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Nikon is trying to lock out third party RAW converters

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by beaucamera, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. Not a great move by Nikon. Anything right now to turn the public tide away from a company in such a competitive industry is not a sound business decision....
  2. I don't know of any other way to say this, but why in the name of heaven do people buy into what Adobe says? Thomas Knoll and Jeff Schewe as "unbiased purveyors of truth"? Do you think that Nikon is so stupid that they would only touch one piece of data, and not even the most critical piece to encrypt, in this manner? If Nikon really wanted to "lock out" anyone they would simply truly encrypt the whole NEF and make it completely proprietary, and state such. I agree, that would be dumb, but to think that Nikon is doing "on purpose" what they are being accused of is even dumber.

    Read between the lines, Adobe has an agenda at least as big as Nikon's, if not bigger. And this whole notion of "encryption", give me a break. The person who wrote DCRaw, which many things are based on, David Coffin says it is "weak encryption", and he has decrytped this so we now have multiple 3rd parties who have already figured this out. Also, please read the thread in this same forum started by Iliah Borg.

    We certainly do not need two of these threads going bashing Nikon for no good reason at all.

    I will also state that with well over 3 decades of software development in my background I do have a clue regarding such things as data encrytion and storage. Again, look to Iliah's thread for better explanations. But at least have the courtesy to look at both sides of this issue before bashing Nikon.

    Frankly, we have enough of that crap at places like DPReview, and that is my own personl editorial comment having nothing to do with the management of the Nikon Cafe, grand folks that they are.
  3. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Yeah, I wouldn't bash either party. It is interesting that Adobe is taking it to the streets so to speak, but the truth is, I am certain, somewhere between the extremes. I suspect that Nikon wants greater buy-in to their software and Adobe wants to be able to by-pass what Nikon wants. As a consumer, I want the greatest amount of competition so the state of the art is ever increasing due to those competitive pressures.

    The fear of litigation is probably not stopping Adobe from decrypting the white balance, if it is even encrypted in the first place. That Adobe and Bibble say so does not convince me, because they both compete with Nikon's software. I would love for a disinterested party to test the software and determine if, indeed, the white balance (and only the wb?) has been encrypted.

    I do not think that Nikon should hold the settings we dial into the cameras we have bought from Nikon (ie, they now belong to us), hostage behind an encryption scheme.

    At this point I (nor anybody who doesn't have a financial interest in the outcome, as far as I can tell) knows for certain that the data is encrypted. To this consumer, the ideal solution would be for Nikon and the independent convertor developers (Adobe, Bibble, etc.) to come to a contractual agreement.
  4. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
  5. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the first person to say this, and I can't remember who originally brought it up... but here's another consideration:

    Nikon has never said that other parties can't write software for NEF files, but it does appear that they want people to license their SDK to do it. This gives them the ultimate control over how the NEF data is interpreted during the initial conversion process. Subsequent to that initial step, manipulations can occur as needed.

    My way of interpreting that is that Nikon wants to control (and keep as a "black box") the initial interpretation of NEF data straight out of the camera. By doing so, they get to maintain consistency, fix bugs, change file formats, etc. without having to gain industry consensus every time a change (or improvement) is made. The problem with this for many companies is that Nikon's history of code-writing is less than stellar for speed and efficiency. Just use Capture on a D2x file and you'll understand what I mean. Adobe, on the other hand, wants Nikon to document (at the lowest level) the file formats and make them public; this would likely then require that Nikon continue to do this for future releases and would, to a certain extent, expose the inner workings of certain aspects of the files. Of course, they could get around this by simply supporting Adobe's preferred DNG format, but that would be caving in, wouldn't it??

    A lot of political maneuverings going on here, but the way I see it Adobe is simply manipulating public opinion right now to make their life easier and push their own file format agendas, and Nikon is looking down the road of digital and trying to protect it's future by shielding some of it's internals. Neither company is completely right or wrong here, and both are looking after their own interests.

    By the way, why doesn't Adobe fully document the PDF file format for everyone??? :) 
  6. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    It does appear that LUT-based approach has some intresting reasoning behind it, whis is little to do with any intentions to encrypt something.

    It does appear that in the heat of debate the question why Nikon used it - from technical point of view - was discussed too little. :) 
  7. With respect to all who have posted and especially to those with the passion I have seen, I am not interested in who's right or who's wrong on this issue. I have invested a tremendous amount of money in hardware to produce a final image. The image I produce requires both a camera and a computer and software.

    I look to Nikon to supply my camera equipment. I look to Apple to supply my computer equipment and I look to Adobe to supply my software.

    I pay what they ask which is fair market value. I am the consumer. I am you. Each company excels at what they do and together the three companies allow me to happily go along enjoying what I do. Now, one or more of the companies wants to prevent me from having the tools I need or choose. I sure Hope Nikon does not decide to get into the computer business. When I was taking pictures with film. Nikon was not telling me where I had to go to have it developed. Isn't this like Nikon saying "you can take pictures with our cameras but you must come to us to have the pictures developed or we will make it difficult and more expensive for you to go somewhere else. Thank you for using Nikon."

    I think the complaints against Nikon about not sharing the encrypted file information are justified and it is a shame and an insult to their customers. they make excellent cameras and lenses. That is what they should do. If we, the customer can have access to the best image software after the image is produced, would that not make Nikon imaging equipment more desireable? If you or others agree with me, I hope you will let Nikon know.

    I asked Nikon where to lodge a complaint about their software, this is their official response.
    I asked Nikon the same question. I wanted to know where to lodge an official complaint to be heard on the Nikon - ACR issue. One letter to Nikon is worth a thousand emails to DPR. Here is their response;

    How do I complain about a product made by Nikon, specifically the NC software?

