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Author Topic: Qimage Ultimate RAW Development Workflow  (Read 17711 times)
Ron AKA
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« on: June 19, 2014, 04:13:10 PM »

I was wondering if those using Qimage Ultimate to develop their RAW images would be willing to share their basic workflow steps. I am currently using PSE 11 (Adobe Camera RAW 7.4) to develop and then Qimage to print. I would like to give Qimage Ultimate a try to see if I can do everything in Qimage, except perhaps by exception some of the more complex editing in PSE Editor. Here are my current basic steps, and I would be really interested in knowing how something similar can be done in Qimage.

ACR Steps:
1. Open and use the level tool to level the horizon, and do a basic crop.
2. Check White Balance, and often choose a preset like Daylight, Cloudy, or As Shot. Fine tune with tint or temp.
3. I use the Adobe Standard profile and do not use the Auto setting.
4. Set the Exposure in following order; Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, & Blacks.
5. Next adjust Clarity and Vibrance. Typically add no Saturation.
6. Adjust Noise Reduction staring with Color and then Luminance.
7. Adjust development stage sharpening for display on monitor. I particularly like the ability to use the Alt key to display in grayscale and visualize the actual sharpening.
8. Perhaps return to noise reduction if the sharpening exposed some of it. However that can usually be prevented with Masking.
9. Open Image in Editor

Editor Steps:
1. Convert to 8 bit mode.
2. Use Filter, Distortion correction to adjust perspective distortion if necessary. ACR automatically corrects lens barrel distortion.
3. Use Layers to do more complex selective editing such as teeth whitening, complexion smoothing, eye sharpening,...
4. Crop to print size with resolution box blank (to avoid resampling).
5. Save as highest quality sRGB JPEG.

Qimage Steps:
1. Open and confirm Print Quality selections etc.
2. Accept Qimage default resolution for printing (720 for my R3000) and set interpolation as Vector (like it better than Fusion).
3. Accept default print sharpening (5)
4. Print

That is basically it. I try to do as much of the color adjustment as possible in the ACR 16 bit color space to avoid posterization from editing color in the 8 bit Editor space.

So anything you can provide to guide me as to what the equivalent would be in Qimage, or just your personal workflow would be helpful. I would really like to give Qimage a shot at doing the whole thing, rather than just printing. I've watched all the videos I could find, but didn't really find one on workflow, just use of specific tools.

Ron
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Terry-M
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 08:40:47 PM »

Hi Ron,
I was wondering if those using Qimage Ultimate to develop their RAW images would be willing to share their basic workflow steps.
You could make a start with the Learning videos:
http://www.youtube.com/embed/JBQPJw-ana8
http://www.youtube.com/embed/JBQPJw-ana8
http://www.youtube.com/embed/qjkASfTzfFA
Have a look at those  and ask any questions you may have.
The main features of  QU raw processing is:
a) it's smart in that exposure fill etc is done automatically by QU adjusting for each image INDIVIDUALLY.
User adjustments can be made noting that ....
b) there are a minimum of sliders to fiddle and be confused with.
c) exposure adjustments are made by clicking any one of the 9 rectangles in the raw refine screen or more recently, drawing your own rectangle over an area that you want to use to control the balance of the image.
d) Additional highlight recovery, if required, can be made with the HDR slider.

My workflow for raw is:
1. Copy & re-name the raw images from the flash card using QU Flash Card Copy-Move feature.
2. Open the folder of raw images
3. Wait to let the raw cache be built
4. Open raw refine for the images I want to check, either as a batch by selecting a set of thumbs or place them in the queue.
5. Check & Adjust white balance.
6. Make any adjustments as described in c) and d) above.
7. Close refine screen and open the image editor to do any additional sharpening or other "conventional" adjustments.
8. Print from the raw image and/or convert the image for web or email use.

Terry





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Ron AKA
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2014, 02:45:57 AM »

Hi Ron,
I was wondering if those using Qimage Ultimate to develop their RAW images would be willing to share their basic workflow steps.
You could make a start with the Learning videos:
http://www.youtube.com/embed/JBQPJw-ana8
http://www.youtube.com/embed/JBQPJw-ana8
http://www.youtube.com/embed/qjkASfTzfFA
Have a look at those  and ask any questions you may have.
The main features of  QU raw processing is:
a) it's smart in that exposure fill etc is done automatically by QU adjusting for each image INDIVIDUALLY.
User adjustments can be made noting that ....
b) there are a minimum of sliders to fiddle and be confused with.
c) exposure adjustments are made by clicking any one of the 9 rectangles in the raw refine screen or more recently, drawing your own rectangle over an area that you want to use to control the balance of the image.
d) Additional highlight recovery, if required, can be made with the HDR slider.

