I've noticed a lot of posts here in the D200 forum about people getting sub-optimal images when shooting NEF with their D200s, especially as relates to color, noise, and sharpness.
It's been mentioned before, but this bears repeating: In-camera settings are only applied to images shot in JPEG mode, or NEFs procesed using Nikon Capture 4.4. If you use a 3rd-party RAW converter, you'll need to make adjustments to your image regardless of how the camera was set up.
Things that you'll definitely need to adjust if you aren't using NC:
Tone curve (contrast, etc) Sharpness Noise Reduction (ISO 400 and above) Color Balance and Saturation CA removal (if available)
Things you may need to adjust, depending on the converter you use:
White Balance Hue
Just to show an example, here is the same NEF (ISO 400 from a D2x) processed with Nikon Capture (using just the in-camera settings) and then in Bibble Pro 4.6 (with the default adjustments set to neutral--ie, no auto levels, sharpening, etc.) You can see some clear differences in the way the file is handled.
This is not intended to be a knock on 3rd-party RAW converters (I actually like some of Bibble's features), but rather intended to show just how different the conversion can be if you don't take the time to make some adjustments in your 3rd-party software.
The first two are the full-frame image, followed by some crops of the image at 100%. The edge crops are soft because they are out of the focus plane.
So far as I know *all* third party converters use the 'as shot' white balance, same as Nikon Capture. The other settings tend to default to settings saved on your computer rather than in your camera. No difference other than that. Features such as CA correction vary by converter with DxO doing the best job (Capture being second best) and on down the line. ACR is actually pretty good at this as well but it is not as automatic as DxO and NC are. I'm not familar with what Bibble does on this these days. I stopped upgrading my Bibble license with 3.x.
And conversions can be quite different if you don't take the time to adjust your settings wherever you set them, whether that be on your computer or in your camera.
That's amazing. I have a D2Hs and a D2H. I just opened a NEF in CS2 and in NC 4.4.0. There was quite a difference in the two. In the past I've ignored NC and concentrated on CS2, that may change. I believe that CS2 gives better printing control so I'll probably use them in tandem.
Hedley Originally from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales -- now in Arkansas
I have found myself using NC 4 for abou 90% of the post-processing work I need to do. The interface leaves something to be desired, but the LCH editor and USM tools are great. One thing I didn't know until I read the fine print-- USM in Nikon Capture is the equivalent of luminosity sharpening in Photoshop-- does excellent work and minimizes those ugly halos. The CA tool is just so easy to use, too. The LCH editor offers some neat ways to adjust saturation and tone.
I use CS2 when I want to mess around in LAB color space, touch things up, and of course, for printing. I got some really weird artifacts coming out of ACR-- probably because I didn't know what I was doing.
I prefer to do most of my settings in-camera and therefore use NC 4.4 exclusively for my RAW conversions. I then go on to PS for "touch up" procedures. I have been frustrated with NC because I don't like the interface or the responsiveness (not nearly as snappy as PS), but I am very satisfied with the final result. There is new version of NC comming soon which supposedly has big improvments in many areas over the current incarnation. Those who have recently purchased NC will be able to get a good deal on an upgrade, so we are told.
I've been using Photoshop a long time and can handle my adjustments fine going through ACR. In the past, I sharpen and blur areas of my images as needed and can selectively assign those tasks with layer masks in Photoshop. For most of my images up until recently, I have been happy as a lark sharpening them once taken to Photoshop, however I am in the process of working with a stock photo shop and they prefer photos with no sharpening at all...preferring to let the client sharpen as they need at the full output size. I believe they also use the term "no in-camera sharpening" (either). I am still a bit new to this world, but it makes me wonder if allowing Nikon Capture sharpen the images as set in the camera is still "sharpening". To compound this issue, I was told by the instructor at a Photoshop/Digital Photography class that all digital cameras run all images through a low pass blurring step at the time the image is saved to the RAW format to eliminate the moire patterns possible in some images. Knowing the engineering mentality of the instructor, I tend to believe he has researched that statement and I accepted it as true.
With all that said, now that we can zoom into an image and see edges at 400%-600%, I have a feeling we are raising standards to an almost unattainable level vs looking at a slide through a loupe on a light box.
I've set my sharpening back to normal in my camera when shooting raw since it really doesn't matter if I am going through ACR, and I might bump it up a little for JPG shots. I have no problems sharpening my photos for my own use and printing, but I am still unsure about the images I may soon be uploading to the stock shop.
Ultimately, I guess the question is whether Nikon's in-camera sharpening is superior when combined with Nikon Capture or whether the post processing capabilities within Photoshop add extra user defined capabilities?
This discussion is very interesting. M. Jackson Jackson Hole, WY
I have found this whole discussion very interesting as an ACR user. I would like to refer back to M_Jackson's query about sharpening stock photos as I have been considering this route and am also unsure how the request for no sharpening affects images from the D200. It has a reputation for softness which is regarded as a benefit because the images produced can take a lot of subsequent sharpening. However soft images may merely look incompetent aswell. Does anybody have experience of submitting D200 RAW derived photos to stock agencies and what RAW conversion settings did you use?
Picture project recogizes in-camera settings, but has much more limited RAW conversion functions than Capture.
Again, just to reinforce what Jason mentioned, Bibble can produce images that look quite similar to Capture, but there's a different workflow and philosophy behind the software.
For some time, we've also had questions regarding the Adobe ACR converter - the primary one being "Why do my images from ACR look flat, noisy and unsharp?" Like all the other third party converters, it also doesn't read most of the settings, and its out-of-the-box defaults intentionally produced low contrast, unsharpened images that could take more post-processing in Photoshop. In the latest versions of ACR, Adobe added some automatic settings that generally improve the look of most images, but I don't find that too many photographers use these. It's equivalent to having a machine print your color prints. Sometimes it gets things right, but it often doesn't understand what your intent is. In my case, I alter the ACR defaults to produce an image that looks more like Capture's normal tone compensation curve. I also create a few alternative presets that have slightly lower contrast, slightly greater saturation, and alternate white balance settings.
