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Author Topic: Nikon NEF vs. JPEG and Histograms  (Read 26875 times)
Eljae
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« on: September 03, 2009, 03:55:25 AM »

I am hoping that there are some Nikon users here that wouldn't mind talking about the RAW performance of their camera.

An issue I have: I shoot RAW+Jpeg small.  I have several options for the camera LCD histogram display, but using Capture NX2 to import my CF cards reveals that the histogram appears to match the jpeg image but not the RAW file.  This can be misleading, and will lead into more post processing time. I only use the jpegs for a quick display, and then I toss them. Has anyone else noticed this?

My time consuming work around is to import the NEFs with Lightroom>crop>adjust white balance>adjust exposure>add contrast.  Then import the adjusted files into NX2 and apply a "Picture Control" and then save as TIFFs.

Over the next few weeks I'll shoot about 10,000 frames.  Any suggestions on how to speed this up?
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Eljae
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2009, 05:02:32 AM »

This one is an older Digital Outback Photo article (that also talks about Qimage).

http://www.outbackphoto.com/workshop/NEF_conversion/nefconversion.html
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Terry-M
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2009, 08:18:11 AM »

Quote
the histogram appears to match the jpeg image but not the RAW file
I think this is usual on most cameras. It seems as though the firmware relies on the in-camera jpeg processing to use for the histogram. I read something about this a few months ago (sorry can't find it now) which said that when shooting in raw, there is "scope" beyond the histogram and highlight warnings that the camera displays. Problem is, how do you judge that "scope"?

Quote
I shoot RAW+Jpeg small
Are you aware that even if you shoot raw only, there is still an embedded jpeg in the raw file? With NEF's it's a full size jpeg, other formats (CR2) may only have a half size jpeg. Qimage SE can extract these.

Quote
Any suggestions on how to speed this up?
Well, I've got to say it  Roll Eyes Qimage SE does a very speedy job of processing raw files, smart processing with simple user refinement controls. Have you tried it?
Terry.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 08:20:53 AM by Terry-M » Logged
Eljae
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2009, 12:35:28 PM »

Quote
I think this is usual on most cameras. It seems as though the firmware relies on the in-camera jpeg processing to use for the histogram. I read something about this a few months ago (sorry can't find it now) which said that when shooting in raw, there is "scope" beyond the histogram and highlight warnings that the camera displays. Problem is, how do you judge that "scope"?
I know, and the changing conditions I work in make it difficult to predict what the optimal RAW exposure is.  My other issue is low light and no flash under mixed lighting, it is always a struggle.

Quote
Are you aware that even if you shoot raw only, there is still an embedded jpeg in the raw file? With NEF's it's a full size jpeg, other formats (CR2) may only have a half size jpeg. Qimage SE can extract these.
I am, but I am unsure if I could extract it for my use, as well as what post processing settings the camera applies.  I use the jpeg small format because it loads fast and has been post processed to my specifications by my in camera settings. I use them to create a high quality slide show for my clients in a very limited amount of time, like maybe within 15 minutes at most.  Do you think SE can do this?

Quote
Well, I've got to say it   Qimage SE does a very speedy job of processing raw files, smart processing with simple user refinement controls. Have you tried it?
Terry.
No, I am a new SE user, but I would like very much to.  Do you have any hints for me on getting started in that direction?

Thanks Terry,

Eljae

« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 12:38:36 PM by Eljae » Logged
Eljae
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2009, 01:12:29 PM »

And then there is my other task, printing high quality 4x6 and 5x7 proofs.  I am very interested in optimizing my RAW exposures to use the Qimage printing from the NEF feature.  I have only read the Guide authored by T J Mann, I haven't tried it yet, but that is for another topic.  The relation however is getting that optimal exposure for the RAW file with only a jpeg histogram to guide you.

I'm stating optimal exposure because currently I only use the histogram as a guide.  Sort of like, do I have nice thick parts that are rich in information in the areas I need it; like the mid ranges where the skin tones are, or exposed a little to the right in a low light situation.

As you all know by now, I am not technically advanced on why something does what it does, but I'm ok with the practical applications and getting the final image look that I need.  I have been reading some crazy advanced stuff lately, I do not fully understand it, but what I got out of it was interesting if I interpreted it correctly.

It appeared to suggest that by using the RGB histogram display and manipulating the camera program so the LCD would have the green channel the hottest, the RAW file would contain the most dynamic amount of information and represent a more true RAW histogram.  

Anyway, I know there are many of you that are technically advanced, so I would like to post this link and see what you all think of it.
http://www.malch.com/nikon/UniWB.html
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 01:22:21 PM by Eljae » Logged
Seth
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2009, 02:15:14 PM »

Eljae-

First off, I think you are working too hard.  Nikon gave Capture with the D300's so I just KNEW there was an upgrade in the wings.  Sure enough Capture2.  Personally, I think NX and Lightroom are both cumbersome. I have both.  If you must use one, I'd pick it and uninstall the other.  (This Nikon Adobe, Nikon sRGB, etc. is BS)

I understand NEF+JPG in a PJ work flow.  Unembedding JPGs--regardless of software--is slower.  My workflow (when I am not handing off to an editor at an event) is downloading with Downloader Pro which embeds preset general IPTC into the file.  The JPGs are just for an edit to "Selects" or "Working" folder.  I do that in Breezebrowser--faster, autorotates, bigger screen image that you can page through.    (Breezebrowser will DL without DLPro. And, will batch add IPTC.)

