Question for you guys who shoot in the RAW

Blog Forums Photography Question for you guys who shoot in the RAW

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Bob Riggins Bob Riggins Jun 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm.

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    Bob Riggins
    Bob Riggins

    I have started taking photos in both JPEG and RAW and have started playing around with RAW processing. I’m a little confused with the workflow and output. I have used four programs for working with RAW files, Picassa, Paintshop Pro 5X, View NX (Nikon), and After Shot Pro 2. Only View NX and After Shot Pro 2 are specifically RAW processors.

    1. As far as workflow is concerned, I assume you have to eventually end up with a JPEG file. The RAW file that comes out of the camera (Nikon D5200) is about 25 mp and the associated JPEG file is about 10 MP. Whether I do some processing in one of the programs or directly convert to a JPEG file, the largest file I end up with is about 6 mp. So it appears the camera conversion to JPEG has more information in the file. Does this mean I should just use the camera JPEG and forget converting RAW?

    2. So far, my results have been inconsistent, but it seems the best results have come from converting the RAW to JPEG in Picassa with no adjustments and then processing the file in Paint Shop Pro 5X. If I process the file in View NX or After Shot Pro 2 and then convert, I seem to be loosing something compared to the Picassa to Paint Shop Pro 5X method.

    So, I guess my question would be, is it better to just do a bulk conversion of the RAW files and process the converted file in Paint Shop Pro 5X? (for the purpose of this question, assume Paint Shop Pro and Photo Shop are equal. I’m not ready to pony up for Photo Shop or Lightroom right now.)


    You’ll have to post some recent pictures – I’d love to see your progress. One of the things I love about this board is going through the archives and watching some folks start as newbies and progress to becoming amazing photographers. I wish I could replicate what many others on this board have done in developing their skills!

    I’m sure some guys who really know what they are doing will chime in, but here are a couple thoughts from me.
    1. There are certainly differences in file compression, etc. when creating a jpg image across difference software programs (including that built into your camera), but I don’t think I’d bother with RAW images from your camera if you are going to convert to jpg before any editing. This misses the real benefit of RAW files, which is that you have much more information to work with when making adjustments so the end result tends to look a lot better. For example, RAW files tend to save way more information in the shadows and highlights – helping you to do some serious exposure correction if you missed it in the field.
    2. I’ve been using Lightroom for a few years now. I work in education and got a bit of a discount, but it has definitely been money well spent. So many folks recommended it that I didn’t really look into what else is out there. I’m not familiar with those programs you are using, but three things I really like about Lightroom that I’d look for when you choose a program are 1) Ability to edit RAW files 2) Easy cataloguing of photos (either the editing software plays well with another program or does it in house) 3) Has a system where the the original file is never altered (e.g., Lightroom works by creating another (small) file that stores the adjustments you made to a particular image. This file is linked to the original image file you made adjustments to, but that original image is unchanged- so all the information is there and you can always revert to the original. Images that adjust this original can be exported as jpgs to be used for viewing elsewhere).

    I do a lot of work at the computer, so I try to limit the amount of time I’m on it for my hobbies and thus workflow is pretty quick. I’d love to hear what others do, but here’s mine:
    1. Shoot RAW files, trying hard to get exposure right in camera.
    2. Import to Lightroom, saving RAW files on external HD, omitting clearly out of focus or uninteresting shots from the import
    3. Select the best photos from the import and edit only those (other photos imported remain saved in the HD, but I won’t take the time to edit). All edits in Lightroom. The most common adjustments are to shadows, black point, sharpness, white balance, noise reduction. I don’t mind cropping if needed.
    4. On some occasions, I use certain Lightroom plugins or free/cheap software to do some stitching for panoramas, stacking for star trails or HDR, and so on. I think the newest Lightroom builds in some of these features, but generally I’ve used them so seldom that I’ve found the software I’ve acquired satisfactory for the task.
    5. Export those edited photos to a temporary folder, saving them as jpgs
    6. Upload the jpgs to an image hosting service
    7. This is everything other than backing up. I make copies of my external HDs (for work and photos) and store them in different locations. I keep temporary folders on my computer until I’ve backed up my computer a few times. I keep RAW files on my camera’s SD cards until they are nearly full, deleting them by reformatting the card in camera (not when importing) – and only doing that after they have been imported to LR and put on a HD, that HD has been backed up, and jpgs have been created and uploaded to the image hosting service. In this way I should always have at least two copies of both the RAW and jpgs of any image that is remotely decent, and those copies are spread over multiple physical locations.

    Hope this is helpful. Looking forward to seeing your progress and hearing about others’ workflow.


    Bob Riggins
    Bob Riggins

    Thanks for the extensive post. A lot of information in there. I’ve been working with it a little more and figured out a little bit how to process RAW in After Shot 2 (which is similar to Lightroom). Still trying to learn how much to adjust the images. I think I am overdoing the saturation thing, but getting better at exposure and lighting. So far, my best results have been to do some processing of the RAW in After Shot 2, export to a TIFF file and put the finishing touches on in Paint Shop Pro 5X. Then, once I get it where I want it, export the final product to a JPEG file.

    I’ve got some pretty interesting shots that I am relatively happy with. Most are wildlife and landscapes. No fishing pictures yet. I’ll post some when I get time.

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