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Old 28-10-2007, 21:45   #1 (permalink)
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Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I've finally decided to give RAW a go... *wibble* so brace yourselves for a veritable flood of threads and posts from me

Decision has been made but I have not quite yet had the gumption to just get on with it. I hope to get few test shots going this week before I attend my 'Fungi' workshop at the weekend.

Right. First up...

Is RAW as scary as it appears?

I take the plunge, change my camera settings, take pictures, upload to PC and then what? JPEGs just 'appear ' - I assume I have to do 'something' with the RAW images before I can actually see them? Do I have to do whatever that might be everytime I want to see them? Can I only see them in Photoshop (or whatever), as opposed to thumbnails in explorer for example?

I have the choice to set the camera (20D) to shoot JPEG only, RAW only or RAW + JPEG. Just wondering if setting to RAW + JPEG might be a little less daunting to start with? But then I might get lazy, go for the 'safe' option and ignore the RAW file

I have been using Elements 5 but have installed CS3 this weekend but not had a chance to play with it yet.

Or having read this should I stick with JPEG?
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Old 28-10-2007, 21:55   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Why not set Raw only, take some informal pictures that are not important and put them onto your computer.

You can then re-set the camera to jpeg while you have a play with the RAWs.

Once you get used to RAW, you won't go back other than for specific shoots.
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Old 28-10-2007, 21:59   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

[quote=Ali;163607]Is RAW as scary as it appears?/quote]

Nah......it's actually easier. As long as you realise it isn't the only answer and there times when you want jpg. Oh....and your file sizes will be about 3 or 4 times bigger
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Old 28-10-2007, 22:21   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Not scary Ali, but as Stepheno says, large file size is the only real scary part

Ok, here's what you do :

Set camera to shoot RAW only. Don't bother with "+ jpeg".
Shoot with basic camera settings. This includes: Leaving WB set to auto for now, it's one less thing to think about + the beauty of shooting RAW is that you can set WB later on pc. Turn sharpening off. Turn noise reduction off. Don't use presets, like 'landscape', 'portrait' etc., just shoot 'normal'. Any other presets or camera settings I've left out, just set them as neutral as they will go. Basically, you don't want the camera to do ANY processing for you.

Upload the images normally. If you're on XP you can view them in Windows Explorer (d/l raw viewer if you don't have it already).

You can view/edit RAW's in CS3. Camera Raw I believe, I've not used it, as I use Lightroom for my RAW's.

You have more control over RAW files, so it will mean more editing on pc than you would need for jpegs. First set WB. Next do levels + curves to get tones how you want them. Next increase colour saturation as needed. Fine tune any of these that need tweaking again. Last comes sharpening, or you can do this to the converted tiff or jpeg. I do cropping at any stage; sometimes I do it last, but sometimes earlier in the process, so that I'm working on the final composition + can see better how it will look with the alterations I'm making re: colour/tones etc.

No jpegs don't just appear You have to convert to jpeg. File>Export for Web (or whatever it's called in the various prog's) where you'll see settings + choices for the conversion.

I convert to tiff for further editing. If you don't think you'll edit further, then convert straight to jpeg. Reason is if you edit jpegs they will deteriorate, whereas tiff's don't. Final image will usually be jpeg. In the beginning I would stick to converting your RAW's to jpeg, to keep things simple while you get your bearings.

Go for it!
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Last edited by Charlotte; 28-10-2007 at 22:29. Reason: Stick to converting RAW's to jpeg, not stick to shooting jpeg <g>
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Old 28-10-2007, 23:16   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

RAWS definitely give you much more scope with your images. Now whilst modern digital cameras are very sophisticated devices the processing they do to convert to Jpegs are based on certain algorithms following certain rules for the convertion and while they do a pretty good job most of the time but they're not infallible and you can certainly improve on the in camera conversions. Hence shooting RAW your now in control of the conversion process, now as stepheno said your files will be alot bigger so thats one consideration to take into account, secondly i'm not sure on your photography abilities so ignore this if you've been at it awhile but you will be shooting with the semi-auto and manual settings because you cant save as RAWS in the auto settings. Now if you're used to taking that extra control thats fine but i know when i went over to RAWS i hadn't used these settings much and that was an extra learning curve. But i'm glad i did.

