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Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-24-2019, 04:54 AM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
I will try to answer your questions one at a time:



Yes, I'm pretty sure about this, and I did not miss what you posted a few posts back. Off course there is no difference in size between the JPG you got shooting RAW+ and the one you got using ICRD - the files should be identical. In neither case are you looking at the embedded JPG. ICRD does not "pull out" a JPG from the RAW file. The "RD" in ICRD stands for "RAW development". The camera is developing the RAW data to generate a JPG from scratch. That's why it takes a few seconds for the camera to do it. When you push the preview button on your camera for a RAW file, the camera is showing you the embedded JPG, and you see it almost instantly. FS shows you the embedded JPG (unless you have it set to "Actual" mode).

I will try to explain this again. We are discussing two very different scenarios:

1) JPG obtained by RAW development = SLOW = JPG you get from RAW+, from ICRD, or from using a RAW converter like PDCU, Lightroom, etc.
2) JPG obtained by extracting the embedded JPG = FAST = the preview you see on the screen on your camera, and FastStone (when it is set in "fastest" mode)

Your tests regarding file size are just comparing different versions of scenario 1 above. AFAIK, there is no way to accurately estimate the size of the embedded JPG. FS shows it to you, and tells you the dimensions, but it doesn't tell you what the original compression ratio was, so you don't know what the original size of the image was. Maybe there's some tool out there that can look inside a DNG file and tell us what all the components of it are.



I would expect these files to be identical. Neither of these files has anything to do with the embedded preview JPG that is inside the RAW file. You would be comparing higher quality JPG images.



Those sample crops were a comparison of the *** JPG saved by the camera (KP) while shooting RAW+ vs the preview JPG extracted from the RAW file using FS. Again, please note that the extracted JPG is NOT the same as the JPG you get using ICRD. ICRD is NOT extracting the preview JPG.



No, when you look at a RAW image on the back of your camera, you are looking at the preview JPG embedded in the RAW file. That's what the preview JPG is there for. At least, that is my understanding. Think about it - how could the camera possibly display the image on the rear screen so fast if it had to perform the ICRD to create a full size high quality JPG every time you push the preview button? The image has to already exist for it to be displayed instantly. Your camera is showing you the preview JPG embedded in the RAW file. I am not surprised you were not able to see a difference while examining the images on your camera's rear screen. The difference is subtle, and it isn't easily discernible in every image. With my KP images, I have a hard time seeing the difference on a 25" monitor until I zoom right in to something like 400%. I wouldn't expect to be able to see the difference on the camera screen. I seem to recall it being a bit easier to see the difference with my K30 images, but even there, I wouldn't expect to be able to notice it on the rear screen. As I said previously, this makes sense. The preview JPG has to be of reasonably good quality or you wouldn't be able to accurately evaluate your shots on the rear screen.



I do not believe that this is true, and I think most other forum members would agree. I don't believe the embedded preview JPG is maximum quality, and the sample crops I posted support this view.



Yes, LR users tend to view their work flow as the only viable one, and that anyone who finds it burdensome should just buy a faster computer. I don't pay much attention to them.



I'm not sure what you are asking here, but I believe the embedded preview JPG that FS shows you is full resolution (same number of pixels as the original image), but it is more compressed than the *** JPG you would get by doing ICRD (and more compression = lower quality). Because it is more compressed than the *** JPG, it will be somewhat smaller in size. How much smaller is difficult to estimate.



Again - I think your terminology is confusing you. ICRD is not "pulling" a JPG from the RAW file. It is developing a JPG. It is doing the same thing that a RAW converter does. What FS is doing is completely different ( when you have it in "fastest" mode ).



I have no idea why FS gives you these options - as mentioned in previous posts, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. When you set FS to view RAW files in "Actual" mode, FS no longer extracts the embedded preview JPG. Instead, FS develops every image (basically, it's like using ICRD). It looks different because FS is using DCRAW, which is a different RAW converter than the one that's in your camera, and DCRAW doesn't know what to do with the various JPG settings you have set in your camera (eg. contast, saturation, highlight correction, etc.). It is slower than the "fastest" mode because FS has to create the JPG from the RAW data. You have no control over how FS/DCRAW performs that conversion, so it's of dubious utility. The only positive aspect of using this mode is that the image won't have the JPG artifacts that you see in the extracted JPG when you are using "fastest" mode. I haven't done extensive testing, but I don't see much of anything to recommend using "Actual" mode. As I said, FS isn't a proper RAW converter, and IMHO it shouldn't be used as one.



