Master raw

When you switch to shoot­ing Raw files with your Nikon, you un­lock the door to bet­ter qual­ity, bet­ter con­trol and bet­ter pho­to­graphs. Here is ev­ery­thing you need to know about NEF files…

NPhoto - - CONTENTS -

Start shoot­ing in Raw – and master the post-pro­cess­ing dig­i­tal dark­room work­flow – to cre­ate your best im­ages yet

Raw files are of­ten de­scribed as ‘dig­i­tal neg­a­tives’ be­cause they con­tain all the in­for­ma­tion cap­tured by the cam­era be­fore it’s been pro­cessed into a JPEG file. Each cam­era maker uses its own Raw file for­mat, and in Nikon’s case it’s NEF files. It’s like the dif­fer­ence be­tween a film neg­a­tive and a print you get back from a lab. With Raw, or NEF files, you can ac­cess the full range of tones, all the colours and all the dig­i­tal data cap­tured by your Nikon be­fore it’s been ‘pro­cessed’ into a JPEG.

JPEGS are fine for quick share­able pic­tures, and with rel­a­tively un­de­mand­ing scenes they can be ad­e­quate. But if you need to work on your pho­tos later, ap­ply spe­cial ef­fects or ma­nip­u­late spe­cific ar­eas, then the cracks can even­tu­ally start to show. If you edit a JPEG, you’re re-pro­cess­ing an im­age that’s been pro­cessed once al­ready; when you edit a Raw, how­ever, you’re work­ing di­rectly with the data cap­tured by your cam­era.

So, over the next few pages we’re go­ing to ex­plain ex­actly how Raw files work and what they en­able you to do with your pho­to­graphs. We’ll ex­plain the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of shoot­ing Raw and whether you need to use your cam­era dif­fer­ently.

But pro­cess­ing is also a mas­sive part of shoot­ing Raw and an im­por­tant phase if you’re re­ally go­ing to get the best from your cam­era. We’ll look at some of the key steps you can take to per­fect your pic­tures, and also some of the key soft­ware tools for do­ing it. We all tend to de­fault to Adobe soft­ware for our im­age pro­cess­ing, but don’t over­look Nikon Cap­ture NX-D, which is a pow­er­ful and in­ter­est­ing Raw con­verter in its own right. In fact, there are many in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tives to Adobe when it comes pro­cess­ing Raw files and we’ll take a look at a few here.

In­deed, although we talk about Raw files as be­ing the ‘dig­i­tal neg­a­tive’, it might be more ac­cu­rate to call them ‘un­de­vel­oped neg­a­tives’, be­cause choos­ing your Raw pro­cess­ing soft­ware is just as im­por­tant as choos­ing the right ‘de­vel­oper’ back in the days of film.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s not waste any more time and get started!

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