Noise handling varies a lot with the converters. Capture does a good job with noise reduction and has a high degree of automation. Bibble's Noise Ninja is exceptionally good (better than Capture), but requires a little more user intervention. The default position is "off" as Jason's images indicate. ACR's noise reduction is a little more low-tech and many using that converter tend to use Noise Ninja or Neat Image to clean up the image after it enters Photoshop.
What's most important with any of these RAW converters is that you learn how to use it effectively. Jason and I are trying all of the Nikon-oriented ones as part of our Image Doctors podcasts, and I'm finding all will produce images that look good, given the correct usage. In addition to applying the right settings, establishing an efficient workflow is important. Trying to make one converter function like another can lead to frustration and ineffiencies. Sometimes an alternate set of steps, including the effective use of presets and revised defaults, can really decrease the timelines for RAW conversion.
What computers are you all using for Nikon Capture? I've got a 2.66 with 1 GB of Ram and it's so frustratingly slow to me that I removed it from my computer before my trial was even over, let alone consider buying it.
>What computers are you all using for Nikon Capture? I've got >a 2.66 with 1 GB of Ram and it's so frustratingly slow to me >that I removed it from my computer before my trial was even >over, let alone consider buying it.
When evaluating NC 4.4, I was running on a 3.0 GHz PC, under Windows XP Pro, with 2 GB of RAM. NC seemed to work better with 2 GB of RAM than when I had only 1 GB fitted. In any case, NC seems to produce good results with NEF files.
I primarily use a 3.0 GHZ Pentium 4 with dual core processors and 2GB of RAM. I also run it on my older laptop which is a 600MHZ Pentium 2 with 512MB RAM. The latter is definitely slow, but it suffices when I'm traveling.
Capture received a performance update last year which greatly improved processing timelines.
I haven't used NC since 3.5 or NV because they were too slow for my workflow. I've been using Bridge/ACR/CS2 and the flow is actually flowing! Has the performance of the latest version of NC improved for the Mac platform? It was simply unusable. I'm on a G5 with 2gig RAM.
I use NC 4.4.1 for Mac OS on a Dual G5 with 5 GB RAM. However, it worked just fine when I had only 3GB RAM. I think 2GB is really the magic number for NC to work well.
One thing to remember-- NC 4 will always reconvert the entire image from scratch every time you zoom in, or change a parameter. That is why using it can be annoying-- we're used to zooming in to 100% in Photoshop all the time.
I would suggest unchecking parameters like NR until you are ready to save the file-- doing so will improve performance drastically. Turn NR on only after you've done everything else.
Hi, have any of you guys tried Rawshooter Premium 2006? I am not connected to the company in any way shape or form other than that I use their software, initially I used their free RawShooter Essentials software, however, moving from the D100 to the D200 I had to purchase the Premium program for the massive sum of £60, I find that my workflow is far easier than using Capture 4.4 or the latest edition of CS2, the proof is in the pudding my images are equally as good if not better using RE2006, try it guys, I think you can download a trial version for 30 days www.pixmantec.com all the best Jim (Creations Photography)
When they get on board with a Mac OS version, I'll be sure to give it a try. So far my favorite is still NC 4 in terms of overall image quality and minimal fuss. Obviously, it does require serious horsepower to run, so it's not going to be optimal for everyone.
Your REAL friend in computer graphics and imaging is memory, lots of memory and the fastest disk drives you can afford, (better to build a RAID array if you can afford it). The CPU is rarely the culprit of performance issues.
Why is that, you might ask, especially with CPUs getting faster and faster?
In a nutshell, Windows XP as well as Mac are page demand virtual memory operating systems. They need Physical MEMORY for page faulting or they start paging to the operating systems pagefile on disk, (see explanation below for page faulting and why it can be a real performance problem). Depending how many memory intensive processes you have running, (like Capture, CS2, etc), in today's world, a gig of memory may be totally inadequate.
BTW, a good rule of thumb - when buying a new computer, stick the largest single memory stick in there you can to keep your other slots available for expansion.
Page Faulting - In modern operating systems, (I mean all - Unix, Linux, Windows XP, and MAC), they all perform page faults.
Howgozit - When you start a program like CS2, you are beginning a new process on your system. That process is allocated a chunk of memory. That chunk of memory, say 20 megabytes, (called the working set), is broke down into pages, (usually a page is 512 bytes or 1024 bytes).
As your machine runs and you use memory intensive operations in different programs, (like creating layers in CS2), the operating system has been continously monitoring memory utilization for each and every process and will either add or strip away pages of memory to the working set of processes in a constant balancing act to get memory to whichever process needs it the most.
This all works great till physical memory starts to get in short supply. When that happens, the operating system begins to get pages of memory from a file on disk, called the pagefile. Without the page file, your system would hang. With it, it keeps running, but man, the brakes have been applied to the CPU/Memory balance.
The OS also writes the pages of memory that have been stripped away to this same file. You are now no longer running at CPU speed, but instead, the physical data transfer rate of your disk. In other works, slower by a factor of thousands. The more processes you run, the worse this gets.
Not only are these processes paging to the disk, they are also writing their individual work files, (like an image file), to disk for all kinds of reasons beyond just opening and closing the file, (things like journaling for recovery from a crash). Then the operating system beings to queue up I/O operations to the disk. Now things begin to really get bad.
So, two things to remember - lots and lots of physical memory and keep the page file somewhere besides where you are writing your active files to. Depending on the operating system to manage that is assuming somebody writing these OS's to be reading your mind and daily workflow. It don't happen.
>Page Faulting - In modern operating systems, (I mean all - >Unix, Linux, Windows XP, and MAC), they all perform page >faults. > >Howgozit - When you start a program like CS2, you are >beginning a new process on your system. That process is >allocated a chunk of memory. That chunk of memory, say 20 >megabytes, (called the working set), is broke down into >pages, (usually a page is 512 bytes or 1024 bytes).
Pages are typically 4k for Windows and Mac OS X. Other UNIX variants vary. On Mac OS you can see the page size with vm_stat
A page fault is not quite as you describe. It works like this:
1. Application starts up, and says "I want xx MB of address space". 2. The kernel says, ok, here's your address space. But it only actually maps in a minimum number of pages (on the assumption that the application might not actually use all that xx MB). 3. When the application tries to use a virtual memory address which doesn't yet have a physical page assigned to it, this is a page fault - at this point, the kernel and MMU map in a physical page to the virtual address space.
