When you go through camera menu options, you might come across a number of different options that are related to the way your RAW images are saved. One of those options is typically the type of compression that is applied to RAW files. There are several reasons why camera manufacturers provide RAW file compression options, but the most basic one is to save space. Let’s take a look at file compression options and explore differences between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed RAW files in more detail.
Two recurring questions that we often see from photographers are: “I have color management properly set up on my computer; why is it that the color is different between an out-of-camera JPEG and, say, Lightroom (substitute with your favorite 3rd-party converter)?” and “Why is it that the particular color on a photo is different from the actual color?”. In this article, we will go over why color from images is reproduced differently on camera LCD screens and monitors, and the steps you can take to achieve more accurate colors.
As we already mentioned in the previous article “Where are my Mid-tones?“, most raw converters apply some hidden adjustments to a raw shot, often resulting in a bumped mid-tone, clipped highlights, and compressed shadows. This is done to make the shot look good, but can also lead to all sorts of confusion. If you are using or planning to use some raw converter, you may want to know what “beautifiers” it applies, and their price.
We’ve gotten several emails, the most recent and the best phrased one from a reader of Photography Life, with questions along the following lines:
What happened to my mid-tones? I set the exposure using exposure meter, opened the shot in Adobe Lr (or Adobe Camera Raw, or some other converter) … and the shot looks overexposed and everything from mid-tone and up looks very flat. If I shoot in RAW+JPEG, the JPEG looks OK, while the RAW is not. Should I expose lower?
We’ve decided that the reply to this question belongs here.
With Adobe Lightroom being the most popular post-processing tool on the market, one might wonder how good the software really is in processing RAW images. After-all, that’s what we use Lightroom primarily for – to post-process our images and get the best out of them. Having been using Lightroom since the early release versions (dating back to Lightroom 1), I have seen the software grow from a simple RAW editor to a pretty complex piece of software for both image management and powerful RAW processing. While there have been many great additions to Lightroom over time, Adobe certainly has had its share of rather disappointing problems, from typical bugs and stability issues to poor handling of RAW files. True, the software has gotten much more complex and with that complexity, it is surely expected to see potential bugs and issues. But one would hope that things would get better with each new release and bugs would eventually get taken care of. Sadly, the direction where Adobe is heading with Lightroom has just not been looking good. It appears that with every update, instead of getting proper fixes, all we are getting is additional bugs and new features that are not ready for prime time.
When testing cameras, it is not unusual to see a situation when one camera can produce results a bit darker or brighter than another. In some cases, lenses are to blame for this variance, since most lenses cannot ideally transmit all of the incoming light. What this means, is that a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 could potentially transmit less light, which could be equivalent to say f/3.5 in terms of brightness. The latter number is what is often referred to as a “T-stop”, or Transmission-stop, which is basically an adjusted f-stop that takes into account this light loss. In other cases, the camera itself can be the source of brightness variance. Although manufacturers are supposed to adhere to an ISO standard that guides the process of determining the right brightness level for each ISO, there is usually still some variance between not only brands, but also between specific camera models. We won’t get into the question of why there are such variances. Instead, we will concentrate on implications of such variances to camera sensor comparisons and ratings. Particularly, we will be looking at exposure variances in Fuji cameras, such as the Fuji X-T1. Many photographers, including myself, have been fond of the way Fuji sensors render images, outputting very clean and pleasant-looking images, even at high ISOs. But are those ISOs real? And is Fuji doing something shady to make its images look better? Let’s take a closer look…
What do you think is the possibility, when you are choosing and sorting images based on the JPEG previews, that you are going to discard the better-quality image, and keep the lesser-quality one? Let’s take a look at a typical “training” shot for a holiday – noon of a sunny day, blue Ionian sea, bright white limestone pebbles, bushes with dark-green, high-detail leaves (which lose all detail if the shot is underexposed), deep shadows under the bushes. These types of scenes typically have a very wide dynamic range. We will see later, however, that the real range of the shot we are examining is pretty much only 8 EV, if the exposure is technically correct.
No matter what software one uses for post-processing photographs, the process of selecting what images to keep and work on, also known as “culling”, can be quite painful when dealing with thousands of images. And this gets even more painful when working with RAW images, because operating systems usually have no built-in capabilities to view and properly render RAW files. Many photographers end up keeping all RAW images on their computers, because they do not want to go through the hassle of deleting bad images they will never use, only to realize overtime that their hard drives get filled up quickly and their post-processing time takes much longer. Those who try to cull images in Lightroom know that if a full size image preview is not generated at the time of import, it can take a long time to render each image. Sadly, Lightroom is quite weak at quickly previewing images, so working pros and enthusiasts usually end up complementing the culling part of their workflow with additional software like Photo Mechanic. At $150, however, Photo Mechanic costs as much as a retail version of Lightroom, becoming a cost barrier for many. Enter FastRawViewer, an amazingly fast and truly inexpensive RAW file viewer that has become my personal choice for culling images. It was developed by the same folks that created RawDigger – one of the best scientific tools for analyzing RAW images. In this review, I will take a closer look at FastRawViewer, go through some of its features and hopefully help you in simplifying both your workflow and your photo backup / storage needs.
If you have been waiting for Adobe to release full RAW support for the new Nikon D750 (see our detailed Nikon D750 review), for the new Canon 7D Mark II (see our first impressions preview), or for a number of other new cameras from Fuji, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung and Sony, you will be happy to know that Adobe has just delivered the final production version of Lightroom 5.7 and Camera RAW 8.7 that not only provide the RAW support, but also come with a huge list of newly supported lenses. Along with these updates, Adobe also delivered some updates to the Synced Collections in Lightroom, integrated a utility to import images from Apple Aperture and Apple iPhoto Libraries, enabled support for HiDPI displays in ACR 8.7 and provided a number of bug fixes for both Lightroom and ACR. For those who like to shoot tethered, both the Nikon D4s and the D810 are now fully supported. Another huge news is for Nikon D810 owners – the color profiles have now been finally fixed, so you will not see any banding issues when using Nikon camera profiles anymore!
With the introduction of the Nikon D4S and the D810, Nikon introduced the new sRAW format for saving images. While we have already explained the format in detail in our sRAW format explained article, there were many follow-up questions from our readers, some of whom asked us to provide some image samples from RAW, sRAW and JPEG formats to compare things like white balance recovery and highlight / shadow recovery. In this article, we will explore the sRAW format in detail and show sample images from both controlled lab and outdoor environments, demonstrating what sRAW is capable of delivering when compared to the regular RAW format.