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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:15 pm 
Yes please. I'm expecting the quality to be as follows:

1) Capture NX
2) Adobe Camera RAW
3) In camera JPEG

What's up for debate and investigation is how big a difference is there between the 3? I'm starting to shoot in JPEG instead of RAW and I'm not noticing much difference in resolving power. It could be that I just have a cruddy camera though ;)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:56 pm 
I'd say that the differences between JPEG and RAW are minimal now that the in-camera JPEG conversion has improved. RAW's advantages are in it's greater dynamic range and colour information. There is an improvement in resolution as Gordon's or any test will show but the differences here aren't as significant IMO.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:56 am 
Any updates on this, Thomas?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:38 am 
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No, not yet! It's been a very busy week :?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:38 pm 
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Still no results on the above, because preliminary research pointed only to small differences between in-camera jpg and RAW->jpg conversion in CaptureNX, which are not really worth persuing.

BUT: When develping the set of photos here taken in the dwindling light of day I encountered some very obvious differences in color-rendition between LightRoom2 and CaptureNX2: CNX2 produced some lilac colored areas where LR2 stayed more to a cool blue. I decided in this case for the LR2 conversion (which should be identical to the Camera RAW 5.2 conversion in Photoshop CS4) to be the more truthful.

I'll show you some samples, when I'm sure that not a specific development adjustment in one or the other software is the culprit, but I can tell you: when validated these differences in color-rendition are far more serious than the differences in sharpness or high-light recoverability!

----
4 to go...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:44 am 
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All very interesting. I'm looking forward to your results.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:13 am 
Gief moar analysis plx


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:25 pm 
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Well here is the comaprison.
What did I do?
- I loaded the NEF into CaptureNX2 and disabled all processing apart from the picture control ("Bildoptimierung" in the German user interface of CNX2). As I shoot with in-camera picture control set to MC (=monochrome) with some additional contrast thrown in for good measure, I had to reset that in CNX2. I choose SD (=Standard) with no additional settings!
- In LightRoom2 I loaded the NEF too and pressed the Reset-button in the Development module thus effectively eliminating anydeviation from a standard-development that LR2 choose.
- Then I overlayed both images on my screen side by side and did a screenshot. Here is the result:

Image

Next up is a 100% crop (LR2 left, CNX2 right):
Image
Now you can clearly see the differences in RAW-conversion:
- CNX2 develops darker tones with a violet tin in the clouds and a warmer more orangeish light, plus higher microcontrast/sharpness in the twigs.
- LR2 develops the RAW slightly brighter and produces a clearly cooler, more turquoise tint in the clouds.

Now let's turn to the histogram in both programs. As they are not of the same size I resized the histogram from CNX2 to fit the size of that found in LR2. Quite a difference!

Image
Upper histogram is from CNX2 (corresponding to the right image), lower histogram is from LR2 (corresponding to the left image). I've taken the liberty to color the grey background and neutral color in the CNX2 histogram the same color as in the LR2 histogram.
Btw: The more colorful peaks in the CNX2 are not reduced by switching the picture control from SD to NL (=neutral). Obviously CNX2 produces a more distinct color separation than LR2. If you ask me, the redish/orange cast in some colors of the CNX2 conversion does not match my impression from that evening, but perhaps my impression was influenced by the sub-zero temps at that moment :wink:

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Last edited by Thomas on Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Well, I knew that the question of white-balance would come up so here is a second version of the comparison with both conversions set (artificially) to 4500K and the Tint-control in LR2 set to 0.

Image

Colors do match more evenly now, but still there is a more turquoise tint in the LR2 conversion on the left. You can also see more differentiation in the "beam" of light on the left side in the LR2 conversion but on the same time the light clouds in the upper half are less well defined than in the CNX2 conversion.

One finishing note though: Never trust your eyes with respect to white-balance and color-casts. Even taking a grey card or color-checker out and adjusting colors accordingly might never result in the intended or "felt" color-temperature. So any discussion about which conversion is better than the other is pointless in this respect.

My whole point was only to show you the obvious differences that two well respected image processing tools can produce.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:23 pm 
Thanks for your work Thomas.

I always knew there was a difference in the way RAW converters handled colours. Until you posted that histogram, I didn't know they were so different!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:38 pm 
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Maybe change the camera profile (camerea calibration) in Lightroom Thomas?

I'm looking into this also, as by default it is set at Adobe Standard.

It gives me other camera calibration options, but im not sure if i like them yet haha! Also places on the net offer different calibration plugins for different things for different cameras, and any plugin for any camera will work with any other, if you like the effect it gives - even if it isn't the intended one.


Also I've always noticed when lightroom first loads files in, it displays the original then the colour, contrast, etc. all change slightly as it develops a 1:1 preview (i know i should render them all haha) which always bugged me why it did that, and now i think its because its changing the camera calibration from the default in the camera (mine is set at standard most of the time) over to the Adobe Standard.



Dunno if this will help withthe RAW conversion thing in terms of the sharpness, and rendering of details, but certainly worth looking at for the colour/tint issues.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:05 pm 
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Thanks Thomas, interesting test...


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:32 am 
Which one comes closer to what you saw with your own eyes Thomas? The thing that bothers me most with Lightroom is that I have to make a shot with the understanding that it will come out differently once put through Lightroom. Adobe's improved the situation a bit with the camera profiles but it's still not good enough IMO.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 8:19 am 
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As I said above: "Never trust your eyes with respect to white-balance and color-casts". So honestly I can not say! But in the case of my "One Second"-shots I liked the color of LR2's conversion better than the one from CNX2.
Yeah, it's a frustrating situation that the Adobe RAW Converter (ACR) does not match the CNX-conversion. So you have to constantly think about which one to take.

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Last edited by Thomas on Sun Jan 04, 2009 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 12:22 pm 
That's how I felt as well. A lot of the time the I prefer the LR2 output because the colours are richer looking to me or for whatever reason more aesthetically pleasing but I've always assumed that CNX being Nikon's very own would produce the more realistic and "proper" image and that kinda bugs me.


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