Lightroom to the Rescue!

by Mikkel Aaland

On Tuesday, while shooting images at a small iron foundry here in Ulefoss, Norway for my Under the Hood, Working Raw project, I messed up. What followed is both a testimonial for Lightroom and shooting in the RAW mode.

15 Comments

Bahi
2007-08-03 12:05:12
Are you sure that Adobe hasn't registered as a Nikon developer and thereby been given access to the SDK required to write apps that read Nikon's white balance settings? I shoot only RAW on Nikons and Lightroom always picks up my white balance settings - presets or custom. The values Lightroom displays are usually very different from the ones it guesses if I click 'Auto" in the WB section of the app, the latter really representing Lightroom's best guess.
Eduardo Mueses
2007-08-03 12:05:50
What a beutiful image that last one!


I agree with you. I feel so much more powerful with those two (LR + RAW) on my side!

Mikkel Aaland
2007-08-03 12:14:17
Bahl, I don't know the answer to your question. But I know what I see. And I know that at least at one point Nikon was encrypting the wb. Are they still? I don't know. And Eduardo.... thanks!
Jay
2007-08-03 16:17:32
Hi Mikkel, I know this is a LR blog, but Nikon's Capture NX is a wonderful RAW convertor and can help in this kind of situation too.
John Beardsworth
2007-08-04 01:37:01
Nikon are still encrypting the WB but Adobe has access to a mini-SDK. This was the outcome of the encrypted WB fiasco a year or two back.
Mikkel Aaland
2007-08-04 01:37:54
Jay, you are absolutely right! I especially like Nikon Capture's NX U Point technology, which allows you to apply localized editing directly to the image itself. That would be nice in Lightroom as well. I am also a big fan of Dave Coffin's DCRAW, and Eric Hyman's Bibble, both very fine RAW converters. And of course, there is Adobe Camera Raw, which I covered in my book Photoshop RAW. Lots of choices...
Mikkel Aaland
2007-08-04 01:45:29
John, what is a "mini-SDK'? Does this mean LR reads the WB partially? What explains the difference between my JPEGs and RAWs which is evident in Adobe Bridge as well as LR. I really appreciate you shedding some light on this subject!
John Beardsworth
2007-08-04 09:09:07
It's a subset of the full SDK, the code library that gives developers a roadmap to the information that Nikon put in our images but do not otherwise document. As far as I know, this mini SDK purely explains how to read the WB setting - eg "tungsten". How Adobe then interpret "tungsten" in the raw conversion may well differ from how Nikon interpret it in writing the JPEG (and the raw file preview that is visible for a moment when LR is importing it).
Bahi
2007-08-04 09:29:51
An SDK is a software development kit. Nikon offers registered developers a software development kit as the only official method for third-party coders to read encrypted white balance settings. It would be very surprising for Adobe not to have this sorted and working well for all their apps and John's comment would suggest that they have done the right thing.


Is it possible that the JPEGs and RAW images in Lightroom are being affected differently by camera settings (like Color Mode, Saturation, Hue Adjustments, etc.) that contribute to the differences you're seeing? With RAW (NEF) images, Lightroom might be discarding some of these settings, which travel to the application purely as metadata, not affecting the actual RAW file at all. With JPEGs, the settings are used in-camera to define characteristics of the image-creation stage, defining the way the JPEG is actually created from the sensor data. Just a theory, and probably a ropy one at that but changing some of these settings (Optimize menu) might be a useful experiment. My finger of suspicion would point (somewhat unconvincingly, perhaps) to any Color Mode other than Color Mode II and to high saturation settings. Hue might also play a role. All guesses but while we await the definitive answer...

Bahi
2007-08-04 09:33:09
(Was writing my comment while John was writing his, which wasn't considered when I was writing.) John: custom WB settings set on the camera (i.e., those made with a grey card) also appear to work well. I'll experiment with JPEG+RAW when I next get the chance.
John Beardsworth
2007-08-04 13:01:58
Although I think the key is that the JPEG is Nikon's interpretation of the in camera WB setting, and what you're seeing in ACR is Adobe's interpretation of the raw data, it's also worth noting that Nikon's full SDK's has contained inaccuracies / inadequate documentation. And for all I know, Adobe may have made little use of the data other than covering their corporate backside by being able to say they weren't cracking the encryption.
Jay
2007-08-04 22:32:37
No proof, but there was some speculation that the SDK version of NEF conversion Nikon license to others is not quite as good as the one they keep for themselves in Capture NX. Who knows, but possible I guess...


@Mikkel - I agree, U-Point or the likes in Lightroom would be fantastic, that would make it the tool of choice for me. I have watched the Lightzone demo video's and figure these kinds of new paradigms for editing are the a profound landmark in the history of digital photography.


Having purchased a few Photoshop books and magazines over the years (easily seduced by the before and after pictures) I have followed along with the recipies with partial success, but left to my own devices I would not begin to know when to multiply, when to soften, how much bevel and so on. So many variables and so much trial and error needed to become proficient at PS. Enter Lightroom, Lightzone and Capture NX and "BOOM!" now there's a better way for photographers who are not graphic designers or don't have the time to learn to fly a 747. Not to mention the non-destructiuve nature of these editors. I applaud Adobe and others for making these programs available. PS has a massive market, but the learning curve never seems to end, whereas you can just dive in on these newer programs and get instant (and reapeatable) results.

Mark Phillips
2007-08-05 20:32:25
Which raises this question for me Mikkel.


I have three cameras. The most easily portable and versatile of the three doesn't shoot RAW. In this respect alone its versatility is limited. I know this limits the degree to which I can manipulate images in LR (or any other program!).
Just how effective do you think Adobe Camera RAW is in making the processing of JPEG images reasonably effective?


Thanks.


Mark

Mikkel Aaland
2007-08-08 04:20:16
Hi Mark, sorry for not replying to your post sooner. We are getting ready to return to the US so we are bit distracted with packing etc. Anyway, the key point is Adobe Camera Raw (or LR) is non-distructive both for RAW and JPEG files. That alone is reason to use it. But it's also very effective as a image processor. Hope this helps. And BTW, thanks for the kind words on amazon.com! Much appreciated.
Mikkel Aaland
2007-08-08 04:26:07
John, regarding your comment : "


Although I think the key is that the JPEG is Nikon's interpretation of the in camera WB setting, and what you're seeing in ACR is Adobe's interpretation of the raw data, it's also worth noting that Nikon's full SDK's has contained inaccuracies / inadequate documentation. And for all I know, Adobe may have made little use of the data other than covering their corporate backside by being able to say they weren't cracking the encryption..."


I've noticed that when I set my Nikon D200 to auto WB, and compare the JPEG and RAW files in LR, they are pretty much identical...it's only when I stray from auto that I notice a difference. This fits with what you where saying about Nikon's SDK not being accurate. Thanks for the information, and thanks for weighing in here. I know and respect your fine work and your input is always very welcome.