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Evaluating raw images (long post)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Replytoken, May 17, 2019.

  1. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I have to say that familiarity often brings content when I cull/process raw images. In 2008, I started using a D300 around the same time I was beginning to use Lightroom. After a number of years and many thousands of shots with the D300, I felt quite familiar with how to evaluate/cull and post process D300 raw files.

    In 2012, I started shooting with m4/3rd's bodies and had to learn how to evaluate Olympus raw files, in particular files from an E-M1 that I picked up in 2013. Mu usual usual routine didn't seem appropriate for the Oly files, and it took quite a bit of time until I was as comfortable with them as I was with the D300 files. But, I eventually became quite familiar with these files and started to find many things about the images that I really enjoyed. With good technique, many raw images looked quite sharp and contrasty prior to any post processing, perhaps more so than those from my D300.

    Fast forward a bit and this whole process has repeated not once, but twice. First with my D610 a bit after the E-M1, and of late with the D500. Having a full frame camera is nice for a number of reasons, but trying to effectively evaluate/process images from three different sensor formats has somehow thrown me off, especially during culling. I am not sure if it is general unfamiliarity with the new files, the additional resolution or switching between brands, but I frequently find my self second guessing my decisions about whether an image has acceptable focus and sharpness when culling.

    For quick and dirty culling, I find FastStone IV to be a useful tool as it is quick and easy t operate from the keyboard. I also use FastRaw Viewer when I really need to dig into a raw image to determine if it is a keeper or not. In both programs, I traditionally look at parts of images at 100% to see if they are worth the time and energy to post process and possibly print. My beloved thinks I am quite picky and too willing to reject some images that I deem soft. With the E-M1, I can usually tell right away if I missed the shot or not. With the D610 and D500, that decision process somehow gets muddled. I know that NEF files are quite soft and need sharpening, but they seem quite a bit softer than OLY files to the point that I often question my technique. And add the additional resolution, and I sometimes wondering if I am being too critical, particularly when viewing at 100%. I know it is not an apples to apples comparison to compare files from different companies and different sized sensors, but is this causing me to reject images that would print fine, or am I justified in rejecting images based on what I believe is less than ideal technique?

    I am especially frustrated as I have just not found that many D500 images that have wowed me, and I am wondering how much of this is from less than ideal technique, being too critical in culling, or if the D500 could use an AF module adjustment. I have downloaded some D500 samples from a few photo web sites (that allow downloading) for a comparison, and to be honest, I was not that wowed by many of them. That leads me to believe that I am being overly critical (not that my technique cannot use improvement), but I thought I would see if others had any wisdom as I muddle through this.

    --Ken
     
  2. hmmmm… I suspect that the technique may be a problem. With cameras that have larger pixels the circle of confusion can be larger, meaning you have a greater apparent depth of field. For example the pixel size of the D610 is 5.95 microns while the 4.22 microns. so a lens may be sharp on the D610 but will look soft on a D500 (if you pixel peep). Also, the same goes for camera movement during the exposure; blurring that would not be noticeable on a D610 is often obvious on a D500. the old 1/focal length for shutter speed does not work with the D500.

    Also, because the pixels in the D500 are so small the focusing must be right on or the image will be soft. I calibrate my AF module on all my cameras with all my lenses. Yes, it takes time but it makes a difference. I use the Reiken's Focal software to do the calibration.

    Hopefully, this helps.

    Cheers,
    alexis and Georgie Beagle

    " the D610 has an AA filter so the sensor is not as sharp as the D500 which does not..." - Georgie Beagle
     
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  3. In LR I click on the eye to view at 100%. If the eye doesnt snap into sharp focus and it’s hard to describe but the eye can’t have a shadow/halo then I look around to see what is sharpest. I realize I often acquire focus on a wing or some other part and DOF saves the shot. If I start seeing this often then the lens goes to Nikon. This has happened 3-4 times in 15 years.

    So for me it doesn’t matter what body what lens, in focus is in focus.

    There are some new sharpening tools that can save a pic. I’m currently liking The Nik sharpener. I can see the before and after on the eye and it’s amazing. At 100 it’s not a keeper but at normal viewing it’s ok. Composition is usually more important anyway.

    Post some pics you think are not acceptable to you and post em big and we’ll let you know. Pick ones that are good compositions good backgrounds but not tack sharp to your eyes.

    I used to stress over tack sharp, now it’s over making a beautiful picture that’s sharp, not a sharp bird or football plater in a crap composition.

    I hope that makes sense considering my level of medication
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    While this is true, what I am experiencing seems to be the opposite. The E-M1, which has a pitch of 3.72 seems to provide the sharpest image files of the three when culling/previewing. I am sure there are a whole host of factors contributing to that, but it is interesting that this is somewhat the opposite of what you are describing.

