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Old Dec 14, 2013, 1:53 PM   #21
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Most cameras come with software to develop their Raw images. Raw Therapee is a freeware application which has worked well for me, though it takes quite a bit of experimenting to get the best from it. (it's very comprehensive, but sometimes a bit difficult to understand). Paint Shop Pro has a Raw developer as part of it, and Adobe's Photoshop Elements uses the Camera Raw plugin. (the camera Raw plugin updates may not work with older PSE versions, though) These all allow manipulation of the Raw file before converting to another format. They all (AFAIK) keep a record of the settings used, which is associated with the particular Raw file, but don't change the Raw itself. This allows you to return to the same shot and try different adjustments.
Once you get familiar with a Raw developer, you will probably find you don't need to to any further editing, unless you want do something like clone out a part of the shot, or add text, etc.
Since a Raw file from the camera uses greater bit depth (usually 12 or 14 bits), than what we display our pictures on, (print or screen, it's 8 bit), you get some extra room to fix blown highlights or lighten up shadows to bring out detail. Some Raw developers also can fix color fringing and correct lens distortions somewhat. Again, this all takes time, so it's a matter of how much more you want to get from the camera than it's jpeg output will give you.

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Old Dec 14, 2013, 3:26 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
... (print or screen, it's 8 bit) ...
Not necessarily so.

JPEG files are limited to 8-bit color, so, yes, it's an 8-bit image whether you're displaying or printing it.

But RAW, TIFF, PSD and PNG files can store much more color information than JPEG files, and are capable of reproducing it on screen (provided you have one of the few monitors that's capable of displaying it) and printing it. (Almost all printers are capable of doing so, even if you can't see it on your monitor beforehand.)
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
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Old Dec 14, 2013, 5:01 PM   #23
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Monitors which can display more than 8 bit color are somewhat rare compared to the ones most of us use. If you edit and view with one of these, your photos may display something different than what you expected when viewed by others. As far as printers go, I have used printers with wider color gamuts, but they are still limited to 8 bits. Maybe commercial units? (and color gamut is a different kettle of fish than bit depth)
So, 99% of the time, you are going to be seeing 8 bit color depth.

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Old Dec 14, 2013, 6:02 PM   #24
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Try some of them.

These are free:





In commercial (not free) applications, try these:



Personally, I use Corel Aftershot Pro. It's similar to Adobe Lightroom (just linked to above) with more features. For example, with AfterShot Pro, you can browse folders full of raw (and/or jpeg) files without importing them into a catalog first like Adobe Lightroom requires, with nice features like layers and edit regions. But. if you import your files into a catalog, you get a lot more metadata related editing and search features. It's also *very* fast (nothing else even comes close from my perspective after trying many similar tools).

See more about what it can do in this "webinar". I'd spend the time needed to watch it so you get a better idea of what it's capable of before buying it, as it can take some time to understand just how many features you have available in that type of product.


The trial version will work for 30 days without buying it; and if you decide to buy it, no reinstall is needed (you can simply plug in the license key you'll get and the trial version will then be a registered copy). It's a huge time saver for managing and editing your raw (and/or jpeg) files, and it's also cross platform, so it works with Windows, OS X and Linux. It's speed is amazing (again, IMO, nothing else even comes close to it's speed when working with raw files).
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Old Dec 15, 2013, 12:30 AM   #25
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Hi TCav,
Yes...... I like Faststone for viewing, and minor tweaks, but my initial attempts to edit raws has shown me that it takes considerable skill to improve upon the job the camera does, when allowed to do the conversion itself. So.....normally I won't bother fiddling with raws, except that one of the pictures I took yesterday of my office showed that the raw conversion produces much more detail in the poorly lit areas of the picture. So, it looks like learning to 'edit the raws' may be a very useful skill to develop. To that end I've downloaded RawTherapee, but am having troubles with it (detailed in another post).
...... john
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