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Do 'picture profiles' affect RAW? I thought RAW was RAW?


20 May 2019 9:44PM
First post around here.

Getting back into photography after 30 years away from it. Back in the day I shot on a Nikon F3 film camera.

Just bought a used Nikon D3s and am almost up to speed on the 'digital' differences. But, RAW has me a trifle baffled. I assumed RAW was just that, RAW, as in nothing effects the RAW image, it comes straight off the sensor, period.

However, after a friend and I did a little shoot together recently their RAW images (taken on a Canon EOS 60d) looked beautifully smooth and flat (with a great looking histogram) while my Nikon RAW files looked very contrasty in comparison. We did a side-by-side shot with both cameras on a tripod framing the same landscape at the same focal lenght, aperture, shutter speed etc and snapped both shots at exactly the same time so there was no time for a cloud to move over the sun to create a flatter image etc.

I have to mess about in post to get my RAW Nikon image flat and nice before I can get to work on them while my friends Canon RAW images are beautifully flat and smooth.

Only had my gear a month and am already considering ditching the D3s in favour of a Canon EOS 5D MK3.

I thought picture profiles were only for jpeg shot images in-camera? So, my question is, do 'picture profiles' effect the RAW image? as in, can I download or create from scratch a picture profile that will make my D3s RAW files smooth and flat and neutral?

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Tianshi_angie 4 2.4k England
20 May 2019 10:06PM
The Raw image is actually not what you are seeing - it is a Jpeg which the camera creates for the purpose of you being able to see the image as the raw data is in code. That data contains everything you need to enable you to produce an image as close to your memory of what you saw using a raw converter - like Adobe Raw. And the reason that you and your friend were seeing different things is because the two cameras had created different visible shots.
20 May 2019 10:25PM
That doesn't make sense, or maybe I'm misunderstanding you, or vice-versa.

I'm opening both RAW images from the Nikon and Canon in Affinity Photo software and comparing side-by-side, and they are totally different, one nice and flat, the other full of contrast.
Tianshi_angie 4 2.4k England
20 May 2019 10:45PM
But whether you look at the image on a screen on your camera or on a screen on a computer the camera has produced a jpeg which has embedded in it all the information of the image you shot. You can save that image as a Jpeg and a lot of the information will be thrown away - the resulting file size may be in the region of 1 Mb. The same file processed and saved as a Tif could be 24 Mb. The difference that you are seeing in the two unprocessed Raw files may be that your friend's camera and your camera may be set up differently. Perhaps your friend has dialled in a 'Vivid', or similar, scene setting. You may have different lenses on the cameras which could make a lot of difference in what you are seeing. But a Raw file always needs processing. (And save as a Tiff).
Tianshi_angie 4 2.4k England
20 May 2019 10:46PM
JJGEE 14 7.5k 18 England
20 May 2019 10:50PM

Quote:I'm opening both RAW images from the Nikon and Canon in Affinity Photo software and comparing side-by-side, and they are totally different, one nice and flat, the other full of contrast.



Even RAW files from different models of the same manufacturer will be different, so it is extremely unlikely, therefore, that images from different manufacturers would be the same.

Be patient, it takes time to learn digital processing just like darkroom printing, but without the cost of chemicals / paper !
20 May 2019 10:54PM
Both Nikon and Canon are set to 'Standard' profiles so are set up identically but the difference is massive. Canon flat and smooth, Nikon full of contrast with little midrange.
20 May 2019 10:56PM
Makes sense, JJGEE. But I think I prefer the 'look' of Canon's RAW files to Nikon's as with the latter I have to faff about for an age getting rid of all the contrast to create a nice flat image, which degrades it. Canon just seems much nicer out of the camera using the same settings. I'm going to do a side-by-side shoot with a friend who has an EOS 5D MK3 tomorrow to see if that RAW file is just as flat and smooth as the EOS 60D
JJGEE 14 7.5k 18 England
20 May 2019 11:07PM
You will get even more confused if you do a comparison between different software as well Wink
Paul Morgan 18 19.3k 6 England
20 May 2019 11:38PM

Quote:Makes sense, JJGEE. But I think I prefer the 'look' of Canon's RAW files to Nikon's as with the latter I have to faff about for an age getting rid of all the contrast to create a nice flat image, which degrades it. Canon just seems much nicer out of the camera using the same settings. I'm going to do a side-by-side shoot with a friend who has an EOS 5D MK3 tomorrow to see if that RAW file is just as flat and smooth as the EOS 60D


Forget about the starting look, has little, no real meaning, if your shooting raw you build the look you want using software and learn to adjust the camera`s settings to your own needs.
Big Bri 18 16.5k United Kingdom
21 May 2019 9:02AM

Quote: Perhaps your friend has dialled in a 'Vivid', or similar, scene setting.


Yeah, that will alter the look of the image on the back of the camera, but gets thrown away when you open the raw image on a computer.

Another suggestion - try looking at both images in Lightroom. All software interprets raw files in a different way, and I've heard that Affinity is not great in this respect.
Jestertheclown 10 7.9k 252 England
21 May 2019 9:44AM

Quote:But whether you look at the image on a screen on your camera or on a screen on a computer the camera has produced a jpeg which has embedded in it all the information of the image you shot.

That's not quite right.

The image displayed on the back of the camera is, indeed, a Jpeg., produced in camera.
However, when you open a raw (all lower case) file on your monitor, using software that supports raw, as a viewer, Faststone's a good example, you're actually seeing that software's interpretation of the raw data.
It only becomes a Jpeg., or whatever format you choose, once you save it as such.
Dave_Canon 12 1.5k United Kingdom
21 May 2019 10:11AM
Firstly, you cannot view a Raw file directly as you can TIFF or JPEG files. When you view the Raw file in software such as LR, PS ACR, you will see a rendered version which displays a simulation of what a final image file will look like using the selected profile and any editing which has been applied. The profile is the key to how an un-edited Raw image will look. The profile is similar to style for JPEG and LR and ACR offer similarly named profiles. I personally have created bespoke calibrated profiles for my cameras and by default LR always applies the correct profiles as the profile is associated with the camera serial number. Myself and a club member noticed that our cameras were originally producing very different colours when photographing the same subject (Nikon D800 and Canon 5D2). We both calibrated using X-RIte's Color Checker passport and the result is that both cameras now produce almost identical colours. I cannot comment on Affinity; can you select the rendering profile or add a bespoke profile?


Dave
capto Plus
7 5.6k 10 United Kingdom
21 May 2019 10:18AM
If I open the same raw file in Adobe cc and Affinity, the result with the affinity tone curve applied is quite similar. Without the tone curve the affinity image is flat and dull, needing your own adjustments to taste. I guess this means that adobe cc is applying its own settings to the raw file when it opens.
Tianshi_angie 4 2.4k England
21 May 2019 11:21AM

Quote:I have to mess about in post to get my RAW Nikon image flat and nice before I can get to work on them while my friends Canon RAW images are beautifully flat and smooth.


This seems to me to be rather an odd desire - flat and smooth. My wishes are for images which have depth, structure and texture. Interesting that Adobe have just added a 'Texture' slider to their Raw software.


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