Raw to .jpg

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Is there any REAL difference between different raw convertors? I've tried CS5, Capture NX2 and View NX2 to simply open the raw file and save as jpg. I cannot tell any difference between the same files, looking at the jpg files on my monitor. Is there a difference? If so, which of these three programs will give the best results. What am I gaining using one over the other? Is there something better?
 

Growltiger

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Yes there is a difference.

Capture NX2 and ViewNX2 are basically the same, and are also the same as what your camera does.

Take a RAW+JPG and try to get an identical result from the RAW that the camera gave you with the JPG. Easy with the Nikon products as you would expect. But with CS5 or Lightroom or any other program you will find it almost impossible to set it to get an identical result.

But you can get a very good result or a better result than from Nikon. That is a matter of opinion...
 
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In theory at least if all you are doing is simply opening the file in a RAW convertor and then directly saving to jpeg (with no tweaking in between!) then there should be only small differences IMO.

Again in theory, the Nikon software should potentially be a little better as it can apply the Nikon effects such as D lighting or other camera specific effects to the RAW file pp as well as during the jpeg acquisition.

I have not tried the RAW+jpeg test as Growltiger suggested, however I can appreciate that the results may be difficult to duplicate in other RAW convertors due to Nikons own interpretation of how the final jpeg should look -they may actually apply subtle variations of the camera settings to 'improve' the jpeg, whatever they may be!

I tend to shoot with all effects off although I shoot in RAW only. AFAIK any effects are applied only to jpeg capture therefore should not have any effect on the RAW capture.
I generally use Camera RAW in PS and have been playing with NX2 and also tried demo of Capture One. From what I can see there is very little between Camera RAW and NX2. As to Capture One there are many people that feel that this gives better skin tones than other RAW convertors and is therefore their preference for high end beauty retouching.

So I suspect unless you have a specific need that you are unlikely to see any real benefits between most convertors
 
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Thanks for the replies. I understand that the NX programs will show all of the in camera settings in the nef file. But assuming that everything is turned off, in camera, is there a difference? I've been processing quite a few images lately. I currently open the nef in Capture NX2 and save as jpg, then open in CS5 to process. Just wanting to simplify my work flow a little.
 
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...if you look closely you'll also see different converter engines will look differently. The latest Adobe converters (the same raw converter is in CS5 and LR3) will have different quality diagonals/curves and renders details differently as compared to NX2. I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than the other in all situations - just different - not to mention the way they both handle color, etc.

I keep flipflopping between using Adobe's converters and NX2. For most of my work NX2 is much easier to use and overall produces a better image for what I need - but that's just me. The converter in LR3 and CS5 is really good if that's what you're used to.

This thread has some comparisons between the two.
 
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There is only a difference if you can see it after comparing RAW convertors yourself :smile: I suspect you are not going to see much (you wont be losing pixels if that is what you mean!)

By the sound of it you do not really need NX2 as it just adds an uneccessary step for your current workflow!

You could simplify your workflow by going straight to CS5 rather than using NX2 to just convert your nef to jpeg. Right click on the .nef file then select Open with Photoshop (you could of course make this the default if the workflow suited you).

You will of course have a brief stop over in Camera RAW but you can if you want ignore it and just click to open the file in CS5 then after you have finished editing save it any way you want .psd, tiff or even jpeg if you must :smile:

vulturetec, nice and useful comparisons :smile:
 
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Mike,

You cannot "turn everything off" in-camera!

You can neutralise the picture controls but that's not the same thing.

The Neutral, Standard and Vivid PCs with controls Neutralised will still look different from one another when opened in NX2 but when opened in ACR will all look the same (until one of ACR's pseudo PCs is applied).

ACR and other RAW converters will not recognise A-DL and will not recognise Sharpening amongst other things.

You say: "I currently open the nef in Capture NX2 and save as jpg, then open in CS5 to process."

You're the first I've ever heard say that. Most people will "Open With" Photoshop from NX2 which sends a 16 Bit TIF to PS in order to preserve as much quality as is possible before applying all those destructive controls. You are effectively sending an 8 Bit file which has been compressed to some degree.

I'm not making a case for NX2 here but I would certainly suggest that you invest just little time and money into something like the "After The Shoot" book or Jason O'Dell's tutorials and get to know NX2 better before you decide.
 
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......You're the first I've ever heard say that. Most people will "Open With" Photoshop from NX2 which sends a 16 Bit TIF to PS in order to preserve as much quality as is possible before applying all those destructive controls. You are effectively sending an 8 Bit file which has been compressed to some degree.

I'm not making a case for NX2 here but I would certainly suggest that you invest just little time and money into something like the "After The Shoot" book or Jason O'Dell's tutorials and get to know NX2 better before you decide.
Good point about investing a little time in particular to learn to use an application fully. And sending an 8 bit jpeg to PS does not make an awful lot of sense (why not just acquire the image as jpeg and be done with it?)

If some for some reason you do not like or get on with NX2 then Camera RAW will allow you to import your nef as either 16bit or 8 bit in Colour Space of your choosing Adobe RGB, sRGB ProPhoto and ColorMatch. You can also choose your resolution in ppi and choose a pixel size from small through to 6144x4081 (larger than standard size for the capture -these are defaults for D90 or similar). All this and you can keep your original/master RAW for future adventures.
I too am not making a case for one convertor over another but you at least have both NX2 and Camera RAW at your disposal and I am fairly confident that you will find that one or the other does the job you want in the way you want it.
 
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There is a huge difference between factory and 3rd party RAW developers. Color and tone are the most obvious. If you are comparing out of camera to RAW developed without adjustments in the factory developers you won't see a difference.

The differences between 3rd party developers can be subtle or extreme depending on how deep you want to dig. Some people choose based on ease of use or the way the UI is designed. I'm the type that pixel peeps and does print tests because I can learn a UI but I can't fix poor interpolation with photoshop.
 
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Thank you very much gentlemen! I know I still have much to learn about PP. You've made some excellent points and given me some things to look into.
 
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The new converter in LR 3 and CS5 is much improved and does very well with Nikon raw files. It still can not and never will read the camera settings you may have entered such as sharpening, saturation, pic mode, etc. When you open a raw in NX2 it is all there.

However there are changeable defaults and other presets in CS/LR that will make a close approximation of those setting. One way to work is open all the files in the raw converter, set one the way you want all to look and then synchronize settings across all the files. Then do individual edits to do minor changes. I usually work that way in CS5.

JPEGS made in camera will look the same or close.
 
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