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ACR 3.1 and NC 4.2.1 may be closer than I thought...

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Scott Sherman, May 13, 2005.

  1. I tried a new experiment today.

    I opened an image in Nikon Veiw, then opened it in NC as shot WB resized it for web.

    I then went back to NV opened the same image in PSCS2 ACR. This time in ACR> settings>drop list (the little triangle next to the settings box, not the box itself)>uncheck "use auto adjustments" then picked White Balance "as shot" resized for web.

    No additional adjustments of any kind were applied. These two shots are straight out of the D2x using auto WB in camera.

    amazingly this is what happened

    This image is camera to NC as shot WB to web with no adjustments;
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    This image is camera to PSCS2 as shot WB (use auto adjustments turned off) to web with no adjustments;
    View attachment 8813

    Not a perfect match but pretty close. With this as an original as shot raw image, I have a pretty good start just using PS as a one stop shop. Previously, I assumed that PS was encrypting NEF files in some wild guess which was way off, but with the auto adjustment turned off, it is actually quite close. Am I just way behind the curve or is this a pretty cool discovery?

    What do you think?
  2. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    I would say that difference in tone and colour is huge.
  3. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    It does stink that the default values for ACR are so radical. I don't know what Knoll etal. were thinking with those disney color defaults.

    Of course nothing beats Nikon making compressed Raw default on the D100. It limits you to 2 shots a minute.
  4. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    I wonder why they programmed compression in D100 at all
  5. There is clearly a difference but not nearly so much as when auto adjustments are switched on. It is possible to match colors and tone and then save it as a default in ACR. It's a bit tricky but it should be possible I would think.

    If anyone with a better eye than I have finds the formula, you could make many very happy if you were to share those settings.
  6. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    Dear Scott, I'm afraid it is impossible. Maximum that I can do is to match 7 points between ACR and NC. Inremediate points can fall apart as far as 17delataE. Too different approaches to tone/colour management.
  7. It seems that there are basically two choices if one wants to use PSCS2/ACR 3.1/Bridge as the defacto raw converter and image editor.

    The first is to carry a gray card and when possible shoot it in similar conditions to the rest of your shots. May not always be practical on the go or in spontaneous situations.

    The second is to turn off all auto settings in ACR and go to "shot as" WB in ACR and then adjust as needed to get where you want to be. I will begin to pay more attention to the tweak settings in ACR and save them to see if a pattern emerges for future quick reference. I know that each lighting situation will dictate a different setting but there may be some commonality that will emerge for a starting point before tweaking.

    I am still not entirely clear on the roll of DNG in the big picture with use of a D2x and ACR 3.1. If someone can elaborate in simple terms why I should or should not use this. Is it correct to say that DNG will automatically pick up EXIF data and embed it into the file for future reference if I import it straight into PS? I have not really spent much time experimenting with it yet so any pointers would be appreciated to get me started.

    I did load one CF card of about two hundred images into DNG and then opened them in PS but became distracted and was not able to complete the experiment. I do see that the Bridge works much better with D2x files from DNG than those simply dragged onto the desktop for review before editing.

    I saw an interesting thread at DRR regarding DNG for those that do not mind going to the dark side.


    Thank you
  8. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Hi Scott. I'm not sure about DNG at this point in time either. Technically, it's no better (and maybe less so) than the NEF format. The hope is that more vendors will pick up on DNG, so there will be a vendor independent raw format. Personally I think such a beast needs to not come from a behemoth in the image editing world, but rather a consortium of camera manufacturers, users and software vendors.
  9. Tosh


    May 6, 2005

    I appreciate your starting this post and your thoughts on ACR vs. Capture.

    My CS2 (upgrade from PS 7.0) should arrive tomorrow and my wish is to be able to do all my postprocessing in a single program.

    As such, I look forward to reading any further thoughts from you and others about settings, etc. for ACR.

  10. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    Hi Glenn,

    There are two stages: development/processing and postprocessing.
  11. I think what I like most about ACR is the way it is laid out. You have all the most important sliders in one place to adjust the most basic and important aspect sof the image, (WB, exposure, and color), so you are not bouncing from one tabbed box to another. I also find the sliders to be smoother and more responsive to slight nudges. From there I can adjust any aspect of the image very intuitively, such as distortion, smart blurring, cloning, etc. It really is a one stop shopping experience as opposed to having to go to several specialty shops to get what you want. IE. NV or PP to NC then to PS. Probably not a big deal if you are only editing a few images at a time but a bit of trudge if you are reviewing multi gigs of images.