Well, yes and no. Let's consider what's happening in each case:

Fastest mode: FS is extracting the embedded JPG from the RAW file. That embedded JPG has been created by the camera's JPG engine, but it is compressed so it contains some JPG artifacts.
Actual mode: FS is creating an image by rendering the RAW data using DCRAW. The image isn't compressed, so no JPG artifacts until you actually save it as a JPG - if you save it as a TIFF, you should have no artifacts. But DCRAW isn't optimized the way the camera's JPG engine is, and it won't be able to use any of your camera settings.

So on the one hand, using Actual mode has the potential of giving you a "better" image because you aren't starting with a compressed image, but FS/DCRAW isn't "tuned" for Pentax RAW files - it's just a generic converter running in default mode (I'm guessing here - I don't know anything about the inner workings of FS/DCRAW). That's why the image you get in Actual mode looks different from what you get from the camera. In the few cases where I've tried to use FS in this mode, I haven't been impressed with the results (and you have no way to adjust how the FS does that conversion). I prefer the rendering I get with the camera JPGs, or with the rendering I get using other RAW converters (where I can make adjustments to correct various problems).



Yes. It is basic, but I find it intuitive and in most cases it does a great job with minimal fuss. But most editing programs have spot correction.

The thing about FS is that it has all the basic editing functions in a lightweight, accessible package, and it is FREE. No, it doesn't have layers, or some other sophisticated features, but personally, I don't use those features most of the time. I'd rather work with a fast, lightweight program on a day to day basis, and pull out the big guns only when I really need them. I wish there was a keyboard shortcut for watermarking, as that's usually the last step in an image edit and I dislike needing to mouse over to the menu to invoke it.

I find FS has almost all the basic editing functions I could want for doing straightforward image editing. The "Draw" function is very handy when I need to put an arrow onto an image pointing to something, or I want to draw a circle around something, add footnotes, etc. Yes, I can do all that in GIMP or Photoshop, but it is far more accessible in FastStone. If I'm just doing quick and dirty work for something I need to attach to an email, FS is far more convenient (considering it's the program I'm already using to browse/cull my images). If I am preparing something for publication, then I might resort to a more sophisticated program, but I've certainly used FS to prepare images for publication.

Here's an online version of an article I wrote for a publication:
http://www.ontarioinsects.org/Publications/Summaries/2016_bog_elfin.pdf

For the images at the bottom of the article, I used FS to prepare them, and add the arrows, captions, etc.
Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-23-2019, 06:47 PM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
Yes, I have no idea why the designer included that option in FS, but it's been there since the version I began with around 10 years ago. I would not recommend its use, but the scenario you suggest is an interesting one. A person who doesn't have a RAW converter today ( or isn't inclined to use one ) may decide they want to use one in the future. Where will they be if they shoot JPG?

I would argue that FS actually allows them to shoot RAW even if they don't have a functioning RAW converter, because it will extract a JPG image of reasonable quality from the RAW file without doing any RAW conversion. Maybe that's good enough for them for the time being. After all, what do most people do with the images they capture? They post them on the internet. The embedded JPGs are good enough for most web applications. You would have to pixel peep to tell the difference between the embedded JPG and the one produced by the camera as a separate JPG, and you can be hard pressed even then. So if the only thing this person is doing with their images (in the short term) is viewing them on a computer screen, extracting the embedded JPGs from RAW files and editing them is a perfectly viable option.

But by shooting RAW, the photographer has the option of doing something more with their images at some future date if they are so inclined.
Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-23-2019, 04:23 PM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
No, that's not quite right. The JPG that's embedded in the RAW file is full sized, but it is of lower quality than you get from when the camera saves a *** quality JPG (at least this appears to be the case with most cameras). This is what I demonstrated with the crops from the two versions the image I posted. The image that was embedded in the RAW file had more JPG artifact than the image saved by the camera as a separate JPG. As I said, I don't think there's an easy way to determine the actual size of embedded JPG, or the compression setting used. I guess one way to test it would be to shoot RAW+ with the JPG quality at various settings, and by comparing the images, try to see if you can figure out which JPG quality setting gets you an equivalent image quality to the embedded JPG. I can say with confidence that a *** JPG is of better quality (and therefore a larger file size) than the embedded JPGs in my K30 and KP DNG files. I haven't played around with * or ** settings. Maybe the embedded JPG is equivalent to * quality.