My workflow for raw is:
1. Copy & re-name the raw images from the flash card using QU Flash Card Copy-Move feature.
2. Open the folder of raw images
3. Wait to let the raw cache be built
4. Open raw refine for the images I want to check, either as a batch by selecting a set of thumbs or place them in the queue.
5. Check & Adjust white balance.
6. Make any adjustments as described in c) and d) above.
7. Close refine screen and open the image editor to do any additional sharpening or other "conventional" adjustments.
8. Print from the raw image and/or convert the image for web or email use.

Terry, thanks for the response. I will try your suggestions for a work flow. I have kind of fumbled my way through one image that I like and am happy with the results I got in Photoshop Elements. Some would call it overbaked, but I was going for a classic saturated Kodachrome post card like look, so I am happy with it. My result with Qimage Ultimate from RAW was underwhelming in comparison. Some comments about your comments and thoughts in working through this image:

I think I have watched pretty much all the Qimage videos, and have been clicking on the V icons in Qimage as a tune up for each screen. Good idea by the way. I notice you gave three links but two are the same. Did you intend another one?

Yes, I have noticed that the style of Qimage Ultimate in RAW development is to do a lot of auto stuff. That is opposite to my RAW development philosophy, but I am trying to give this approach a chance. I went into the Edit, RAW Image Options but left everything at default except for the working Color Space. My preference is sRGB and I changed to that. My monitor covers 100% of sRGB but only a very minimal amount of the extra space in Adobe RGB. I would prefer to work with colors that I can see on my monitor, rather than be surprised by a print (R3000). I see here that some sharpening is applied by default as well as noise reduction. I presume any more of those added later in Edit mode are added to those defaults?

I prefer sliders to filling in boxes with numbers or stepping up settings. I also like instant response to sliders. To be frank this is an area where Qimage is disappointing. Response is far from instant. I have a FX-8350 8 core processor at 4 GHz, 16 GB of RAM, a SSD for C:, and an intermediate level Radeon HD-7770 GPU. Response is virtually instant in Photoshop Elements, and it is pretty quick in Capture One Pro 7 which I am previewing, as well as Lightroom 5.4 which I previewed a while back. If you have any comments on how to speed this software up, I would be interested. I did a look through the Manage Thumbs and RAW Cache. I see up to January 2014 they were being stored on my C: and for some reason after that they are being stored on my D: It is actually two 1 TB drives in Windows 8.1 Storages Spaces Simple configuration (MS version of RAID0). While it is faster than the average HDD it is not as fast as the C: SSD. Is there any way to move the Cache files to the C:? My images are on D: and I want to keep them there.

When does Qimage switch to 8 bit color? I presume when you are in the Refine RAW screen you are still working in 16 bit? What about when you double click on a RAW image and go to the Editor. Are you still in 16 bit, or have you switched to 8 bit at that point?

On the image I was editing, while the default values and a few tweaks I made with the available controls helped, it did not get me anywhere close to the final image in PSE Adobe Camera RAW. Quick summary of adjustments in Refine RAW; AWB, SC checked. HDR at max, Fill at -2 (to improve saturation). In Editor I had Contrast at 7, Blue Sat at 5 (although I'm not sure I understand that setting as the sky still was not as blue as I wanted). I straightened the Horizon, and that worked well. I then set DFS at 2/50, and set an exception for the sky. I did not use the controls in the Levels, Curves, and Sel. Color tabs, because I simply do not know what I am doing there.

In making these adjustments in the Editor screen I had difficulty with the editing preview window. I am used to seeing the whole screen preview the change instantly instead of seeing a small window change not so instantly.

What I miss from PSE ACR is the Clarity and Vibrance slider. While the SC checkbox seems to describe something like Vibrance, it is only on or off and didn't make a huge improvement. Nothing like pushing the Vibrance in ACR. And I couldn't find anything like the Clarity (Punch) slider in Qimage, which I believe increases midtone contrast. I also could not find, although I'm sure it is there, the all color saturation control.

