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Photo Manipulation: Discuss A Question of Raw...I do most of my post-processing work in Serif PhotoPlus, including raw files. Thing is, I can use all the ...
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Old 13-03-2007, 00:37   #1 (permalink)
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A Question of Raw

I do most of my post-processing work in Serif PhotoPlus, including raw files. Thing is, I can use all the tools on raw images, as if I were working on a jpg. My question is: Does working this way on a raw file but in an all-purpose programme (i.e. not specialised in raw) still mean that the adjustments I do on the raw file are non-degrading to the image?? Does anyone know? It may seem like a silly question, but it's bugging me
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Old 13-03-2007, 02:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

I know there is a higher dynamic tone range for colors, as I know it is about 12 bit color depth. They say 16, but yahoo. Anywho, before you assign color depth and pixel amount, you use these colors to adjust for a smile. Then you assign your format and it opens in another window, leaving your original alone. It sounds like you need to work on a copy.
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Old 13-03-2007, 08:14   #3 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

I don't have an answer, Charlotte, but I can only suggest doing a side by side comparison - an original RAW next to an edited RAW.
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Old 13-03-2007, 08:28   #4 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Hmmm, degrading an image only comes with opening, saving, reopening a JPG (or other lossy format), so even if you could save the RAW as a RAW (which shouldn't be possible), the image won't be degraded (tho, arguably, if you made a mess of the pic and then saved that, it would be degraded!)
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Old 13-03-2007, 09:35   #5 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
My question is: Does working this way on a raw file but in an all-purpose programme (i.e. not specialised in raw) still mean that the adjustments I do on the raw file are non-degrading to the image??
As far as I know only Nikon Capture can preserve the original NEF data when makng modifications.

I personally save changes to a different file - therby preserving the original. For example. I use CS2. I open the NEF file, do my changes then save as a PSD.

In summary, as long as you save to a different file, you won't change the original.

hth
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Old 13-03-2007, 10:03   #6 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Thanks all for replies (+ Mark for your wit ). I know that raw files themselves are unaffected when you edit them, because the changes are stored in a separate nef.rws (raw settings) file, so that the raw file itself need never be altered (unless you vandalise it, of course). But if you work on a raw file then export to jpg, is the degradation less than if you'd done the alterations on a jpg file?
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Old 13-03-2007, 10:15   #7 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
But if you work on a raw file then export to jpg, is the degradation less than if you'd done the alterations on a jpg file?
Arguably, due to lossy format, re-opening a JPG, editing and then saving might introduce artefacts (unlike taxes and death it's not a certainty!). Working on a RAW and then saving might also mean that you include more detail.

Anything, such as a JPG, that is deliberately lossy is designed to lose something when saved! Just a question as to whether it was info/detail that was superfluous or vital (tho with the latter it'd probably be a fairly large compression for that to occur)
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Old 13-03-2007, 10:29   #8 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

tbh the last part of your job should be to export to jpg.

Think about sharpening... if you sharpen a jpg you can easily end up shapening the jpg artifacts.

I suppose the effects can be mitigated by working on the largest and best quality jpgs only - but easier, imo, just to work from the NEF itself.
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Old 13-03-2007, 11:16   #9 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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But if you work on a raw file then export to jpg, is the degradation less than if you'd done the alterations on a jpg file?
If you alter the tonal range in the overall picture or selectively you can optimise the tonal qualities of the Photo before converting to JPEG. In such cases the final image in JPEG will be much better than would have been possible if you had converted to JPEG straightaway and edited.
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Old 13-03-2007, 11:35   #10 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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tbh the last part of your job should be to export to jpg. ...
Yep. Here's the part of my question which relates to the software + file type : Does the software know it's working on a raw file, not a jpg? When I've edited a raw in PhotoPlus I don't see a nef.rws file indicating changes, like I do with Lightroom etc.. Also it asks me (on closing) if I want to save changes I always say no, but maybe should try 'yes' + see what happens! Maybe that would produce a nef.rws file.

Here's another question in this regard: When I've altered a raw file + thus produced a nef.rws file containing the changes, when I preview the raw file, am I seeing the original unprocessed raw, or am I seeing the edited one? I think that if the .neg.rws file got separated from the raw file then opening the raw file would show the unprocessed image, but if the 2 files remained together then when I open the image I see the work I did on it?