If the embedded JPG is of very low quality, you might have trouble evaluating your image on the rear screen of your camera. If you zoomed in to check the fine detail, JPG artifact might make you think the image is out of focus for example. So yes, embedding a full size JPG does inflate the size of the RAW file somewhat, but the alternative would be that you'd only have a thumbnail preview, and you'd have to develop the image before you could zoom in on it. There's no free lunch.

I don't know much about ICRD or the in camera Digital filters. You have to keep in mind that while the JPG engine on the camera is perfectly capable of producing great JPG images, it's a little awkward to adjust the various parameters using the camera controls during ICRD. If using ICRD gets you where you need to go, that's great, but most people find using a RAW converter on a computer more flexible and more powerful.

---------- Post added 04-23-2019 at 07:55 PM ----------



FS does have a setting that gives you the option of developing the RAW images for display, but you have no control over the processing parameters, so it's mostly pointless (in addition to being much slower than just using the embedded JPG ). The resulting image will look different from the embedded JPG because FS uses DCRAW which doesn't understand any of your camera's JPG settings. If you use the embedded JPG, you get something that looks like the camera JPG, and depending on the camera, it can be of reasonably good quality. You have to pixel peep to see the difference between the embedded JPG and the camera JPG.

FS isn't supposed to be a RAW converter. It's an image viewer, and basic image editor. It's very good at those functions. As I explained earlier, I use it to browse/cull my images, and to do simple edits. If I need to use a RAW converter on an image, I invoke it from FS. If I need to do a complex image edit with layers, etc., I invoke a more powerful editor from FastStone.

This whole discussion revolves around a quirk of FS: because, by default, when you view a RAW file it shows you the embedded JPG, you can edit and save that embedded JPG. It's not as high quality as you would get from RAW development, but if all you need is a quick, low res version of your image that looks more or less like the camera JPG, it's a fast way of getting one.

This is what I've been trying to explain all along. Using FS to extract JPGs from RAW files is a shortcut that you can use when you don't need full quality JPGs.

Imagine you've been out in the field all day, shooting RAW. You get back to your hotel room and you want to send a quick sample of one of your images to somebody via email, but all you've got is a low powered laptop, and not much time to muck around with a RAW converter. You can browse your RAW files using FastStone, choose your image, and then adjust/crop/resize/sharpen the embedded JPG and save it. Much faster than importing all those images into Lightroom.

Many people don't need to do this - ever. But even if you never do, FS is still a very handy program. And it can do some things that programs like Lightroom cannot ( AFAIK ). Again, those features may not be of use to most photographers, but they are very handy for the kind of work that I do.
Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-23-2019, 04:02 AM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
This test is no surprise. Whether the camera stores a JPG at the same time as it stores the RAW file (RAW+), or you process the RAW file after the fact using ICRD, you are doing the exact same thing. This is completely different from extracting the embedded JPG using FastStone. Extracting the embedded JPG doesn't involve any processing. This is why it is FAST and why you get an image that looks much the same as you would get from ICRD (with the exception of additional JPG artifact).

The RAW file contains several things:

1) The RAW 'image' - which is not really an image - it's the raw, unprocessed (or minimally processed) data captured by the camera sensor
2) A full sized JPG image (quality is camera dependent) intended to be used as a preview - this allows you to look at the image on the rear screen of the camera without having to re-process the RAW image
3) Possibly one or more thumbnail previews

Note that items 2 and 3 are there simply for "convenience". They are embedded in the RAW file to allow you to look at the image in the RAW file without having to do any processing (ie. converting RAW image data into an actual image).


We will continue to go around in circles unless we're clear that we are talking about two different operations:

1) Raw Development/processing - this can be performed using ICRD in the camera (while shooting JPG/RAW+ or after the fact), or on a computer using a Raw Converter (Lightroom, PDCU, etc.)
2) Extracting the preview JPG that's embedded in the RAW file - this can be done using a limited number of programs (FastStone is the only one I know of, but there are probably a few others)

Note that operation 1 is computationally expensive because you are creating the image from RAW data. Operation 2 is fast because you are taking advantage of a JPG image that already exists, but you have to live with whatever JPG artifacts exist in the preview image. Depending on what you want to do with the image, it may be good enough. If it's for a blog post, it's probably good enough. If you want to print it poster sized, probably not.

