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Author Topic: RAW conversion  (Read 13943 times)
ed_k
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« on: July 01, 2010, 04:53:14 PM »

Long time Qimage-SE user - but for printing only.

I'd like to compare Q's RAW conversion against my current program. I made a quick pass with a sample image and at the end chose to accept the changes via the save & close option. However, I did not see a new file created - neither NEF nor JPEG. I did this via the Refine RAW Exposure option - not seeing any other obvious choices. Did I mention that even after several years the QI UI leaves me puzzled more often than not if I try anything new?  Smiley

Am I missing something? Probably, but what? Further, I assume that the changes made by Q are non-destructive to my original RAW file - true?

TIA for your help.
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Terry-M
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 05:08:25 PM »

Quote
However, I did not see a new file created - neither NEF nor JPEG. I did this via the Refine RAW Exposure option - not seeing any other obvious choices.
First the RAW Refine screen does not offer a conversion to another format, it just created a .qrs file alongside the raw file to record your adjustments. That makes the refine process non-destructive.

To do any conversion, it works like Qimage always has, place the image(s) in the queue and go from there. Use right click & use Convert which gives you flexibility wrt format, colour space etc. If you want just jpegs in sRGB, use the Create Web/E-mail copies feature.
If you are printing the image, there's no need to convert at all, just place the raw images in the queue for printing as if it was any other image format.

Did you know about the RAW Guide here?
http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage/Qimage%20RAW%20-%20A%20Guide%20R6.pdf
Section 8 briefly tells you what can be done next after Refine.

Terry
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ed_k
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 08:43:09 PM »

Thanks, Terry.

I was generally pleased with the process and the result. In comparing Qimage's jpeg output with my default (no adjustments) jpeg from Capture NX2 the most notable difference was that Q's colors were very flat. With that in mind, I purchased Mike's camera profile for my D300 upon reading that improved colors were the big plus with a profile. We'll see - although approaching 2 hours after the purchase I have the receipt but not the file thus far, but it's on its way I'm sure. I'll report back for those who are curious.

You should tell Mike that I said you're owed a finder's fee as I wouldn't have plunked down $17.95 without your input.  Wink
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Terry-M
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 09:00:30 PM »

 Hi Ed
Quote
In comparing Qimage's jpeg output with my default (no adjustments) jpeg from Capture NX2 the most notable difference was that Q's colors were very flat.
What did you have set in you RAW Preferences? AdobeRGB looks better that sRGB.
See attached snap of my preferences, this will be of help when yo get the profile. Note the "Camera Specific Settings" box ticked (for USM & NR) and "Enable Custom Profiles" ticked.
The USM and NR settings are likely to be different for your camera, go with the default initially.
I have some D300 raw files from a friend and they don't look flat  Smiley

Quote
You should tell Mike that I said you're owed a finder's fee as I wouldn't have plunked down $17.95 without your input.
My invoice is on the way, thanks for the reminder  Grin

Terry
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Terry-M
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2010, 06:40:41 AM »

Ed, some more questions/ideas on your flat looking jpeg from Qimage.

1. First, what setting was use in the raw preferences for colour space?
2. Have you got "Embed Colour Profiles in saved/Converted Images" ticked in your Colour Management set-up: Edit-Preferences-Colour Management?
3. How did you make the jpeg in Qimage?

If you had 1. above set for Adobe RGB and not got "embed" checked as in 2 and then Converted, the resulting jpeg, although in Adobe RGB would not be recognised as such by Qimage and the default sRGB would be used resulting in a flat looking image.
If "Web/E-mail copies " was used to make the jpeg, then you should be ok because that is always sRGB.
You can tell what Qimage is using as the image colour space by hovering your mouse over the thumbnail and checking the Exif hotbar below the thumbs.

If none of the above applies, did you Refine the raw image, perhaps the White Balance needs setting or a little bit of Fill required?

