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11-10-2015, 01:22 PM   #1
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Pentax K-5 in-camera JPGs better than RAW developed with Darktable?

Hello all,

since 1 1/2 year I do all my post-processing in darktable on LinuxMint. I really like Darktable and it's enormous list of features and the way it is developing. But a lot of times I feel a little depressed because the so highly praised RAW-Files and what I and Darktable do to them a lot of times can't beat the in-camera jpgs my K-5 produces when shooting in RAW+. It often happens that I can't find the right balance between Exposure, Contrast, Sharpening and "Shadow and Highlights" and my JPEGs simply do look more natural and sharper to me. I'll try to show you what I mean a little later with 2 images, one JPG, one JPG developed out of RAW. What is Your opinion or secret receipt when working with PEF/DNG-files in darktable? Really would like to learn a little about it. And a last sentence: I can see the advantage of RAW, especially when it comes to exposure adjustments, but sharpening and contrast don't look that good.

Cheers,

Ralf

11-10-2015, 02:50 PM   #2
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Hi, Ralf. There is no reason you cannot replicate an out of camera jpeg in darktable. All the tools to do so are there in that program. I suggest you do an internet search for darktable processing videos by Robert Hutton. They are excellent and delve into both basics and more advanced techniques.

Jack
11-10-2015, 03:11 PM   #3
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Ralf, I had a very similar experience to you. I was quite discouraged at first and no amount of fiddling seemed to get images that looked like the in camera JPG files. Unfortunately default Darktable settings render quite different images to camera processor.

However a change finally happened when I gave up trying to match in camera JPG and just kept playing with Darktable settings until I got images I liked the look of. Pretty soon I was getting images I liked better than the camera JPG files.

Some of the Darktable settings I most commonly apply and I like the look of (and this is always going to be subjective) are:
* Sharpening (default is super conservative and really needs increasing).
* Shadow / highlight correction (Darktable does a great job here)
* Colour saturation + contrast (under colour / contrast I think it is)
Sometimes:
* local contrast (great where you don't want to blow highlights / shadows)
* WB settings (sometimes one of the other Darktable presets do a better job)

I should point out that not necessarily in that order. For example if WB doesn't look right, I find best to tackle that first and usually I will sharpen early on. Personally I don't like applying lots of Noise Reduction (would prefer grain to blotchiness !).
11-10-2015, 03:12 PM   #4
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Hi Ralf - I've had a similar experience with LightZone. It can do many things, but it takes a fair amount of work to beat the Jpegs straight from the camera. There may be some bias because you see the JPEG first, but I am not sure about that. The camera JPEG engine does a good job. With practice you should find yourself able to equal the camera, and then better it; or to realize which shots you should just use the JPEG as shot.

11-10-2015, 06:09 PM   #5
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Define "better"

The default import profile for Darktable, Lightzone, Lightroom, etc. may not suit your taste and most likely will not reflect the in-camera processing. If you want that, the PDCU software that came with your K-5 might be your best option since it works the same as the in-camera process.


Steve
11-11-2015, 12:42 AM   #6
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Thanks to all, interesting answers. This evening i will post images to show what i mean by "better" :-)
With k-5 there only came silkypix 4.0 and my efforts to run it via wine ended without success. Maybe i should try again, though i find its gui awfull.
11-11-2015, 04:16 AM   #7
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Use dt-curve-tool-helper. It allows you to create a basecurve from a bunch of RAW jpeg pairs. The software is part of the source distribution of darktable but not always packaged by distro maintainers. This tool got me very close to perfectly replicating the jpgs.

Download the dartable source from the darktable github (download zip) link on the right hand side. Then go into the the tools/basecurve subfolder of the unzipped darktable directory and open the README.md file. Or read it at github here

Follow the instructions for dt-curve-tool-helper and load the settings into darktable using the output of the tool.

To avoid hassle take a bunch of landscape format images that contain as much range as you can. Blown highlights, underexposed blackness, colours, trees, people blurry photos sharp etc. I did this around the house with good results.