    Dear Scott,

    Thank you for taking the time to write in. The best place to direct your letter would be to our Head Office (address below). As always we appreciate the feedback both good and bad, so definitely send it in and our engineers well do everything they can to accommodate you. The only way things can improve is by dedicated customers such as your self taking the time to write in on improvements we can do, to make things better for our customers.

    Attention: Manager Digital Technical Support
    1300 Walt Whitman Rd.
    Melville, NY 11747

    Thank you again

    Thanks for using Nikon products!
  8. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
  9. I guess I don't see it so much as Nikon preventing the use of a particular tool, but rather that they are dictating the manner in which those tools can work (ie. ACR should use the API provided by the SDK to get the file contents, not going directly to the file). It's quite possible that I have misunderstood this issue, so perhaps someone more knowledgeable about the inherent capabilities and limitations of the API can enlighten us on this (Iliah?).

    Even on film cameras, Nikon did dictate that we only use certain types of lenses, flashes, etc. by making specific types of mounts that were only compatible with a "Nikon" camera. Third parties accommodated these needs, of course, but I don't see it as being all that different from Sigma having to design a specific lens with a Nikon mount that "speaks" the same language that a Nikon lens does.

    I'm not a big fan of the comparisons to film vs. digital for this issue however, mainly because I believe the advent of digital cameras has moved a significant chunk of film's former role into the camera itself. That makes it difficult to use the analogy in my view. Part of the "film processing" is controlled by the camera (and therefore Nikon) now, but at least we get to change some of the parameters on the fly.

    As an observer of this debate for several weeks now (but especially lately), it seems to me that most people's views are falling directly in line with the software they own or choose to use. Those who own Capture seem to be the least concerned, those who own PSCS (only) are the most upset, and those (like me) who own and use both for different purposes are the fence-sitters probably because there's less impact to workflow resulting from this issue. Of course those who don't use either are just laughing at the rest of us. :)  My biggest complaint right now is that Capture is waaaaaaaaay too slow and bloated...
  10. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    I do not think I have any right to do so.

    The only thing that matters for me is that there is a reason, and it is a good technical reason why WB is written the way it is. If you look closer at camera specs, at least one of them gives a hint why.
  11. David,

    I tend to agree w/ what you say here although I haven't looked into this issue as much as you (and others). I would also defer to Iliah's thoughts on the subject before Adobe, et al, because he seems like as objective a fellow as they come (and have continued to sound that way in this case) and has written his own Nikon RAW conversion software to sell (at a very modest shareware-type price) and seems to provide better image quality than both providers in addition to offering us lots of good info on how things actually work.

    I have PSCS, but personally, I'm far from thrilled by ACR conversion. I have not bought Nikon Capture in part because I decided to buy Iliah's (and Peter's) RAWMagick instead and could always fall back on Nikon View for basic conversion. Indeed, when I need to save a little time, I just use the Nikon plug-in from inside PSCS, instead of ACR itself. Maybe one of these days, I will go ahead and do the necessary ACR calibration to get good results w/out jumping through many hoops so I can also use PSCS's batch capabilities, but I am not convinced yet that I can do an adequate job of the needed calibration.

    As for the WB issue, what's the big deal from Adobe's propaganda anyway? Not like they have the colors remotely reasonable when they can see the WB info from the older Nikon bodies, including D70. CS2 is coming out. I wonder if they'll finally get the colors remotely close to what the camera puts out w/ in-camera processing. They are complaining about the WB issue (w/ the D2Hs and D2X), but maybe they should spend more time working on ACR so it can compete w/ Iliah/Peter's few-month-old RAWMagick Lite for image quality instead. I don't see Iliah complaining about the problem w/ lack of support from Nikon. Basically, it sounds just like what you're saying about Adobe's hidden agenda.


  12. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    Adobe's problem with colour is that colour management as it is introduced by ICC does not work with digital cameras.

    And, btw, that is one of the problems with DNG too.
  13. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    ICC recommends using Photoshop's auto-levels (or other software) and sRGB from camera to printer according to their FAQ. They say that, because the illumination is different for every exposure, they cannot have one profile for a camera sensor without 'normalizing' the colors, hence auto-levels. Seems mighty crude though.

    Is that what you're referring to?
  14. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    Dear Chris,

    No, inspite of the fact that the quote seems to me a bit of a joke. Digital sensors simply do not have gamut :) 
  15. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    And the lack of a gamut is what makes it impossible to provide an ICC profile for a camera, right? It seems that the illumination is what is profiled, so the white balance data is crucial to the image's rendition.

    But a particular sensor does have senstitivity spectrum, so why not start from there instead of a color gamut?
  16. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Oh, by the way, here is the ICC's entire section on digital cameras, At two paragraphs, I wonder why they even address the issue.

    Heh. That is probably K. Smythe of ICC talking in the document.
  17. Iliah


    Jan 29, 2005
    I hope they are not writing instructions for rocket launch....

    But the problem is much deeper. I would like to know what exactly the guy means when he says "theoretically". What theory? Is it a new "theory" I overlooked that sensor is not linear in its response?

    ICC theory does not provide us with acceptable camera profiles - and that is from practice :) 

    You are quite right IMHO - illumination / single channel characteristic curves, plus correct exposure - these two factors guarantee acceptable colour out of RAW data. And of course, to map colour spectral characteristics of the sensor filter array and *correct* demosaicing are needed. Many problems with colour are because of poor demosaicing, producing false colour.
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