Shooting RAW+ isn't going to work for everyone. Yes, you can always create JPG images after the fact using either ICRD or a RAW converter on a computer, but that is an extra step.


Personally, I never have buffer issues in the shooting I do. I squeeze my shots off one by one, deliberately. So write speed isn't an issue for me, and I can shoot RAW+ if I want to. I can't imagine ever using ICRD for my own shooting because I can't easily pick my "keepers" on the rear screen of my camera. I mostly shoot macro (or near macro), where I'm dealing with narrow DOF. When possible, I will take a number of shots of my subject. I can't easily tell when I've nailed the focus on a tiny screen - I need to compare the images on a monitor to decide which shot is the best. Once I've browsed/culled my shots on my computer, I'm not going to return to my camera to do ICRD of the best shots. And besides, it may be months or years later when I decide I need an image for publication - so I really don't have any choice but to use a RAW converter on my computer when I want a high quality JPG (or TIFF).

As I explained previously, I don't always need high quality versions of my images. Often, I just need a JPG as a record of an observation, or to attach to an email to demonstrate something to someone. Which shots I will want to keep as RAW and which I might just want to keep as a cropped JPG isn't known until I can look at the images on a computer. If I shoot RAW+, my post shooting cull process consists of deleting RAW and JPG for the garbage shots, deleting the RAW for the record shots, and keeping the RAW and JPG for the keepers. I don't have to go to the extra step of firing up a RAW converter and fiddling with low-priority images that I'm only keeping as JPGs.

That's not a workflow that makes sense for everyone, and it certainly doesn't make sense for an event photographer who is working to a timeline. My cameras as chock full of features I never use, but I don't dismiss them as useless just because they aren't useful to me.
Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-22-2019, 04:56 AM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
I think there may be some confusion here - partly due to the vocabulary we've invented around this. Maybe we should step back and define some terminology.

When I say that FastStone "extracts" an embedded JPG from a RAW file, I mean that it takes a preview image that's inside the RAW file and presents it to you. This is not the "normal" way to do things - it's a shortcut that FastStone uses. Most programs "process" or "develop" the RAW image and generate a JPG. This takes more time and is computationally more expensive, but it gives you far more latitude for adjusting exposure, white balance, etc. etc. That's why people save RAW images.

When you used your camera development feature, you were not "extracting" the embedded JPG. The camera was "developing" the RAW image, so it's not surprising that you got the exact same sized JPG file that you got when you shot RAW+. You were essentially performing the same operation in both scenarios. When you shoot RAW+, the camera captures the RAW image and develops it into a JPG image - it embeds a somewhat lower quality version of the JPG image inside the RAW file, as well as a higher quality version along side it (quality of that image set according to the camera settings). When you shoot RAW, and then develop the image in camera, the camera processor takes the RAW image out of the RAW file, and develops it a second time (according to your current settings). If there was no change in the camera settings, you should get the same image JPG image that you would have got if you shot RAW+.

When you extract a JPG image from a RAW file with FastStone, I don't think it's easy to be sure what the size of the embedded file was before you extracted it - so I don't think comparing file sizes is valid in that scenario. I haven't updated FastStone in a while, but in the version I'm using, it gives you the option of saving the file with the original JPG quality, but because the JPG was extracted from a DNG, FastStone doesn't have an "original" JPG quality (or at least, it doesn't tell you what it was), so it uses whatever value you have set as your default. If your default is high, you'll end up with a large JPG. If it's low, the JPG will be smaller. All you can see is the size of the file that FastStone will create from the extracted JPG, not the size of the file that was embedded in the RAW file.