Thanks for the clarification on current implementations and sizing of page fault block size, I haven't touched OS based stuff for a decade, though nothing has really changed since the late 1970s on the page fault algorithm.
My real world experience was with VMS, which I believe used a 1024 byte block, which at that time was the size of a block of disk space on the system disk, (do you remember the earlier Unix days of swap files instead of page faulting?!).
Just a sidenote, the 32 bit Windows NT/XP version was modeled from DEC VMS,(via David Cutler and company).
You are correct in that at process creation time, the system only allocates a minimal amount of memory to a process instance, (As I recall in VMS, this was one of the many SYSGEN working set parameters that could be tuned), unless there has been user intervention to allocate memory at start up, (say via startup scripts). At least that was possible in VMS, though when I looked into internals of Windows XP or NT, it seemed to have some flexibility in this area.
Anyway, good discussion and thanks for the clarification! Memory is so much of what makes a processor run at its maximum potential. The more one looks at computer architectures that are tuned for speed, the more depths of caching and memory you see around the system to avoid waiting on a read or write to a spinning media platter!
>Thanks for the clarification on current implementations and >sizing of page fault block size, I haven't touched OS based >stuff for a decade, though nothing has really changed since >the late 1970s on the page fault algorithm.
No worries - sorry to be anal ; kernel stuff is largely my job, but on a different flavour of UNIX...
>Anyway, good discussion and thanks for the clarification! >Memory is so much of what makes a processor run at its >maximum potential. The more one looks at computer >architectures that are tuned for speed, the more depths of >caching and memory you see around the system to avoid >waiting on a read or write to a spinning media platter!
Absolutely! I had a customer phone up the other day who was adamant he had a kernel memory leak because he only had 6Gb free on his 8Gb domain, and during the day, this dropped down to only (?!) 4Gb free... My response, apart from wanting to say go on a course about basic OS principles, was that free memory is wasted memory. It's there to be used - as a cache, exactly as you say, to avoid the evil spinning media.
Chosing the best raw converter for you is a very subjective thing.
Generally though, the Nikon plugin is among the worst options since it provides control of only white balance and exposure.
The most popular raw converter is Adobe Camera Raw, perhaps because it comes with Photoshop and Elements and is easy to use, but it also does do an excellent job if you get the hang of how it works. It does not use your in-camera settings. Probably the second most popular choice is Nikon Capture, perhaps because it comes from Nikon, but it too does an excellent job and does start from your in-camera settings although it isn't as easy to use as is ACR. There are plenty of other options too. Most offer free trial downloads if you want to try some out yourself.
When you convert with Capture and save it as raw, then don't you have convert the saved raw file with ps and so you end up with a ps conversion anyway? Or are you talking about saving the NC conversion to a jpeg?
Hi everyone - I'm new to the Nikonians group and just feeling my way around.
Can anyone comment specifically on Raw convertors used on Intel Macs. I have a Macbook Pro 2.0 w/ 2 gig of RAM, a D200 with 17-55, 18-70 and 70-200 VR.
I have experiemented with Capture One, Aperture, Iphoto and Lightroom Public Beta 2. I seem to favor Lightroom since it's free (OK, my New England upbringing forces me to look for a deal?). I like the way it works but I have also seen a presentation by the Aperture program manager from Apple who states that he "likes the way D200 photos look in Aperture." Many comment on how good Nikon Capture is but they do not have a Universal version compatible with the Intel Mac and the Nikon support site won't give me a straight answer on if or when they might have one. Any advice or comments?
Raw Shooter Pro can do a very nice job. It's won at least a couple of awards as best raw converter in fact (of course others have won awards too). I'm not a fan of the user interface, but then a lot of raw converters are somewhat lacking in this area.
Adobe recently bought Pixmantec, the makers of RSP, so its future is somewhat an unkonwn right now. Still, Raw Shooter Essentials is free, so it's worth downloading no matter what happens down the road.
If you shoot raw format you must "develop" the data with software designed to convert raw data into an image file. Nikon Capture v4.4 applies your in-camera settings (sharpening, contrast, saturation, etc.) to the RAW data when interpreting the image, but is known to be a bit slow and cranky. Other software does not apply those in-camera settings, but some of these converters are praised for their useability.
No matter what conversion method you choose there are many options to change any setting to exactly what you desire. Try out a few of the most popular converters and decide for yourself which you like best.
Just remember that in-camera settings are applied during raw conversion only if Capture 4.4 is used.
The release of a new version of the Nikon converter was recently pushed back a few months due to "development delays". Bummer. I am eagerly awaiting a new smoother interface.
All raw converters apply various settings when they do their job. Nikokn Capture defaults to settings you made in your camera. Others default to settings you made on your computer. All of them have the ability to freely change settings from those defaults with no loss of quality. The difference is in the defaults only. You are not bound by those defaults. All of them also allow you to change your defaults.
Fascinating information, thanks for that. Maybe you can clarify an issue that's been bugging me - sharpening!
Bearing in mind that the NEF image is raw unprocessed data from the sensor, can onboard NEF sharpening subsequently be unsharpened - or overridden - in Capture? Ergo, the onboard settings are purely a set of post-production instructions which Capture will use when processing the image.
As already mentioned, you can override the sharpening set in the camera and alter the setting, including turning it off. You can also forego the in-camera style sharpening and use the USM function which provides a more precise way of setting sharpening within Capture.
The thing that strikes me most about the comparison is the dramatic reduction in noise. At least for me, that would give a huge advantage to Nikon Capture unless the same effect can be achieved with a 3rd party plugin. (I use Noise Ninja).
I have used NC4, Adobe CS & Bible but now only use Rawshooter. I am no photographic expert and am still learning but I have found that Rawshooter gives good results and has a nice user interface, without a big learning curve.
As said thou it is all a personel choice, why don't we have a poll & see who uses what just out of curiosity !
> >It's worth noting though that the most used converter >needn't necessarily be the best, not the one that any given >person prefers.