RAW is raw.  So is the Histo.  There's about a 1/2 stop more on the high side--at least.  If you're in a tough contrast situation you should have D-lighting on, even if minimally.  If you're judging by the LCD on the back, turn off the Histo and look at the image (except for low light).  Turn ON the brightness warning.  You know, that thing that flashes blown out highlights in the preview.  Guess what? It's not accurate.  Usually  it flashes before you've hit blow out, so you're safe.

Low/mixed light.  Keep the box on CH and bang three.  Sandisk Extreme IV cards will keep you rolling.  Do a .7 bracket if you must and run the WB on Auto.  (I still--read that, "especially"--carry a digital light meter in my kit.)  If you have one stock light source (stadium) point at it and grab the WB.  For things like bands, plays, etc. go to Incan and let the stage colors work.  PS can bring them back

You, and others, can laugh but the BEST for 4x6 proof printing is the Epson PictureMate.  The originals (not the 200 series Epson scam) are going for $20-30 on EBay.  I bought five under $30.  Paper/ink for 100 is $27 but the ink really gives 130-150.  Two ink carts and 250 sheets are $53 in the store and about $38-43 on Ebay.  Heck, they are open display rated at 47 years and album at 100.  QI adds that touch of sharpen when I print them.

Since you have SE, you should get Mike's profiles for the Nikons.  They jut sit there and jump in based on the EXIF data.  I have D200, D300 and D3 installed.

BTW- If you are banging 10K frames it sounds like something that's a "quick-and-dirty."  Why NEFs (unless you're doing National G or SI)?  A 10MB or 12MB JPG Fine--with Compression set to Quality, not Size--is a helluva file these days. 

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Seth
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2009, 02:20:42 PM »

Oh, yeh.  Forget that UniWB thing!  What a bunch of extra work for nothing.  I almost laughed my butt off!
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Seth
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2009, 03:45:21 PM »

Hi
This isn't just a Nikon thing, I've noticed the same type of shift on my Canon 40D when I've been shooting black and white negatives. I don't think it will make a noticeable or significant difference - the raw file was about 1/3 stop lighter when I checked one of my  photos in Lightroom.

Brian
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Seth
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 08:44:17 PM »

Hi Brian-

The RAW should have more dynamic range than the resulting JPG, at least theoretically.  The JPG compression can take its toll.

That said, Bruce Fraser, shortly before he died, was taking this on and showing that jpegs have more info in them than originally believed.  When the new ACR came out in CS3 (?) allowing it to grab JPGs, the Recovery was saving some highlights previously thought lost.  Speculars are gone immediately.

Of course, Nikon, Canon, Sony and Olympus share some of the credit as they reduced blooming since the old days of D1/2 and the Canon Mark xxx.

Although I have never DL'd a card, put it back in the box and tried to compare Histograms against LR, PS or QI, I am guessing the cameras are not as accurate.  At the least tey are harder to eval in that 2.5-3" they give us.  The most I look for in the box is whether I am crunching either end or just bumping it.

(BTW- When I say Nikon I mean Canon too.  Outside of the lens mounts, button locations, etc. they're the same.  I even use Canon straps!!  Oh, yeh, YOU GUYS focus backwards.)
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Seth
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Eljae
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2009, 11:21:37 PM »

Quote
This isn't just a Nikon thing, I've noticed the same type of shift on my Canon 40D when I've been shooting black and white negatives. I don't think it will make a noticeable or significant difference - the raw file was about 1/3 stop lighter when I checked one of my  photos in Lightroom.

Brian,

Another one of our photographers here uses a 5D and 40D, both display the CR2 image in Lightroom as you described, which is similar to the Nikon as you said.  Something that I have noticed is that he uses AutoSync/Auto Tone as a first step batch process, and his images (and histogram) balances out nice more often than not.  Not all that they need, but it's his first step before his culling process.  My Nikons appear to respond better to manual adjustments.

Since you use Lightroom I thought I would ask, do you need to make individual adjustments on an image by image basis, or can you batch process your CR2 images in Lightroom?

Thank you for your post.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 11:24:42 PM by Eljae » Logged
Eljae
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2009, 11:30:49 PM »

thanks Seth.
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BrianPrice
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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2009, 08:50:30 AM »


Since you use Lightroom I thought I would ask, do you need to make individual adjustments on an image by image basis, or can you batch process your CR2 images in Lightroom?


Hi ElJae

The simple answer is it depends on the images  Cheesy. I work for a photographers and get all sorts of stuff thrown at me. Shots in controlled situations like studio shots and umbrella flash work can be corrected in batches, hand flash stuff needs more individual work. I've never found any 'auto' process that works.
For our weddings I go through them first quickly, usually in library, then export them as proofs. The photographers then edit these, and I crop and correct these further for the client proofs, then the final album selection is worked on in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Brian

ps I've tried to imagine Seth focussing backwards but failed  Grin Grin
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Eljae
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« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2009, 12:44:41 PM »

Thanks for the response Brian.  The photographer stated that this process is just a baseline for him, but quite often he is lucky and it is all that is needed for a proof.  He too adjusts image by image in the final picks.

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jaquilinebert001
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2019, 01:32:04 PM »

This isn't only a Nikon thing, I've seen a similar kind of move on my Canon 60D when I've been shooting high contrast negatives. I don't figure it will have a perceptible or noteworthy effect - the crude document was around 1/2 stop lighter when I checked one of my photographs in Lightroom.
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