As I mentioned previously, I looked at some images where I shot RAW+, and I did a side by side comparison of the JPG extracted from the DNG file and the JPG generated/saved by the camera. I can see a slight difference in quality - there are more artifacts in the JPG extracted from the RAW file - it's not quite as sharp. I have to pixel peep to see the differences, but they are there. I could try to save 100% crops of the two versions of the same image and post them here, but the compression applied by the website might mask the subtle difference between the two. I haven't posted an image to the forum in years, so I'm not sure how this will look. The image was shot RAW+ using my KP. The first - "camera_jpg_crop" - is a crop from the JPG generated by the camera. The second - "extracted_jpg_crop" is a crop from the embedded JPG that FastStone extracted from the DNG file. I zoomed in on a detail from the image, then upsized it so that the JPG artifacts can be seen. I performed the same sequence of operations on both images, in the same order. For the camera JPG, I saved it at 98% quality, which is what FastStone says in the quality saved by the camera. For the DNG crop, I saved it at 100%. I can see a difference in the posted images, but I concede that this is pixel peeping. It's just to demonstrate that there is a difference in the quality of the JPG image that is embedded in the RAW file, and the one saved by the camera when you shoot RAW+. Is the difference important? That depends on what you are going to do with the image.

As I said, I would suggest you do this test for yourself. Shoot an image RAW+ . Make sure it's an image that has some strong light/dark contrast, a fair amount of detail, and perhaps a swath of sky in it. Then, in FastStone, click on both the DNG/PEF and the JPG, and use the image comparator to bring up both images side by side. Then zoom in to 100% (or higher) and scroll around the images. You should see more JPG artifact in the image extracted from the RAW file. The difference is quite noticeable in my K30 images, and a little less noticeable with my KP images. Only you can decide whether that difference is important or not.

Assuming you want to save RAW files, I maintain that there are 3 options for obtaining JPG images from them. In order of increasing image quality they are:

1) shooting RAW and extract the JPG that's embedded in the RAW file (using FastStone - there may be other programs that will allow you to do this but I don't know of any off the top of my head)
2) shooting RAW+ and use the JPG generated by the camera
3) processing/developing your RAW images to generate JPGs using a RAW converter (eg. PDCU, DxO, Lightroom, Rawtherapee, Darktable, etc. etc.)

The last option is where you have the most flexibility to adjust exposure, white balance, etc., and where you can increase the JPG quality to the maximum, or save as TIFF.

PS: for anyone curious - the crop is taken from a shot of someone standing in a winter scene. You're looking at one lens of the person's sunglasses, where you can see reflections of a shadow, and footprints in the snow.

---------- Post added 04-22-2019 at 08:33 AM ----------

Another test you can do: Set your camera to shoot RAW. Take 3 shots of the same scene with the JPG quality setting at *, **, and ***. I bet there won't be much of a difference in the size of the resulting RAW files, which tells you that the quality of the JPG that is embedded in the RAW file is not under your control.
Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-21-2019, 04:04 AM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
I've been using DNG. I used PEF only briefly when I first got my K200D. I decided that compatibility with different RAW converters outweighed the small savings in storage. I can't remember now, but I may have been experimenting with a RAW converter that didn't accept PEF at the time. I can't remember if my K30 even supports PEF.

---------- Post added 04-21-2019 at 07:53 AM ----------



AFAIK, you have no control over the size/quality of the JPG that the camera embeds within the RAW file. It is there for preview purposes, and it isn't really intended to be "extracted" and used as an image. It doesn't matter how you set the JPG quality on the camera - the embedded JPG is of a fixed size/quality (and that appears to vary from camera to camera ). The designers probably tweak the size/quality of the embedded JPG to hit certain performance criteria (frame rate, etc.). The embedded JPG only needs to be good enough for viewing on the rear screen of the camera as far as Pentax is concerned. It could be that as pixel counts get higher, the designers have dropped the quality of the embedded JPG somewhat to keep the RAW files from inflating too much (which would slow down the write speed).

FastStone uses these preview JPGs because it is the fastest and least CPU intensive way of displaying the contents of a folder full of images. Most RAW converters don't do this, and that's why there is so much confusion around how FastStone works.

My current desktop isn't particularly high powered by today's standards, but I used to use an even slower machine. Back then, it would take forever for programs like Lightroom or Rawtherapee to open a folder of RAW files because the program had to generate the JPGs from the RAW files. I found it very frustrating because I might want to just go into the folder to get a quick JPG version of one photo, and I would have to wait for 10 minutes while the program would grind away generating previews of the entire folder.

FastStone would open the folder and display previews in a few seconds - allowing me to locate the image I was after and generate a quick JPG with minimal fuss. If I wanted a high quality image, I would then fire up a RAW converter to create one. But my preference was for RAW converters that would only process the selected file (eg. PDCU, DxO, SilkyPix, PSE). I lost patience with converters that would have to process the entire folder when I only wanted to look at a single image (eg. Lightroom).