That's absolutely true in my opinion. Each of the RAW converters on the market has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. If your style of shooting (subject matter, lighting, quantity of files processed, specific lenses, ISOs, etc.) aligns well with a specific converter, you'll be happy with it. That same RAW converter could make someone else very unhappy. The best course of action is to do a bit of reading on the respective converters, download the trial versions that are available, and then try as many representative samples of your images as possible. You also need some patience - some features may not be obvious at first glance, and it may take some time to learn how to maximize the capabilities of a specific converter.
>Each of the RAW >converters on the market has their own set of strengths and >weaknesses. If your style of shooting (subject matter, >lighting, quantity of files processed, specific lenses, >ISOs, etc.) aligns well with a specific converter, you'll be >happy with it. That same RAW converter could make someone >else very unhappy. The best course of action is to do a bit >of reading on the respective converters, download the trial >versions that are available, and then try as many >representative samples of your images as possible.
As someone who is reasonably new to RAW converters, I have been reading information on this topic that I have found in this forum over the last few months. I am wondering if there is one specific group of threads or articles that outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each converter on NEFs from a D200? I have seen one article on Digital Photography Review (Askey) that showed a few NEFs from the D200 that were opened with different conerters, but that said, I am unable to draw any conclusions.
I have PhotoShop CS2, and I have used Photoshop for 7 years, so I am familiar and comfortable with it. But I have read that ACR is not a good converter for D200 NEFs. While your suggestion of "download the trial versions that are available, and then try as many representative samples of your images as possible" is a reasonable statement, I cringe at the time it will take; I'd rather be shooting photos during my limited free time, than testing a bunch of software and trying to do analysis that I'm not sure I have any credentials or training to do well.
So what I am asking is if there are solid resources with information based on carefully gathered evidence that can help people like me to figure out if its worth spending several hundered dollars on additional software to maximize the NEFs from our D200s?
It's very hard to generalize wht's important to everyone. Your needs and preferences may not be the same as mine. I may value one aspect of a raw converter more than you while you weight a different feature more as being more important. That's why trying them for yourself really is the best option. Each of these programs come out with new versions regularly too so while one may be better today, a different one may be tomorrow.
That being said, all of these are excellent and we are merely talking about fine differences between the major options. If you already have CS2 and don't want to take the time to explore other options, Adobe Camera Raw is an excellent convertre. I'm not sure where you heard it wasn't, but that source was incorrect.
If you do want to try things for yourself, it certainly won't cost you several hundred dollars since, as you have already agreed, mosts of these programs have free download versions to try out. Even if you decide to buy something you don't already have, what you choose to budget for it is up to you.
>If you already have CS2 and don't want to take the >time to explore other options, Adobe Camera Raw is an >excellent convertre. I'm not sure where you heard it wasn't, >but that source was incorrect.
Thanks for your message Bob. (BTW, I really enjoy the articles on your website!)
There is more than one thread on this forum where people say that ACR is not a good converter when compared to converter X, Y, or Z. And maybe its because so many of the comments seem to be subjective rather than based on complete testing that I was hoping to find something less emotional and more scientific.
For example, I understand why shooting in Adobe RGB will give me a wider color gamut (but not MORE colors) than srgb, and because I do a lot of landscapes and outdoor shots, I generally shoot in AdobeRGB. I understand why converting and post-processing in 16 bit gives me an advantage over 8 bit. These two concepts have examples and logical reasons that have brought me to conclusions as to what is best for me. I was hoping that something similar was available on different RAW converters.
What makes an image a "good" image though is such a subjective thing. It would be pretty much impossible to turn that into an objective analysis. As soon as I get to it though, I likely will be posting my own thoughts about DxO on my website.
As for comparisons with ACR, I'd suggest taking them in context. Since ACR is included with Photoshop, it has become the most widely used converter out there and thus the de facto standard of comparison. Anybody (me included) that thinks they have found a great new converter will post that it is better than ACR since that's what people are used to.
Thom Hogan did do a comparison of raw converters back in 2004, but remember that a lot has changed since then. And continues to change.
Have been doing about the same as you and came to similar conclusions.
I just receive my D200 body today (but not the 18-200 lens). I'll use it on my Televue T85 astro APO telescope ASAP, for bird photography. I also plan to shoot landscapes and flowers.
I still am unsure about which software to buy (I have none so far). For my type of photography, I tend to prioritize excellent Noise Reduction (Noise Ninja, stand-alone or with Bibble 4.7 stands out in most comparisons, along with Neat Image).
The second most important is a pleasing, easy user interface, ideally with options for "fully automatic" and "full control".
As I am new to all this and have no experience, I would highly appreciate advices about "important features to look for" for my type of photography, and any suggestion of software package is also welcome.
I recently switched to RawShooter Premium and love it - I think I've tried all RAW converters now. Nikon Capture has the best D200 noise reduction withing a RAW converter but I prefer not to do NR in the conversion and instead use Neat Image as a CS2 filter. Sometimes noise reduction is best performed later on in the processing.
> Sometimes noise reduction is best performed later on > in the processing. What's the inherent advantage of performing noise reduction after raw conversion? The earlier you perform noise reduction (especially before sharpening/JPEG compression or other non-linear operations), the more effective it can be in my opinion.
Some third-party software like Neat Image and Noise Ninja may be superior to the NR that's included with most raw convertors, but the Bibble setup of integrating Noise Ninja in a raw convertor seems to be the best solution to me.
Could you explain why noise reduction (eg. Noise Ninja) before raw conversion is superior to applying the same noise reduction algorithm after the raw conversion?
>Could you explain why noise reduction (eg. Noise Ninja) >before raw conversion is superior to applying the same noise >reduction algorithm after the raw conversion?
A couple of reasons.
Most people don't realize that the actual process of raw conversion can take any noise thats present in the raw data and actually make it worse by spreading it around and causing it to migrate across color channels. this makes it harder for the NR program to remove.
By using a best in class noise reduction algorithm *before* conversion, you get superior results as the noise is removed before it propogates.