    --Ken
     
  5. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    No worries about the medication "talking" and glad you are feeling better. I have been pretty happy with LR's sharpening tools, but know there is always room to improve both my PP skills and possibly my tools. I agree about not trying to sharpen a bad composition, but I guess that I gravitate to detail in images and wonder if I have images that I am rejecting that would be fine. I also suspect that distance to subject has some play in this issue. I do a lot of close-ups of fruit and vegetables at farmers markets, and the level of detail one see in that type of image is different than a landscape shot. The same for portraits. I like seeing fine hair detail and eye lashes that are clear and crisp. I am wondering OT a bit so perhaps your medication is impacting me. o_O 

    --Ken
     
  6. Interesting Ken. The smaller the pixel, the higher the resolution for the same image area. That is it is the angular resolution that is important in the sharpness department. I should think that the E-M1 may have some pre-sharpening even in the "raw" files. The NEF files of Nikon don't have any sharpening when opened with Raw Digger or Fast Raw Viewer, which is why FRV has a setting to add a little, or a bit more than a little, sharpening when viewing images.

    That said, some of the lenses I loved on my D3s and D7000 I Just hate on my D500 and D850 because they are blurry....

    As Randy said snap it up to 100% if the eye is sharp it is a keeper if not it is a dumper. BTW you can check whether your D500 needs AF adjustment by taking a shot where you focus on the eye and then check out whether the sharpest bit is in front of the eye or behind it. Dog eyes are great for this...

    To see if the image has motion blur bring the image into Photoshop and run the sharpen - shake reduction and look at the blur estimation box. It the blur estimation is a circle then there is no motion blur, if it is an ellipse then there is motion blur and you need a higher shutter.

    Cheers,
    alexis and Georgie Beagle

    "28-300 zoom, mom is looking at you...." - Georgie Beagle
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. TonyW

    TonyW

    Jan 15, 2010
    UK
    This is usually the biggest stumbling block - to get a fair and meaningful comparison with so many variables
    This is a twofold problem.
    1. Images viewed at 100% on a 'standard resolution' monitor represent taking a 3x loupe to a print. Or viewing another way viewing at print resolution (assuming you have told your application your true monitor resolution!) you now do not have enough monitor pixels to represent a print (same goes for high res. monitors but somewhat less!)
    2. To evaluate you really need to upsample your smaller image to the larger and apply the correct amount of output sharpening for the image ppi. You should also look at downsampling the larger image and apply the correct amount of output sharpening. Upsampling may well give you a surprise at how the smaller image performs compared to the larger and downsampling may also surprise as the noise and resolution characteristics may be seen to improve
    Files may seem soft if they contain more pixels recording the same ROI i.e. they may be recording a hair with 4 pixels rather than 2 pixels actually
    Not using either Oly or D500 I cannot say but in a quick download of Oly & Nikon and upsampling and downsampling comparisons (only on screen, but imagine differences will be similar in print) it seems to me that you should find the D500 marginally better resolving detail bearing in mind whatever differences the lens quality between the two marques!

    An example here (do not read too much into this!) showing EM and D500 side by side straight out of ACR. The EM images upsampled to match the D500 - the reverse downsample of D500 showed similar. The image for comparison purposes is definitely unrealistic as the view is 200% but differences in data and resolution should be obvious. Real test would be to print

    OlyVNik.JPG
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
     
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  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Lots of information to chew on (but I guess that should be expected from a Beagle) in the above two posts! The comment about not liking old lenses on the new body did cross my mind a few times as well. Right now, I mostly want to determine if the D500 needs some attention or if its operator needs it more.

    Thanks,

    --Ken
     
  9. Baywing

    Baywing

    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    If the light is good, I like the D500 files. It is more subject to any little flaw in technique, those pixels are packed in tight! It does not like to be underexposed, either.
    169109048.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    You can crop in some, but it does not like large crops and can't handle them anywhere near as well as the D5 or D850.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Nice shot!

    --Ken
     
  11. nu2scene

    nu2scene

    Sep 27, 2007
    Las Vegas
    When the files initially open in LR, are the same settings applied by LR? Or is the sharpening default different with different camera brands?
     
  12. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Good question. I do not add any presets in LR, so everything is defaulted to what Adobe sets. But, what I was touching on is during culling which I do outside of LR with FastRaw Viewer and FastStone. I believe that the latter uses the embedded jpeg for viewing, so the former is the one that I rely on for any critical decisions. As was stated above, Nikon's NEF files may be softer than Olympus' ORF files, but I am not certain. I wish I had the time to do some controlled tests with the three bodies and a static subject with consistent lighting. It might be interesting, but I always seem to find these exercises frustrating as I often find some mistake in the process after have done all of the shooting.

    --Ken
     
  13. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    There are so many factors here, we need some examples of ones you are not happy with.

    With the E-M1 you have IBIS all the time, removing blur caused by camera movement. Perhaps your shutter speeds with the Nikons are not quite high enough? Try some shots with a very high shutter speed and compare.

    You don't talk about lenses. The Olympus Pro range of lenses, if you were using those, are very very sharp. They have to be because they are aimed at a sensor with small pixels. Are you using the highest quality modern Nikon lenses? If not that could explain it.
    (TonyW's comparisons don't say which lenses were used? For photographing a dollar bill they should have used the Oly 60mm and a Micro-Nikkor.)
     
