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Old Mar 15, 2005, 11:49 AM   #1
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When PSP9 came out with support for NEF format, I began shooting NEF format with my D100. However, I found very quickly that post processing NEF images is time consuming. PSP9 allows you to manipulate WB, exposure compensation, sharpness, and orientation. These manipulations can be done in a batch file but you still have to interact with each image before converting it to jpeg or other format.

This is all very time consuming, about 2-3 minutes per image. This is just for the operations above. Then, I usually spend several minutes adjusting the converted image, adjusting things such as contrast, gamma, saturation, sharpness, etc.

Last September, I went on a Hawaiin cruise for a week. I shot about 700 pictures, hi-resolution, fine jpeg format. If I had shot those in NEF format, I would stil be post processing them!! As a result of the amount of work involved, I went back to shooting jpeg again.

Another complaint about shooting RAW or NEF, the raw images are all very dark, usually about one f-stop. If I set +1.0 compensation in the NEF load process, the brightness is about right. I don't know if this is normal as I have only shot a couple hundred NEF images.

Another problem is the recording time to save the image to the memory card or microdrive. It takes about 45 seconds per image. The internal camera buffer will hold six NEF images. Once that buffer is full, I can't shoot any more until at least one of the images in the buffer has been written out. If I need to do any rapid shooting, NEF format is out of the question.

So, how does one strike a happy medium between shooting large numbers of pictures and the post-processing time required. I think, in the future, I will use NEF for special occasions but continue to use jpeg for routine, dailing shooting. However, when those special occasions come along (such as another Hawaii cruise this year!) I will be shooting a lot of pictures. I am in a quandry. I am sure I am not the only one who has faced this dilema. I know that NEF/RAW will give me the best possible image but some compromises need to be made. The D100 takes excellent jpeg images, so I can't complain too much.

What's an advanced amateur photographer to do?

Cal Rasmussen
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Old Mar 15, 2005, 12:21 PM   #2
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#1. If it takes 45 seconds to record a NEF file, than you better check your camera preferences - it should take about the same amout of time as JPEG, you might be shooting in "Compressed RAW," a useless option in my opinion.

2. I shoot about three hundred RAW images every morning. I use PS CS, 90 percent of my processing is done in the converter. It takes me about an hour to process these 300 images. True I have a lot of practice - I do NOT batch convert.

3. If your images are very dark than you are doing something wrong OR there's something wrong with your camera

4. Finally, I love shooting NEF, and I must admit that this has been hightened by the Photoshop importer which improves my options and speed quite a bit.

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Old Mar 15, 2005, 10:06 PM   #3
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45 seconds is not abnormal at all. I am not talking about recording the image to the internal buffer. I am talking about transferring the image from the buffer to the memory card or microdrive (I use the latter). I always use the largest image size available (2000x3008 ). With this size, fine jpeg files are about 2 mb. NEF files this size are about 5-6 mb. It takes about 15 seconds to write a jpeg and about 45 seconds for a NEF. These numbers are accurate and as described in the camera manual. Recording to the internal buffer in the camera is significantly faster (a couple seconds at most).

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Old Mar 15, 2005, 10:44 PM   #4
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Something does not sound right to me. My Nikon 5400, a 5mp P&S only takes 20 seconds to write out a RAW NEF file. It does not seem that a 6mp DSLR writing only 1mp more should take more than twice as long to do it.

But then all this electronics stuffis plain magic to me.

Peter.
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Old Mar 16, 2005, 9:32 AM   #5
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I just did a test.

With my D1x and an 80x Lexar Flash card, 4 seconds to write to card.

With an old 1 Gig Micro drive, 8 seconds. These are NEF, 7.9 MB files.

While I'm not going to change my settings, I recall that COMPRESSED NEF, tooik forever. Not only that, but I recall JPG, took a bit longer, although not much.

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Old Mar 16, 2005, 11:04 AM   #6
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(Note, some of these comments are from my memory. I researched the Canon 10D & Nikon D100 when making my purchase choice. I got the 10D, but I still recall some on the D100.)

DBB is right. The problem with the write time is that you are writing compressed NEF. I believe there is a setting to change this to uncompressed. This will cause it to write faster (but obviously take more space.) The problem is not write speed, it is the camera's CPU is too slow and it takes a long time to compress the NEF. Really dumb, Nikon should be smacked with a nerf bat for that.

This should speed it up a lot. It won't be great, but it should be much faster.

Post processing NEFs does take awhile. There is not a lot that can be done about it (except throwing a faster computer and faster disks at it.) Batching does help some, as you said, but it really is an individual thing. The trade off in the slowness is higher quality shots in the tricky situations.

If you're getting 1 stop too low in exposure, something is either wrong with you or the meter on your D100. NEFs are not "inherently" underexposed. How do you control exposure? Manual? Aperture/shutter priority mode? What situations do you shot? Lots of contrast? controlled (studio) lighting? Outdoors?

You don't mention what CF card you have. Nikon supports the Lexar WA technology, so that should help. And some of the newer cards are really fast. Check out the CF data base on:
www.robgalbraith.com

I always shoot RAW with my (new) 20D. The 6-buffer limit is annoying, but I rarely hit it with my 80x lexar CF card. I just pause a bit and it flushes out a picture or two.

Another BIG reason (for me) to use RAW is white balance correction. It is just so easy with RAW I wouldn't want to go back. But I shoot in very changing lighting conditions (outdoors, late in the day) so even auto white balance doesn't keep up.

Eric
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Old Mar 16, 2005, 11:24 AM   #7
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I don't have access to the camera right now but I have been reading the online manual on the Nikon website and I believe you gentlemen have hit on the write speed problem. I have been using the command dial to select RAW and didn't realize that there is a menu selection to differentiate between compressed and non compressed. I'll look at that at noon today.

I am using a 2gb Hitachi Midrodrive. The speed seems to be comparible to a SanDisk CF1 cards. I have never tried any of the newer high speed cards.

As for the dark NEF images, I need to take another look at the camera settings. Perhaps I have something set wrong.

Thanks for the comments. If anyone else has something to contribute, chime in! This is a great place for exchange of information.

Cal Rasmussen
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Old Mar 17, 2005, 8:07 AM   #8
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Confirmed! The camera was set for COMPRESSED RAW mode. I changed it to uncompressed and it now takes about 5 seconds to write a NEF file to the microdrive. I need to do some more testing and investigation on the dark image problem.

Thanks again for the help.

Cal Rasmussen
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Old Mar 17, 2005, 11:52 PM   #9
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Glad to help. The thing that gets me, is that compressed NEF is the default. What were they thinking?

If you want, post some examples of the pictures and your settings and we'll tell you what we think. We don't have any magic answers, but there are some very knowledgeable people here.

As I recall, MicroDrives aren't nearly as fast as modern CF cards are (but you're camera isn't exactly new either... so I'm not sure it can take advantage of the faster speed those new CF cards give.) So you might gain some speed with a good CF card... but maybe not. That web page link I posted will tell you.

Eric
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Old Mar 18, 2005, 3:19 PM   #10
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The puzzling thing about the dark images is that they are not dark on the LCD display. They only show up dark when I download them and bring them up in PSP9. I have noticed the same characteristic with fine jpeg images.

Obviously, I can't post a NEF file but I could do a jpeg conversion with no adjustments. I don't know if the EXIF data is preserved after saving a NEF to jpg but if not, I can post the EXIF data for the NEF.

I'll try to do it this evening or over the weekend.

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