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Archive 2013 · Raw for Dummies
  
 
woodrim
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Raw for Dummies


I've been a photographer for 40 years and very much enjoy digital, but I'm woefully inept when it comes to raw file processing. I use .jpg out of the camera and post process using PS CS5. I'm pretty comfortable using PS for what I do, but do not get close to taking adavntage of its capabilities. Ironically, I was a technical person for 28 years and now have lost patience with the ever changing technologies. Anyway. I think I'm ready to take the plunge to raw but find myself without a clue what to use or how to go about it. May I ask for a suggestion of what might be the best software considering what I've already said about myself? Lightroom? I see I can get a trial download.

Much appreciate any responses.



Jan 06, 2013 at 06:36 PM
howardm4
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Raw for Dummies


You *have* the software.

If you were to start shooting in raw format, Photoshop would open it in 'ACR' (Adobe Camera Raw) processor to start with (the caveat here is that depending on the camera you have, ACR/PS may not directly support your camera's raw format (every camera has a unique format even if the file suffix .nef/.cr2/whatever is the same) (in this case, you'd download the Adobe DNG converter to convert the raw file to .dng and then ACR would be able to open the .dng.

You *can* also start up Photoshop and tell it to Open the .jpg and in the dropdown box, tell it to use Raw. It's like a halfway thing you can get a feel for raw w/o actually having a raw file to work on.

Set your camera to raw & jpg and start playing. At least that way, you have the option of processing paths.



Jan 06, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Bernie
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Raw for Dummies


Search this board as well as the link above "Workflow Guidelines". There's lots of info here on the web. Check the Adobe tutorials on their site.

As howardm4 says -- you have the software. When you feel you're ready, post here or in "Photo Critique".



Jan 06, 2013 at 06:55 PM
calk
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Raw for Dummies


As noted, since you use PS CS5, you do already have Adobe Camera Raw, and your version is quite late, though not the latest. I recommend you obtain Lightroom 4.x and put some effort in to getting used to it, maybe a short course, or a good book on it. Kelby is a much recommended author. Why do I recommend LR over using the ACR which is part of PS? Allow me to relate my own experience.

A few years back, as a fairly new digital shooter, I was using PS CS2 on JPG images from my new Canon 20d. I was reading voraciously online and it finally "soaked in" and dawned on me what there was to be gained by shooting in RAW. There are those who disagree with my position, however, and I try my best to never argue with someone who knows more than I do, especially about politics, religion, or RAW vs JPG. I was mostly shooting landscapes then, and quickly discovered that proponents of shooting RAW definitely had a point... I could make an image a lot better in post processing without having it get "all weird" on me, like jpgs sometimes do. I became a faithful raw shooter and user of ACR. Along about that time, Adobe updated CS2 to CS3 and as a special offer, would bundle Lightroom, for a relatively small introductory price. After upgrading to CS3, I spent a good amount of time learning the changes in PS, and sort of ignored the LR software. After several months, I remembered I had it, while reading a PS magazine no doubt, and installed it and began playing around with it. At first I thought of it as a better "photo database manager and cataloger" than Bridge. I was correct. The I started to use the develop module. A few hours at this changed photography from that time forward, and profoundly so. I would guess that well over 90 percent of the edits I make to my photos are done without ever using PS at all. It's just so much easier, quicker to get pleasing results. The database (catalogue) is so well integrated with the develop module that I can jump back a forth between them with a couple of clicks.

I would have a very serious hissy type fit, complete with kicking and screaming, if I were to have to go back! ...way too undignified for a man my age.

Hope this helps.

Cal



Jan 06, 2013 at 07:27 PM
howardm4
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Raw for Dummies


I agree w/ Cal re: the utility of Lightroom but since you already have PS (and since LR is a fairly complicated multi-faceted program), I still would suggest you start w/ PS. If you want to explore LR's great features you can do so afterwards. Some people want/need the extras that LR brings (and it *is* a great program) but you dont need all of its complexity and cost just to learn about processing raw files.


Jan 06, 2013 at 08:28 PM
woodrim
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Raw for Dummies


Thanks much to all for the thoughtful replies. I'm still all ears, but will go try a few raw.


Jan 06, 2013 at 08:56 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Raw for Dummies


The biggest difference with respect to color correction is that RAW encodes the RGB sensor sites into pixels with color in blue/yellow and green/magenta channels, and the detail of the scene into a monochrome "luminance" channel that looks like a B&W image, not as RGB values as with JPG or TIFF. That makes it easy to adjust white balance with a tweek of the blue/yellow slider, or eliminate the greenish cast seen shooting under trees with a tweek of the green/magenta slider, or more importantly adjust contrast without shifting the color balance of the neutral tones by tweeking the contrast of the luminance channel.

