Raw Workflow question

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ismael, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. ismael

    ismael TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I usually work on JPEGs but I am getting more and more into raw, especially for portraits.
    My version of Photoshop is very old, but for the simple functions I do it works just fine. I'd rather spend money on gear than on a newer version.
    This older version does not support Pentax raw file .PEF I use the camera software to convert it to 16 bit TIFF (huge files) so I process in PS and eventually store in Max quality JPEG for printing, web publishing or whatever.
    I think that if I convert the files from PEF to JPEG for processing is the same as taking them in jpeg in the first place and avoiding all the extra steps.
    Does this sounds right? Anything I could be doing differently? Any other suggestion?

    Thanks,
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    RAW are 16-bit full info files. The moment you convert to JPG, you lose a ton of data forever unrecoverably and cannot do as much as you can with the full resolution files, nor can you go back. This becomes especially apparent on things like trying to recover a lightly blown out area of the file or when trying to recover as much detail in the shadows as possible.

    For everything that I shoot, I shoot only RAW files, process them and the absolute LAST step I do is convert to JPG. This does make a positive difference in the final quality of my pics.

    That said, in portraiture you use artificial lighting to create very specific effects and have 100% complete control of the situation. There is no other situation where I could see LEAST needing the controlled detail of shooting RAW, except for the ease with which to control the white balance.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Not the same at all.

    The main advantage of shooting in RAW mode...is that you get to do the conversion step yourself. In this step, you can adjust the WB along with several other settings.
    When you shoot in JPEG, the camera takes the in-camera settings and process the file, locking those adjustments into the image. You can still edit in Photoshop but there is a lot of flexibility to be gained by converting the RAW file yourself.

    As for 16 bit vs 8 bit. Yes, 16 bit is better...but it may be something that you don't really need and it does increase the file size.
     
  4. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    Exactly. Completely switch over to RAW and only convert at the very last step in order to get full control.
     
  5. Moon Baby

    Moon Baby TPF Noob!

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    Always convert last, main advantage of raw files are greater tonal range and image data. If you convert before hand and realize you screwed up your white balance or exposure and adjust according to that, you'll see a lot more build up in noise and it's just a hassle to begin with.
     
  6. ismael

    ismael TPF Noob!

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    Thanks all.
    Is there any degradation or loss when I convert from .PEF to 16 bit tiff for processing?

    Thanks,
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There should be no loss when converting from one to the other...but when you convert, you are 'locking in' the adjustable settings available in the RAW software. Ideally, your work flow should be that you adjust the image with the RAW software to get it as close as you can, to how you want it...so that you don't have to do drastic adjustments in Photoshop.

    You might also consider software like Lightroom. It works in a completely different way. It catalogs the images you input, then any adjustments or edits that you make, are recorded as separate files. This means that the workflow is completely non-destructive. You can make all sorts of edits, back and forth and it never degrades the image. The settings are only 'applied' to the image when you output...and the original file remains unaltered.
     
  8. gravity0

    gravity0 TPF Noob!

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    So when shooting you just set for the arbitrary WB in the camera setting? Using a baseline to fix later? So I bought the Expo Disc for nothing? :banghead:

    Also how does one go about fixing their WB in say CS3? How do you know when you have the correct WB? This hobby is so confusing at times.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Not necessarily. Some people prefer to get an accurate WB while shooting, which is where the Expo disc comes in.

    What I do, is almost always shoot in AWB. Then when I open the RAW files, I use the eye dropper tool and click on something white or just something that is neutral toned...that sets the WB. Then, I copy that setting to all the shots that were taken int the same light. I could even shoot a white card or grey card first and use that to get my WB setting that is copied to all images. Still, if I feel a shot could use an adjustment, I'll just change it.
     
  10. gravity0

    gravity0 TPF Noob!

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    That makes sense. I'm still getting used to everything so I haven't had much time in the post processing, but I plan to soon.

    Thanks again Mike
     
  11. joshhuntnm

    joshhuntnm TPF Noob!

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    I went to shooting all RAW about a year ago and I would NEVER go back. Once you get the hang of it, it is incredible. I use lightroom for all non-destructive editing. meaning, you can go back to exactly where you started with no loss of quality. The file is not changed AT ALL, just the filter though which thefile is viewed.

    I convert everying to DNG but that is another discussion.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    If you shoot Nikon they are 12 bit files and they are not full info because .NEF is a lossy compressed file format.

    ".....The camera has a 12-bit analog to digital converter (ADC) that digitizes the analog signal coming out of the image sensor. In theory a 12-bit sensor should yield up to 212 = 4096 possible values, but the RAW conversion reduces these 4096 values into 683 by applying a quantization curve. These 683 values are then encoded using a variable number of bits (1 to 10) with a tree structure similar to the lossless Huffmann or Lempel-Ziv compression schemes used by programs like ZIP.
    The decoding curve is embedded in the NEF file.
    The quantization discards information by converting 12 bits' worth of data into into log2(683) = 9.4 bits' worth of resolution. The dynamic range is unchanged....."

    Canon's newer cameras Raw files (.CR2) are now 14 bit. I shoot Nilkon so I don't know about their file format.

    Actually, there is no such thing as a RAW file format. That just describes all the formats that come out of each makers ADCs.
     

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