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05-02-2008, 10:23 AM   #1
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Differences in RAW processors

This is sort of a spinoff of the "Working in RAW" thread. To avoid a thread-jack, I figured I'd start a new thread...

Keep in mind: I am pretty much a novice at this whole PP thing.....so don't laugh! As someone who tends to jump in head first and learn as I go, the whole PP think has not sunk in yet. I'm pretty computer savvy and a quick learner. Most software is a breeze for me for me to learn. I started with GIMP and I love it. It does everything I need it to do and then some. Some folks say it's difficult. I downloaded a PS demo a few years ago.....that was difficult! For me, GIMP is a lot easier to understand. Being free makes it even more appealing.

I noticed a difference in a few of the RAW conversion programs and how they process RAW files. For some odd reason, I was under the assumption that they all did the same thing: Give you an image of what the camera actually sees when you hit the shutter. I guess I was wrong. Evidently they all put their own spin on that image, yielding different results. Part of understands that we are dealing with software, so this makes total sense to me. But part of me doesn't understand why all RAW images don't look the same. I guess there's more processing going on that I realized.

Here's a RAW file that I converted using Irfanview and UFRaw. No PP except the RAW>JPEG conversion and 100% crops:

Irfanview


UFRaw


The difference is pretty obvious to me. The Irfanview conversion looks exactly like it did when I took the pic. The UFRaw version looks dead and is not nearly as sharp. Of course, I can always manipulate the UFRaw JPEG in GIMP to bring it back, but that's an extra step that I could do without.

PP'd UFRaw JPEG


The Irfanview JPEGs need very little (if any) PP. I may do a little something to jazz up a photo for creative reasons, but the pics looks great right out of the camera. I think Mike Cash has the right idea. Batch conversion in Irfanview, final PP in GIMP. I lose the EXIF data by converting with Irfanview, but that's not something I refer to much anyway. That way I can spend more time taking pics and less time fiddling with them afterwards.

05-02-2008, 10:33 AM   #2
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I always always ALWAYS shoot RAW. When I want to batch convert pictures to JPEG, I use XNView. That way I can batch convert, resize AND watermark simultaneously, with 5 clicks.

Otherwise I take one picture at a time and edit them in Lightroom.
05-02-2008, 10:45 AM   #3
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I hear you on that. I just need something that does good batch conversions, which Irfanview does very well. I do all PP and resizing in GIMP. I don't watermark every image. The ones I do watermark are done with PhotoWatermark Pro.
05-02-2008, 11:32 AM   #4
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I've tried several free RAW converters, and they are all just a little bit different in the default conversions to JPG. The one advantage that I see to using UFRaw, especially if you use the GIMP, is the ability to import the converted RAW file straight into GIMP. You can do this without the need to save the converted RAW file first, then reopen it in the GIMP. It saves a little time on the files that need a little more work anyway. That being said I usually use the Photo Laboratory software for my RAW conversions. I find the JPG's from PPL need a little less tweaking then the JPG's from UFRaw. And the ability of PPL to batch process is very nice. Each has their place in my workflow.

05-02-2008, 01:06 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fritz Quote
I've tried several free RAW converters, and they are all just a little bit different in the default conversions to JPG. The one advantage that I see to using UFRaw, especially if you use the GIMP, is the ability to import the converted RAW file straight into GIMP. You can do this without the need to save the converted RAW file first, then reopen it in the GIMP. It saves a little time on the files that need a little more work anyway. That being said I usually use the Photo Laboratory software for my RAW conversions. I find the JPG's from PPL need a little less tweaking then the JPG's from UFRaw. And the ability of PPL to batch process is very nice. Each has their place in my workflow.
I use Photoshop CS2, which of course is not free. I make as many corrections as possible (and as needed) in the converter itself, then open the file(s) into Photoshop proper as 16 bit files. After I've done any corrections there, I then save them as TIFF's. If I need the file as a JPG, I simply convert it to an 8 bit file, then save as a JPG. I make no corrections on JPG's.

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05-02-2008, 01:06 PM   #6
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I haven't used Irfanview in a long time but as I recall, it is primarily a photo _viewing_ software? I used to use it all the time when I primarily used a PC.

