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  1. #1
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Choosing a RAW Convertor

    I haven't used many RAW convertors, so I'm having a little trouble understanding what makes one better than another. (The LightRoom beta got me thinking.) Is it a matter of image quality, or is it just the user interface and convenience that varies? I'm sorry if this is a stupid question. I'm new to the world of digital imaging, so I'm still learning to spot problems that I never had to deal with using film.

    I've been using RawShooter for a few months now, and it seems to work great. But, I'm not confident that I would recognize problems introduced during the conversion, because I'm not really sure what to look for.

    Any advice, information, opinions, facts, examples, references or prefered reading?

    Thanks,
    Paul

  2. #2
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a RAW Convertor

    Your question is anything but stupid. This isn't something that's really made clear. But there are two elements to a RAW converter. One is the actual converter. And the other is the UI. The conversion software can make a huge difference in the final image quality. I had a Canon G2 compact which could shoot in RAW. But the images I shot in RAW all came out looking really crappy. Later, when Adobe came out with Camera Raw, people said that their G2 RAW images looked much better. That's because Adobe's RAW conversion was better than Canon's.

    The interface is also important. Software developers have come up with all kinds of tools to help us get the most out of our RAW files. I used BreezeBrowser for years and still use it now, sometimes. It's pretty simple and straightforward and I like that. When I got Photoshop CS and started using Camera Raw, all of the controls and options were confusing and a little overwhelming to me. But it did offer some very nice controls that helped me get more from my RAW files than BreezeBrowser did. I also used the Sigma/Foveon software for the Sigma SD10 and it was also different and I liked it a lot. It's interesting to see all the different strategies for squeezing the most from RAW files.

    I downloaded the free version of Raw Shooter in January. I have the pro version now and it's all I use for RAW conversions. I love it. I haven't tried Lightroom yet, but I plan to download it in the next couple of days. And I'm worried about what Adobe plans to do with Raw Shooter. Because I love it as-is. I guess I'm trying to reassure you that you're not missing anything. You've got what I consider the best - whatever that's worth.
    Photo-John

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  3. #3
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a RAW Convertor

    Hi Photo-John,

    Thanks for the reply. I value your opinion highly.

    I find myself getting overwhelmed with all of the details of digital photography. There seem to be an infinite number of variables that can affect image quality, besides the basic photographic principles. It's hard to know how a new person like myself should prioritize learning to elliminate these variables or buying whatever hardware or software is required to do so. It's good to know I'm not wasting my time with RawShooter. I can scratch that off the list...at least for the time being.

    Paul

  4. #4
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    You need to have tunnel vision...

    Quote Originally Posted by photophorous
    I find myself getting overwhelmed with all of the details of digital photography. There seem to be an infinite number of variables that can affect image quality, besides the basic photographic principles...
    No doubt... :mad2:

    I found the digital workflow extremely challenging to learn, and that was with 15+ years of film shooting (and darkroom work) under my belt. I can't begin to imagine trying to learn field aspects of photography and the computer aspects all at once...

    The best way (IMO) to go about it is to figure out the kind of pictures you want to create, then decide on the best way to create them. This will make it much clearer what you need to learn.

    Different types of photography, different subjects, different destinations for the final product, and whether you'd like to earn income from your work all determine your workflow, as well as the quality and quantity of your equipment (and software).

    In this sense you need to have blinders on sometimes, simplify things and not let folks pull in you in too many directions at once (because they will). Sift through information and opinions and decide if something is worth adding to your ever-growing knowledge base.