Another advantage is bit depth. JPEGs are 8-bit (256 values) per color. In RAW you can use 16-bit (4048 values) per color which produces smoother gradients in areas like skies. WIth 8-bit JPEG corrections in curves or levels can cause posterization banding which won't with the same correction in the 16-bit file. A caveat when editing the RAW in 16-bit is you'll also want to use Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB as the editing color space in ACR, then convert to sRGB before converting to JPG at the end of workflow for screen images, a minor extra step vs. an all sRGB JPG workflow.

The "belt and suspenders" approach is to shoot in RAW+JPG. Try it for a few hundred shots, long enough to get the hang of RAW and edit a variety of images. Do what you normally to with the JPG for basic color / exposure / contrast correction. The do the same adjustments on the RAW copy in 16-bit mode, save as JPG, then compare with the camera generated JPG. You should find the more you need to correct capture flaws in exposure / color balance the better the result are with the RAW.



Edited on Feb 01, 2013 at 10:46 AM · View previous versions



Jan 07, 2013 at 01:14 AM
BenV
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Raw for Dummies


Download the trial of Lightroom, its about as easy to editing as you can get. Just play with the sliders under the "develop" tab to get the desired effect you want. Once you get more advanced and used to the program, you can start getting deeper into the more powerful options it has to offer.


Jan 07, 2013 at 02:30 AM
ripkoken
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Raw for Dummies


Once you start shooting in ACR, you will never go back. It doesn't make any difference whether you use LR or PS, just go for it and enjoy yourself.


Jan 07, 2013 at 03:46 PM
gabimaster
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Raw for Dummies


It's simple ,you shoot using a Dslr, you have to use Raw. Period. You'll see why !!!


Jan 07, 2013 at 04:54 PM
 

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theSuede
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Raw for Dummies


cgardner wrote:
The biggest difference with respect to color correction is that RAW records color in blue/yellow and green/magenta channels, not RGB. That makes it easy to adjust white balance with a tweek of the blue/yellow slider, or eliminate the greenish cast seen shooting under trees with a tweek of the green/magenta slider.

Another advantage is bit depth. JPEGs are 8-bit (256 values) per color. In RAW you can use 16-bit (4048 values) per color which produces smoother gradients in areas like skies. WIth 8-bit JPEG corrections in curves or levels can cause posterization banding which won't with the same correction in the
...Show more

Well, not quite true (regarding color)...
The colors as recorded by the sensor, filtered by the CFA on top of the sensor, are physically in fact quite close to the normal digital positive "Red, Green, Blue" that we all use in standard color spaces like sRGB and Adobe RGB. Canon however use a scheme that is more like "orange, warm green, blue", but they're the only ones in larger cameras that do. It's a scheme that most compacts and smart-phones also use, to sacrifice color accuracy in daylight but gain luminance noise-performance and have less color twists with peaky lights like fluorescents.

But every camera uses a color profile to translate from the non-standard and quite model/make-specific color response you get 'off the sensor' of every digital camera into a general standard color space that everyone "knows how to interpret". Otherwise you couldn't share images with your friends, customers, or indeed on the net - you have to have some 'common grounds' format to use, so that everyone knows what they're seeing. sRGB and Adobe RGB are the two most common standards.

If you shoot jpg-in-camera, the camera processor does this transformation before saving the image.
If you use a raw-converter, the profile is applied in when you open the image, in stead of when the camera saves the image.

This leaves some very interesting options - you can then apply a profile suited to your needs, your preferences, or the light at the scene you shot and so on.
The color the camera actually records does NOT react (and change!) in the same way that your eyes do when you change the lighting on the scene. The error between daylight (camera vs eye) and fluorescent energy saving bulbs (camera vs eye) can be up to 20dE depending on camera / situation. And this has absolutely nothing to do with white-balance - even perfectly white-balanced, colors will change as the light changes.
.................

So, colors are one part of the change - you have more options to get it right without sacrificing tone-resolution. The other part is contrast and local contrast.

One of the tricks with a smooth and effortless raw PP process is to find a good base setting - something you can use for all imported images , as a base starting point when the images leave the memory card and enter your computer.