  14. TonyW

    TonyW

    Jan 15, 2010
    UK
    FWIW
    Raw files by definition are just that, raw, SOOC images contain B&W image data representing the RGBG senses. AFAIK, no manufacturer applies Sharpening to raw data as they would with JPEG or TIFF. If they did they could not claim that these files are raw. An exception may be sraw or mraw These could be linear DNG files having some processing applied to reduce size and possibly apply sharpening?

    Out of camera and in your editor the RGBG channels will be demosaiced, have WB applied along with a Tonal Response Curve (gamma). This is where sharpening occurs and although default, if switched on, will apply a very conservative figure which will be the same for all cameras.

    A manufacturers raw converter may well apply hidden sharpening ‘under the hood’ to show how good their system is! I cannot confirm this as fact but I was once informed that Canon DPP software applied variable sharpening across the frame due to knowing sharpness fall off over the entire frame for its own lenses

    MP count is important here. Shooting the same subject on two cameras a low MP count camera may appear to have a sharper image with default sharpening applied when viewed 100% zoom than the high MP camera viewed at the same size. Higher MP count may demand higher amounts of sharpening due to using more pixels to resolve detail than lesser pixel count

    All I can say is when comparing raw images shot under close to identical conditions with two different systems as shown in the link above that the D500 images appear to resolve more detail than the EM-1. The added pixel count will have had an effect on the ability to resolve detail. Also lens quality between 2 systems will impact final IQ
     
  15. TonyW

    TonyW

    Jan 15, 2010
    UK
    The lenses and conditions used are documented.
    Olympus E-M1. Zuiko 45mm f/1.8. Raw file size 15.6MB
    SS 1/40 Aperture f/5.6

    Nikon D500. AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G. Raw file size 43.2MB
    SS 1/40 Aperture f5.6
    Both WB and exposure corrected in post

    Seems to me that they are close enough in focal length with the same ss and aperture. I am afraid the dollar bill shooting with comparative macro lenses is a red herring in this case as the tests would still reveal a difference between file size which should normally score in the ability to resolve detail - unless you come across a poor lens that cannot outresolve sensor limits.
    Not easy to make a perfect test but IMHO they do offer a little more in the way of objective information than just wild guessing that one system superior to another

    I agree that it would be useful to see comparison raw images shot of the same subject side by side on both cameras with equal size of image in both frames, ideally shot on a tripod with delay or mirror lock applied, using an equivalent aperture on both systems and an equivalent focal length
     
  16. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    I think that must be the M.Zuiko 45mm, not one of the old Zuiko lenses for 4/3. I think the Pro zoom lenses give higher image quality, although that is a popular little portrait lens.

    It isn't doing any favours to either lens to do a test using a very close-up target like this, which is better photographed with a macro. My point really was that a conversation about the various cameras
    and their outputs does't mean much without using excellent lenses.

    But there are so many variables involved and we have not seen the photos in question, so we can't really tell.

    PS. Don't let's get started on "equivalent aperture" (an aperture is an aperture), let alone the total light argument!
     
  17. I have taken to using Capture One sessions for importing and culling. Sessions are file-based so they are very fast. Once I have culled, I make adjustments and apply metadata. I then generate any desired output files. When I'm done I close the session, open my archive catalog, and import the session into the archive catalog.

    This workflow makes for quick ingest, sort, cull, edit, output while giving me the long term features of a catalog for archive searches.

    What I really like about this is that the session and catalog are using the same software so I know I am seeing in the session every bit of goodness that Capture One brings to raw image processing.
     
  18. TonyW

    TonyW

    Jan 15, 2010
    UK
    The target size is a little less than 3'x2' overall (estimated from the known size of the Kodak Q13 card) so not really a close up target and not really any advantage to shooting with a macro lens

    Agree in principle but comparisons between 2 mediocre lenses would work just as well ;) 

    Absolutely, my point really is that all things equal the D500 should not lag behind as has been stated. So what is wrong exactly is difficult to say and until such time as we have comparative images shot under the same circumstances we are guessing.

    :D , Yep an aperture is an aperture except when we look at equivalent DoF. Just as a door is a door until its a jar and remember that you can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be lead o_O ;) 
     
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  19. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I agree 100%. But, as I do not want to waste peoples time with bad file examples, I really need to shoot some images with this intent (as a lot of what I shoot is not in a controlled environment). And I would concur about lens selection. My primary lenses for my Oly are the 12-40, 40-150 Pro and the 60mm macro. All three have good reputations, and have given me enough keepers that I tend to favor their use. My favorite Nikkor lenses have traditionally been the 70-200 VRII, 60mm and 105 macros and for DX bodies the 16-85. I would like to believe the first three should be up to the task with the D500, but new sensors do tend to push older lenses.

    I am hoping to have a bit of time next weekend to shoot a handful of images (at least from the D500) and will try to post some. Is it best to link to an NEF file, or just export an unedited jpeg from LR. I always find the latter to be a bit subjective, as it is usually expected that an image will be sharpened and that can be quite subjective.

    --Ken
     
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken

    270
    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Didn't Thom Hogan write something about a while back about Sony "cooking" some of their raw files in camera? I know this is not the norm, but I am not 100% sure that manufacturers do not tinker with their raw files at the time of capture.

    --Ken
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
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