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Thread: Getting it right in camera(II) - image file formats.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Getting it right in camera(II) - image file formats.

    Getting it right in camera II - Image formats:

    A lot gets written about on the topic of image file formats especially such as jpg, raw and tiff.
    Each file format has it's advantages and disadvantages. Most of us generally know and understand these nuances, and for total newbies to digital camera/image file formats, there is much more detailed info available on many other sites than I can describe here.
    One thing to note here .. I'm no expert on the topic, and I can only reiterate accurate info on the topics as I've come across the info myself.
    I don't pretend to know every bit and byte of data on the topic of image formats, but having had some unique experiences, I've collected a fair amount of info and like to share it with those that care to know.
    While some of this thread will involve an opinion(in my situation .. my opinion) .. I'll try to keep the majority of the info on a factual basis.

    On the other thread that resulted in this discussion/thread, much was made of file formats and what they are and how they're represented .. and some of it was written as an opinion, not fact.
    While these opinions can be true for some, they're not true for everyone concerned with the topic.
    Hopefully my thread will explain the differences.

    Because this thread is as a result of the slightly OT discussion on the other getting it right in camera thread, I'll start with some aspects of geting it right in camera file formats.

    JPEG: there is nothing wrong with using this file format to get images out of your camera. If you get them right every time, kudos to you and happy shooting.
    But if you can't accept the point that no matter what you know, there is always something else to learn .. then why limit yourself to a restrictive format.
    OPINION:
    As a matter of opinion, I (along with many other people) believe that the JPG format is not the best file type to be shooting in camera. As already said, there is nothing wrong with it per se, but it is more limited in at least two ways.
    1/. it's a limited, compressed and completely cooked data file.
    (FWIW: jpg is not an image exactly! .. it's a set of data that isn't all that much different to how raw files are rendered .. more on this later)
    2/. because it's a cooked file format, it isn't the best file type to use for learning(again more on this later.
    We already know most of the limitations of the jp format .. ie. 8bit colour, compressed data(even at 100% quality .. it's still compressed .. etc).

    While 2/. is as much an opinion on my part as the opposite view is from other's, part of my opinion is based on fact. The facts are right .. but if yours is an alternate opinion on this subject and hence in opposition to mine, then you will see my opinion as wrong!
    All the best to your POV, but if you want to express your opinion on the topic as definitive and right .. then at least some facts should be presented as to why.

    Here's why I think my opinion is the more relevant.

    OPINION:
    The better file format to shoot in camera is raw. Always! Once you have an image shot in jpg, you can't instruct the image later on in Post Processing(PP) to render in an opposing manner with respect to colour.
    And by this colour, I mean whitebalance(WB).
    if you accidentally shot a jpg image at WB setting of 2500K .. good luck to you trying to get it to an accurate WB setting of 10000K! You won't.
    The attempt to do so will only result in posterization, as you will be pushing this limited compressed and lost data to an extreme it was never meant to achieve.
    (while this an assessment of mine and hence my opinion, it is also based on some facts. Both technical and personal experience on a few image editing programs .. but those programs exclude Photoshop!)

    Whilst WB is one of my main reasons for using raw, there are also other important reasons to do so.
    In camera picture style rendering.(Nikon calls them Picture Controls .. other manufacturers call them other things .. I'm a Nikon user, so I'll stick with pc's .. which is not personal computer!!)
    In the other thread linked too, a comment was made that the in camera picture styles(pc's) are not rendered in the raw file. That is(I think) that the pcs don't actually render the raw file.
    While this is partly correct, in reality nothing renders the raw file unless you have a raw converter to do so. Some raw converters do render the file as per the pc's, some don't.
    In effect, this is your option. You can choose if you want the pc's to render correctly or not in your workflow. Like I said tho, while it's partially correct, on the whole it's wrong! very wrong.
    What the original author of that statement said is not a fact, it's an opinion. While it's right for them, it doesn't mean that it's right. If a piece of info is to looked upon as right or wrong, it has to be for everyone .. not just the person making the claim.
    So as already said, while my view on the subject is an opinion(which makes it right for me), it's also based on a small fact.
    So if you just got lost in that small diatribe:
    the picture style(pc's) used in camera(most cameras nowadays) is a set of instruction to render a raw file in a particular way. That set of instructions causes the raw file to have a specific look. This look is then cooked into the raw file. You way choose to see it, or not .. but the fact is that this cooked look to the raw file is there .. always! There is basically nothing you can do about it other than deconstruct the raw file .. which may render it to be useless!