As far as the camera topping out at *** while PDCU goes to ****, I must confess that I have never noticed this. If true, it was probably a compromise made by the camera designers in order to maintain the frame rate, save storage, etc.. The thinking was probably "If the user needs a super high quality image, they will likely generate it in post". Because PDCU is running on your desktop, it doesn't have to keep up with your frame rate, so it can offer the option of generating a premium JPG that will be larger and would take too long to write to an SD card. Similarly, PDCU allows you to save an image as a TIFF, but your camera doesn't. There's no technical reason it couldn't save a TIFF, but what's the point if you can save RAW? That's my guess anyways.

When shooting RAW+ with my K30, I noticed that when I open the camera JPGs in FastStone, the numeric value of the JPG quality varies a bit from image to image ( eg. one might be 99%, another might be 96%). I suspect that when I'm shooting rapidly, and the camera buffer is filing up, the camera drops the JPG quality a bit to speed up the write speed so it doesn't fall too far behind. Note that I never shoot in burst mode, so I have limited experience with pushing my cameras to their limits.

I would recommend that you do some simple experiments with shooting RAW+, with the JPG quality set to the highest level that the camera allows. Then open the resulting images in FastStone. You will see that for a particular image, the thumbnails of the RAW/JPG look identical ( which proves that for the RAW file, FastStone is showing you the embedded JPG). If you use the image comparator tool (which shows two images side by side on the monitor) to compare the RAW vs JPG, and you zoom to 100% (you can configure FastStone to do that when you right click), you should see that there is a difference in the quality of the two images. The RAW image (really, the embedded JPG) should have more JPG artifact, posterization, etc.

Then exit the folder, and change the settings so that FastStone doesn't use the embedded JPG (on my version, you press F12, go to the RAW tab, and it's the option at the top of the menu). Now do the side by side comparison of RAW vs JPG - you will see a slight difference in the images (depending on camera JPG settings). I just did this with some of my KP images. It's REALLY slow as FastStone tries to convert the RAW file ( does not affect the thumbnail previews - I guess it still uses the embedded JPGs for that in spite of the setting ). When I did the side by side comparison on the embedded JPG from the RAW file with the JPG saved by the camera, I can see a slight difference. I have to pixel peak on the selected image to see a difference. But that's the JPG generated by the camera. It might be easier to see the difference between the embedded JPG and a JPG (or TIFF) generated using PDCU (or other RAW converter).

The extracted JPG might be OK if all you need is a quick preview of your image, but only you can make that call. I don't know how you use your images.

For my shooting RAW+ works, and as I explained I cull after the fact - keeping the RAW files for only those images that I think might be useful in the future. If I was hard pressed for card storage and/or write speed, I could shoot RAW and work with extracted JPGs (as I did with my K200D), but it would involve more fiddling in post.

If you can't shoot RAW+, then I would suggest you shoot RAW, and use "extracted" JPGs for sample/preview purposes, and when you want a really good version of selected images, you generate them using a RAW processor. If you really like the camera rendering, then PDCU is your best choice for a RAW converter (and it's free). If you only have to generate a few high quality images from any given shoot, it may be that you can live with the shortcomings of PDCU. If you nail your exposures/white balance in camera, you may only need to make minimal adjustments within PDCU, and so you don't have to struggle with the UI very much, or you can store adjustment parameters from one image and apply them to others.

If you find that PDCU is unworkable for you, then you'll have to find a different RAW converter. Everyone has a favourite. Personally, I prefer DxO over all the others I've tried. I really liked the workflow in Silkypix, but it back when I was trialing it, the price for that program was on the high side. You will probably want to experiment with a number of them until you find the one that best suits your work flow.

Bottom line - if you shoot RAW and extract the embedded JPGs using FastStone, you should probably only use them as low res samples. For quality work, you will probably want to generate high quality JPGs or TIFFs from the RAW files using a RAW converter.
Forum: Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 04-18-2019, 07:21 AM  
FastStone Image Viewer and extracting Jpg's from RAW DNG's
Posted By arkav
Replies: 66
Views: 2,817
Sorry to chime in a little late on this thread. I haven't read every post in detail, so I apologize if I'm repeating what others have already said.

I've been using FastStone for many years, starting back when I got my K200D - around 10 years ago. I think FastStone is a fantastic tool for viewing/culling photos, and for performing simple edits of JPG/TIFF images.

