion, it is going to look pretty close to the jpeg by default in most cases. Ditto for some third party converters. But, you can easily change things like exposure, white balance and more with most raw converters quite easily.

Play with the exposure and white balance options in the converter you're using for starters to get a better feel for how that part works.

You may also want to try a few different raw converters. Most have trial versions available. For example, Bibble Pro has a trial you can download. It's got some neat features included now and it's a very fast raw converter:

http://www.bibblelabs.com

Some converters are free. Here's one you may want to test drive:

http://www.rawtherapee.com/

Here's another:

http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/

Here's an article comparing some of the popular commercial packages (and most have trial versions available so you can test drive them):

http://www.sphoto.com/techinfo/rawco...converters.htm

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Old Sep 23, 2007, 3:44 AM   #3
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I will second JimC's comments. Also, some cameras are known for having soft looking jpegs, and reviewers usually note that this allows more leeway in post-processing, which means that it is going to be necessary to post-process anyway. Most all RAW converters allow you to set profiles or parameters for sharpening, noise reduction, etc, so you can batch process your pics with your own preferences, rather than the camera maker's. With some, you can store named profiles for any number of lenses, ISO settings, etc. Which brings up another point, which is that you can perform lens distortion and chromatic abberation correction with some of the RAW converters, compensating, at least partly, for a less than wonderful lens.

It is more work, and takes a bit of time to find the settings which work for you, but I find the results worthwhile for most of my photography. Examples of where I don't use RAW are things like shooting fireworks, where fine detail isn't so important, or some sporting events where I would typically shoot several hundred pics of runners crossing the finish line, etc. For landscapes and nature shots, I use RAW to bring out fine detail for larger prints. My sister shoots lots of photos of her grandchildren, and has them printed at her local photo store. In her case, jpeg is the right option, as she doesn't care to spend the time making each one perfect - if it isn't what she wants, she doesn't print it and shoots more.

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Old Sep 23, 2007, 8:09 AM   #4
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I agee with Jim and Brian.

As they implied, if you have all the camera setting (white balance,exposure, sharpening, contrast, ...) are right there is no reason to use RAW. So to figure out what you can do with RAW, I'd suggest shooting some test photos with those setting wrong. Ideally with RAW+JPEG so you can compare.

Since there might not be time for me to get exactly the right settings when trying for a quick shot of Big Foot getting aboard a flying saucer, I tend to leave my camera set at Aperature priority and RAW+JPEG as the default. Like Brian, when shooting a large number of photos in the same light I take the time to dial in the best settings and shoot JPEG.
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Old Sep 23, 2007, 9:47 AM   #5
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The Nikon D70s tends to underexpose a bit so using Adobe Camera Raw and PhotoShop Elements I can recover shadow detail without blowing out the highlights.

I find the histogram in ACR to be very useful when trying to judge exposure as well as highlight and shadow clipping. There is also visual indication what highlight and shadow areas will be clipped. Of course I can also adjust white balance with an eyedropper or sliders.

When I first started using this camera I shot JPEG only but after getting a bigger CF card (2gb) and PSE 5.0 with ACR I ventured into RAW. Using defaults ACR 4.2 will mostly give you very good results, similar to camera settings, so you can always start slow at first then slowly begin tweaking the settings as you gain confidence.

The D70s can only provide JPEG Basic with RAW so I don't bother with that setting.

I've always set my digital cameras for the best quality settings because you never know when you will take that "knock your socks off" photo and will want the quality. You can always downgrade photo quality later but never upgrade it
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