Lightroom has several good options to play around with and set, change, make new or delete those presets, or indeed several slightly different versions of the same preset. But my current configuration has taken me some years to arrive at - though I can't say that I was dissatisfied at any point during those years, I just happened to learn more and more, and I also learned how to know almost before even putting the memory card in the reader what settings I should import them with to make the rest of the session as short as possible and still get the result I need (want).
............

So what you would need (in my opinion!) is to find your own flow, your own way to get to the end result that you want - in the easiest and quickest way.
You would also need to kind of "re-learn" the flexibility and best-use settings on your camera(s) - sometimes having more options means that you can do new stuff - or indeed just do stuff slightly differently when pressing the shutter on-camera - that means better results at the end-point: the finished image results.



Jan 07, 2013 at 07:32 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Raw for Dummies


All well and good about the finer points about the sensor in Canon cameras, but the context of the question was editing RAW files vs JPG in CS5, not the in-camera sensor > raw encoding mechanics.

When a RAW file is opened in ACR one has blue/yellow (temperature) and green/magenta (tint) sliders at the top of the control menu. as the most basic means to correct color temp and remove unwanted green/magenta biases.



Jan 07, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Raw for Dummies


Stick with CS5 and do not upgrade to CS6, and don't bother with any other software. CS5 will do everything you need.
Buy a book, take a course, or view on-line tutorials. It is easy, just adjust a few sliders in the RAW window and convert to jpeg.



Jan 07, 2013 at 11:41 PM
SoundHound
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Raw for Dummies


I believe that you will have a better time of it if you real Kelby's book even though it is hard going for a beginner. That's how I started and now I am a self taught expert (at least for the stuff I do). I agree that you don't have to raise the learning threshold by adopting LR also (as much as it may or may not suit others). Stick with PS and something you know. There's time to check out LR later.

RAW is a very powerful way to "develop" a digital picture and is entirely non destructive as compared with JPEG when lots of decisions are made by camera software preparatory to discarding lots of data. Incidentally, you can also use ACR to process JPEGs although there is much less data to work with (just compare the histograms).



Jan 09, 2013 at 04:04 AM
bjornssh
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Raw for Dummies


I have found that Martin Evening's books on Lightroom and Photoshop are excellent, clearly written and accurate, and approach both programs from a photographers perspective. The CS5 version of his photoshop book is still available on Amazon -
http://www.amazon.com/Adobe-Photoshop-CS5-Photographers-professional/dp/0240522001/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357705244&sr=8-1&keywords=martin+evening+photoshop+cs5

Working with RAW files is not that much more difficult than what you are doing with JPGs.

Good luck.

Steve



Jan 09, 2013 at 04:24 AM
woodrim
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Raw for Dummies


I want to again thank all who took the time to help me. I didn't get out last weekend due to workload, so will try again this weekend and shoot in .jpg and raw. Does anyone know if when using the NEX-5N if all the camera settings will still apply in the .jpg images when shooting both modes? I'm most concerned to keep the CA control feature in the .jpg's.


Jan 11, 2013 at 02:19 AM
howardm4
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Raw for Dummies


I've never seen a camera turn off settings when shooting dual format. The raw data is taken from earlier in the processing pipeline. In fact, the raw image file is actually a bucket that *contains* the raw data, a basic quality jpg (and a thumbnail too) and those jpgs have the camera settings applied too.


Jan 11, 2013 at 12:11 PM
woodrim
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Raw for Dummies


Makes sense, thanks.


Jan 12, 2013 at 01:45 AM
R.H. Johnson
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Raw for Dummies


to get the feel of working in RAW one would suggest using the simplest software first ie Canon's DPP. once you have a 'feel' for a RAW workflow then graduate to more complex software. just my 2 cents


Jan 14, 2013 at 04:56 PM
elluDe
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Raw for Dummies



You don't say what type camera you have, but if it's a Canon then maybe try the program Digital Photo Professional that comes free with it.

I use this a lot and find its often all I need to go from raw file to finished jpg (probably about two thirds of pictures). Where I need to do more, correct a problem area, etc, I use Photoshop CS3 to work on files I've converted first using DPP.

Although I've tried Lightroom, I stopped using it because of the way it needs a database to store settings. This system didn't work well for me as I regularly use both a desktop computer and laptop and often switch pictures between them. The beauty of DPP is that it stores all changes inside the raw file, making them completely portable if you need to move files between computers. Besides, I prefer the colours I get with DPP, especially skin tones, so I guess that's as good a reason to use it as any (not to mention that DPP is free with your camera).





Jan 29, 2013 at 11:10 PM
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