With RAW files, by default it works with the embedded JPG. You can set it up to convert the RAW file (using DCRAW I believe), but this is slow, and you have no control over how the conversion is done ( AFAIK you can't adjust exposure, white balance, etc. ). IMHO that defeats the purpose of FastStone ( which is to give you a fast, lightweight viewer/editor ), and doesn't really give you any of the advantages of even the crudest RAW converter.

When I was using my K200D, I had problems shooting RAW+. The camera had trouble keeping up and would often corrupt slower memory cards, so I got in the habit of just shooting RAW. That particular camera embedded very high quality JPGs in the RAW files, which I could extract using FastStone. The quality of the embedded JPGs rivaled what I could get by converting the RAW file using any other converter I tried including Lightroom, Elements, DxO, Rawtherapee, Silkypix, and PDCU ( assuming the photo had been exposed correctly to begin with ). I think this was an anomaly, and most cameras do not embed high quality JPGs in the RAW file.

When I moved up to a K30, my card issues went away, so RAW+ became a viable option again. I noticed that the DNG files generated by my K30 weren't proportionally bigger than those generated by my K200D. I also noticed that the quality of the embedded JPGs that were in the K30's RAW files were not as good as those from my K200D. You could see posterization, etc. My guess is that the K30 increased the compression on the JPGs embedded JPGs in its RAW files.

I can say with certainty that "normally", FastStone does use the JPG that's embedded in the RAW files. Why would one want to use the embedded JPG? It depends on what you use your photographs for. My photos serve 2 purposes - many of my photos are just recordings of observations. I don't need fantastic photos for this purpose - a low res JPG that I can archive and/or attach to an email will do. And I don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time generating that JPG. Shooting JPG is not an option as I don't know in advance when the opportunity for the "money shot" will occur. I can't afford to miss a shot while changing mode from JPG to RAW. My preference is to shoot RAW+, and then to cull after the fact (keep a cropped version of the JPG for pure record shots, and retain the RAWs for the "keepers"). With my K200D, RAW+ didn't work so well, so I defaulted to shooting RAW. I didn't want to spend a lot of time converting all the RAW files for my "record" shots, so I would extract and keep the embedded JPGs for them, and only keep the RAWs for the really good shots.

So I can see valid reasons for shooting RAW alone, and for RAW+. But I think you want to look very carefully at the JPGs you extract from your RAW file before you opt for using them for anything critical. Those I got from my K200D were high quality, but those I get from my K30 aren't great (but they may be good enough for some uses). I haven't looked carefully at those I can get from my KP yet. Also, the OP should note that you can't increase the quality of the embedded JPG using FastStone using "Save As". The software gives you the option of saving that image at 100%, or as a TIFF, but that isn't going to improve the image quality over what the camera stored in the RAW file. You can set it to 100%, but that just means you are storing a big file. It's the same if you open a JPG file that was originally stored at 85%. Storing it as 100% doesn't improve it.

Normally, I work almost exclusively with FastStone. Day to day, most of what I do is culling my shots and generating low res "sample" JPGs that I use for various purposes. FastStone is excellent for this kind of thing, especially if your computer is on the slower side.

It's only when I have a photo that either needs adjustment (exposure and/or white balance), or where I want to get the absolute best result I can (say, for publication) that I'll resort to using a RAW converter. I've used several over the years. I've settled on PDCU and DxO as my preferred RAW converters. In general, I really like the results I get from PDCU. It is my belief that PDCU is essentially the software we have in our cameras, with a somewhat crude UI bolted on. That is why the software understands all the camera settings, and can (easily) duplicate the JPGs produced by the camera. It's a bit clunky, but for one-off processing, it works for me. If I'm doing a bunch of landscape photos, I'll use DxO.

The OP should note that you can launch some RAW converters from FastStone (right click, "Edit with External Program"). This is very handy. I have all my RAW converters added to my external program list in FastStone. So while I'm browsing a folder of photos, if I decide I want to work on a particular RAW file, I right click, select my converter, and the image will pop up in the converter I've chosen. So basically, I navigate my photo archive using FastStone, and use it to select what I want to work on, either within FastStone, or within some other converter or editing program.

I hope this helps.

PS: you might want to try to sort out what is going wrong with PDCU on your computer. If you like the camera rendering, it's probably the best option available for duplicating that. What operating system are you using?
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