Anyways, as such, I might assume that it's conversions are optimized for viewing whereas UFRaw might not do any further PP other than the straight conversion - giving a higher level of control to the photographer. This is particularly true since ufraw is available as a command line converter - allowing it to be used in an automated photo processing chain (batch).

If you are looking to do some PP sharpening and such, you could consider Image Magick. Even the Gimp has powerful batch processing but I wouldn't even recommend it if you're not a programmer!

Because I haven't used Irfanview in years and years, I could very easilly be wrong in regards to the assumptions I made above. Somebody let me know?

Thanks,

Frank.

Ps. I just downloaded Irfanview to try it out again. Thanks for reminding me about it!
05-02-2008, 05:34 PM   #7
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I could be wrong here. I would test it, but I'm on my beloved Linux box and don't have a Windows machine handy to test Irfanview. Anyhow, I believe all RAW files (at least the DNGs from my K10D) have a JPEG embedded in the file. I bet Irfanview is just pulling that file out and calling it a day. UFRaw, OTOH, actually does a conversion, but it has an option to just extract the JPEG as well. On Linux, it's
Code:
ufraw-batch --embedded-image *.JPG
I often have found the extracted JPEG to be nicer than a default-converted RAW. The problem is, you get no EXIF. Alas...
05-02-2008, 11:43 PM   #8
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ImageMagick is available for Windows. Thus, it's possilbe and relatively easy for somebody (with basic script writing skills) to write a script to run ufraw for the conversion followed by unsharp mask with ImageMagick. Even a batch file (.bat) would do the trick. Of course, this requires more than that average computer user to write.

FYI: http://ImageMagick.com

05-03-2008, 02:44 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by joefru Quote
I could be wrong here. I would test it, but I'm on my beloved Linux box and don't have a Windows machine handy to test Irfanview. Anyhow, I believe all RAW files (at least the DNGs from my K10D) have a JPEG embedded in the file. I bet Irfanview is just pulling that file out and calling it a day. UFRaw, OTOH, actually does a conversion, but it has an option to just extract the JPEG as well. On Linux, it's
Code:
ufraw-batch --embedded-image *.JPG
I often have found the extracted JPEG to be nicer than a default-converted RAW. The problem is, you get no EXIF. Alas...
Yes, IrfanView has 3 options to deal with RAW files. I really don't remember what the default is, but the options are:
  1. Just extract the thumbnail from the RAW file and display that (fastest option, but gives you just what you would get when shooting JPEG)
  2. Convert the RAW file using half the resolution (better than JPEG, but also slower and less resolution)
  3. Convert the RAW file using the actual resolution (slowest, but best quality. This is what you should use if you want IrfanView to be your RAW processor)

Btw. I also agree that sometimes the JPEG is so good that it takes considerable amount of time to achieve the exact same thing in a RAW converter. That's why I shoot RAW+JPEG. Saves me the hassle of extracting those JPEGs from the RAW file. Also I haven't checked if the embedded JPEG file is of the same quality as the JPEG file that the camera saves separately if shooting RAW+JPEG.
05-03-2008, 12:09 PM   #10
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Each software company-group of users has their own algorithms to covert "RAW" sensor data into something that can be displayed. So - yes, you will find differences between vendors.

The trick is to find a workflow that you can live with. The use of RAW provides you with a wealth of variables to twitch and tweak. Once you find a set of parameters that you like it makes for a simplified workflow, but when you need to make a change it is better to do change those variables while you have time. I prefer to do the tweaking after the fact rather than futzing with menu's to tweak in the camera settings to match what you need. While you are futzing around - the world can just pass you by. All those lost images.

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05-10-2008, 07:46 AM   #11
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I don't know about UFRaw, but Irfanview has the option of reading the imbeded color space. If this was checked (on), and UFRaw doesn't have that capability (or it wasn't enabled) that could explain the flat look from UFRaw.
05-10-2008, 07:52 PM   #12
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Moderator, could this thread please be moved to the PP and Software Forum so it can be with others of its kind? It's looking sort of lonely here on the DSLR Discussion Forum.
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