Secondly, NR methods that are depednant on profiles or other wise statisticlly analyzing your camera are only as accurate as the data they use. Just like color profiles, Noise profiles that are built after conversion are dependant on the actualy paramters used for conversion. As such if you make edits to your file, that cause it to use different paramters then were used when making the profile you in turn make the noise profile less accurate.
Since Bibble's NN profiles are built for and using data from before the majority of the raw pipeline is run, they are both more accurate and also not prone to problems associated with changing editing settings.
I actually intended to ask why noise reduction after raw conversion would be superior to noise reduction before raw conversion (Bryan/pcspecialist's opinion), since it was obvious to me that before raw conversion is superior (assuming everything else equal like Bob wrote), but I apparently wrote exactly the opposite. I guess sleeping really does have a function .
Thanks for the technical explanation anyway . I never considered the effect of the bayer interpolation on noise.
Noise reduction before conversion with a good noise reducer would provide superior results in most conditions but I've found if you are going to increase the pixel count for large prints (I use SI Pro2 for this) it is almost always best to do the noise reduction after increasing the size.
So far there is only one RAW converter that has noise reduction superior to any filter you can purchase for PS2 - I forget which one but remember it uses Noise Ninja (pre conversion). I would have preferred Neat Image and am hoping that RawShooter may eventually use Neat Image or equivalent pre-conversion though I'm betting I'd still prefer doing the noise reduction somewhere later on in some instances.
Why is RawShooter my favorite you ask? It is fast and has incredible jaw dropping sharpening. I've tried to match the sharpening with other converters and with PS2 filters (included and purchased) and rarely get as good of results - never as effortless. I do wish there was some control over the RawShooter sharpening at times (though rarely) - the control only controls another form of sharpening which I always leave at 0. Then again, the fact that it does such an incredible job without needing to be tweaked like other sharpeners is a huge plus.
I could list several things I don't like about RawShooter but the superior sharpening outweighs them.
Thinking about it more - if you are converting to TIFF or your RAW converter uses a TWAIN interface it shouldn't matter much if at all if noise reduction is done pre or post conversion unless you are using canned NR profiles.
Using canned NR profiles requires matching many of the RAW converter settings used to create the profile if the NR is done post RAW conversion.
Using canned NR profiles is faster but I prefer profiling each image before applying NR - if the image is too busy to profile then I use a canned profile.
Pre conversion NR = faster and can easily use canned NR profiles. Post conversion NR = may remove noise that shows up while making adjustments, effects, or whatever after the conversion. may work better when applied post increased pixel count (enlargement).
>Thinking about it more - if you are converting to TIFF or >your RAW converter uses a TWAIN interface it shouldn't >matter much if at all if noise reduction is done pre or post >conversion unless you are using canned NR profiles. A raw conversion to TIFF is not lossless: the Bayer interpolation and other processing is not reversible. Operating on TIFF or raw data is definitely not the same, although the difference may not be large enough to notice.
>Using canned NR profiles is faster but I prefer profiling >each image before applying NR - if the image is too busy to >profile then I use a canned profile. I believe using a test target to create a profile in similar conditions (or a canned profile that matches the conditions fairly accurately) is superior to auto profiling. Auto profiling assumes that certain areas are featureless, profiling from a target uses areas that are known to be smooth and have known colors.
>Post conversion NR = may remove noise that shows up while >making adjustments, effects, or whatever after the >conversion. may work better when applied post increased >pixel count (enlargement). The usual job of noise reduction is to reduce the noise introduced by the input device (CCD/CMOS sensor). If you do the NR closer to the sensor (pre conversion), you can profile and reduce the effects from the sensor more accurately. Unless your adjustments actually introduce noise, they will only amplify existing noise. If you remove the noise before it's amplified, it won't be amplified. Some adjustments (like sharpening) are fairly non-linear and make the job of the NR engine harder.
I'm sure there are valid practical arguments against noise reduction before raw conversion (the noise reduction is most raw convertors is fairly basic and not as good as NeatImage or Noise Ninja), but I don't think that there is a technical advantage.
I was using RawShooter Essentials because it was free and I'm a cheapskate. I thought it was good enough that I paid the $60 and upgraded to Premium. Then Adobe bought Pixmantec and emailed me that I'd be in line for a freebie Lightroom 1.0. This was around the same time as Capture NX beta came out, so it was time to play around and see what I liked best. I tried Bibble too for good measure.
What I found was that RSP can oversharpen badly compared to the others. It also seems to do some pretty strong colour saturation. Once I noticed this, I started going back over old conversions and could see that sometimes the apparent eye-popping detail was actually the effect of extreme sharpening, complete with halos. While this might not be such an issue for 4x6 prints (I certainly hadn't noticed it until then), it's something I dislike for cropped pictures on-screen where the halos become blindingly obvious. It also doesn't play well with my D70's affinity for moire: you just can't get rid of it with RSP like you can with NX or Lightroom.
Lightroom seems to run a bit faster than NX on my 1.6Ghz/1Gb laptop, but not enough that it would bother me for the amount of conversions I need to do. I didn't like the fact that NX gives you no clue that it is reprocessing the image: RSP has turning gear wheels and Lightroom puts "Working" at the bottom until the image is rerendered. NX requires you to watch closely until you see the image repaint, assuming the difference is discernable. Maybe this will be fixed before final release, but it's minor whinge anyway.
I did like the U-points in NX, and the fact that you can edit the masks that go with them. I also liked the way you can stack up adjustments as distinct steps like layers and turn them on or off to see how much difference they make. NX also did fractionally better with moire removal than Lightroom, but only nit-pickingly so: both of these were streets ahead of RSP and Bibble. What I liked about Bibble were its highlight recovery slider and the built-in lens corrections: but otherwise it didn't seem to distinguish itself from the others in any way meaningful to me. What I like about RSP is the instant print-lab quality of the converted image from default settings, but this comes at the expense of potential oversharpening and oversaturation.
Right now I am discounting RSP and Bibble for the long term. My current favourite is Lightroom, but only because my trial period for NX ran out. Honestly, these two seem to be neck and neck for output quality. Lightroom is more straightforward to use, but unless I'm missing something it doesn't have the capability to do the localized adjustments that NX's U-points can. I haven't tried batch conversions with either program so maybe that would be a crucial factor. But I'm just a bungling hobbyist playing one image at a time so it's not that important to me yet.
