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  • Using Raw formats

    Hello. I am a novice to Digital Photography and recently purchased a Nikon D3100. I do have a knowledge of Photoshop and currently using CS5 & CS4. I am trying to get the hang of using RAW format. I have been reading about it but I keep getting confused. So far it makes sense to me to use RAW but with the many formats it seems confusing to me. My main confusion is do you actually work in RAW in Photoshop? I ask because it seems to make sense to convert your proprietary RAW formats (NEF) to Adobe's digital negative (DNG), but I find it odd that you cannot save to DNG when doing a "save as" but only to Photoshop RAW. But you cannot view your images in Photoshop RAW in Bridge. So, do you then just proceed to save in PSD? If someone can steer me in the right directions I sure would appreciate it. Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Using Raw formats

    As you are obviously aware your Nikon D3100 is capable of capturing images in either RAW or jpeg or possibly both formats. If you forget about lossy and lossless RAW compression with Nikon then there is only one format - Nikons version of RAW which they name NEF. Other camera manufacturers produce their own versions for instance Canon call theirs CRW or CR2. Simplistically these RAW formats are all actually Tiffs with embed tags and fields specific to the camera manufacturer.

    There can be some advantages in working first in the camera manufacturers own RAW application. In the case of Nikon this is called Capture NX2. The advantages would be IMO that the camera specific settings can be accessed and added to the RAW file prior to bringing into Photoshop. AFAIK if you convert to DNG then you cannot use proprietary camera settings. This may or may not be important to you. Conversion (or even backup) to DNG may be the sensible thing to do to try and guarantee future compatibility and perhaps in the future other manufacturers will follow Hasselblad (and I think Leica) lead and offer in camera DNG options

    When you open a RAW file into Photoshop you are normally presented with Adobe's own RAW converter dialogue box i.e. Camera Raw. It is here that you are actually working on the RAW information and when you click open in PS your manipulated RAW image is then opened in Photoshop (and your edits will be saved alongside the original RAW for future use).

    IMO you should always save your RAW Nef files as originals and perhaps consider your copied PS versions to be your Master image that will form the basis of further editing for print or web output etc.

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    • #3
      Re: Using Raw formats

      Originally posted by rayi23 View Post
      Hello. I am a novice to Digital Photography and recently purchased a Nikon D3100. I do have a knowledge of Photoshop and currently using CS5 & CS4. I am trying to get the hang of using RAW format. I have been reading about it but I keep getting confused. So far it makes sense to me to use RAW but with the many formats it seems confusing to me. My main confusion is do you actually work in RAW in Photoshop? I ask because it seems to make sense to convert your proprietary RAW formats (NEF) to Adobe's digital negative (DNG), but I find it odd that you cannot save to DNG when doing a "save as" but only to Photoshop RAW. But you cannot view your images in Photoshop RAW in Bridge. So, do you then just proceed to save in PSD? If someone can steer me in the right directions I sure would appreciate it. Thanks
      Ray, welcome to RetouchPro.
      Think of your NEF RAW files as digital versions of negative film. You will have the most image information to work with if you open those RAW files in a converter like Adobe Camera RAW, make any adjustments, and then open the images into Photoshop (or other editing s/w). After you finish editing in PS, you would save the result as a .psd, or .jpg, or .tif etc. The original RAW file is not altered and you should save it as your permanent archival copy.
      DNG was created and proposed by Adobe as a open standard format that would allow encapsulation of all of the proprietary camera vendors formats. The DNG Converter is a separate application to make that conversion. While it was a great idea, it has not been widely adopted and you can find a lot of controversy and discussion on the web regarding converting to DNG or not.
      Regards, Murray

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      • #4
        Re: Using Raw formats

        Thank you for the responses. I have been banging my head over this RAW dilemma. My inclination has not been to convert to DNG but to keep the original RAW NEF images and work with then and convert them to PDF as you suggest when edited. I find it annoying when a simple free program like Picasa can view and edit NEF images and yet an expensive Adobe CS5 Bridge program cannot. What is with that? I did just discover that from Nikon's website the "S-NEFCDC-011100WF-ALLIN-32BIT" does work in WinXP to see NEF images in Windows Explorer which does help; it is better in that respect because DNG is not viewable in windows explorer but in Bridge. What a mess. I'm sure it's a battle of the big guns but we suffer in the end. I actually do have Picasa installed in my daughters and wife's computer and find it a great little program for novices. It seems to get better and better, particularly for organizing your photos. Lightroom may be a good program but it sure is ugly. I personally find it clunky as well. Adobe should take a lead from this great looking viewer. Adobe better watch out for google.

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        • #5
          Re: Using Raw formats

          Ray, if you need Windows Explorer to be able to display thumbnails of your RAW files or DNG files you can download a utility which will integrate itself with WinXP and Win7 both 32 and 64 bit. Its called Fast Picture Viewer Codec and it is avail form Fastpictureview.com. It costs $15. There is also a free one called Mystic Thumbs but I have not tried it.
          Regards, Murray

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          • #6
            Re: Using Raw formats

            Ray, as Murray said there is the last freeware version of Mystic Thumbs Here

            I have it installed and it works just fine.

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            • #7
              Re: Using Raw formats

              Thanks for all the links. I may eventually buy that if I start using other RAW files or use mystic first.I do like viewing images in windows explorer. I have decided to just forget using Bridge and just use Nikon's ViewNX2. It looks workable and you can set it to go to Photoshop CS5 for images, you want opened in Photoshop. I also find it odd that a free program like Picasa reads RAW files very well, yet an expensive program like CS5 Bridge doesn't. Picasa has this way of adding a Photoshop button, so all you do is select your photo and click the Photoshop button to open in Photoshop.

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              • #8
                Re: Using Raw formats

                Originally posted by Tony W View Post
                Ray, as Murray said there is the last freeware version of Mystic Thumbs Here

                I have it installed and it works just fine.

                Now, I installed MysticThumbs in Windows 7 using the 64bit installer but windows does not view NEF or DNG raw files thumbnails which was my main concern. It will view psd files. I may have to purchase Fast Picture Viewer Codec for Windows 7 because Nikon only made a codec for 32bit NEC. These companies are so annoying. I don't use Windows 7 64bit too much as it is too frustrating but I have been able to get it to work pretty well but still annoyances occur that you don't have with WinXP. WinXP still is still too me a much more compatible and basically enjoyable system. But I know Windows 7 is the future so I keep working at getting it to be workable for me.

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