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... Think about sharpening... if you sharpen a jpg you can easily end up shapening the jpg artifacts. ...
Sharpening is a good example, because this is one manipulation that I find degrades a raw file as well as a jpg. Good point about sharpening jpg artifacts, which tips the scale in favour of sharpening the raw ... although I see a lot of advice in articles to do the sharpening on the jpg file, not the raw Many also advise not to sharpen in-camera I do it tho', with good results. I try to do as much in-camera to save time later, because I'm hopeless at editing + take so long + never happy with the result, hence I'm sitting with a LOAD of unprocessed image files still waiting to become presentable images

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... I suppose the effects can be mitigated by working on the largest and best quality jpgs only - but easier, imo, just to work from the NEF itself.
I always work on the raw file initially. However, sometimes I'll look at an exported jpg + decide it needs more work. The obvious solution to avoid working on the jpg would be to also save a copy in the native format, complete with layers + alterations, but they are large files, + this would mean having no less than 3 copies of each photo: raw, jpg + spp (or psd or whatever) clogging up the PC!

Sorry this is so long, + some of it is thinking aloud ... hoping someone can unscramble my brain LOL
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Old 13-03-2007, 11:36   #11 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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If you alter the tonal range in the overall picture or selectively you can optimise the tonal qualities of the Photo before converting to JPEG. In such cases the final image in JPEG will be much better than would have been possible if you had converted to JPEG straightaway and edited.
Thanks Dave, that helps
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Old 13-03-2007, 12:57   #12 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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Yep. Here's the part of my question which relates to the software + file type : Does the software know it's working on a raw file, not a jpg?
Sort of. Really the file format is just a way of storing the image on disk. When your software loads it, it takes all the information it requires from the file and organises it to it's own needs.

Whether that original file is a NEF or JPG doesn't really matter once it's loaded. It's just that the base NEF data is "better" than the base JPG data. This is just because of the compression in JPG which introduces information that may not have been in the original image.


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Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
When I've edited a raw in PhotoPlus I don't see a nef.rws file indicating changes, like I do with Lightroom etc.. Also it asks me (on closing) if I want to save changes I always say no, but maybe should try 'yes' + see what happens! Maybe that would produce a nef.rws file.
I don't actually know what those .rws files are. Are they large or small,compared to the original NEF?

They sound like they could either be the settings for loading the NEF file or they could be PhotoPlus's equivelant of Photoshop's PSD document files. I'm really not sure. The size would be an indication. e.g if they are the same or larger than your NEF then they will be PhotoPlus data files.

However before closing, try doing a "save as" instead of a plain "save" - That will give you an opportunity to save as a brand new file. From there u should be able to work out what's being saved and where. Also in the save as dialog, there should be a drop down list along the bottom. That'll give you the list of file types PhotoPlus can write to. I'll bet NEF isn't in there.

If that's the case then whatever you do to the image will not affect the original NEF file.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
Here's another question in this regard: When I've altered a raw file + thus produced a nef.rws file containing the changes, when I preview the raw file, am I seeing the original unprocessed raw, or am I seeing the edited one? I think that if the .neg.rws file got separated from the raw file then opening the raw file would show the unprocessed image, but if the 2 files remained together then when I open the image I see the work I did on it?
Kinda depends on what you are using as a viewer. If you're using PhotoPlus then it's possible, if it's something else that has no idea about the .RWS files then it's unlikely.

Can't give more info as I don't actually know what your doing to "preview" or in what software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
Sharpening is a good example, because this is one manipulation that I find degrades a raw file as well as a jpg. Good point about sharpening jpg artifacts, which tips the scale in favour of sharpening the raw ... although I see a lot of advice in articles to do the sharpening on the jpg file, not the raw
I can't imaging a possible reason for working with JPG if you have the original raw file.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
Many also advise not to sharpen in-camera I do it tho', with good results.
The only issue with in-camera processing is it's actually done to the RAW file so you can't undo it. That's my guess why some peeps say not to do it.



You're only editing a raw file if u open the raw, do your changes then save the raw. I'm not actually aware of anything that can write to the raw files themselves but I may be wrong in that.

Certainly in PS if I load a NEF, paint a blue line over it then try and save the NEF again, it won't let me. This is because PS can only READ raw files and not write to them.

At a guess PhotoPlus is the same and when you do your saves your actually creating a new file.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
I always work on the raw file initially. However, sometimes I'll look at an exported jpg + decide it needs more work. The obvious solution to avoid working on the jpg would be to also save a copy in the native format, complete with layers + alterations, but they are large files, + this would mean having no less than 3 copies of each photo: raw, jpg + spp (or psd or whatever) clogging up the PC!
This is exactly what I do. I have the original NEF, the PSD with the layers and my changes then the JPG which is exported from the PSD.

That way I can go back to any step in my workflow and redo or make slight changes to it.

Disk space is a complete non-issue for this sort of thing really. At around 50p a gig it's hardly worth bothering about.

