Clarity before or after RAW conversion?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by TheStupidForeigner, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. TheStupidForeigner

    TheStupidForeigner TPF Noob!

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    I know it is much better to make tonal changes before converting from raw to tif, but what about clarity? And also other things like contrast, saturation and sharpening? Which of these are totally fine to do after I've cleaned up my image in photoshop?


     
  2. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    We want to do as much editing in our Raw converter (Adobe Camera Raw in both Photoshop and LR) as possible before moving to Photoshop.
    Photoshop now also has a Camera Raw filter we can apply to a layer in Photoshop.
    Note that in ACR the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation sliders are grouped in a section known as the Presence section of the ACR basic panel.
    The Clarity slider in ACR (Camera Raw & LR) changes the mid tone contrast.

    Whenever possible we want to do edits that don't actually alter any pixels (non-destructive edits) and we want to edit at as high a color bit depth as possible.

    ACR (Camera Raw & LR) is a parametric editor that uses XML line commands to adjust the algorithms used to convert the Raw file so that pixels don't have to be altered. Photoshop Adjustment layers are also non-destructive.

    If you don't already have ACR configured to do 16-bit depth edits I highly recommend you do so.
    We also want to do edits using the broadest color space we can use.
    In ACR & Photoshop that would be ProPhoto RGB.
    Unlike Photoshop and Camera Raw, Lightroom does not allow changing the Develop module editing color space.
    Note however that LR uses a color space very similar to ProPhoto RGB known as Melissa RGB.

    Not all of the tools in Photoshop are 16-bit capable.
    So it is best to start with Photoshop set to both ProPhoto RGB and a 16-bit color depth, do those edits we want to do using 16-bit depth tools, and then changing the bit depth to 8-bits to finish up using the 8-bit depth only tools.
    Once we are done editing then we can set the the file to a bit-depth and color space appropriate for the image usage.
    For web display we want to set the sRGB color space and 8-bits for the color depth.
    Some (but not all) print labs can print from the Adobe RGB color space but AFAIK all print labs want files to have an 8-bit color depth.

    Also, most labs want to print from JPEG files because they are way smaller than TIFF files. Humans can't see a difference between a print made from a JPEG file and the same image printed from a TIFF file. TIFF files unnecessarily eat up a print lab's storage space.
     
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  3. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It doesn't matter and/or you can't do any of those things to a raw file anyway until it's been converted into an RGB (essentially a TIFF) file. So even when you're working in your raw conversion software those procedures are only applicable to the image after raw file conversion has taken place. In other words you already are editing a TIFF file.

    Before you can tone adjust, color adjust, contrast adjust, etc. etc. with the possible exception of WB and sharpening in some specific cases, your raw file must be demosiaced. Prior to demosaicing you can't do anything to a raw file. After demosaicing it's no longer a raw file. Some, but not Adobe, raw converters permit user parameter input to the demosaicing algorithm that for example effect the sharpening of an image.

    What matters if you move between applications is that you can't back up to a point prior to the move. For example you're in LightRoom working on a photo. Before you're even shown the photo in the develop module LR demosaices the raw file. You get shown an RGB photo. As Keith noted that should be a 16 bit RGB file in the Pro-Photo color space. If you decide for example to apply Clarity in LR but save any sharpening for later because you have Helicon Filter and it sharpens so much better than LR that's fine. There's no loss for sharpening later in a different application. However sharpening and Clarity tend to interact and once you're in Helicon Filter you can't undo the Clarity you did in LR -- you can't step back between apps except to start over.

    As Keith noted, do all editing in the highest bit depth and largest color space available. When all editing is finished convert bit depth and color space as needed.

    Joe
     
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