FastRawViewer Developers Blog

FastRawViewer 1.7 Release Candidate

The time has come to test FastRawViewer 1.7 (Release Candidate), in which we added:

• Support for HEIC/HEIF File Formats

  (in 64-bit version of Windows, and in regular (not Legacy) version for macOS)

• XMP support for TIFF, PNG, HEIC/HEIF files

• New View Mode, "without Beautifications"

• Other/minor changes and bugfixes

FastRawViewer 1.7 Release Candidate

FastRawViewer 1.7: New View Mode, "without Beautifications"

By default when displaying RAW FastRawViewer applies S-shaped tone curve and Adobe compatible' midtone correction.

With these (default) settings, the RAW display becomes more or less "as expected", correlating to the embedded JPEG and standard Adobe rendition (with all sliders in default positions) in both contrast and brightness.

In FastRawViewer 1.7 we've implemented a quick way to turn of both of these settings and switch between a flat, non-contrasty look, which corresponds to what the camera records into the RAW much more accurately, and a regular view.

FastRawViewer_1-7. Linear View Mode on/off

The Unbearable Lightness of Mystic "Exposure" Triangle

We should begin by saying that the point of all of this is not just to criticize one of the most repeated photographic myths out there – that's just a tool, because an incorrect understanding of the way that exposure and ISO work, as well as their roles during the shooting process, leads to a falloff in the quality of shots that photographers get.

So our goal is to show how, by rejecting this myth, you (the now-enlightened user) will be able to more fully utilize the capabilities that your camera has, as well as to improve the quality of your photographs.

Barnum Quote vs Exposure Triangle

Red Flowers Photography: Now It is Easy to See the Real Picture

Some time ago, we published a couple of articles ("Red Flowers Photography: Real Problems or Deceptive Previews?" and "Forcing a Raw Converter to Render Tones Accurately") demonstrating a multi-step procedure that allows one to prevent Adobe raw converters from showing false highlight clipping.

Now, with the settings that allow one to cancel the baseline exposure compensation and support Highly Linear Mode that are being introduced in FastRawViewer 1.5.2, this process has become much more automated.

FastRawViewer. Grid View. Red Flowers

ISO is Seldom just a Digital Gain

RawDigger. Raw histogram. Digital ISO 25600

Some say, "exactly like dragging exposure slider in Lightroom, ISO ... is just digital gain". With a few exceptions, this is less than a half-truth.

Though it is often the case that at higher ISO settings digital "gain" is applied (or a converter, using a metadata tag, is instructed to apply it), analog gain still acts first, before "digital gain" (the better word would be "multiplication", not gain, as in electronics "gain" most often pertains to analog domain).

The giveaway for multiplication is deep and regular gaps in the raw histogram that become wider with each increase of ISO setting.

A Curious Case of ISO Bracketing with Fujifilm X-series

A few days ago, a FastRawViewer user turned to us with a question:

"I took a series of photos with ISO bracketing, but FastRawViewer shows them all in the same way on the main window, even though the JPEG previews are different. I think you have a bug!"

In answering him, we suggested several reasons as to why this is happening, among which was the option that "It's possible that your camera doesn't even do anything when the ISO is changed".

The user sent us the files, and the result was...exactly that; the automatic change of the ISO setting while bracketing didn't affect the RAW data at all.

Time for Standards, stockbakery

Red Flowers Photography: Real Problems or Deceptive Previews?

"...Images of red flowers sometimes don't come out very well, seeming oversaturated, and having little detail in certain areas.”

"...In some pictures of red flowers, I can see small white specs on the petals. On other shots, the entire flower appears flat, like one neon blob, lifeless and lacking volume; it can be quite disturbing."

"...When I'm shooting red flowers, I often have a problem: to save the red channel, I usually have to tell the camera to expose below what it considers to be the correct exposure. This results in overall underexposure in the rest of the scene..."

Maybe, the main problem is that the preview you see is not what you got?

FastRawViewer. Grid View. Red Flowers

Sorting Photos with FastRawViewer

So, the shoot is over and you need to deal with the material you got from it. There's always the allure of sorting photos, setting the ratings and labels directly to the memory card, moving photos to different folders and then just deleting what's unnecessary from the card.

However... writing to a memory card outside the camera is unsafe (USB malfunctions, sudden disconnects, card failure, spontaneous computer reboots - any or all of these may cause a disaster).

We are often asked, how do we deal with these limitations and risks ourselves? Now, we're not saying that this is the only way, but here is what we do: we follow 2-stage workflow for sorting photos, which avoids both writing to a card and wasting time and disk space on copying and ingesting (into Adobe Lightroom) all the files while some of them may be “missed shots”.

FastRawViewer. Sorting Photos

New Old Approach to Dynamic Range

In today's world, "dynamic range" (DR) has become, in the minds of (many) photographers one of the main characteristics of a digital camera.

Unfortunately, the public data on DR is limited to "DD - ISO sensitivity" graphs and tables. With this, the nature of noise (for example, random noise, banding) isn't accounted for, however the noise character is important for visual quality.

In reality, any practicing photographer knows that the degradation of the image in the shadows (or because of low exposure) happens gradually. With the lowering of exposure, small details disappear, the contrast between bigger details diminishes, color fidelity becomes worse. Depending on the quality demanded of the image (which will depend on presentation size, viewing distance, other viewing conditions such as screen resolution, etc.,), the practical dynamic range for the specific camera will be different, even for the same ISO setting.

Michal Bednarek (Niserin)

Lightroom, XMP, Windows, and Removable Storage

As Adobe Lightroom Windows users know, this application has been oppressive for users of removable media (disk drives, flash cards), imposing some limitations that puts image culling applications that produce XMP files (including FastRawViewer) in a bit of a bind. It's impossible to cull/rate/label files right on a flash card - they first need to be copied onto a local disk, XMPed, and then imported into Lightroom from there.

Aside from problems with flash cards, the same happens with removable USB disk drives. If Lightroom detects the disk as being removable, it wil neither read nor write XMP files from or to that location.

Since we're a bit overwhelmed with the questions regarding this problem, and the answer "that's just Lightroom" is both overly repetitive and not very satisfactory, we suggest the following lifehack.

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