It certainly won't cause speed issues or "clogging" of you PC by having truckloads of files on it. As long as your C: has 50% more space free than you have memory then you'll be fine.
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Old 13-03-2007, 16:00   #13 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Once an image is loaded into an editor, the source (RAW, NEF, JPG, TIF) is irrelevant - it's a graphic image being edited.

Luckily I have no choice on RAW as my camera only writes X3F RAW files (one of the reasons for getting it!). I then Auto process the X3F (to see what there is) to small JPGs, pick out the image to process to a TIF (and edit/re-edit to a final image for printing, often saving versions along the way), then resize, sharpen, convert to sRGB for web.

Sometimes sharpen and de-noise earlier in the workflow if the image suggests that to me - but that is rare (and usually is selectively applied)
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Old 13-03-2007, 16:12   #14 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Thanks for your help + advice on this, peel I'll mull it all over + it'll all make sense in the end, I'm sure
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Old 13-03-2007, 16:37   #15 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Thanks Mark Yes, I've only come across one photographer that routinely sharpens early on in his workflow, his reasoning being he wants to see detail clearly to know what other adjustments are really needed. Makes sense that sometimes sharpening early can actually cut down the need for other adjustments, thus saving time + also less degredation (from less manipulation). Will experiment with that approach + report back
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Old 13-03-2007, 16:41   #16 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

For what its worth, I use Capture NX and Lightroom to work on the NEF file then save to TIFF. Resizing etc etc is done to the TIFF and then finally saved as jpeg for web uploads, therefore, I have the NEF as the original, the TIFF as the modified and the jpeg as the final version.

If I then need to remod, I do this to the TIFF and save as version A, B or 1, 2 .......
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Old 13-03-2007, 18:24   #17 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Good point, mondeo - Tiff is good as it's lossless, but again, huge files. As OP says tho', you really need to go for large files + loads of storage space if you want the best of both worlds, i.e. quality images which you can manipulate time and again.
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Old 13-03-2007, 18:28   #18 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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Good point, mondeo - Tiff is good as it's lossless, but again, huge files. As OP says tho', you really need to go for large files + loads of storage space if you want the best of both worlds, i.e. quality images which you can manipulate time and again.
Yep storage is an issue but with the price of external HDD falling all the time, I bought my 320GB for £70ish after Christmas, this really isnt an issue, well, to me anyway
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Old 13-03-2007, 19:39   #19 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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Yep storage is an issue but with the price of external HDD falling all the time, I bought my 320GB for £70ish after Christmas, this really isnt an issue, well, to me anyway
It's not the only issue ... filing all images in triplicate is where it starts getting interesting
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Old 13-03-2007, 19:44   #20 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

too right, i do sometimes forget where I filed some images, but i think i have it sorted now. Just keep to a system
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Old 13-03-2007, 20:08   #21 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

go back a few steps,. there's some mis-understanding of what a raw file is,. RAW image format - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
A raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of a digital camera or image scanner. Raw files are so named because they are not yet processed and ready to be used with a bitmap graphics editor or printed.
the only camera settings which will change the raw file are to do with the exposure,. aperture / shutter / iso (plus certain types of noise reduction) etc,.

all the other settings - e.g. sharpening / white balance etc settings on the camera are not part of the data in the raw file - well they are saved as a kind of preference or hint to certain raw editors but they do not change the raw data in any real way (sensor image data is not changed)

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Old 13-03-2007, 21:16   #22 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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all the other settings - e.g. sharpening / white balance etc settings on the camera are not part of the data in the raw file - well they are saved as a kind of preference or hint to certain raw editors but they do not change the raw data in any real way (sensor image data is not changed)

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Indeed. And to add even more confusion, some software will use the camera image optimisation settings while others won't.

For example, Adobe Camera Raw completly ignores my D50 image optimisation settings but the Nikon plugin for Photoshop insists that you use them.
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Old 13-03-2007, 21:40   #23 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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............. all the other settings - e.g. sharpening / white balance etc settings on the camera are not part of the data in the raw file - well they are saved as a kind of preference or hint to certain raw editors but they do not change the raw data in any real way (sensor image data is not changed)
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Er, mine does! Note that I always shoot in raw. Was taking some shots today outside. Took the first one, looked on the monitor only to see a blue image. It looked rather nice actually, but point being I'd forgotten to change the WB setting from the pre-set I use in my kitchen under fleurescent lighting.

Also sharpening, the "vivid", "sharper", "softer" etc. presets all take effect on my raw files.