Sorry for the long post and all the questions, but I would like to give this RAW development in Qimage a fair shot. I am considering Lightroom and Capture One Pro 7, but sure like the idea of going from a RAW to a print all in one software, instead of Lr to PSE to Qimage...
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 02:53:59 AM by Ron AKA » Logged
Terry-M
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2014, 06:59:51 AM »

Hi Ron,
Quote
I notice you gave three links but two are the same. Did you intend another one?
Here is the missing link http://www.youtube.com/embed/88jb-__8cmo
The full list is here: http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage-u/learn.htm
A few comments.
Quote
My preference is sRGB and I changed to that. My monitor covers 100% of sRGB but only a very minimal amount of the extra space in Adobe RGB. I would prefer to work with colors that I can see on my monitor, rather than be surprised by a print (R3000).
I use a custom camera profile, wider than Adobe RGB, and am never surprised by a print compared to monitor because of using a fully colour managed process that's very easy to set up in QU.
Quote
I see here that some sharpening is applied by default as well as noise reduction. I presume any more of those added later in Edit mode are added to those defaults?
Yes but the noise reduction is smart and adaptive; you should only need editor NR in very bad cases, very high iso or under exposed images.
Extra sharpening in the editor is a matter of taste.
Quote
My result with Qimage Ultimate from RAW was underwhelming in comparison.
That's because it aims to be "true to life" and to get the basic processing correct. You can do what you like in the editor.
Quote
Refine RAW; AWB, SC checked. HDR at max, Fill at -2 (to improve saturation).
WB is best done from a a grey gray area in the image, hold down CTRL to see possible sites or use slider.
Reducing Fill increases contrast not saturation. The HDR slider has no effect at  negative values of Fill. See the "Raw Refine" video (last on my original list) for it's use.
Quote
Response is far from instant.
It is in Raw Refine and in the editor preview. The "filters" are applied in a sequence and some like noise removal take a little longer.
Quote
Thumbs and RAW Cache. I see up to January 2014 they were being stored on my C: and for some reason after that they are being stored on my D:
Have you accidently changed the location of QU Application data? There's an item in the Utility menu to migrate it. The default is C:\ProgramData\ddisoftware\Qimage.
Quote
When does Qimage switch to 8 bit color? I presume when you are in the Refine RAW screen you are still working in 16 bit? What about when you double click on a RAW image and go to the Editor. Are you still in 16 bit, or have you switched to 8 bit at that point?
If you open a non-raw image in QU it converts to 8-bit. Raw refine is 16 bit, editor is 8 bit.
Quote
What I miss from PSE ACR is the Clarity and Vibrance slider
Clarity is another word for sharpening at low percent and large radius. These terms are gobbledy gook in my opinion and they don't actually say what they are doing.
Quote
While the SC checkbox seems to describe something like Vibrance, it is only on or off and didn't make a huge improvement.
On an already bright scene you wont see a huge change with smart colour, it's adaptive to boost colours yet prevent blowing blowing them. You can give an extra boost in the editor on the Selective Colour tab and customise it.
Quote
I prefer sliders to filling in boxes with numbers or stepping up settings.
There's far greater precision with numbers (editor) especially when say, adjusting a curve but you can drag too.
I think many of your comments about the interface are because you are used to the Adobe type approach. QU is different and I believe smarter and faster to use.
so ..
Quote
but I would like to give this RAW development in Qimage a fair shot
.. please do, we are here to help.
Perhaps you would post either attachments or links to a image to show what you mean by "a classic saturated Kodachrome post card like look" to see what you are getting at.
Terry






 



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Jeff
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2014, 07:22:57 AM »

Terry.

Your Raw MO is basically what I do, but, with the latest updates,  I am fiddling with the raw options setting to try and find best basic settings for my camera.

Question - is there a preferred MO for editing? I work from right to left, sel col > curves > levels (rarely touched) > adjust.  Does it matter what order adjustments are made?

Say sharpen first and then sel col.?  I must say to me it does not seem to matter, but then the defaults do a great job.