In the hope that Adobe lives up to its promise of a free copy of Lightroom, I'm thinking it might be worth investing in NX and having a longer term relationship with both programs.
I tried the new Rawshooter version and I think it's great. But I'm not really sure how to use it or integrate with PS Elements 3.0. If I understand this correct, it will store the original NEF file as it was imported and saved all the changes in a seperate .RWSETTINGS folder. Do you know how to open the .RW folder in PS, and does it have to be opened together with the NEF file?
Photoshop and Photoshop Elements never open raw files directly. It's converted to a regular pixel image (demosaiced) before it's transfered to Photoshop. Some raw convertors use a Photoshop plug-in to do this transparantly. Adobe Camera Raw makes it appear like Photoshop reads the raw file, but actually the ACR plugin converts it and Photoshop never sees the raw data. If Rawshooter doesn't have some kind of 'transfer to Photoshop' option, you can do the same by converting the raw file to a lossless file (often TIFF) and opening this file in Photoshop. If you open the NEF files in Photoshop, you are still using the ACR raw convertor (unless the new raw convertor also installs a Photoshop plugin).
What do you mean it doesn't see the raw data? what data is it missing that Capture might see? A couple of days ago I downloaded the converter to turn my Nikon D200 raw files to DNG so I could open them in Photoshop CS. I was pretty pleased with; one, the results of editing the photos like that and two, the speed which my processor runs with CS and DNG files. Why is it that it can do this but Capture runs so poorly? I mean, with 1 GB of ram I can work on DNG files like they're jpegs.
Oh how wonderful it would be if Nikon's new Capture program they are getting ready to release could work this quickly.
You are confusing Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), the raw convertor that's included with Photoshop. It's well known that the performance of Nikon Capture is fairly poor. Adobe Camera Raw is a fine raw convertor, but it's not Photoshop; it's a plug-in that's included with Photoshop CS and up. My point was that if you open NEF files in Photoshop after editting them in a different raw convertor like RawShooter, you use the ACR raw convertor instead of RawShooter. You shouldn't open the NEF files in Photoshop after converting them if you don't want to use ACR, you should open the result of this conversion (eg. TIFF files).
Alson, pardon my ignorance but..if I use the Adobe DNG converter, then I open the resulting DNG file with CS, what is it not reading that I lose anything over? DNG is still a raw file, correct? It's just a universal raw? How does CS work (with DNG files) so well and use so little system resources over Capture? is it because it's not using all the data in CS? Again, it's almost as quick as a jpeg. it will save it as a jpeg or tiff as quickly too as any other file while saving it in Capture takes forever
I don't claim that you lose anything. A raw file is just converted by ACR before the data is transfered to Photoshop. ACR works about the same with DNG files as regular raw files, but since the version that works with Photoshop CS doesn't support D200 NEFs, you have to use DNG. Whether DNG really preserves all data depends on how well Adobe reverse-engineered the NEF format for your camera.
I guess that ACR is faster than Nikon Capture because NC wasn't designed to be fast. Most raw convertors are faster than NC.
>I tried the new Rawshooter version and I think it's great. >But I'm not really sure how to use it or integrate with PS >Elements 3.0.
Rawshooter has several output file types - choose whichever you prefer (I use 16 bit TIFF but with Elements you may have to use 8 bit) and then use Elements to open the output file found in the "Converted" sub-folder of the folder the original file is in. You can configure Rawshooter to automatically open the output files with whichever editor you like to make this a more seamless process
I like the snapshot feature of Raw Shooter. It is similar to the history pallette in Photoshop. You can take a snapshot before you make a change, compare the changes and delete the snapshots you don't like. I do agree that Raw shooter has one of the best workflows of all the RAW converters.
Anyone using DXO RAW converter. I downloaded it for free, for D200 and 17-55 2.8 to try it out. The user interface is different from ARC but I guess that it something one would get use to. In the limited testing I did using the auto function in both DXO and ARC, DXO produced, to my taste, better pictures. The fact tha DXO will do conversions from NEF to DNG means that you can save the improved file without loosing quality.
Anyone else have any expereince with DXO for D200?
Does anyone use UFRaw and GIMP? UFRaw is a utility to read and manipulate raw images from digital cameras. GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Both are freely distributed and can be used on Windows, MacOS, and UNIX operating systems. UFRaw can be used standalone or as plug-in for GIMP which has many of the same features as Adobe Photoshop.
I've used GIMP for several years and just began using UFRaw. If you interested here are the links to the respective web sites.
The stable versions of GIMP currently lack colour management, though I believe there's limited support in the developmental versions (but no sign of 16-bit support any time soon). However, UFRaw can also be used as a standalone converter and includes 16-bit tiff output, basic colour management, and some advanced features (like Curves) that the other free alternatives lack.
I use UFRaw and the Gimp, and works great. The primary drawbacks are that things like downloading flash cards full of images and processing the images in some sort of batch manner is not a point-and-click job yet.
I'm working with the author of UFRaw now to improve the program, and my future goal is to develop a complete workflow system utilizing UFRaw.
There is an interesting review of Nikon NX is next weeks UK Amateur Photographer. The conclusion is it easily out performs other RAW Converters with NEF and because of the ability to use U-point and Colour Control on any TIFF or JPEG is worth considering for any brand of camera. Apart from layers and cloning (which it does not have) the conclusion is U-point makes it better and quicker than anything Adobe provide. It will be interesting to see what other reviewers conclude.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
Nikon NX? you all think it will be released in our lifetime? Seems I've been reading about it's release forever now. I wonder if it's going to be half as good as they say it's going to be, as far as the speed part.
My two biggest questions regarding the new version are:
1. Will the slower-than-dirt performance of the current version be fixed?
2. Will Nikon offer it for very low cost (eg, < $30) as an upgrade for those of us who recently spent good money on the current version, something that many people think should have been included in the price of the D200 anyway?
U-Point or not, if the performance is clunky and the program is expensive, I don't see any reason for buying it.
Don't get me wrong, I like what the current version does very much, it's just that the terrible memory management slows the thing down to a crawl compared to Photoshop CS2. What is the point to having a high-performance dslr if the software you need to process the images is an anchor?