Finally, does the Qimage jpeg appear "flat" because the NX2 default version is overdone?

Terry
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 06:44:02 AM by Terry-M » Logged
ed_k
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2010, 01:27:17 PM »

Quote
See attached snap of my preferences, this will be of help when yo get the profile. Note the "Camera Specific Settings" box ticked (for USM & NR) and "Enable Custom Profiles" ticked.
The USM and NR settings are likely to be different for your camera, go with the default initially.

I did use the default settings which are the same as yours except -
  • USM & NR as you noted
  • Default has Pattern Noise box checked; your preferences do not

Before receiving the camera profile, I tried both sRGB & Adobe and arrived at the same conclusion for both in comparison to my NX2 result - both were "flatter". Perhaps I should explain "flatter" further - Q's results weren't bad at all. My only quibble was with the greens which were "duller" (flatter = duller??) in the Q results. Having said that, the scene was mostly green (and the difference wasn't that great really, it's just that I was looking for differences). I will definitely go back and test with a wider sampling of colors & contrast in my test images.

Retrying the test with the camera profile when Mike sent it (I used Adobe since, yes, in my initial sRGB vs Adobe comparison the Adobe was better), to be honest there wasn't much change from the prior Q result without the profile. Again, testing with a single image doesn't tell much and so I'll explore further. All that said, I'm pleased with what I see. Since I almost always do minor color & contrast tweaks before displaying my images, the slight differences that I'm seeing aren't worth worrying about.

I do an on-line photo improvement course and yesterday I just happened to do a post using the same image that I tested with Q. Included are a before/after (all with NX2 plus the Nik Color Efex Pro 3 plug-in for NX2) and a 1 minute slide show illustrating my "tweaks" in going from before to after. You can see it at -http://edkphoto.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/post-processing-example-1/
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Fred A
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2010, 01:43:39 PM »

Ed,
Been following the thread with you and Terry, and I have a question.
What are the default settings for developing Raw in the Nikon software. The sample shot in your post seems simply over saturated...
or perhaps, more saturated.

Fred
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ed_k
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2010, 01:47:40 PM »

Ed, some more questions/ideas on your flat looking jpeg from Qimage.

1. First, what setting was use in the raw preferences for colour space?
2. Have you got "Embed Colour Profiles in saved/Converted Images" ticked in your Colour Management set-up: Edit-Preferences-Colour Management?
3. How did you make the jpeg in Qimage?

If you had 1. above set for Adobe RGB and not got "embed" checked as in 2 and then Converted, the resulting jpeg, although in Adobe RGB would not be recognised as such by Qimage and the default sRGB would be used resulting in a flat looking image.
If "Web/E-mail copies " was used to make the jpeg, then you should be ok because that is always sRGB.
You can tell what Qimage is using as the image colour space by hovering your mouse over the thumbnail and checking the Exif hotbar below the thumbs.

If none of the above applies, did you Refine the raw image, perhaps the White Balance needs setting or a little bit of Fill required?

Finally, does the Qimage jpeg appear "flat" because the NX2 default version is overdone?

Terry

Terry,

I "passed the test" for items 1 & 2 Wink

Regarding #3, conversion was done using Convert Images with settings as follows -


Yes, I refined the image.

The NX2 version wasn't overdone. I have all camera settings at the lowest possible option (or normal, which ever applies) for parameters such as color, contrast, sharpening, etc. I you looked at the photo course post that I included in my previous reply you'll see that I describe my preference for captured images from the camera to be RAW and on the "flat" side as I prefer to add rather than subtract "pop" to my images. My NX2 jpeg test image was the RAW>jpeg result with zero adjustments - my normal "flat" starting point.

There have always been complaints about Nikon have a "secret sauce" embedded in their RAW files (WB related comes up most often) which results in the NX2 default output looking better than that from other RAW converters. That might be the case here - or, as I said, my test sample was too limited (that will be corrected).