You can do this for any in camera settings despite the dartable website suggesting you use the bright camera setting.

To anyone wondering why go through the hassle replicating the jpg settings. Why not just shoot jpeg? The answer is that it allows fixing mistakes and recovering highlights in ways the camera can't. Having a good baseline to tweak from is excellent even when you end up doing quite radical changes.

And a tip: Try out the color setting in highlight recovery if you haven't already. I'ts quite amazing for some photographs (awful for others, watch out for odd coloured sky)

11-11-2015, 09:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbinpg Quote
Hi, Ralf. There is no reason you cannot replicate an out of camera jpeg in darktable. All the tools to do so are there in that program. I suggest you do an internet search for darktable processing videos by Robert Hutton. They are excellent and delve into both basics and more advanced techniques.

Jack
Hi Jack

Robert Hutton's videos are great and where my first and most imortant source for learning darktable. But still I think the jpegs look better. I hate to say it but with Lightroom I found it easier to get results I liked. But that's only mee and for other reasons I decided to go Linux only. Anyway, will have a look at the videos again.

---------- Post added 11-11-15 at 09:50 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by kiwi_jono Quote
Ralf, I had a very similar experience to you. I was quite discouraged at first and no amount of fiddling seemed to get images that looked like the in camera JPG files. Unfortunately default Darktable settings render quite different images to camera processor.

However a change finally happened when I gave up trying to match in camera JPG and just kept playing with Darktable settings until I got images I liked the look of. Pretty soon I was getting images I liked better than the camera JPG files.

Some of the Darktable settings I most commonly apply and I like the look of (and this is always going to be subjective) are:
* Sharpening (default is super conservative and really needs increasing).
* Shadow / highlight correction (Darktable does a great job here)
* Colour saturation + contrast (under colour / contrast I think it is)
Sometimes:
* local contrast (great where you don't want to blow highlights / shadows)
* WB settings (sometimes one of the other Darktable presets do a better job)

I should point out that not necessarily in that order. For example if WB doesn't look right, I find best to tackle that first and usually I will sharpen early on. Personally I don't like applying lots of Noise Reduction (would prefer grain to blotchiness !).
Hi Jonathan,

thanks for your tips. I try to restrict my workflow more or less to the modules you listed, but I never managed to replicate the jpgs look, so I thinks house is right to ask why not just be satisfied with jpeg? Will have to think over this again...
@house: great advice, thanks a lot! I didn't even know all these tool existed. That's the probably due to the fact when using only ppm-sources. There's even a whole bunch of other useful scripts I didn't know. Thanks a lot again! My first try with only one pef-file resulted in an awfull and unusable base-curve, so I think I have to try again with more files as you suggested.
I still wanted to link some samples to this thread, but when I need them I can't find them :-(
11-11-2015, 12:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rullrich Quote
Hi Jack

Robert Hutton's videos are great and where my first and most imortant source for learning darktable. But still I think the jpegs look better. I hate to say it but with Lightroom I found it easier to get results I liked. But that's only mee and for other reasons I decided to go Linux only. Anyway, will have a look at the videos again.

---------- Post added 11-11-15 at 09:50 AM ----------


Hi Jonathan,

thanks for your tips. I try to restrict my workflow more or less to the modules you listed, but I never managed to replicate the jpgs look, so I thinks house is right to ask why not just be satisfied with jpeg? Will have to think over this again...
@house: great advice, thanks a lot! I didn't even know all these tool existed. That's the probably due to the fact when using only ppm-sources. There's even a whole bunch of other useful scripts I didn't know. Thanks a lot again! My first try with only one pef-file resulted in an awfull and unusable base-curve, so I think I have to try again with more files as you suggested.
I still wanted to link some samples to this thread, but when I need them I can't find them :-(
Yeah you need to run in on a bunch of files say 10-20 to get a good curve. Based on just one or a few very similar photos you can get very odd results. Also try to get a rich mix of photos, you wan't every pixel value extreme represented.
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