Nikon Know-how

This is­sue, Michael Free­man ex­plores how to make the most out of the data in your RAW files

NPhoto - - Contents -

Get more from your RAW files with Michael Free­man’s guide to the best way to re­cover miss­ing de­tails in shots

Some peo­ple say pro­cess­ing, oth­ers say edit­ing, and yet oth­ers say post-pro­cess­ing, but what­ever ter­mi­nol­ogy you use, this is es­sen­tially an ac­tiv­ity that you

carry out on RAW files. You can work on JPEGs and TIFFs in ap­par­ently sim­i­lar ways, of­ten with the same soft­ware tools, but only a RAW file has the depth of in­for­ma­tion that en­ables dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of an im­age with­out any loss of im­age qual­ity.

As we saw in is­sue 40’s ar­ti­cle on RAW vs JPEG, the cap­tured im­age – whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG – has to un­dergo ba­sic pro­cess­ing to de­liver a view­able im­age. The dif­fer­ence is that if you shoot in RAW, you can do all this pro­cess­ing, and more, us­ing soft­ware that’s more ca­pa­ble than the cam­era’s. Here we’ll show you the es­sen­tial tech­niques for get­ting the most out of a RAW im­age file.

Creative con­trol

RAW-pro­cess­ing soft­ware has ben­e­fited from lots of im­prove­ments over the last few years, and this will con­tinue. These im­prove­ments have been in two main ar­eas: the num­ber of tools available, and the qual­ity of the edited im­age. How­ever, a lot of what goes on dur­ing this pro­cess­ing is con­cealed in var­i­ous ways, not be­cause soft­ware com­pa­nies are try­ing to hide any­thing, but be­cause it keeps things more user-friendly. Given the com­plex­ity of the com­put­ing in­volved this isn’t a bad idea, as most of us would rather get on with tak­ing pic­tures, but it does cause some con­fu­sion. With so many slid­ers do­ing ap­par­ently sim­i­lar things, which ones should you use, and in what or­der?

Prob­a­bly the most widely used RAW pro­cess­ing soft­ware is Adobe Cam­era RAW, or ACR, which is used in both Light­room and Pho­to­shop, and this is the one we show here to keep things sim­ple, but that’s not to say other op­tions aren’t as good – these days, the stan­dard of RAW-pro­cess­ing soft­ware is pretty high across the board.

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