    What is an image file:
    Firstly, a jpg file, what is it? It's a collection of dots(pixels) that will display on your computer screen. Some folks think that jpg images are set one way and thats it!
    Nowadays this is almost certainly right, but not strictly speaking.
    A jpg is not a series of pixels that gets displayed onto your screen.
    it's a set of instructions of a set of data that the computer renders onto your screen.
    Nowadays the point is moot, but not all that many years ago, it may have been. It's doubtful that any issues of the format will arise again as the patents issues have been dealt with. Years ago there was an issue with the patent and as I remember, some software developers created their own codecs to render the jpg files in their software. For some reason Irfanview comes to mind on this.
    The key word there tho was CODEC.
    What the jpg file format isn't, is a set and forget and render the same way every time file format.
    The file's rendering is open to interpretation by the codec used by your OS, or software.
    Why is this useless piece of info important?
    Really, it's not, as it seems that all vendors use the same basic codec, but it also appears that this wasn't always the case.
    Microsoft uses a different jpg codec in their system to the one Apples chooses to use.
    Even tho M$ and Apple choose to use their versions of the jpg codec for their system wide applications, there is no reason to believe that Adobe, Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Phase One .. all use those same codecs in their software as well! they may well use their own, or an open and freely available codec.
    This is important to understand because, in effect, it's basically the same way raw files are 'seen'.

    Secondly, raw.
    Once again, because I know zero about other raw formats, and something of Nikon's NEF format, I'll try to describe what I know of it. While it's not a lot, it's enough to let you all in on some secrets about it.
    An NEF is a collection of pixel data, that gets contained in a file format, that needs to be(on the whole) rendered via a raw converter. The raw converter is basically using it's codecs to reassemble the data into a viewable image. ie. basically it's the same image rendering description as the jpg file.
    While raw files are on the main, tiff files, they are also jpg files.
    Yep! you read that right.. a raw file is also a jpg file.
    But not directly. This is the secret tip part I was referring too earlier.
    Inside the raw file container, there are not only millions of pixels data points to interpolate, and instructions on the side to interpolate them in a specific way, but also some jpg files. For NEF, that will be three of them. One is very small 300x200 IIRC, the other is a medium size(about 1000pixels or so, and the other is full size(the size of your sensor pixel dimensions).

    NOT OPINION, BUT BASED ON SOME LOOSE INFO!:
    My understanding of the middle sized jpg is that it's dependent on your review screens pixel dimensions, but I'm not entirely sure? Any factual info with respect to this is welcomed.
    But the point I'm trying to make is that while other's believe that raw files are not totally cooked, and as a generalisation this can be correct. The reality is that even raw files can be partly cooked.
    So what this means is that a raw file set with specific pc's CAN and WILL(if the conditions are right) to display in a certain way(or rendering).

    You can, or may, see this in almost any raw converter, depending on how your raw converter is set up.
    I've seen this in many raw converter programs. RawTherapee, Lr, CaptureOne, Nikon's converters, and other software I can't remember .. actually .. my fave viewer .. FastStone's FSViewer! .. etc.

    So what does it mean that your raw file is also a jpg file?
    That is, how can it make a difference?
    because there is a jpg file(actually 3!) you can extract those files(maybe not all, buit at least some) using very simple software, which ARE NOT raw converters.
    The one I tend to use more is IJFR .... InstantJpegFromRaw, is what the acronym stands for, which explains waht this program does. it extracts the jpg from the raw file. What it doesn't do is convert the raw file into a jpg file, which is what a raw converter does.
    Again, as for jpg files, the important operative word used earlier is codec.
    All raw converters need to use a codec to render the image file.
    Some manufacturers don't share the inner workings of their raw files, and so other software vendors need to create their own.
    This is where the confusing situation of raw file rendering is created.
    Nikon's raw converters all render the raw file exactly as per the settings on the camera. pc's in this instance come into play. The pc's you set in camera, using the manufacturers software will almost certainly render the raw file as per the cameras pc settings.

