Sunday, 6 July 2008

Responding to RAW

In a forum discussion with Dr. DAF, I was making some points about choosing a RAW editor, for newbies. Here's the cleaned up text.
By the way, shooting RAW vs JPEG - another long discourse (never ending because lots of strong minded people argue on each side of the camps). The most effective and recent advice was this:
Shoot RAW if you don't shoot too many shots in a session. Cause you're gonna have to process them. Shoot JPEG if you shoot nearly a hundred or hundreds of shots per session. Because life's too short to spend processing each one. Of course, that does mean that your JPEGs must be spot on in exposure and white balance.
There are several Windows RAW processing programs as well as all purpose programs that do reasonable work. Each one has a personality. Many of them have a "try before buy" facility. In addition, the camera brands also provide a cut down RAW processor as well as a more powerful extra cost processor.
My current, pragmatic criteria for these programs, not in any order of importance:
  1. Can I understand how to drive the program with minimal flying hours?
  2. Can I get the effect I want with the minimum work?
  3. Can I "see" the program working either in effect preview or in actual processing. Sometimes, I click a button or move a slider, nothing seems to happen, I don't know whether the effect has been carried out, is being carried out or "see" the before and after result.
  4. Hew mech iz it? Can I run it easily on any of my machines in a fair-go, fair use policy? Maybe, could I run it off a USB stick?
  5. After all is said and done, if I have a benchmark JPEG of the same scene shot at the same time, can my RAW efforts with said program equal or better what the JPEG gives?
  6. Does it support my RAW? - RAW for each camera is not standardised. Adobe DNG is. Some cameras are so new, software doesn't know how to handle their RAW. If you are really keen on a particular program, one trick is to batch convert the RAW files to Adobe DNG file format (if the free Adobe DNG convertor is up to date) and then use that program to work with the Adobe DNG.
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