Thanks for all of your help & suggestions. You're a true Qimage treasure. Tell Mike that I doubled your salary. What's two times zero by the way?
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ed_k
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 02:19:54 PM »

Ed,
Been following the thread with you and Terry, and I have a question.
What are the default settings for developing Raw in the Nikon software. The sample shot in your post seems simply over saturated...
or perhaps, more saturated.

Fred
Fred,

Like beauty, saturation must be in the eye of the beholder.

Just to put this thread to rest from my end, I'm posting the NX2 and Qimage versions side by side. The NX2 is the default (no tweaks). NX2 defaults, to answer your question, are the exact setting applied in the camera when the image was made. As I noted, I keep every in-camera setting that affects image quality to its lowest (most subdued) setting available in the camera's menu options. Since I shoot 100% RAW, any and all settings can be changed before the RAW conversion - but in this instance nothing was changed. The result is the plainest vanilla jpeg possible from the Nikon D300 (plus or minus any Nikon secret special sauce as suggested in my earlier reply).

In summary, I'm satisfied with the Qimage results - certainly as a starting point.

Here's a link to the images as they contain a caption with pertinent details which seems to get lost when just adding an image. As I look at them here I almost prefer the Q-version as the NX2 appears to have a slight greenish cast - or maybe it's my eyes. But never mind, its just a starting point and any cast, if present, is easily removed.
http://ed-k-photo.smugmug.com/Other/Demo/7110830_brEmW#920764957_4NgX8-A-LB
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Jeff
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2010, 03:23:06 PM »

In summary, I'm satisfied with the Qimage results - certainly as a starting point.

Here's a link to the images as they contain a caption with pertinent details which seems to get lost when just adding an image. As I look at them here I almost prefer the Q-version as the NX2 appears to have a slight greenish cast - or maybe it's my eyes. But never mind, its just a starting point and any cast, if present, is easily removed.
http://ed-k-photo.smugmug.com/Other/Demo/7110830_brEmW#920764957_4NgX8-A-LB
[/quote]

To my eyes and screen the left image definitely has a slight green cast, so one up to Qimage!

Jeff
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rayw
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2010, 05:10:38 PM »

Out of the box/default settings, virtually every raw converter will give a different result. If you are picky, you will use the one that best suits what you are trying to achieve, but the defaults will be what someone else thinks is right, not you. It then comes down to the ease of use, and the detail changes you can make in the software, to get the exact result you want. This is more or less an exact analogy to developing a film - some used one brand of chemical, others another, many argued about which was best. Others were happy with the local lab results.

If your images are to be shared/viewed on a monitor, then it will not matter very much what you use, it depends more on viewer's setup, (and yours) - you would get a good enough result using the in-camera jpeg. If you want a print, then it also depends on other factors outside the realm of colour management and pixel peeping. That is not to say that the raw conversion should not be 'good', but it is only part of the process, in the same way as getting a print from a film negative - you have room for corrections.

The main problem with qimage raw conversion, imnsho - apart from not handling all camera raw files, is that the interface is 'sparse' - if you want to make precise adjustments to some attributes, it can't be done. However, if speed of processing and 'average' is what you want, then it is OK. In other words, for most shots it will be fine, but for the ones you need to work on, you are probably better off using something with more controls.

Best wishes,

Ray
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Terry-M
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2010, 05:12:44 PM »

Quote
To my eyes and screen the left image definitely has a slight green cast, so one up to Qimage!
Jeff, I would agree with you and I would not call it particularly "flat" either. It would be a simple matter to boost contrast a little with a filter.
Terry.
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Terry-M
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 05:22:24 PM »

Ray,
Quote
If your images are to be shared/viewed on a monitor, then it will not matter very much what you use, it depends more on viewer's setup, (and yours)
Isn't that the whole point of using colour management, to get consistency? I know not everyone who yu may share your images with will have  colour managed set-up, that's why sRGB is used because in most cases it'll be close.
I must disagree with you there, in many cases I found the in camera jpeg was poor compared to the raw conversion; I gave up in-camera jpegs soon after I started using raw.
Quote
if you want to make precise adjustments to some attributes, it can't be done.
You can do quite lot with a filter  Cool
Terry
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Fred A
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2010, 06:07:39 PM »

Ed,
Been following the thread with you and Terry, and I have a question.
What are the default settings for developing Raw in the Nikon software. The sample shot in your post seems simply over saturated...
or perhaps, more saturated.