    The comment made that picture controls set in raw files aren't rendered in the raw file is not correct on at least two fronts here.
    1/. the jpg files inside the raw file are set in stone(in a manner of speaking) they are cooked to the required process recipe set by the camera. No ifs or buts.
    2/. Using a specific raw converter, you will see the raw file as it was set by the cameras pc's .. again no ifs or buts.
    -Nikon software will only ever render the raw file as per the pc's chosen in camera .. again no ifs or buts. You don't have an option in the process.
    On the face of it this may sound a bit limiting, but the reality is that it's a bit of a blessing.
    (your manufacturers software probably works the same way)
    What this means is, that if you choose to use your manufacturers software, you can alternate through various pc's to see which one renders better, or nicely, or appropriately.
    What this situation then does for us, is take us back to the beginning and makes it easier to teach us what camera settings allow us to create images that are right straight out of camera.

    The alternative is if you choose to use jpg in camera, to achieve the same level of what can be a complex learning curve, you could shoot thousands of images in jpg mode, with in camera pc's cooking those jpgs, and review them all on the computer to see which one you prefer!
    if you're a glutton for punishment .. then use jpg mode thousands of times ... and that's your choice.
    But for the rest of us that may like to set up our images in multiple and/or various ways, sitting in front of the computer, alternating through various pc's cooking processes is a lot easier to learn about what camera pc's settings do for for the look of the images.
    This part of the image editing workflow is optional .. and not forced upon you.
    Once you have them the way you like, you can then upload the the pc's to the camera(most cameras have the option to upload YOUR pc's settings .. then shoot in jpg knowing you have got the shot right in the camera.
    But again, why limit yourself to such a narrow perspective?
    Keep shooting raw mode, as you already have a jpg in the raw file! .. extract that jpg(as you now have a jpg straight out of the camera anyhow!!) but you then have the option later on in life if you want to alter the raw file to something else.

    OPINION (... kind'a ... more of an observation really)
    One thing Nikon have taught me is that, over time, they 'improve' the Picture Control editing options in their cameras and software.
    Again, at the least, this comment is Nikon specific .. your camera manufacturer's workings may be different.

    OPINION (... I think)
    I'll go back to the "raw is a jpg" comment I've made, and how it can affect non manufacturer's raw converters.
    What I've noticed as I've been trialling other raw converter software(of which include many brands), is that on initial loading of the raw files into the converter itself, the thumbnail images presented in the software will almost certainly be those of the embedded jpg preview files in the raw file.
    This doesn't mean that ALL raw converters will do this .. just the one's I've tried(and have).
    LR4 and 5 do this, Capture One also does. Most image viewers also do this too.
    When raw files are viewed in most software, there may/will be a setting which allows the software to view the embedded jpg file(s) in the raw file.
    With some software you can enable/disable this setting.
    With Windows, I've never seen the option, and have only ever seen it render the embedded jpg preview file(s).
    Small jpg for thumbnails, and if you want to view the larger full pixel version, it must then use the full sized preview file.(I don't think these software use the mid sized file .. this may only be a Nikon setting for viewing on the camera's review screen.
    A note for some native OS environments: For Windows to see the raw file, the codec from the manufacturer must be installed. This could be native to Windows, depending on the version, in some instances where the OS is older than the camera model, you download and use the manufacturer's latest codecs.

    Either way, whether jpg or raw .. a codec must be installed on your PC to view the image.
    With jpg this is simple, your OS(or software will have one by default).
    Just because you can't see this or don't know this, doesn't make it an opinion.
    It's a fact. jpgs are not some miracle file that is ubiquitous and that all software can see or use.
    ie. you don't just see them, they get rendered.

    OPINION:
    I've noted a slight difference between jpg rendering on a few occasions myself.
    A long time back(maybe 5-6 years ago), I had an instance where a jpg file was displayed one way in one software(Lr4) but totally different by other software(Nikon's CNX2 and VNX2).
    I have no idea why other than the only way to show this problem was via screen captures.
    I never got to the bottom of the issue other than I haven't seen it ever again.
    My OPINION is that some software may use different jpg codecs to render the images.

    If anyone has any information contrary to my findings or facts, I'm happy for them to share these findings.
    Opinions are OK, facts are better .. but opinions presented as facts are not cool. It doesn't help anyone interested in the topic to learn about it.
    Ken Rockwell wannabees be warned!