Jeff
 
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Terry-M
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2014, 08:04:12 AM »

Hi Jeff,
Quote
I am fiddling with the raw options setting to try and find best basic settings for my camera
I think you are referring to noise reduction options. I have mine set at default which covers the range 400 iso upwards. However, I have noticed that the adaptive feature does sometimes apply Grain (G) reduction to 200 iso in rare cases. I can see this from the new data that is given in the raw refine screen. So Mike's NR algorithms are really smart.  Cool The latest version 238 now does have some extra data by the raw preferences NR slider.
Quote
is there a preferred MO for editing?
I understand it's important to do any SEL COL smart colour before any contrast, curves, saturation etc. I like to do any contrast type adjustments before sharpening as that can affect the apparent sharpness, in fact I always leave DFS until last.
Terry


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Terry-M
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2014, 11:21:56 AM »

Ron,
from my reply #3
Quote
Perhaps you would post either attachments or links to a image to show what you mean by "a classic saturated Kodachrome post card like look" to see what you are getting at.
What would be a really good idea would for you to send me a raw image and a processed version of it (jpeg) to show me how you like your images to look.
I'll send you a PM from here with my email address and a method of sending large files.
I don't intend to try to defend QU in the way it operates any further but where I and others can help you to improve your QU technique to get the results you require, then that's fine.
Terry
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2014, 01:04:54 PM »

There's a lot of discussion here and I don't want the overall workflow concept of QU to get lost, so I'll add my 2 cents...

Raw Refine

Some people like to goose their photos (you mentioned that straight away using the term "overbaked" so I mention it here).  Regardless of whether you want neutral/color-accurate photos or you like a more kodachrome look, the MO of raw refine should always be the same: to get the most accurate rendition possible.

In the refine window, you are trying to get the photo to look like the actual scene.  If you didn't take the shot, do your best to just be sure WB looks correct, shadows aren't too dark, highlights aren't clipped, and that subjects are well exposed.  QU is already several steps ahead here (compared to other products) because by the time it gets to the raw refine window, it has already examined the histogram and has adjusted lighting to how the human eye would perceive the scene in most situations.

Sliders are nice for some things where beauty is in the eye of the beholder (fill light and HDR sliders for example where you can light the scene for different moods).  For exposure, sliders aren't particularly helpful as even when watching a histogram, you have no idea what part of the histogram belongs to which part of the image.  So exposure is best done by selecting your subject as you do in QU so you can be sure your subject is properly exposed.

Editing

If you're a "baker", bake your images in the image editor after the refine is done.  In refine, you've refined the raw to get the most accurate image possible with as much detail as would normally be visible to the eye.  Now you double click on the raw thumbnail and edit it.  In the editor, you can bake it all you want.  You can do curves to add contrast, click on the wing of a dragonfly that's a little out of focus and sharpen only the wing (something you can't do in Adobe products), sharpen without halo artifacts (also can't be done in PS or PSE), crop, correct horizon (with 2 clicks), even change one color to another.  It's up to you.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is: use the tools for their intended purpose.  That is, use raw refine to get a visually accurate representation of the photo: no "baking" there.  Then follow up with the editor to do your creative work.  Don't try to "bend" QU into an Adobe workflow or even compare the two else you end up falling into a hole where you are using one tool ineffectively.  For me, the workflow is quite simple:

(1) Let the raw thumbs/cache build to see what QU can do for each photo.
(2) Look through/examine the photos to see which ones look like keepers: good photo and sharp focus.
(3) Send the keepers "On Deck" or just select them and add a rating so you'll know which ones to print.
(4) Of the keepers, do any look like they need WB correction?  Did QU pick the best exposure for the subject (QU can't know what/who your subject is)?
(5) If any need WB or exposure to bring back highlights, brighten, etc. do that in refine.
(6) Now refined, examine full screen: could any photos benefit from sharpening just a particular leaf, eye, etc. using TTS?
(7) Once any creative "highlighting" is done per (6), print using the best crop for the size print you are using.

Just a note on my personal preference

I call my step (6) creative highlighting rather than baking because I like my photos to look real and colors to appear as accurate as possible to most viewers.  If the photo looks more vibrant than real life, that's baked.  I generally don't do that.  Some people love to make photos so baked they look "other worldly", some don't.  Me: I like a photo to be a photo and art to be art.  To me, creative highlighting is when you have a dragonfly where it's wings were just out of the DOF and need a little sharpening: so you use TTS and sharpen only the wings to bring detail back in those.  Or even, you take a picture of a model who has vibrant eye shadow and you click on the eyeshadow and sharpen only that to bring out the eyes because that's what you noticed about her in real life.  "Baking" to me is not selective like that.  Rather than highlighting a subject (fill light does that too), an overbaked photo looks to me like it has been run through the printer twice.  Grass looks greener than you'll ever see it on planet earth, sky is bluer than blue (sometimes purple), a red car in the distance has red bleeding out of the edges, black pants are RGB 0,0,0 from waist to ankles (no detail due to pushed contrast), that sort of thing.  I cringe when I see those.  But creatively "touched" photos that just emphasize certain areas can look nice.

