On any photographic forum, it doesn’t take much effort to find old or new discussions on how to set the “proper” exposure while shooting, and even what exactly “proper exposure” is. The question of setting exposure was and is one of the most commonly-discussed topics on forums and blogs. Newbies (and not) bring it up again and again and receive all sorts of explanations – long and short, deeply “scientific” and completely “practical”, starting with advice to use the in-camera histogram, “zebras”, manual exposure mode, corrections and compensation, special camera modes to increase the dynamic range and increase the reliability of the histogram and other overexposure indicators, a separate exposure meter, Adams’s exposure formula, metering the incident light, spot measurement, a grey card, the back of one’s hand, green grass, an ExpoDisk, the sunny 16 rule, Magic Cube, etc., etc.
Suppose you have read somewhere that the dynamic range of your camera at a certain ISO setting is 11 stops. And here comes the immediate question – how can one use such a treasure to its full potential? Optimal exposure for RAW is the answer. But now we need to explain what we mean when we say, “optimal exposure for RAW”. Let’s start with one of the problems, which arises as a result of non-optimal exposure for RAW. Here is a typical wide dynamic range low-light scene. According to Sekonic spot-meter, it is wider than 11 stops:
Iliah Borg and his team at LibRAW have been working hard on a major update to my favorite image culling software FastRawViewer (FRV). Today, the team released the final 1.3 version of the software and this time the updates are truly exciting! Now FRV sports an awesome grid mode, so that you can quickly go over your images just like you can in Lightroom. In grid mode, you can perform all kinds of file management functions such as copy/move (including move to “Rejected” folder) and image functions such as changing file orientation, setting labels and ratings (you can even set ratings and labels on multiple images at once!). Once you pick an image for viewing, you can double click on it to switch to image view and perform all the functions like zoom in to 1:1 view. There are many new features such as focus peaking, highlights inspection mode and sharpening for display, along with performance improvements and other changes to the core software. Overall, this is a huge update for everyone who has purchased FRV and if you have not tried it already, it is about time for you to take a closer look at FRV!
Our good friends at LibRaw let me know today that they have a special sale for Photography Life readers – until March 15 of 2016, they are giving us a PL exclusive 25% off discount for both FastRawViewer and RawDigger software. The discount applies to all editions of the software and you can download both PC and Mac versions (32-bit or 64-bit). To get this discount, use the coupon code LIBR-GERP-PHLF at checkout. Please note that Photography Life is not in any way affiliated with LibRaw – we do not receive any proceedings from potential sales. I personally do actively promote FastRawViwer to our readers, because the software saves me hours of work and is now an integral part of my workflow.
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.
Just wanted to let our readers know, that our favorite RAW viewer and RAW image culling software is currently on 25% sale as part of the Labor Day sale. FastRawViewer, which we have previously reviewed in detail is the fastest RAW viewer software available and it keeps getting better and better (both PC and Mac compatible). Ever since I mentioned lack of being able to see thumbnail previews of images, folks at LibRaw, LLC added that feature into the software pretty much right away! Now I can navigate through folders with ease and have a quick preview of images before I click on them, which saves even more time during the image culling process:
You may find this article to be useful in a practical way, not just as an isolated case of RAW data damage. Often, just a casual look into raw data provides arguments allowing one to persuade technical support that there is a problem with your camera body that needs to be addressed. The case started with this post at DPReview:
As many of our readers already know, I love FastRawViewer and I have now made it my default software for culling images before importing them into Lightroom. This not only saves me a lot of time and space, but also streamlines the import process and only leaves images that I want to work on. I have already written a detailed review of FastRawViewer, but since publishing the review, the developers of the software have already addressed all of my personal requests in version 1.1, most notably a proper folder view where I can click on different folders and see thumbnails of RAW files that I am about to view. In addition, OpenGL and DirectX support have also been added, so the software can now properly take advantage of GPU acceleration, which is great! On top of all this, I have just been notified that FastRawViewer is currently on sale for $14.99 (regular price is $19.99), which is a great price for this killer software. After upgrading today and running through a number of images from my recent trip to California, I am happy to say that it seems rock solid and very fast – something I have previously praised a number of times before.
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.