    In a later post, I'll show some examples of in camera raw files that have a unique look to them, and I'll also post some info on how to use Picture Controls to an advantage.
    Last edited by arthurking83; 16-08-2014 at 8:17pm. Reason: speeling and grammatical errs :p
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  2. #2
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    As AK has stated above, JPG (capitals cause it is the initials of the Joint Photographic Group), is a format that can be used, but it is not the best format. To go into the why it is not the best format involved an understanding of how the JPG image algorythm works and what it does with the data contained within the JPG file type.

    JPG is often referred to as a lossy format. JPG was originally developed some time ago to compress the data that made up an image file into a smaller filespace. Simply because internet speeds and access was paramount to getting information transmitted digitally. Remember dial-up 56kb modems? The Joint Photographic Group was tasked with finding a way to compress image data into smaller files for ease of transfer over the internet. They succeeded! The JPG image format was born. We could now shrink the filesize of our images and transmit these smaller files over the internet much faster than we could the original image file.

    Now, how did the JPG people accomplish this amazing feat?

    The realised that they could represent blocks of similar/same colour in a much smaller way than having data for each pixel-site. Take a blue sky. It can look fairly evenly blue across most of it. When you look at each pixel that makes up that sky, each pixel site had a numerical colour value and a brightness value assigned to it. Now if the pixels all around that one, had exactly the same information, the Joint Photographic Group realised they could 'bundle' that information together and reduce the size of the image file. So instead of 10 pixel sites each storing their own colour and brightness, JPG stored the values just once, for all the pixel sites that were the same.

    However, when you applied the JPG algorythm to an image file that was already in the JPG format, the algorythm did its job. It looked for same/similar pixels and combined the data.. and successfully made a smaller filesize again. Great, smaller file, faster to transmit over the net etc.

    But, each time the file saved, it lost some data, subtle naunces in the pixels. So a blue sky would end up looking the exact same blue right across the JPG image. So what? most people see a blue sky and see a blue sky. But if you look at a blue sky, it is not the one tone of blue, it varies, from horizon to apex (straight above your head) and even left to right. JPG compression losses some of this detail. Thus JPG is referred to as lossy format.

    JPG images are great. Most of the photos uploaded to AP are JPG's. They are used in newspapers, magazines, prints and phones and other digital devices. JPG gives us super images in small filesizes. However the lossy aspect of the format means even at the very beginning of creating a JPG you are losing some of the original image data. It is gone... forever. It cannot be brought back from a JPG file. Once the data is removed, that is it.

    And that is the very reason RAW and TIFF etc are seen as 'digital negatives'. They have all the original data, pixel by pixel, captured from the sensor. You can go back to the RAW file and create new versions, save them. Create more new versions, save them, and each time, you start with ALL the data captured by your camera sensor. JPG saving in-camera, has already compressed (removed) some of that data, and each time you resave the JPG, the process reduces the filesize and gets rid of more data.

    So JPG is great, works well, offers good quality images in smaller filesizes. But is it the best format to be saving your captured images in, directly from your camera to your memory card, no it isn't.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

  3. #3
    A royal pain in the bum!
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    Thanx for the added info Rick. Once again the point made(with a bit more detail as to why) that jpgs are not real images, but need to be encoded to being with, and then decoded to view them.
    This is done seamlessly and you don't know of it and see it(other than maybe a small spike in CPU processing activity when viewing the jpg file)

    In the link to the other thread on getting it right in camera, a comment was made by (a now ex) member:

    "What's wrong with that? Raw files don't even represent real colours because each sensel is just one colour. Raw files need to be interpolated to resemble RGB. JPEG, otoh, is a real image."
    post #61

    Much ado was made from nothing, and a challenge was also made by this ex member.
    Rather than address the challenge, I'll make the point that this ex member doesn't really seem to have a full grasp of what an image file really is.
    The above quoted text is a very basic understanding of the file formats.
    This ex member also added an external link to his blog, where they posted some info which is again a bit inaccurate, and more of an opinion piece rather than fact. (all well and good if you agree with that proposal).

    But, if the person writing the opinion can't be trusted with a full understanding what the file type being discussed really is, do they really have a right to demand from others to provide proof without the need to do so themselves?
    In that blog no facts or evidence or real reasons have been mentioned about exactly why you are best to do as suggested or advised.
    To begin with, I'd never post such an article in a blog(if I blogged), but if I ever did so, at the least, I'd explain, hopefully with some merit, why I think you are best advised to do .. X or Y, or Z .. etc.

    this ex member's comments or suggestions are best taken with a grain of salt.