    Bridge and PS are seamless and very intuitive and I can catalog photos by tagging them or rating them in PS and find them very easily later.

    NC is a great raw editor if all you want to do is open your image and adjust the basics to get a good exposure and crop it down for printing. in the days of film photography that was basically all there was. Today, with just a basic understanding of PS, I can make a photo into anything I want it to be (almost). A far cry from the one hour developer at the mall.

    Having said that, I will keep NC on my computer because no one knows NEF like Nikon and there may be a rare case where NC will be the only way to get most out of a keeper that was not quite right to begin with.
  12. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I'm with you Scott. I much prefer Photoshop/acr/bridge's way of doing things, and find NC confusing, but I do use it occasionally because it does seem to have an easier time with color fidelity.
  13. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    I too see a huge difference between the two versions. The PSCS2 version colors especially are so different. The NC version seems much more natural/realistic.
  14. sfoxjohn


    May 1, 2005
    Marlton, NJ

    The colors look very different to me.

    If I was advertising vegetables I would surely use the second.

    Those greenish yellow peppers in the first would certainly turn me off if I was shopping.

    On the other hand, the tomatoes look more like apples in the second one.

    If these were straight prints from color film, I would probably think that trying to get a "correct" darkroom print would result in a lot of hair loss for me.
  15. That is an interesting observation.

    I think if the goal of taking the picture is to recreate an image that represents the original as close as posible in color, saturation, gamma, exposure etc. Then NC is the way to go.

    If the goal of the photograph is to produce a picture of a subject that is the most pleasing to the eye of the viewer and matching the exact color etc of the scene or object you photographed is not a priority, then Photoshop might be the best way to go.

    If five people look at an image of a field of flowers (for example), not having seen the original flowers, you would get 5 different set of variants in the settings.

    Even if you take a picture of model with different flesh tones and allowed 5 people to adjust the image to thier liking, having not seen or met the model in real life. Each of the 5 editors would tweak it slightly different to arrive at what they percieve to be the best representation of the model.

    Now if you are doing a layout for a product needless to say, it must represent what the product will look like in the hands of a consumer and color accuracy is critical. Fortunatley, I do not answer to any editors except my wife.

    I am going to use PSCS2 predominantly. I like the result.
  16. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    For me, no matter what I find I want the photo to finally look like, I would like my original photo to be as close to an exact replication of the scene as it appears to the eye, before I change it. Or, at the least, have one shot that way, and then several others for effects.

    I find it virtually impossible to remember exactly how something looked, once I have been playing with the settings, hues, saturation, and the myriad of other adjustments. Without a reference point I would have a hard time judging which variation looked best.

    To me that's the best of "both worlds". So I would first use NC, and then switch to PS.
  17. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Scott,

    I agree with many of the other replies that the two pictures look somewhat different. While tone and perhaps color rendering may be a matter of taste - if one cannot compare to the actual scene - or adjustment during postprocessing, the one thing I believe I can see on my little laptop screen is that the PS rendering shows more highlights, or to be more precise, the highlight areas are bigger. On the other hand, the NC version seems a touch darker.

    Now highlights can be a nasty thing, as there is no data to recover from. So if PS produces more or larger highlighted areas and you are using this converted image as your "negative" to start with, you may have a tough time to work on it.

    The other way round, if you use the NC version, you can quite easily adjust the midtones or curves to get to an image such as with PS. I'm not sure you can easily reduce the highlights on the PS image.

    I'll appreciate your comments.
  18. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Actually I think most people would agree that ACR does a far better job of handling highlights than NC does, particularly in the case of "partially-blown" highlights that are only clipped in one or two channels. ACR can often do a pretty good job of recovering these, NC cannot. The reason the NC version looks darker is because of the stronger contrast in the default tone curve.
  19. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Jeff,

    That was quick reply. I must say I'm not really familiar with ACR, and the limitations you mentioned regarding NC and partially-blown highlights is something I do run into from time to time (more often that I wish for).
    Nevertheless, I was refering to the white highlights on the peppers - the bottom (ACR) picture does have more white highlights, as I see it. Wouldn't that be a potential problem? Or in other words, how would you fix such highlights (in PS, for example)?

    With the peppers it may not be a big deal to have these minor light reflections, but a picture of the sky with white clouds or waves at the beach could be a problem.

    Had a short look at your pbase site - love the pictures. Can you send me landscapes so I can shoot them, too? Keep the tiger, got enough cats in my garden.
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