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Old May 24, 2008, 11:00 AM   #1
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My poor PC is too slow to cope with Capture NX and deal with NEF. But the same PC is OK working on Photoshop, so I am looking for a quick batch translating all my NEF into TIFF files, so that I simply work on them from Photoshop.

1- Any freeware batch on the top of your head ?

2- Am I wrong processing that way ?

Thanks

Philippe
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Old May 24, 2008, 11:30 AM   #2
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NEF is Nikon's encrypted RAW file format.
  1. I think you really shouldn't batch process RAW files wherever they came from. [/*]
  2. Nikon has published the specs for its encryption, but freeware authors aren't likely to take the time to do what you're looking for. [/*]
  3. While TIFF is a really good format, the EXIF data in RAW and JPEG files is not uniformly supported in TIFF, so it is likely to be distorted or discarded entirely, and that would be unfortunate.[/*]
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Old May 24, 2008, 12:37 PM   #3
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Ycav wrote:
Quote:
Nikon has published the specs for its encryption, but freeware authors aren't likely to take the time to do what you're looking for.
AFAIK, Nikon has not published any specs on how this works. But, freeware authors cracked this encryption a long time ago.

The metatdata for white balance is still encrypted in .nef files (it's basically some RGB multipliers being stored that Nikon uses during raw conversion to get the white balance that was used by the camera).

After Thomas Knoll (co-author of Adobe Photoshop and Chief Engineer of Adobe Camera Raw) announced that they may not be able to support some Nikon formats in Camera Raw, Adobe came up with a compromise solution after a lot of bad press from the encryption that involved using a Nikon .sdk to decrypt the data.

Here's an article about the original issue (and Nikon has continued this encryption practice with newer models):

http://photoshopnews.com/2005/04/17/...ce-encryption/

Eric Hyman (author of Bibble) cracked the enryption first. Dave Coffin (author of dcraw.c) cracked the encryption next and Dave publishes his source code. Basically, they XORd the metadata realted to the RGB multipliers used for White Balance to obscure it (so, that you had to use their raw converter to decode it). So, that means you couldn't duplicate the settings the camera was using for white balance while shooting raw with another converter, unless you crack the encryption (which could be interpreted as a violation of the Digital Millinenum Copyright Act, which was apparently Adobe's iniitial concern).

From my perspective, the only reason that they would do that is to stifle competition, so that you'd have to buy Nikon's optional software if you wanted the best results. This was a new practice, beginning with the D2X (and it's still continuing with newer camera models).

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 algorithms (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).

I've seen a number of posts from people that said Nikon denied their application for an .sdk, too (even if you did want to use their proprietary code to decrypt the metadata related to white balance).

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?

Yes, some developers have decided to risk decrypting it. But, I sure don't like it.

IMO, the only reason to encrypt metadata in raw files is to stifle competition and I'm sure they'd love to sell you Nikon software to try and solve that issue for you. ;-)

If Nikon thinks they've got a better solution with something like the optional Nikon 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).

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

philgib wrote:
Quote:
Any freeware batch on the top of your head ?
Sure. One is Dave Coffin's dcraw.c if you want a command line program to do that (and it handles the decryption of the as shot white balance info for you, with lots of available command line options for other purposes (different demosaic algorithms, noise reduction related settings, white balance options (as shot, etc.), highlight recovery options and much more.

But, there are a number of products that use some or all of Dave's code that have a Graphical User interface and allow batch processing (so you could apply the same settings to the photos used in the same conditions after tweaking one), or use it from command line looking at the config files for settings. UFRaw is one example. Look for batch processing in their online userguide (or type ufraw --man from a command prompt from the folder it's installed in for more options)

http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/index.html

Another very good free raw ocnverter I'd suggest looking at is Raw Therapee

It doesn't support batch processing yet. But, the author has already announced that it is intended feature for the next release (2.4). The first development snapshot for 2.4 is at the bottom of the downloads page (after the links for downloading the current production 2.3 release). Batch didn't make it into this 2.4 snapshot. But, Gabor (the author) says it's still planned for 2.4.