As I've been certified in Photoshop for almost 10 years I have been inclined to use ACR - sometimes it's not that easy to break an old habit. Now I find that many images lack the density and lustre that the ones processed in DXO do have.
I'm running a dual 2GHz with 3.5 GB ram, therefore processing power isn't currently an issue.
I spend much time researching and reading operation and tech manuals before making solid choices (hence the D200) but am also an impulse junkie (hence the furry slippers I'm wearing whilst writing this).
I have tried Bibble Pro and was not impressed - my copy of Aperture has gathered quite a bit of dust, along with Extensis Portfolio (IView Media Pro pushed that out of the way last year).
What I am trying to say (in as many words as possible, obviously) is, with the plethora of post-production tool choices out on the market today, I have found that, in this forum, Bob Johnson's comment "Chosing the best raw converter is a very subjective thing" is the most informative bit of counsel one can ask for.
I am new to Nikonians - and to Nikon (I am a medium format guy). If Nikon is on the road to producing "Nikon NX" then that will also go under the microscope, but I'm very content with my current choice and will defend it tooth and nail (until something better comes along or I simply change my mind).
Thanks for allowing me to babble -
Johnny kfm Verlag Switzerland/France
"do what you like and you'll never have to work" ~ Thaïs Dearden
Ah! I fear I may have nettled someone's cabbage patch. Not my intention in the slightest.
That was a bit of tedious monologue I must admit what I meant to write was (as I now understand I must be a tad bit more clear for everyone to understand) that no matter which raw editor one chooses, the grass will inevitably be greener. . . so to speak.
Even though one builds a devotion of sorts to one editor - because it works with one's present work flow (as I had experienced with ACR) or simply out of financial restrictions - a forum such as this as well as some private research can easily sway one's decision.
Me? DXO - then CS2 if needed; if you absolutely must know. Although I do look forward to exploring this new Nikon program.
Thank you for your question and comment.
I am here to learn.
Media Director kfm Verlag Multimedia publishing Switzerland/France www.keggscribe.com/johnny (some simple snaps made over the past two months)
"do what you like and you'll never have to work" ~ Thaïs Dearden
I downloaded Silkypix the night before last and I've been pretty impressed with it so far. My first impression of it is that it's going to be my front runner until I get a chance to check out Nikon's latest offering which I'm very anxious to try out. I also haven't tried (or heard of) DXO till you brought it up so I'll have to give it a spin too. One can purchase a camera and use demos for months now before they have to buy one as there are so many out there now.
My computer doesn't have near as much power as your's does but Silkypix runs very well on my 2.66 with 1 GB of ram. I could upgrade but I'd rather toss any spare cash into more photography equipment that I want instead.
I took a close look at Adobe Camera RAW. Yes it does not pick up the camera's noise reduction settings. It seems with the limited tests I have done most of the noise at high ISO settings is luminance noise. This is quite effectively processed by adjusting the luminance smoothing and sharpening in ACR. Have not compared it exhastively with Nikon Capture yet. Until Nikon can produce software that is less cumbersone it kind of shoots itself in the foot and I would only use it when desperate.
True, but even the original post used D2x files as the example, proving the point that it is an issue common to all bodies not just the D200. the same perceived issues could equally relate to the D50, D70s or even the D2x used here.
6x6 sultan, I take it thought the DXO is just for lens correction mainly? It would not allow me to go further when I was signing up for a demo as I don't have any of those lens listed it supports for the D200.
For a new Nikon user this thread is very informative. I have been using Kodak cameras for a long time and was using Photodesk as a RAW converter.
With Nikon cameras I have more choices. Although we are a large production photography studio needing a fast batch processor of many photos at one time we also do some very high quality portraits and scenics that I would approach as I did when I was printing my own color images.
I asked my laboratory what they preferred for each type of image and was told the over whelming number of digital photographers using Millers lab www.millerslab.com use ACR for their raw processing. Because of this, Millers is hosting free classes on Adobe Raw and other digital software via webex for their customers and potential customers.
Well, since the thread was started by Jason, one of our Mods, with the aim of consolidating what were originally a number of similar questions on the topic, I'd say there was a good reason for it to be here
Glad I tripped over here from the D50 Forum. I have been having kitten with CS2 and, the plug-in. I was reading in here before I purchase a D200. So what are everyones thoughts on all the manufacturers just adopting one RAW standard? It sure would make it easier to get good image processing programs.
Brian, with all due respect to you as a moderator, because someone who is also a moderator put it here doesn't mean this is the best place for it.
The idea of consolidation is on the money, but in my opinion, the Nikonian community would be better served if it were moved where more people would see it, in the Digital Post-processing and workflow forum? The issues raised here apply to more than just D200 users. Joves' post, who just happen to jump over here from the D50 forum points that out quite well.
Ned ----------------------------- There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)
I do have to say I definitely like the output using Nikon Capture (4.4 and NX) - Using white balance, exposure, and d-lighting handles most of what I need when working with NEF files.
Adobe Lightroom is coming close, but still is not as good (noise reduction in 4.4/NX is definitely better). It does have a much better worflow to it than NX (even with LR bering in beta). Workflow in 4.4 was a little quirky, but at least you can edit from within the multi-image window and run multiple batches (both features left out of NX).
Personally, I would love to use NX for processing NEF files. But with needing to work with 1000+ images at a time, NX can't handle the workflow. So, I am either left with working in 4.4 (with its quirks), or another converter (currently LR).
So, do I spend DAYS working in NX to get the best quality, or do I spends a couple of hours in another converter to handle a alrge number of files, even though the quality might be slightly lower. I guess I could proof in aother program, then only work on purchased photographs in NX, but that would mean double-working images, and that is not good time management.
I am trying out Capture NX and is quite happy about it, apart from the fact that you cannot control the curves tool with any precision (set input & output values manual amongst other things). What puzzles me after reading this discussion is why Capture appears to produce less noise with just in-camera settings than 3rd party RAW converters? In Capture NX "Noise Reduction" is selected as default under Base Adjustments -> Detail Adjustments, but Intensity is set to 0%. Where does the reduction in noise come from?
