When shooting RAW, the on-camera settings for white balance (as well as all the options under "Optimize Image"?) don't really matter: The same raw image data is going into the file no matter what.
Sure, the selection on the camera is used by the camera (and Bridge, and Photoshop, and whatever else you use to view a RAW image) when displaying the image, but that's just a display setting, not something actually embedded in the image itself (is this what they call "EXIF" data?). You can manipulate those settings in Photoshop (to a different white balance mode, for example) without any degradation.
I ran a simple series of tests where I shot test photos in every available white balance pre-set. I loaded them into Bridge, then converted them in Photoshop and set the WB mode to "auto" for each. The resulting images are identical.
I am playing around with the options under "optimize image", and it seems like the result is the same, but since those effects are way more subtle than WB, its not as obvious.
#1. "RE: Settings don't matter?" In response to Reply # 0 Fri 03-Feb-12 04:51 PM by JonK
New York, US
You are correct, when post processing a RAW file the camera settings for White Balance et cetera can be changed. That said, getting those settings correct in camera gives you a better preview on the LCD and a more accurate review of the histogram. Also, the more accurate the image is out of the camera the less time spent in post processing.
Jon Kandel A New York City Nikonian and Team Member Please visit my website and critique the images!
#2. "RE: Settings don't matter?" In response to Reply # 0
Seattle, WA, US
It should be noted that white balance is the only setting that the third-party software read in the raw files. Only Nikon's software reads the rest of the settings. Adobe and everyone else just pick a default value for those settings and apply it to every picture.
---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
#3. "RE: Settings don't matter?" In response to Reply # 0
Many shooters include a an 18% gray card in a test shot under the shotting conditions, so there is an 18% gray reference point for setting the WB in post processing.
As noted products other then Nikon's programs only use the Exif WB and no other camera settings.
Nikon View NX2 and Nikon Capture NX2 use the Maker Note WB settings for a finer tune and also apply all the other camera settings stored in the MakerNote section. And Nikon Capture NX2 will allow removal or adjusting these settings. Nikon Capture NX2 can even save the changes in a NEF along with the camera settings and edited settings.
#5. "RE: Settings don't matter?" In response to Reply # 4
I have to say, this is just remarkable.
First, this forum is terrific. Thanks again for the valuable info.
Second, this whole world of digital is, well, remarkable. I can't get over how easy it is to do stuff. If you recall from my intro posting, I was heavy into photography back in college...back in the early 1980's. Picking it up again after all these years is just the coolest. So much of what I knew and used back then still works, but its all just easier.
Silly example: I am working on a project where I am going to be taking a bunch of portrait headshots in outdoor/public space environments. I decided I needed a nice flash for fill and such, so I picked up an SB-700 today.
Do you guys realize how abso-frickin-lutely cool it is that the flash will display your effective focal length as you move the zoom on the lens?!?! Wow! Little stuff like that (which may very well seem second nature to you experienced digital guys) just blows me away!
Here's another example: I have a daughter who wanted to put together a resume for her hair styling career. We decided to make it very modern and edgy, and include a portrait of her. I had the idea of doing a black and white, very over-exposed sort of thing. Here's how it turned out:
That took me maybe 20 minutes. Set up the lights (I've got some studio strobes we use at the office), take a few dozen test shots to get the exposure dialed in, take a few dozen more to get the right expression, pop the images into Photoshop, a little tweak here and a nudge there, and PRESTO!
That would have taken hours back in the day...assuming I had access to the processing lab at school. Days if I didn't. And I never would have gotten the same result except through dumb luck.