    In that link to the ex members blog, there is another link to THIS which takes you to a NatGeo post.

    I'd recommend that any one else new to photography also take a dim view on the opinion to shoot jpg in camera.
    While there's nothing wrong with that, and you can view your files in Excel if you wish too .. you really are better off learning to use your camera more efficiently by shooting raw, persevering with your camera manufacturers software(which will be available on a CD, or for download .. for free) and playing with the raw files at home on the computer to see how each different step affects the image.
    If you accidentally underexposed by 1.5 stops (-1.5Ev) having shot a raw file will allow you to see this.
    Having shot in jpg mode(for the purpose of learning) will never allow you to see this. (see Rick's reply above as to why!)
    Same with whitebalance, same with in camera picture styles .. etc, etc.

    if you have the time to go through this ex member's replies, you will read many replies to his comments that have a contrary theme to them. There is a very good reason for that.
    The ex member had asked me to provide reasons for my belief that he is wrong on many counts .. my above recommendation is just one(as well as the inner workings of the jpg file format!)

    Of course as noted before: my recommendations to shoot raw are my opinion, and not everyone uses the same reasoning in their opinion, but the most commonly held opinion is to shoot raw.
    Those above are just my opinions. The reasons have helped me in my early days of shooting digital, I'm sure there are many people that have learned this way themselves too(maybe just not realised it!)

    FWIW: I don't know who this guy in the NatGeo link is, and have never heard of him. Knowing what I now know, I wouldn't trust him to provide me with any tutoring on the topic of photography.
    HIS comment too that raw files render with low contrast and flat, is also a limited view on the topic. If that's all he sees, then he hasn't used many other raw file viewers either.

    More relevant opinions are best accepted from folks that have a more varied experience(which is where I've taken all mine from, both from members on AP .. and other sources too).

    Next post, hopefully, I'll post up some interesting raw file images .. rendered in a way that is not usually associated with unprocessed raw files, and far from flat and low contrast!

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    Sorry folks .. more boring and useless information to come now.
    This time in the form of some images tho .. but don't get too excited .. lots of diatribe on how, what and why too.

    I'll help you get through the post a bit quickly and post the images first. Once you see them you can then switch off, while I rabbit on

    #1:
    DSC_9010_01.JPG

    #2:
    DSC_9010.jpg

    One of those images is a raw file straight out of camera, the other is a raw file converted with a raw file converter(to jpg obviously)
    It's obvious which one is which .. the only difference is that two different Picture Controls were used on the exact same image to create the looks of each image. No photoshop(which I don't have) no processing with levels and curves or colours and luminescences .. nothing. The image converted using the raw file converter was simply set to another Picture Control using Nikon's simple raw converter, ViewNX2.
    Then resized to 900pixels and saved to the jpg file format.
    The other image is simply as shot in camera in raw mode. That jpg wasn't created using any raw converter! This is the important aspect of the exercise to consider.

    The comments made by this ex member was that you need a raw converter to view a raw file.
    he asked me to refute some of his claims .. and this is one of them.

    FACT:
    You DON'T need a raw file converter to view your raw files. This is not an opinion, it's a fact.
    An opinion would be you may need a raw file converter, or maybe your operating system environment demands that you use one .. but it's an opinion to claim that you need a raw file converter to view a raw file.

    How? .. codecs!
    Your computer may already have them installed, it may require a new codec to be installed, or there may be no possibility to have one installed .. your unique situation will determine this.
    But to be clear, you also need a codec installed on your system to view a jpg file. The claim seemed to be that you barely even need any software to view a jpg image ... I'll double check to be sure what the claim was. Oh that's right .. jpg images are real images .. whatever that meant.
    Unfortunately the author of this statement is no longer here to enlighten us as to what this means. I assume that it's some magical file format that just self renders for us on demand.
    The inference from this ex member is that you need software for raw files, but maybe you don't for jpgs ??? .. or something like that.
    (I may ask if we can reinstate the author of these statements to clarify them for us .. but it's not that important).
    What I think is more important is that a raw file converter is a piece of software that interprets the raw data(as correctly claimed by the ex member) .. but more importantly also has the ability to convert those raw files into other formats.
    But the assertion that you need a raw file converter to view your collection of pixelated data points(ie. raw files) is complete nonsense.
    you need a codec .. simple as that. If your system allows for it(which most will) that's all you need.