    If you're happy with your pictures and comfortable with your workflow, I wouldn't worry about what others are doing or using. Photography is all about problem solving, so when you feel you have problems, that's when you address them...
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

    -Steve
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  5. #5
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Kiss

    Quote Originally Posted by photophorous
    I find myself getting overwhelmed with all of the details of digital photography. There seem to be an infinite number of variables that can affect image quality, besides the basic photographic principles.
    KISS: Keep it simple, stupid

    Like owning a camera with 382 controls and features - only a few will actually matter for you. They're all important - but not to you. You just need to figure out a few that give you the control and quality you need. And then you can add to your toolbox, slowly, as you find you need more options. Because of the volume of work I have, I tend to keep it very simple. I am very resistant to learning and experimenting with new tools. But I do try to keep an open mind and open eyes to what's out there. I'm not, however, the guy that has to try everything new and use all the features. I just want to get the job done. I'll leave the exploration to someone else.

    Here's what I think is important in post-processing:

    1) Photoshop masked adjustment layers
    2) Automation - batch processing to speed up repetitive tasks
    3) Unsharp Mask
    4) Raw conversion software that you're comfortable with
    5) A simple, routine workflow
    6) Good archiving practices

    And I'm starting to play with noise reduction. If I had a newer camera with better high ISO performance, I probably wouldn't care. But noise reduction software really works and can help you get more out borderline photos that might otherwise be throwaways. For me, it might be the difference between making money and not making money.

    Hope this helps. I'm glad you posted, by the way. I think this is turning into a very useful thread
    Photo-John

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  6. #6
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a RAW Convertor

    For me, it is a matter of workflow, interface, features, and *most* importantly image quality. Other people put speed in there. For me there is no substitute for good quality though.

    I tried lightroom beta for months on my mac. I gave up a while ago and removed it. I didn't like the way it worked. If I want a program like that i'll get either Apple Aperture or Nikon View Pro when it comes out- I prefer the Apple's interface and I prefer Nikon's conversions.

    For me, its a matter of image quality first, everything else second. I'm currently using Nikon capture NX, which is the latest software they have, which was released ahead of schedule due to needing a converter for a new camera. despite its bugs, I still prefer it to all other raw converters. In terms of sheer image quality, I've found myself disappointed with my recent cameras and the Adobe Camera Raw plugin. I quickly grew used to the user interface and have a well established workflow after less than two weeks with it.

    Another thing that draws people is features...Bibble Pro has NoiseNinja built in, if memory serves. Adobe Camera Raw is part of Adobe Bridge and Photoshop. Capture NX now has a neat control point technology that is very useful for me, and accesses the in camera settings the camera has set, applies them provisionally and allows me to adjust them how I please, something that 3rd parties do not do.

    The RAW converter is perhaps the most personal choice we face in digital photography. it applies to every single raw image we take. and if we choose the right one our output will be better.
    Harrison
    Nikon Forum / Digital SLR Forum Moderator | moderator bio
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  7. #7
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a RAW Convertor

    It's hard to put things in perspective sometimes, but all of your comments have helped me do that. I need to focus my energy on getting the images I want, before I worry about destroying them. I'm happy with RawShooter Essentials, so I plan to stick with it for now.

    Thank you all for commenting.

    Paul

  8. #8
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing a RAW Convertor

    well I am glad you have RSE and not RS Premium, so adobe will keep you supplied and updated for a while after their acquisition
    Harrison
    Nikon Forum / Digital SLR Forum Moderator | moderator bio
    Check out our new Nikon D300 Pro Review D3 review coming soon...
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  9. #9
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Worried

    Quote Originally Posted by deckcadet
    well I am glad you have RSE and not RS Premium, so adobe will keep you supplied and updated for a while after their acquisition
    Yeah, I'm worried about what will become of Raw Shooter Premium. I am so happy with it. And I don't know if Adobe is trying to buy out the competition to snuff it. Or whether they'll legitimately roll the Raw Shooter features into something I can use. I would love to see a combination of Raw Shooter and Camera Raw. They're both good and I like features that are in both. I do think my actual conversions have been better from Raw Shooter, and I prefer the Raw Shooter interface.

    From the information that's been given out, it looks like Adobe wants to use Raw Shooter technology for Lightroom. Since I haven't tried Lightroom yet, I don't know what I think of that.
    Photo-John

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