One thing i found that you should establish yourself a workflow early on, basically the order and which your process your RAW. Charlotte has given you a very good one above but others will no doubt have differing views on the exact workflow, the point is to have one you're happy with there's no hard and fast rules. Mine is similar to Charlottes but there are some differences.

Now it mind sound alot of extra work but doesn't have to be if i shoot say 100 RAWS i will view the 100 first off, deleting any obvious trash then i will only convert the ones that really stand out which with me isnt always that many usually just a handful, i then convert these to TIFFS for further tweaking. I then back up the RAWS and only keep the TIFFS on my comp. And finally i convert these TIFFs to Jpeg for the web.

Anyway thats my take on RAWS from someone thats only been shooting RAW for about six months.
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Old 28-10-2007, 23:31   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

The only real drawback to RAW (apart from file sizes) is that you may have to process in two stages - once to convert the RAW to TIFF having made the tonal and colour adjustments, and then to do any other corrections on the TIFF.

I'm not a Photoshop user and I don't know how seamless ACR + CS3 makes all this, but with something like Bibble you can do everything within one application except any layer manipulation or fancy effects.

Another benefit of RAW processing is that it is non-destructive and your original file remains intact. Your adjustments are held in a database or a sidecar file and are applied to the original RAW when you open the file.
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Old 29-10-2007, 00:13   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Don't be afraid of RAW Ali
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Old 29-10-2007, 04:06   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I shoot a lot of hockey, and RAW is absolutely wonderful in mixed lighting arenas where you can't set a constant white balance.

Anyways, don't be intimidated. It's pretty easy to pick up on, and once you get a feel for what kind of repairs you can do on a photo, it makes adjusting your images a TON easier.
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Old 29-10-2007, 10:11   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Just learning too here. Digital Photo Pro (DPP) is quite a handy and comprehensive RAW tool. Free to download and install from Canon for Canon users. You will need zoom browser installed I think but you should have that already if you have a 20D.
Try here EOS 20D
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Old 29-10-2007, 10:39   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

RAW just gives you control of another stage in taking a pic - was one of the reasons for getting my Sigma which only records RAW - I got fed up with the Fuji interpolation to JPEG

Very occasionally (when doing a commission like a photocall, etc) do I Auto convert my images en masse (so clent can see resultant shots quickly) - and I still individually convert/process the selected shots

Another big advantage is that I can go back to a shot (sometimes years later!) and find that there's something that can be made of it, which I'd overlooked/hadn't had the skills to process first time around (possibly being on the borderline, technically, RAW can help to "rescue" the shot)
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Old 29-10-2007, 11:28   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Once tried, you'll never go back
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Old 29-10-2007, 13:00   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I bought my EOS 20D over 2.5 years ago and for the first few weeks set it to RAW+JPEG. After a few weeks I realised that I never use the JPEG files so switched to RAW only and never looked back. You have PS CS3 and from the Bridge you can use Adobe Raw 4.2 which is excellent (same as in Lightroom). You can do tonal correction, curves, healing, cropping, straightening, convert to Mono, split toning, lens correction and more in Adobe Raw now. In fact you can even process TIFF and JPEG fles through Adobe Raw.

After Raw editing, I convert my Raw files to 16 bit TIFF and carry out any further editing in CS3; not that much now but I do leave sharpening till last and you will normally need to sharpen Raw files (already done in camera for Jpeg). I normally flatten the layers and convert to 8 bit Tiff for archiving/printing but for complex pics I sometimes save all the layers as psd for later editing.

Once you are familiar with the process, you can fairly quickly process large numbers of files but perhaps taking more time on the specials. I tend to treat all as specials as almost all my pics are for competitions. However, I only process a relatively small number of my pics so the facilities in the Bridge are very useful for cataloguing, sorting and rating your pics.