    This is a screen capture to show that a non raw file converter is used to display my raw file. The software is Windows Explorer(Mac equivalent is something like Finder .. or something) .. just a simple file explorer anyhow .. definitely NOT a raw file converter!

    So going by the assumption that the jpg file format is some magical real image file format, lets see what a jpg file looks like using some software:



    As can be seen, it's not a particularly inspiring jpg image when viewed with real software(notepad being one of my most used software!!)
    yet the not so real software, Windows Explorer, seems to render the not so real raw file perfectly!

    Conclusion: raw files are real images too. Codecs are important, having access to other software can also be important too .. the overall message is that having more software(up to a point tho!) can be an advantage for working with image files. Each software can produce a particular end point. Your needs will dictate this. Not my opinions, or some one else's facts.

    I use many different software when doing different things with my images. Sometimes I just look at them, other times I want to catalog them, and for other purposes I may want to convert them, process them or disseminate them. Exiftool is another software I use often too.
    Never thought it to be of much use, until one day on another forum, a question was asked on a topic that I partially hit upon myself. Once a raw file was partly altered, it could be loaded back into the camera.
    The other persons uses were slightly different to mine, but similar enough for me to look into it. WB was the point we were looking into but this is besides the point. The result was that we both looked into the workings of the NEF format to figure out what changed, and could we change it back to get the NEF file to display back on the camera. Conclusion was no. The problem was the three embedded jpg files in the raw file.
    One of them is displayed in the images above. it was extracted from the raw file straight from the camera. The clue to which image it is, has already been shown.

    One piece of unobtrusive software that I recommend for many folks to have access too is IJFR(instant jpg from raw).
    Get IJFR from here
    So the question why is this software useful and why should I have it. Why on earth would I want to view my raw files in Windows Explorer too?
    IJFR isn't normal software. It's an extension. it installs itself into your context menu(at least it does on Windows).
    The argument that raw files can be bothersome or slow to convert to a usable file format is bunk!
    This is where IJFR comes into the equation. Navigate to the raw files in Win Explorer. Right click your raw files(select multiples if need be).
    Choose extract with IJFR,and in half a blink of an eye, you will have at least 50-100 usable jpg files in any size you like stored neatly in the location you have set in the dialogue box.

    A not so smart sports shooter will just go on shooting in jpg mode and be content with lesser quality of all his well captured images.
    A smarter sports shooter will shoot in raw and set up her system for IJFR to instantly extract the jpg files from those raws and have the best of both worlds. If both worlds are subsequently found to be unnecessary, they can be dealt with at a later time.
    Note that the other software I sometimes use to achieve the same thing is exiftool, via exiftoolgui. Can do the same thing only slightly better.
    When we were chasing those embedded jpg files in the NEFs exif tool was supposedly the better tool as it allowed you to also upload jpg files to be embedded into the NEF file!
    Of course this a a very limited requirement and hence not so important to take into consideration.
    Note that these extracted jpgs do not have any exif info!(or very little). This is because they don't need it.
    The only alteration IJFR does, is to add some exif info into the jpg file it extracted. Exiftool doesn't so the exif is almost completely stripped.
    This is important when taking into consideration colour spaces used! Change colour spaces and the thumbnails of raw files can become distorted in some situations.

    So....

    While image #1 looks more normal and #2 has spaced out colours and tones, #2 is the original raw file, and #1 is the converted raw file with the Picture Control set to standard in ViewNX2
    #1 is the original raw file with a Colour Negative Picture Control I made for myself and uploaded to the camera.
    So another assertion made by the ex member has been proven to be incorrect.
    His assertion is that Picture Controls can't be viewed directly on the raw file.... Bollocks!!

    quote from his comment:
    "The picture control settings has no effect on NEF. It's just metadata that is understood only by the raw converter"
    Well that seems to have been proven to be true .. NOT!
    if Windows Explorer, a non raw file converter, supposedly can't see the raw file as per the way I set the Picture Control how would it explain what I see on my computer's file browser?

    His opinion will be correct of you operated in a limited software environment .. but as a matter of fact, not only can I prove it wrong, I'll correct his statement to look more like a fact.