There are a number of other converters around that will do Batch processing for you. You may also want to look at some of the commercial offerings like Bibble Pro. You'll find some workflow related tutorials that show how to use Batch Queues in their Learning Center.

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Old May 24, 2008, 12:58 PM   #4
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P.S.

Here's an you'll find on Steve's Aprill 2005 Breaking News page about the encryption being cracked.

04-22-2005
Nikon's Proprietary WB Encryption Has Been Broken

Last week there were a lot of rumblings on the forums after Photoshop's creator Thomas Knoll had posted a message warning that they (Adobe) might not be able to fully support Nikon D2X and D2H raw files in their Camera Raw module due to the use of encrypted white balance information. Decoding this information could violate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and Adobe doesn't want to stir up the legal waters.

Enter Dave Coffin, author of Dcraw, a popular program that reads raw image formats of Canon, Nikon and Kodak digital cameras and then writes the data out in a nonproprietary format. Dave posted the latest update of his 'dcraw.c' source code on his web site this past week after reverse-engineering Nikon's latest NEF format.

To quote Dave, "Canon and Nikon continue to ignore the needs of today's photographers and tomorrow's historians by providing neither documentation nor human-readable code for their "secret" formats. My unpaid, often arduous work aims to correct this error, ensuring that the photographs of our time will always be viewable, on any computer running any operating system."

Bibble Labs founder Eric Hyman said he had also broken the Nikon white balance code and had incorporated it in the latest version of his commercial image-manipulation software. Bibble Labs sells the full-featured version of its "Bibble 4" software for $129, and a less-capable version for $69.

Click here to read Nikon's April 22, 2005 Advisory.

Click here to read Engadget's interview with Steve Heiner of Nikon USA.
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Old May 24, 2008, 1:18 PM   #5
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Or, if you want to reward Nikon for the practice of encrypting the data related to WB in your raw files, you can buy their optional Capture NX software ($124.95 at B&H). It's got batch processing features.

Personally, I think their use of wording like "the key that unlocks" on this Nikon USA Imaging Software page is appropriate for this optional software:

Quote:
Capture NX, an integral part of the Nikon system, provides the first and best access to the Nikon image. It's the key that unlocks the power of the NEF, the Nikon Electronic File.
In case you can't tell, I don't like it when manufactuerers deliberately obscure data in their raw files, even if it's not encrypted like the WB related metadata in .nef files. :-)

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Old May 24, 2008, 2:42 PM   #6
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Thanks a lot guys. I am surprised about Nikon's attitude. That is arrogance or desesperation. I understand that brand like Olympus are going toward a standard RAW format, to me that would sound like a good plus.

As I mentioned, Capture NX runs already on my PC but very slowly. Now I did not know it included a batch changing NEF into TIFF. I give it a try and revert.

Don't tell me to buy a new PC, I have to pay for the dentist of my daughter
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Old May 24, 2008, 2:51 PM   #7
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One more P.S.

You are welcome to disagree with me. You're just seeing my personal opinion on it. ;-)

I'm not real happy about any kind of encryption in content (video, still photos, music, etc.), and Nikon is not the only one guilty of this kind of thing (other manufacturers have done it with metadata in some cameras, too (including both Sony and Canon, although they've now dropped this practice from what I can tell).

Not publishing specs ss one thing (for example, a *lot* of time goes in to reverse engineering data in the Makernotes section, figuring out what changes in the metadata with different camera setttings, etc., because this data is proprietary and not published, even without the use of encryption techniques (deliberately obscuring the data).

Encrypting metadata is something else (data changing with exactly the same settings for things like white balance to try and make it harder to reverse engineer or force providers like Adobe into using Nikon's software developer kits to decode it).

Personally in the case of a camera, I'd expect to be able to decode my own content (the photos I take), without any addtional roadblocks like encryption of any metadata.

Other opinions are welcome. lol

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Old Jun 14, 2008, 11:07 PM   #8
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To follow up with this thread, I downloaded indeed the latest Irfanview, and as a second download the add-ins free package. It opens RAW files on my old 600 mhz laptop as if it would be 2 megs files. Impressive. And of course I can save as TIFF.

Thanks for all the above-mentioned help

Phil
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