If you upgraded to CS3, you may have been offered a "free" gift by Adobe. The choice I had included 31 days free access to Lynda.com which is a training website. I used this to run tutorials on CS3 and the Bridge and found this very valuable. There are probably well over 100 hours of CS3/Bridge tutorials on the site so you will need to be selective or devote a lot of time. Alternatively buy the Deke McClelland DVD's on CS3.

It may take a while to get on top but it is worth it and it is fun learning new tricks. Best of Luck!
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:15   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I am going to have an attempt at opening a RAW file this evening... but having read all of the above I feel even less confident! So many applications and so many stages to the processing it's making my head spin. Many of the application names mentioned mean nothing to me... what on earth is the "Bridge"?! (and what is ACR)



If I have understood (which is unlikey) I have to do something with Camera Raw (whatever that is/looks like), do some editing, convert to another type of file before it can be opened in CS3 then do more editing and end up with a photoshop file which I can then convert to .jpg for the web (should I so wish). Or is Camera Raw in CS3?

As you can see I am getting myself in a pickle.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
.
No jpegs don't just appear You have to convert to jpeg. File>Export for Web (or whatever it's called in the various prog's) where you'll see settings + choices for the conversion.
I've never converted anything to jpg! They are just 'there'. Downloaded from camera to laptop into whichever directory I chose, files listed as filename.jpg - file/open works everytime in Element 5.0! Or am I missing the point?

Does such a thing as "An idiots (total and utter idiot!) guide to RAW" exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by P-E View Post
Don't be afraid of RAW Ali
LOL - having read the replies, I am afraid - very afraid!

I understand that RAW gives greater control of the final image and if I want to get the 'best' out my images I should be shooting RAW. I mainly use the camera on manual (or perhaps Av / Tv). Post processing has always been a bit of a mystery to me but I was slowly getting my head round the basics of Elements 5 with my .jpg images. I'm not sure why I have started to think about RAW - but maybe I should sort out my inadequate pp knowledge before embarking on this journey!

Feeling incredibly very dim and very stupid.
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:27   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

ACR = Adobe Camera Raw; included in CS3 although it's worth checking for updates to ACR on Adobe's site every now and again.

ACR will allow you to 'open' a RAW file in the same way as a jpeg, but you'll be presented with a preview and various knobs and switches you can use to fine tune the conversion.

RAW files are just the data from the camera sensor, err, raw... so you have to convert them somehow to get a viewable image. Because you can interpret the data differently and apply different settings to stuff that often gets done in camera - such as white balance - you can make corrections or adjustments that you can't do with jpeg without losing quality.

Just try opening some RAW files in Photoshop and playing around with the settings. I find fine tuning white balance is one of the things I really like about RAW, but it has loads of other advantages - such as a much better bit depth so you can squeeze the most detail out of images for post processing and then save as (8bit) JPEG only when you're done. This means you will see less banding and other artifacts in the areas of your images with smooth tonal transitions.
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:29   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Hello all. This is very interesting. I have always taken pictures as JPEGs so decided to use RAW on my last outing to a lovely National Trust centre near me in West Sussex (Wakehurst Place for those that know the area). I got some good shots of dragonflies, trees and landscapes. However, after downloading the images and using DPP to process the RAW files, it seemed to take so long to fiddle about with WB, sharpening etc for each shot that it put me off a bit and I haven't done anything with those files since.

Also, I got a bit confused with the process. It was mentioned earlier in this thread that the original RAW file is untouched and it seemed to me that any changes were applied without having to hit SAVE. Where does the original RAW file reside then?

Is there a batch process you can run on your RAW files, or does that defeat the object of having the ability to fine tune your lighting and tones etc?

Maybe I should investigate the RAW tool within CS3, as I do have this installed.

I guess the trick is to really narrow down the number of pictures you want to keep, which is something I should work harder at!

I don't want to put you off by the way, Ali. I think RAW is the way forward but I haven't quite got to grips with it yet.
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:58   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Umm, yes it was a little ungracious of us to just launch into all the bells and whistles of RAW.