    FACT:
    A Picture Control can alter the appearance of a raw file depending on the software used to view the raw file. You may also see a thumbnail image of the raw file with the Picture Control settings intact, but upon opening the image in a larger format(usually for editing purposes), the thumbnail may subsequently change.

    This can happen depending on your software settings(ie. Lr). If you choose to use the manufacturers raw file software I suspect that you will always see the raw file as per the Picture Control set on the file.
    This is what happens in Nikon software environment, and you have no other option. Picture Controls are everything. So to read that comment makes me(and I know a few others) laugh.

    WARNING! Nikon specific info about to transpire
    So what is Picture Control?
    if you use the latest versions of Nikon ViewNX2, you can see Picture Controls easily in the Adjustments tab(on the right). You can easily choose to use one that is loaded already. if you use the Launch Utility button, it takes you to a new software where you can alter the looks of the Picture Controls to suit your taste.
    Many people, myself included have played with Picture Controls to make for quick and easy editing processes and or image capture.
    The other week, my sister wanted me to get some shots of her for a magazine article. rather than fluff about processing later on my two important steps were to capture a WB reference point and set up a portrait Picture Control that suited the lens I used(50/1.2). ie. partly based on the Portrait pc in the camera, but using the Nikon Picture Control Editor, I had it as I thought would look good(soften skin a bit) and that's it. on the PC later that night, I had about 100 or so images, set the WB ref point on all of them, and done .. images sent to her in a few minutes for her to send to magazine. Al in raw. if she changes her mind and needs colour negative version of her portraits later in life .. I can then do that for her too at the push of three buttons.

    Why colour reversal picture control? Why not!!
    A few moons ago, I shot a roll of film through my teeny little Rollei. The poor thing is dying . slow shutter and foggy lens, but it was fun to play with it again after all those years.
    Film was purchased on a whim and was negative type. My solution to get them digitized was to set them up on a PB4 bellows with the film holder adapter and shoot to get them in the NEF format.
    Major headache trying to get the negatives print ready(ie reversed) using my preferred software .. but still maintain the NEF file format.
    After lots of searching and mucking about I found a solution in CaptureNX2.
    (stay with me here, it'll make sense in a sec!!)
    Played with the levels and curves tool, flipped them tossed them sent contrast to -100% and bingo!! film reversal on my raw files .. not just on the lesser quality jpgs

    The reason for this (search) is that it would subsequently make it a lot easier to post process the reversed negatives .. + exposure compensation means darker and - exposure compensation means brighter and all that bizo! on files you couldn't really see. Stuff that, I want to make processing easy, not impossible.
    Enter Picture Controls(well not exactly, but kind'a close). Editing Picture Controls is not adding sharpness and boosting saturation or contrast or hue as you may see on your Nikon camera!
    Editing Picture Controls means playing with the levels and curves tool in the Picture Control Editor.
    Just as I did for my negative reversal edit in CaptureNX2 .. now I can do in simple Picture Controls .. load into the camera and have reversed negatives rendered directly on the camera .. wooohooo... Oh!
    Not exactly! Stupid Nikon!!!
    The curves tool in Picture Control Editor is not as full featured. It only takes into account luminance .. not colour! Hence why the raw file is not properly reversed(for a colour reversal rendering) the red/purple colour should render green. Black does render white(and the opposite is also true) but other colours do NOT invert to the opposite spectrum.
    Did I mention IDIOT Nikon.
    They have an almost totally awesome tool, and then deawesomize it completely with ludicrous stupidity!. Would have loved to get the negs captured properly in camera from the get go .. but it ain't going to happen.
    Am I going to get it right in camera .. not for this project ... no!
    But using some icecream sticks to 'dodge and burn' I can get a better range of tones and exposures across the captured image from the neg at least .. but it's always trial and error on exactly how much is needed.

    So again, while other's opinions are right that jpg may be best for learning .. my opinion on this matter is that raw is always best for the flexibility it allows in showing you how badly you've captured the shot.
    While Kym said that whilst you(the newbies) are learning composition, or DOF or exposure .. I think these are irrelevant to what format you should use, and in fact learning on why your exposure is wrong(when it's wrong) is best taught with the raw file format anyhow ... as I said before the lattitude to correct exposure mistakes is greater in a raw file.
    Shoot in jpg mode and you completely lose the ability to see by how much you've incorrectly set the exposure level.