Some cameras (the D2X, D2Hs, and D200 included) will automatically load ISO-specific noise reduction settings in Capture 4.4 and NX. Others will not. I'm pretty certain the D50, D70/D70s, D100, D2H, and D1/D1H/D1X fall in that second group.
I'll have to say I'm giving Capture One a serious re-look, especially with the recent announcement to bundle the LE version free with some Sandisk CF cards. For workflow, it is very fast compared to the others. I liked the image quality very much when I played with the trial version several weeks ago. The thing that kept me from buying it was that it didn't have the bells and whistles of the others, ie, nothing equivalent to d-lighting, etc. But the basic controls were very capable. Given that it will now be free (if you need to buy a memory card anyway), maybe that isn't such a stumbling block after all. There's always the shadow/highlight control in Photoshop if you need tweaking in that regard. Or noise ninja if the noise reduction in C1 isn't adequate for some images, etc. A good solution might be to use C1 for most images because of its speed and excellent overall output, while reserving Nikon Capture to use on problem images.
I called Sandisk yesterday and they said the bundled CF cards will be available in stores "soon." I see B&H and Adorama have rebates going on Sandisk cards, perhaps they're clearing inventory in preparation for the new packaging.
> A >good solution might be to use C1 for most images because of >its speed and excellent overall output, while reserving >Nikon Capture to use on problem images.
That's the approach I am taking but using Silky Pix. Silky Pix is the fastest editor I have ever seen. It moves about as quickly as working on Jpegs in other programs. The more I've been using it, the more impressed I am with it. I don't understand why you don't hear more about Silky Pix
>That's the approach I am taking but using Silky Pix. Silky >Pix is the fastest editor I have ever seen. It moves about >as quickly as working on Jpegs in other programs. The more >I've been using it, the more impressed I am with it. I don't >understand why you don't hear more about Silky Pix
Probably because you have to buy it directly from Japan in Yen... It does look like an interesting program, but they really need to set up distributors in the US and Europe to give it more visibility.
If Bibble only had USM like NX -- NX -- I haven't figured the batch processing yet
I like lightroom and like it's workflow too but it does not have as much control as NX. It is like ACR in a lot of ways
I have a good machine -- a 1.5 year old Dual 3.2 GHz Xeon (not dual core but has hyperthreading) and 4 gigs or RAM but XP only uses 3. That is why I like Bibble because it runs on Linux and I can use all the memory I have.
The more I work with these converters and the time spent trying to correct, the more I have to tell myself to expose and focus right the first time and use a flash as much as possible.
I guess for ultimate control except I like NX -- I do not know how good the lense database from Bibble is.
How is DXo?
--------------------------- If you must, then you should Corrales, NM
I've just started experimenting with demos of NX and DxO. Up till now I've been using a budget RAW converter and Photoshop (using 16 bit per channel mode).
My initial feelings are that NX is painfully clunky to use (I suppose because it tries to instantly apply any parameter changes to the whole hi-res image). The interface, though not pretty, is fairly easy to get your head round.
DxO has a pretty interface and is far more immediately responsive than NX. It seems particularly well set up for batch processing of files. But I guess unless you have a lot of shots of a similar subject in similar lighting etc., then batch processing probably defeats the object of RAW-shooting. I like the lens-correction features and the keystone transforms for correcting converging parallels.
In terms of the results, I like what I've got out of NX better - though to be fair I'm still barely dipping my toe into DxO.
So far I don't think I've produced anything better than what I've previously achieved in Photoshop - though I can see, once you have some settings configured, how these programs could make for a speedier workflow.
As I say, it's early days - so don't read too much into my opinions at the moment!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Too many hobbies, too little time
I just finished up my trial period of the new Silky Pix 3.0 and I do believe (personally) that is the best raw editing program out there..if, you don't have a super computer. I can't figure out how they do it but it's so much faster than anything else I have tried.
Like Steve (smb_ohio0 mentioned though when I pondered why you don't hear more about the program, it's troubling that you have to buy it directly from Japan in Yen and there's no distributors in the US. I wrote them a couple of weeks ago and expressed this concern to them and they never did contact me back again on it.
I love the program though, it's so fast and I do believe the 3.0 is better than the previous version I had used. There is a trial program you can use and after it expires there still much of the program that still functions for you with the free version of it.
OK, I've read through most of the thread and didn't see this specificially answered. My apologies in advance if I'm being redundant.
If I open a .NEF file with NC4.4, and then right-click on the image and choose "Open with Photoshop (16-bit)", will the camera settings be carried into Photoshop? To my somewhat untrained eye it appears that they do get carried along, but I want to make sure.
This has been a great thread and I've learned a lot. I was actually feeling quite disappointed in the sharpness of my NEF files when I opened them in Photoshop but this clears that up nicely. (forgive the pun).
I've begun using NX and with the help of Jason's fantastic NX guide, I'm getting the hang of it.
The Open With was a curiosity until I tried it and found out that it just generates a TIF that it opens with the selected program (in my case CS2).
One question remains in my mind. Why is it that 3rd party programs still don't (or can't) read the Nikon in-camera settings? I thought Nikon provided an SDK to make that possible? Is this SDK still lacking or are 3rd parties just not using it?
> >One question remains in my mind. Why is it that 3rd party >programs still don't (or can't) read the Nikon in-camera >settings? I thought Nikon provided an SDK to make that >possible? Is this SDK still lacking or are 3rd parties just >not using it?
Every brand of camera would potentially have different settings to handle. In addition to a different user interface to control these parameters, you'd also need the code to make modifications to those parameters similar to what the in-camera settings do. When you multiply each of these unique requirements by the number of cameras out there, it's a sizable amount of work. It's quite a bit easier to write a generic interface.
If you believe this is due to Nikon's data policies, remember that the third party raw converters provide this feature for no cameras, not just Nikons.
Hi, I haven't worked with RAW/NEF formats before but am interested in trying it out for "special" photographs. I noticed that Paint Shop Pro XI appears to "open" Nikon NEF formats; if so, it should be able to manipulate the file as well.
I need to give it a try soon but wanted to know if this was a viable approach?