Fred
Fred,

Like beauty, saturation must be in the eye of the beholder.

Just to put this thread to rest from my end, I'm posting the NX2 and Qimage versions side by side. The NX2 is the default (no tweaks). NX2 defaults, to answer your question, are the exact setting applied in the camera when the image was made. As I noted, I keep every in-camera setting that affects image quality to its lowest (most subdued) setting available in the camera's menu options. Since I shoot 100% RAW, any and all settings can be changed before the RAW conversion - but in this instance nothing was changed. The result is the plainest vanilla jpeg possible from the Nikon D300 (plus or minus any Nikon secret special sauce as suggested in my earlier reply).

In summary, I'm satisfied with the Qimage results - certainly as a starting point.

Here's a link to the images as they contain a caption with pertinent details which seems to get lost when just adding an image. As I look at them here I almost prefer the Q-version as the NX2 appears to have a slight greenish cast - or maybe it's my eyes. But never mind, its just a starting point and any cast, if present, is easily removed.
http://ed-k-photo.smugmug.com/Other/Demo/7110830_brEmW#920764957_4NgX8-A-LB

Thanks, Ed.
That solved it for me.
I can see clearly that the Nikon software applied a lot of extra sharpening as well as a boost in saturation.
Enjoy

Fred
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rayw
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2010, 06:45:00 PM »

Hi Terry,

Colour management should get consistency across different systems, but what I was getting at, in the images that Ed posted, either one of them would have looked the same, if only one was given - not said that right, so say it some other way... If Ed had posted, say the qimage one only, without us pixel peepers knowing, i.e he had sent it to 'normal folk'  Cheesy, then they would say it was fine. They would say the same if he had sent the NX2. When it comes to comparing both images, side by side, for us, it gets down to taking colour spot readings, and so on. In fact, I think what is happening, for those images, it is not consistency, but a sort of subjective accuracy that we are trying to define. Probably a better test for that would be to put up a colour chart on the pc screen, on one half of the screen, then take a photo, then present the result beside the original, then using 'ColorPix' or similar, measure the colour values for each square (then we can argue about other nuances  Wink ).

Wrt in-camera jpegs, it depends on the camera, I guess. I have images from a few years back - since normally use raw nowadays - and they are good enough for the web, but it also depends on the subject material, of course. I am not into portraits or people photography, so in scenery, colours can be a way off, not so with skin tones. Occasionally, I use the canon 'magic green square' setting, and the jpegs are OK, and with the little sigma dp1s, using fastone viewer, I thought I was viewing the raw file, for a day or two, until I realised it was reading the jpeg embedded in the raw file.

I think there is a lot of prejudice, wrt raw/jpeg, nikon/canon, apple/pc, qimage/adobe whatever, and it tends to prevent folk looking at things with an open mind. If I were only sharing photos on the web, or printing postcard size images, or similar, then I would be looking to using the in-camera jpegs.

wrt a filter. Again, it's a sort of perception - maybe a prejudice? - but a filter is generally added to remove something. It is a separate item, but once you can remember what it does, it is easy to use it again. I think it is a different concept compared to the more usual controls in most raw converters, which you can slide around and see a more or less immediate effect. However, I tend to think that in many instances there are too many controls (but you have the choice of ignoring them)  and these other interfaces can be too complicated for many purposes, but then the world doesn't dance to my tune Grin Grin Grin

Best wishes,

Ray
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