    I'm always learning new stuff. Get a new lens, and it doesn't always render the same as the older lens you may have had.
    Perfect case in point on this was my switch from the Tammy 28-75mm to the new 24-70mm. Must remind myself not to set the 24-70 with -0.7Ev to get the same saturated colours. It already renders -0.7Ev darker than the 28-75mm did.

    Apologies for the long tiring post again. if you made it to the description of the images, you did good.
    if you understood half the stuff I posted, you won the award!
    Last edited by arthurking83; 16-08-2014 at 7:55pm. Reason: fix attachments

  5. #5
    Ausphotography Veteran MattNQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    A not so smart sports shooter will just go on shooting in jpg mode and be content with lesser quality of all his well captured images.
    Until he realizes that unless he has a pro or late model semi-pro body, RAW noticeably slows down the fps & fills the buffer quicker, causing him to miss shots.
    Sometimes one must make the judgement call to accept marginally less quality of a jpg over missing the shot entirely in RAW.
    Where you can get tripped up shooting jpg is on coloured sporting fields - eg red tartan track, green or blue netball courts & hockey fields - the reflection off these surfaces can confuse your auto white balance.
    RAW gets you around these problems as mentioned above.
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    I think even a late model semi pro body may struggle with raw too.
    D800 for example, shoot jpg all you like(as you imply) till the battery dies.(good for sports)
    But in raw mode, even with a fast CF card it still only allows for about 17 shots in a burst(obviously not so good for sports) .. then the grind of waiting for the buffer to clear.

    My point with that comment is that many sports shooters will claim that shooting raw requires converting those files to jpg to send off wirelessly to their editors .. etc, etc
    Raw conversion isn't necessarily a required step. We all know that converting a raw file takes some time .. be that 20sec or 5sec per file.

    jpg extraction from the raw file is instantaneous. it's not a conversion process. the jpg is already processed, just as it is when you shoot in jpg mode.
    The only real difference is that a jpg shot in camera will have exif data, an extracted jpg from a raw file doesn't.
    That I know of IJFR must, add a bit based on what the raw file exif data is. I haven't seen any option in IJFR to alter that content.
    Although in saying all that .. I think(not 100% sure) that IJFR's extraction process may slow if you set it to resize the jpg files.
    It's options are for size(native or reduced size, with further options as to which size), to add a suffix(which I think is _IJFR .. again not sure), and then if you want the jpgs stored in with the raw files, or in a separate folder.

    Apologies if I offended any sports shooters with the comment .. it was a dry comment made just for the purpose of indicating that there isn't as much of a barrier to shooting raw as some may think there is(in this instance the conversion to jpg step).

    And your comment about WB is spot on too Matt!

    I remember once having a horrid time of it trying to get some glass like dried sap macro images shot the way I wanted due to Wb strangeness.
    The dried sap was a bright irridescent red colour, had this bright glow about it(almost dayglo!) .. but I was surrounded by lot of grey bluestone reddish leaves on the ground, a variable cloudy sky.
    I reckon it was the blue-grey coloured bluestone walls, but I don't know. Pulled out the huge grey card I have handy to do a WB ref shot but still wasn't totally happy with the images.

    OH! and FWIW too some cameras are coming out with a more compressed raw format. (ie. Nikon's D4s and D810) apparently the news about these cameras NEFsmall raw format is that it's not really raw. I've read that you can't reset whitebalance or something(wb is SET into the file.
    Basically it's an 11bit jpg file. Kind'a makes sense really, as it was introduced as a file format not long after the jpg consortium announced a new higher quality jpg format(at 12bits)


    Again it shows how silly it is to describe JPG as a real image format!
    jpg is also a constantly evolving format. In the years to come we may cease to use the current forms of the file type as it's quality is way too low, and with some newer higher quality yet still small JPEG type being the format to use instead.

    Actually, the point of all this is not for me to tell anyone what format is best ... more so to alter them to information for them to be informed enough to make their own decisions!

    As an example: it's silly for me or anyone else to explain to a 'mum and dad' photographer to shoot in raw format with their Pentax 645z, if the primary requirement to display the images on their UHDTV.
    (strangely I've had this situation with a mate of mine too(with his D3200) .. explained to him how else to achieve these aims tho)

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