Regardless, the bottom line never changes.  Even if you want "other worldly" effects, refine is always used to get the most accurate-to-the-eye rendition.  Always start with the best ingredients.  Then bake.

Mike
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Ron AKA
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2014, 03:27:51 PM »

Ron,
from my reply #3
Quote
Perhaps you would post either attachments or links to a image to show what you mean by "a classic saturated Kodachrome post card like look" to see what you are getting at.
What would be a really good idea would for you to send me a raw image and a processed version of it (jpeg) to show me how you like your images to look.
I'll send you a PM from here with my email address and a method of sending large files.
I don't intend to try to defend QU in the way it operates any further but where I and others can help you to improve your QU technique to get the results you require, then that's fine.
Terry

Terry, quite a few responses here now to look at and digest. I have progressed the RAW image I have been working on a little more by using Levels, and Sel. Color. It is getting closer to my ACR effort. When I get through this, I will post a link to the WeTransfer site to download the RAW and my two efforts. Will also post another RAW that is a good example of a high noise not so good image. The default settings in Qimage seem to make noise worse, not better... Perhaps I don't have things set right, but all I did to that one is open it in Refine RAW.
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Terry-M
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2014, 03:46:49 PM »

Hi Ron,
Quote
The default settings in Qimage seem to make noise worse, not better
I think that's impossible!  Shocked
I look forward to seeing your images  Wink
Terry
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2014, 03:48:55 PM »

Mike,
Quote
There's a lot of discussion here and I don't want the overall workflow concept of QU to get lost, so I'll add my 2 cents...
It was worth a lot more that 2 cents  Wink
I think your explanation is worth making a "sticky".
Terry
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Ron AKA
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2014, 04:18:23 PM »

Hi Ron,
Quote
The default settings in Qimage seem to make noise worse, not better
I think that's impossible!  Shocked
I look forward to seeing your images  Wink
Terry

Here is a WeTransfer link that has 3 files to download. This is a poor original image with lots of noise and needs a lot of help. The original RAW file is included, along with a basic development in the Elements edition of Adobe Camera RAW (7.4), and essentially the default from Qimage RAW Refine. I did check off the Ultra Noise Reduction (Medium) box in Editor, and it is provided with that as the only manual adjustment. It didn't make any significant difference.

http://we.tl/MUV358msNV
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Fred A
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2014, 04:25:44 PM »

Quote
The default settings in Qimage seem to make noise worse, not better
I think that's impossible!  Shocked
The only way that could appear to happen in automatic default raw development would be if you set the default sharpening to 500 and Adaptive Noise Reduction to OFF
I also say appear because noise had to be in the image to start with.

Fred
 
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Ron AKA
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2014, 04:33:56 PM »

Quote
Thumbs and RAW Cache. I see up to January 2014 they were being stored on my C: and for some reason after that they are being stored on my D:
Have you accidently changed the location of QU Application data? There's an item in the Utility menu to migrate it. The default is C:\ProgramData\ddisoftware\Qimage.

I did not manually do anything to move the application data. Somehow the installation of an upgrade to Qimage Ultimate must have moved them, or Huh

Currently both the Thumbs and RawCache folders are under D:\Users\Ron\Documents\

There are the same two folders in the location you list, and the RawCache file is empty, while the Thumbs folders has some old files. I would guess they go back to when I used Qimage Pro?

I will delete these old thumbs and use the utility you suggest to move the current files to this area. That will put them on the SSD, and I would hope speed things up.
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Ron AKA
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2014, 04:39:41 PM »

Quote
The default settings in Qimage seem to make noise worse, not better
I think that's impossible!  Shocked
The only way that could appear to happen in automatic default raw development would be if you set the default sharpening to 500 and Adaptive Noise Reduction to OFF
I also say appear because noise had to be in the image to start with.

Fred, where would I find those settings? I don't see them in the Raw Refine window. I didn't set anything in the Edit window other than Ultra NR. Sharpening is at 0. I'm using version 2014.236.
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