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Old Feb 19, 2006, 7:30 AM   #1
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I've been visiting Steves-digicams for about 3 or 4 years now & have found it a great resouce for helping me choose cameras for myself & family.

This is my first post on the forums though. Currently I own a Canon A80
and am very happy with it. However I have always lusted after a digital SLR camera.

Now that the D50 with 2 lenses (18-55 & 55-200) & canon 350d (18-55) are at about thre £500 mark, they are in a range I can afford. I've read loads of threads about which one is better & come to the conclusion that both are great buys & one can't go far wrong.

The issue that concerns me at the moment is an article I read (sorry, lost the link) that Nikon encrypts data in the raw files produced by their cameras - namely the white balance data. It seems liek a bit a of a cheek to lock you in to using their software or plugins.

My problem is that whilst I would begrudge paying extra for software that could decrypt the files, I probably couldn't run it anyway. My operating system of choice is Linux & I use a free program called the GIMP for my image editing needs. I was just wondering where this situation leaves me? I have never shot RAW before but liek the idea that it opens up a bit of freeedom post processing if I need to however I donn't like the idea of being locked out of my own files.

Do Canon do this too, what about the other major brands? Does anyone know of any open source hacks or solutions?

I realise it might be a stab in the dark here as Linux has a pretty low market share but perhaps there are some GIMP users that might know or also be interested? GIMP is photshop type application for Windows, Linux, & Mac

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Old Feb 19, 2006, 3:01 PM   #2
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Here's RAW converter for Linux, it works also as GIMP plugin

Of course if EXIF datas are encrypted with proprietary scheisse getting those out could be hard.
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Old Feb 19, 2006, 3:21 PM   #3
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Nikon encrypts the metadata related to white balance in .nef files generated by the D50, D2Hs and D2X models.

This was a new practice, beginning with the D2X.

It caused a lot of bad press for them, and I wasn't particularly happy about it either.

Eric Hyman (author of Bibble) was the first to crack the encryption (and BTW, Bibble is available for Linux). David Coffin cracked it soon thereafter and included the decryption routines in dcraw.c (Nikon basically xor'd the rgb multipliers related to white balance, using part of the camera's serial number as part of the key to further confuse).

You won't have any problem with the GIMP using available free plugins based on David Coffin's dcraw.c (including products like UFRaw, that use David's code for the demosaic algorithms). Many Linux distros already have the plugins installed.

After a lot of bad press when Adobe decided that they were not going to support the as shot white balance information from Nikon models encrypting white balance, a compromise was made. What happened is that Nikon decided to offer a mini SDK that allows Adobe to decrypt the as shot white balance information, without using Nikon's demosaic algoirthms (so that Adobe could use it's own algorithms for the raw conversion piece).

But, the data is still encrypted. Just because Adobe and Nikon decide to "play nice", doesn't solve it from my perspective. I could care less if Adobe is happy with the arrangement.

What if some bright young teenager comes up with a revolutionary new way to process data from sensors, and he or she doesn't have Nikon's Software Developer's Kit?

Perhaps they don't want to agree to Nikon's terms to get the SDK, or don't qualify as a "bonafide developer" (a choice of words that didn't sit well with me when Nikon started defending it's practice).

Or, perhaps someone wants to develop a raw converter for a platform that Nikon doesn't have an SDK available for (think Linux, Solaris, etc.)

Then, what do they do?

Do they take the risk that they're not going to get into trouble over violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by decrypting the data (which was apparently Adobe's concern over this issue until they finallly reached a compromise with Nikon)?

Or, worse yet, do developers avoid working on converting the raw files entirely, stifling potential innovation and improvements with raw converters?

IMO, the only reason to encrypt metadata in raw files is to stifle competition.
If Nikon thinks they've got a better solution with something like the optional Nikon Capture software, fine. But, let the product stand on it's own merits. Don't throw roadblocks in front of competitors by encrypting data.

We all end up spending more money for software, even if we don't own Nikon gear over this kind of thing (although I guess software manufacturers could decide to price raw converters based on what camera you own). LOL

Developers have to spend time decrypting data, sorting through legal issues, etc., and that cost gets passed on to consumers.

Do Canon do this too, what about the other major brands?
Sony does with some of it's models like the DSC-F828 (David Coffin cracked their encryption, too), and the newer DSC-R1 also encrypts some metadata (but not to the extent of the hard encryption used for the entire file, as in the DSC-F828 ). David also cracked it's encryption (which was different than the encryption used in the DSC-F828 ).

Even Canon is guilty of it in the raw files generated by some of their non-DSLR models). Canon started encrypting two blocks related to White Balance with the .crw files generated by the Powershot S60, S70, G6, and Pro1.

But, Canon's DSLR lineup using .cr2 files is OK for now (no ecnryption in these).

Let others know how you feel about it:


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Old Feb 20, 2006, 10:23 AM   #4
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Thank you both so much for your replies. All my concerns have been addressed & I'm now almost ready to comit to buying a Nikon D50 & 18-50mm lens kit.

I've also bookmarked Bible incase it's something I might need after I buy the camera which is probably not goign to be for another 2 months to allow me to clear some annual car bills.

Thanks for the link to openraw.org. I left my thoughts there & filled out the survey. I find it really hard to believe there is no standardisation of the RAW format. Standardisation improves thing s for everyone. One need only look at the mobile phone market in the US compared to Europe where standards helped phone companies & phone manufacturers push out new better products in Europe which undoubtedly drives sales.

I can't believe massive multinationals like Conon, Sony, Nikon et al aren't aware of this [/ rant]
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