If this is not meant to be, then I cannot explain it, but I know it to be true. OP you have the same cam as me, please test what I have said here. If you get different results, then my particular camera has a mind of its own

As for software, times have changed since the Wikipedia article was written (it's quite old + advocates Pixmantec Raw Shooter Essentials, which ceased to be last year). More software programmes are able to edit raw as well as jpg files, e.g. Serif PhotoPlus (+ PS CS2 I believe) + various plugins. The software developers have, well, developed their software to support raw files, since more + more photographers are shooting raw.

Please correct me if I'm somehow wrong here
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Old 13-03-2007, 21:53   #24 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

PS CS2 won't alter RAW files (just as any self-respecting graphics editor won't!) but many editors will read RAW files and open them for subsequent editing.

Was my understanding that RAW files were never altered but that additional info could be held alongside (relating to WB, sharpening, Profiles, etc) - hence the fuss with manufacturers not releasing the file specs for their RAW files

Most cameras/systems display the image as seen including the alterable extra info, so you don't actually get to see the native RAW image (usually the thumbnail embedded in the RAW file)
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Old 13-03-2007, 22:11   #25 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

Yes Mark, I already mentioned earlier in the thread that editing a raw image doesn't change the raw file itself, but adds the changes into a separate file, in my case a .nef.rws (raw settings) file Whether the changes are made to the actual file (as with jpeg) or are placed in a separate file (as with raw) is not really the issue The Wikipedia article here implies that ordinary graphics software can't edit raw images. That's no longer true. Perhaps the confusion here is between the words "image" and "file"? With raw, you alter the image, but the original file remains unchanged, because the changes are placed in a separate file, so that you can always go back to the original capture (raw) file + start from scratch. That's the beauty of raw. The question here relates to the capability of ordinary graphics software to edit a raw image. Yes, they can.
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Old 14-03-2007, 09:50   #26 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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Er, mine does! Note that I always shoot in raw. Was taking some shots today outside. Took the first one, looked on the monitor only to see a blue image. It looked rather nice actually, but point being I'd forgotten to change the WB setting from the pre-set I use in my kitchen under fleurescent lighting.

Also sharpening, the "vivid", "sharper", "softer" etc. presets all take effect on my raw files.
the camera settings are saved in the raw file - but they do not change the actual sensor data,. they are saved as a hint to the raw editor but can always be undone or changed

your camera had WB preset so when you opened the image on the computer the WB preset made the image have a blue cast but you can change the WB of the raw file because the WB is just a hint - the sensor image data is not changed.

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Old 14-03-2007, 10:33   #27 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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the camera settings are saved in the raw file - but they do not change the actual sensor data,. they are saved as a hint to the raw editor but can always be undone or changed

your camera had WB preset so when you opened the image on the computer the WB preset made the image have a blue cast but you can change the WB of the raw file because the WB is just a hint - the sensor image data is not changed.

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I'm talking about my camera monitor, I hadn't downloaded it to PC yet
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Old 14-03-2007, 10:40   #28 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

yeah - the principle is the same though,. so for camera settings for sharpness do not change the raw image data,. you can always remove the sharpening or add sharpening to the raw file regardless of what setting you might have used on the camera when shooting raw

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Old 14-03-2007, 10:45   #29 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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If this is not meant to be, then I cannot explain it, but I know it to be true. OP you have the same cam as me, please test what I have said here. If you get different results, then my particular camera has a mind of its own
It's not your camera It's your software. When you load the NEF a dialog must come up that asks you about your loading preferences - white balance, exposure etc.

I did do a test with the image optimisation on and off. Same subject, same angle.

With photoshop you have the choice of how you load the NEF file. You can use the Nikon plugin supplied on the CD that came with the camera or you can use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

The Nikon plugin uses the in camera image optimisation settings. It doesn't give you a choice not to use them. It does let you change white balance and EV though.

With ACR it doesn't use the in camera image optimisation settings. Nor does it give you an option to use them. Like the Nikon plugin it does let you change white balance and EV.

ACR, despite not using the in camera image optimisation settings actually gives a hell of a lot more control than the Nikon plugin plus maintains EXIF information so that's why I prefer it over the Nikon plugin.




For you to test if your software uses the in camera image optimisation settings you will need to take two identical shots. One with your chosen settings on and one with them off. If both images are the same in PhotoPlus then it ignores the in camera image optimisation settings. If they are different then it reads them.

If you've got neither the time nor the inclination to take the two photies then here's two I did for the test

Index of /pixalo/nef

_DSC1245.NEF is with in camera image optimisation settings
DSC_1246.NEF is without.
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Old 14-03-2007, 10:52   #30 (permalink)
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Re: A Question of Raw

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the camera settings are saved in the raw file - but they do not change the actual sensor data,. they are saved as a hint to the raw editor but can always be undone or changed .........
Gotcha
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