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scottdg Mar 7, 2007 4:47 PM

I just received my D80 in the mail and I have heard so much about the flexibility of RAW files that I feel like I would be short changing myself if I wasn't shooting in RAW.

I read a couple articles and the Wiki page somebody linked in anther thread so I understand what RAW is. I am not sure I understand the process though. When do I do the conversion? From what I read the conversion software converst the file from NEF to JPEG, correct? So I am assuming that you want to make your alterations to the RAW file before the conversion.

Also, I currently have Photoshop 7. What can I use to convert NEF files (whether before or after alterations)? Is there a product that specifically converts the file and then I have to pull it into PS7?

I know Lightroom will allow me to work on the RAW file but I am looking for other suggestions since I am not looking to purchase a $200 piece of software immediately atfer buying a $1300 camera.


JimC Mar 7, 2007 5:10 PM

RAW is proprietary to a given manufacturer, and even when you have the same file extension (like Nikon's .nef format), there are differences between files generated by different camera models using it.

In order to have a viewable/editable image, you need to convert this file into another format first. Some viewers can do this "on the fly" so that you have a viewable image. But, they're still doing the conversion (even if used just for displaying the image).

There can also be a big difference in algorithms used between different raw converters. So, the output may be quite different from one versus another, especially for things like white balance, tone curve used and more.

If you plan on editing the file after the raw conversion piece, your best bet is to stay with a 16 bit format to reduce any potential posterization due to rounding errors. Then, convert to JPEG as a last step. But, there is no set way to go about it. Each user tends to have a preferred workflow for images.

There are a number of free products available that can convert your raw files to another format for you, so that you can edit your files further using something like Photoshop (and most give you the option of saving the file in a number of ways for further editing). Adobe also has a plugin called Camera Raw. But, you'd need CS2 to get support for the plugin that works with your D80. Nikon also provides a plugin in the software that comes with camera. But, it really doesn't let you do much. They'd like to sell you Nikon Capture (a $99 option). You'll probably find a trial of it with your camera.

One popular free product you can use to convert your raw files is UFRaw (and there are a number of others).

rfortson Mar 7, 2007 6:31 PM

JimC wrote:

Adobe also has a plugin called Camera Raw. But, you'd need CS2 to get support for the plugin that works with your D80.
Jim, I know Adobe Camera Raw works with Photoshop Elements3 and above. Won't that also read the D80 raw files?

Also, shouldn't the D80 come with software to read the raw files already? Of course, you'll usually want more features so you'll wind up getting another program. But to do basic correction, I'd figure Nikon would include that with the camera.


JimC Mar 7, 2007 7:29 PM

Yes, it comes with software. It just doesn't do much (probably because they want to sell you Capture, as mentioned in my first post). lol You can't even do basic adjustments like White Balance and Exposure Compensation with the free Picture Project software from Nikon.

Yes, Camera Raw 3.x will work with newer versions of Elements, too. I just wanted to make sure the OP knows it won't work with PS7 (the version of Photoshop he's using). You have to upgrade to PS CS2 to use it with Photoshop.

But, it's not a bad idea to point out that Elements would be another option available.


scottdg Mar 7, 2007 10:38 PM

If you are referring to PictureProject it does not appear to view RAW files.

I tried and was able to open the files in PS7. I am still playing around so I haven't done much more than open the file and adjust the white balance. Do I then just save the file as a jpeg and keep the original RAW file? Thanks for the patience. I appreciate the fedback. I will look into the other products mentioned.

JimC Mar 7, 2007 10:45 PM

I think it actually installs a plugin in PS. But, the plugin shouldn't allow you to actually change anything much (fine tune WB or exposure). Although you could use some of the tools built into PS for that purpose.

Yes, if you can open a raw file, you can save it as JPEG. You'll need to flatten your layers if using layers, and change from 16 bit to 8 bit (under Image, Mode) before the File, Save As JPEG choice is available (unless you use save for web, which strips out the EXIF).

scottdg Mar 7, 2007 11:09 PM

Jim, The plugin seems to allow me only to only change the exposure and white balance. But I then seem to have the full functionality of PS. Isn't that really all I need? To get it into PS I mean so I can then make any other corrections I need?

JimC Mar 8, 2007 6:55 AM

You'll have to decide what you need. ;-) I didn't even realize the current plugin allowed you to change that much.

Those are the two most important parameters, and you can do things like curves, etc. in PS itself.

scottdg Mar 8, 2007 10:14 AM

Thanks again Jim. I changes those things but the image is only slightly larger than a thumbnail until you pull it into PS. I am definitely going to want to try something else. I downloaded the trial of Lightroom and I have to download ufraw today at work and give it a try.

VTphotog Mar 8, 2007 12:54 PM

You might look to see if Rawshooter Essentials is still available on the Pixmantec website. I think the last update they did would have included the D80. It is a pretty good RAW converter, with quite a bit of funcionality.


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