Most converters (including CS3) have an Auto button. Hit that to get an instant process and then open in CS3 and save as a JPEG. Job done!
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Old 29-10-2007, 15:49   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I have used RAW I did find that the shots were marginally better after post editing that took 3X longer than jpeg and also much more expensive after Pixmantec was taken over by Adobe and would have necessitated me buying an upgrade in RAW software from Adobe.
Can anyone say what media has more dynamic range, Digital Cameras or Film Cameras.

Hmm, What I would like to see is a camera that can do the same as the RAW converter does when you correct using the "recovery" for the peak white using " Lightroom"

Every time I use my Canon I check the curves and find that sometimes the peak brightness is clipping.I then use bracketing and find that the shadows are naff. Surely with the processing that goes on in modern DSLR's it could eleviate some of this post processing on the computer ?. Also it all goes a bit down the drain when you think of the dynamics of the modern printers. Are we trying to get too much from our viewed pictures on the PC monitor? We are comparing emisive brightness and dynamics with reflective brightness & dynamics after all
What we need is a pixel by pixel exposure control in the camera or am I being a bit pie in the sky here or would I miss the scores of hours hunched over my PC!!.
I hope I haven't opened a can of worms here.
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Old 29-10-2007, 16:01   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Quote:
Originally Posted by brian wright22 View Post
Every time I use my Canon I check the curves and find that sometimes the peak brightness is clipping.I then use bracketing and find that the shadows are naff. Surely with the processing that goes on in modern DSLR's it could eleviate some of this post processing on the computer ?. Also it all goes a bit down the drain when you think of the dynamics of the modern printers. Are we trying to get too much from our viewed pictures on the PC monitor? We are comparing emisive brightness and dynamics with reflective brightness & dynamics after all
What we need is a pixel by pixel exposure control in the camera or am I being a bit pie in the sky here or would I miss the scores of hours hunched over my PC!!.
I hope I haven't opened a can of worms here.
OK, I've now waved my magic wand and you've pixel by pixel control.

So, you now going to set it for each pixel? Or use some sort of Auto? And if it's on Auto and I take this sunset with bright sun and very dark FG shadows, how low should it reduce the pixels for the sun - and won't that make the pic look artificial with a blob (where the sun used to be!) as 'Auto' reduced the peak down to the same value (effectively giving that burned look, but one value under!)

Better to set the exposure to the highlights and work on increasing the dynamic range to capture those dark shadows! Surely?
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Old 29-10-2007, 16:09   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
OK, I've now waved my magic wand and you've pixel by pixel control.

So, you now going to set it for each pixel? Or use some sort of Auto? And if it's on Auto and I take this sunset with bright sun and very dark FG shadows, how low should it reduce the pixels for the sun - and won't that make the pic look artificial with a blob (where the sun used to be!) as 'Auto' reduced the peak down to the same value (effectively giving that burned look, but one value under!)

Better to set the exposure to the highlights and work on increasing the dynamic range to capture those dark shadows! Surely?
Yes you have it in one Mark, my way would take all the enjoyment out and I still would not be happy with the results.
I get like this when my wife says "two hours and youv'e only printed one picture"

Many thanks for your comments
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Old 29-10-2007, 16:11   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

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I get like this when my wife says "two hours and youv'e only printed one picture"
Quality not Quantity!
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Old 29-10-2007, 16:28   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Only two hours per print?
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Old 29-10-2007, 16:37   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I doubt if most people would notice any difference between a high quality, low compression JPEG and a 16-bit TIFF - either on screen or printed out - so if what the camera produces as a JPEG is exactly what you want to see, there isn't much need to shoot in RAW.

However....

If you want/need to make tonal or colour adjustments, RAW is better because the tonal gradations are more closely spaced - generally 12-bit rather than 8-bit. What that means in practice is that you can stretch the tones - for example, to boost shadow levels - with less risk of causing posterisation or 'blocking' of the tones or colours.

So... You can afford to expose for the highlights - to avoid blowing them which is ever so easy to do - and then boost the mid-tones and shadows as necessary before saving as either a TIFF or a JPEG or whatever you like. To me, this is the main attraction of RAW because it helps in capturing a wider dynamic range than would be possible with an in-camera JPEG.
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Old 29-10-2007, 20:24   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Imagine my surprise when I clicked File, Open, selected a .cr2 file from Windows Explorer and taaaaddaaaaaaaaaaa - it appeared! In it's own window called "Camera Raw". Magic.

