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01-03-2007, 04:07 AM   #16
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Raw can be just as easy as jpeg if not easier. Lightroom and Bibble pro have an "Auto" setting so one click and you are done if all you want is a better photo than you get from a jpeg. If you want to do more it is available. The big advantage is you are not altering the original image.

I think I've tried them all and like Bibble pro the best with Lightroom being a close second. Silky Pix takes to much to learn. I'm afraid that when LR comes out of beta it will be very expensive. Biddle pro is $130 and that is the one I will get when it is out of beta.

Raw gives you the room to adjust things when you didn't get it right out of the camera, especially white balance.

01-03-2007, 05:30 AM   #17
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Hi Will
I shoot mostly Raw. What I like best about it is that I have good control over white balance especially. During spring summer and fall, I shoot a lot of flowers, so color is very important to me. When I move from sun to shade and back, or a cloud covers the sun, I don't have to worry about switching WB. I use Adobe's ACR along with Photoshop elements 3. PSE 3 is less than $100 and the ACR plugin is free. They update it very frequently so I wouldn't worry about compatibility. My work flow is very similar to Julie's except that much of it is automated. If you decide on going Raw I'd like to echo Julie's suggestion Real World Camera Raw by Bruce Fraser. Great book, it's primarily for Photoshop CS2 but I have had no problem using it with PSE.
I've found using Raw is slightly (just) more work, but worth it. However like most others I still use JPEG for "casual" and "documentation" photography.

NaCl(hope that helps)H2O
01-03-2007, 10:04 AM   #18
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Many thanks to all of you who replied to my question about RAW. I have learned a LOT in the last twenty-four hours, from all of you and from my own noodling around.

I read the pages linked to in your responses to my post, and I also found a number of essays on the Internet on the subject. The most interesting thing I've read is this article by a self-described "RAW convert". Actually, the whole web site is interesting. The author's name seems to be Petteri; can't figure out what his whole name is. He may be Lebanese.

One of the reasons he mentions for NOT using RAW is if your camera doesn't do a good job of supporting it. Now, the K100D doesn't do a GREAT job with RAW, in at least one sense. In continuous shooting mode, taking highest res and lowest-compression JPEGs, I can get five quick shots off before the buffer fills up, and after that I get a little better than one shot every second. With RAW, I can get only three shots off before the buffer fills up, and after that, it's more like three seconds between each additional single shot. Note that this is the case even when I shoot individual shots: there's a couple second lag in between shots, I guess while the image is written to my disk. I'm using a SanDisk Extreme III 2 GB card. I don't think the problem is with the card.

But I could live with the lag. I could shoot JPEG when camera response really matters (say, when taking pictures of my daughter playing basketball), and RAW the rest of the time. I knew about the K100D's weak performance in continuous shooting mode before I bought the camera.

I don't care too much about using RAW to fix my own mistakes. I can live with my own mistakes. But I do find appealing the idea that RAW may allow me to produce good images that I simply could not get if I saved the file originally as JPEG, because the tonal range is too great. I'm not sure I fully understand how this miracle is accomplished, but I have read the claim that this can be done. It looks like RAW would allow me to take and process pictures whose exposure presents difficult problems, like shooting my Christmas tree without a flash. And it seems that I take a lot of pictures like that.

So last night, I installed and tried a bunch of RAW-image management/processing programs, including Adobe Lightroom beta 4.1 (very nice), Bibble Lite (good, but the UI isn't as slick as Lightroom's), Capture One, BreezeBrowser, and one or two others. Some of them could not read my K100D's RAW (PEF) files. Some of them didn't do JPEGs. Lightroom handled everything very nicely.

However, when I tried to import my old images into Lightroom, all the spare room on my hard disk was eaten up - not by the images themselves, which were only referenced, but simply by the previews. I like very much the fact that it can deal with my files by reference - the files themselves are stored on an external drive. But if Lightroom needs 10 GB just for previews, well, that's kind of a problem. Not sure why Picasa doesn't have this problem. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong in Lightroom.

I discovered that I was wrong about Picasa not handling RAW image files. It can indeed import, display and even help me edit my RAW images, which is good news. Unfortunately, it doesn't show the EXIF data. As far as I can tell, Exifer doesn't recognize my RAW files, either.

Lightroom is very nicely designed. For starters, it's gorgeous to look at, and that matters to me. For organizing, viewing and editing pictures in the ways I want to edit them, it's fantastic. I love the fact that it's NOT Photoshop. I hate Photoshop. Gives me stomach cramps.

On the other hand, Lightroom lacks some of Picasa's advantages, at least for me. I use Gmail and Picasa Web Albums and, of course, Picasa (from Google) integrates with Gmail and Picasa Web Albums seamlessly. I also like the fact that I can order prints from inside Picasa from a variety of providers. Last month, I ordered prints from the Walgreen's down the street and went and picked them up 45 minutes later. Not bad. Lightroom's Internet integration isn't what I want. I don't store my images any longer on my own web site, and I don't want to create Flash galleries. And I don't use a desktop email client. So one entire dimension of Lightroom is, for me, a big waste.

I am going on about the software because, well, RAW is not about TAKING the picture, it's about what you do on your computer with the image file, after you get it from the camera. But what you do with your files after you get them from the camera is not just a matter of cropping and adjusting white balance or color cast. It includes sending files to friends and family, uploading files to the Web (and for many of us, that means to services like Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, SmugMug, etc.), and ordering prints.

If I were going to go RAW in a big way, I think I'd want to use Lightroom and hope I could solve the problem of it filling up my C drive with preview files. But it's still in beta and right now I can't get any idea what it will cost. I don't expect it to cost much more than Apple's Aperture, which is $300. I could spring for that. But what might be ideal for me would be to keep using Picasa, keep shooting JPEG most of the time, but use RAW only when I know that the subject really begs for it, and then have some inexpensive RAW processing program that will let me tweak those RAW image files using tools that are a bit more sophisticated than the ones in Picasa. Actually, I could almost live with Picasa's tools, if only Picasa could show me the EXIF data.

I find it annoying that RAW files are not standardized. Clearly, what I'd want to do is convert all my RAW images to JPEG and save both. But I don't think I would want to throw away the RAW file. If you keep the RAW file you can go back to it later and perhaps get a better picture from it, after your skills with the software improve, or with better software. It's clear that I would have to get a very good system in place for saving files to CD. About time for me to do that anyway, I guess. It's also clear that I'd have to develop good workflow routines, because I could not want to end up confusing myself about what had been converted and what hadn't. With Picasa and my JPEG files, I just import from the card to a new folder and I'm done. I always name the folder with the date and sometimes a subject (for example, "20070102 woodpecker"). After that, I don't move the files to different folders, certainly not in Windows.

I've uninstalled all the programs I tried, including Lightroom. I'm going to stick with JPEG for at least a little while longer (a few more days? a few months?). I might reinstall Lightroom and try to fix the problem of it eating up all my spare space.

Anyway, that's where I am at the moment. THANKS again to all of you for your excellent responses. I would be happy to read anything else anybody has to offer, and I will try to come back here and post a follow-up later on.

01-03-2007, 11:05 AM   #19
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good summation WMPB.. u make me feel more comfortable with my decision to pretty much ignore raw until i really feel the need for it..

which (thankfully) at the moment i dont..



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