Next question...

When the image is displayed in 'Camera Raw' an exclamation mark in a yellow triangle appears in the top right of the image which disappears after a few seconds... and I have some blue pixels. What is the exclamation mark and what are the blue pixels? They are not there when I click open and the .cr2 file is displayed within Photoshop itself.

Obviously I am doing lots of random clicking on various buttons so there is no rhyme or reason to what I am doing - but the blue pixels and the exclamation mark are bothering me. I have tried to look through Help files but not sure what I am looking for.

Sorry for being so dense.

Last edited by Ali; 29-10-2007 at 20:46.
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Old 29-10-2007, 20:43   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

I'm guessing 'cos I don't use Photoshop, but I'm pretty sure they are a highlight/shadow exposure warning. You can probably turn it off by clicking on the yellow triangle. What it does is to make the overexposed bits a bright colour so you can see what is out of range. You can then adjust the exposure etc to correct this if you want.
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Old 29-10-2007, 20:48   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

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Magic.
LOL!

Silky was doing well with the meaning of the warning but fell at the final hurdle - blue pixel is shadows warning, red is highlights. Warns you of possible clipping/burning or under/overexposure. There are little boxy thingies top left, top right, on the histogram to turn them on/off
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Old 29-10-2007, 21:06   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

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There are little boxy thingies top left, top right, on the histogram to turn them on/off
Now this is the sort of language I understand
Boxy thingys located and dealt with.

Onwards and upwards...

Thank you all for your help and patience, I'm sure you must all want to scream 'put it back in it's box and take up knitting' but you are all too kind.
I'll try not to test the patience too far though
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Old 29-10-2007, 22:48   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

When you initially select a picture in the Bridge a low resolution version is shown. You will then see the yellow triangle as a warning. This disappears once the full resolution is available. You will not always see this. For example if you return to some files you have previously looked at all the thumbnails for that folder are available and Bridge can provide your selected picture in full resolution almost instantantaniously. However, if you are looking at one picture out of many in a folder that you have not previously looked at , your processor may take a few seconds to catch up.

I still strongly recommend that you either use Lynda.com or buy the Deke McClelland DVD tutorials which will take you through everything at your own speed.
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Old 30-10-2007, 15:57   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

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I still strongly recommend that you either use Lynda.com or buy the Deke McClelland DVD tutorials which will take you through everything at your own speed.
Thanks Dave, I'll certainly look into those
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:22   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

Just as follow on there is quite an indepth article here on RAW files

Raw -- Part I

As well as many other great photography articles
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Old 07-11-2007, 17:24   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Decided to bite the bullet - RAW

On Monday night I had to give a presentaion and demo on RAW to the Club's DI Group. In preparing for this I took a couple of shots of a flower. I normally only take RAW but on this occassion set my Camera to Raw+ High Qulaity JPEG. The low winter sun meant that the dynamic range was only about 7 stops so this would be comfortable for a JPEG file. I took one correctly exposed and another 2 stops overexposed. I did some minor tweeking in Adobe RAW and then sharpened in CS3 for the RAW file and just a tweek in levels for the JPEG.

I had not expected to see any difference but was surprised to find that the RAW image had better saturation, slightly sharper and had more shadow detail. The differences were small but the audience could see it even with a low resolution digital projector. For the 2 stops overexposed, the JPEG had burnt out areas with no way of recovery but setting the Raw converter exposure to -2 corrected this for the RAW file. One could not see any difference between the two RAW exposures.

Of course these were fairly ideal conditions but, had it been a sunny landscape shot near the middle of the day, the contrast range would have been around 11 stops. The RAW file can just handle this but the JPEG is really struggling. In order to avoid burn out you will have to sacrafice about 4 stops of shadow detail. Unfortunately you do not get something for nothing so, if you use RAW, you will have to do more work though, as some have suggested, you can take short cuts with auto adjustments and batch processing.
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