FastRawViewer Developers Blog

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.

One Way to Get Spot-On Exposure for Your Shots

Practically every day, one can see threads on photographic forums where members discuss the various different modes of automatic exposure, trying to find the right one. As a rule, these discussions result in the same question – what compensation to automatic metering ought one set to get consistently good exposure? It turns out that no autoexposure mode universally guarantees good out-of-box results.

We are going to demonstrate that one of the ways of getting good exposure is metering while using the in-camera spotmeter on the lightest part of the scene that needs to maintain full detail (white clouds, snow, etc.) and applying the appropriate compensation to the exposure recommended by the spotmeter.

The shot taken with  spotmeter exposure and +3 EV in-camera correction, opened and adjusted in FastRawViewer

Can you Evaluate Exposure Using the In-camera Histogram?

They say that "a histogram is a graphical representation of the pixels exposed in your image" or "when judging exposure, the primary areas of the histogram to be concerned with are the right and left edges".

We are going to demonstrate the following:

  • In-camera histograms don't really allow one to analyze the shadows and highlights zones of an image.
  • An in-camera histogram changes significantly with changes in the camera settings such as contrast, picture style, brightness, etc.

So, no. By no means can the in-camera histogram be used by a RAW shooter to evaluate exposure.

shot 2649 with and without WB

Do Not Let White Balance Throw You Off-Balance

White balance: does it or does it not affect RAW image data at all? Certainly it affects JPEG, but how and why?

We are going to demonstrate that setting the white balance in a camera has no effect on "normal" RAW data.

To do so, we took four shots under the same, fairly constant, light, varying only the white balance (WB) settings in the camera (and the number of roasted coffee beans on the skillet handle). You will see the "as shot" color differs dramatically between the shots, yet the RAW histograms of these shots are, for all practical purposes, will stay the same.

You can repeat this simple experiment yourself, and also check that changing the white balance setting does not affect the in-camera exposure metering readings.

White balance as channel exposure correction

How to Trash a Good Shot in One Step...

Not sure how? It really is very simple - just rely on the JPEG histogram. The one on the back of your camera will do, or one derived from a JPEG by some viewer, or (sometimes) even by a RAW converter.

Many strongly colored objects - yellow, red, blue, pink, orange, purple, etc. are suffering from culling based on JPEG histograms.

FastRawViewer is the only culling tool that displays the true RAW histogram, which allows you to determine if the shot was exposed correctly.

So, if you don't want to trade your (technically) best shots for worse ones, start using RAW histograms for culling!

Yellow daffodils. RAW and RAW histogram

Color is a Slippery Trickster

Origina ARW from SONY a6500: embedded JPEG vs. render using correct camera profile

“How do you know, when you think blue — when you say blue — that you are talking about the same blue as anyone else?"

Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art

The goals of this article are twofold: the first is to demonstrate that out-of-camera JPEGs, including in-camera previews, can’t be implicitly, with no checking, used to evaluate color (as we already know, the in-camera histogram is misleading, too). The second is to show that it isn’t necessary that the camera manufacturer-recommended converter be specifically tuned to match the out-of-camera JPEG.

When In Doubt, Bracket!

Golden Tree. Exposure Bracketing

On any photographic forum, it doesn't take much effort to find old or new discussions on how to set the “proper” exposure while shooting, and even what exactly “proper exposure” is. The question of setting exposure was and is one of the most commonly-discussed topics on forums and blogs

Often, an experienced professional photographer will, upon hearing the question of how one should choose exposure while shooting, respond that you should “Bracket your shots when the lighting conditions are complex. Or, even better, bracket all of your shots. I do it all the time.” That’s because problems with exposure are not something that only a novice can encounter.

Color Differences Between Cameras

RawDigger. Placing a Grid

Quite often, when a new camera emerges on the market one heavily-discussed subject is if the color it records is the same, better, or worse compared to a previous model. It often happens that the color is compared based on the rendering that some RAW converter provides. Thus, an unknown variable, that being the color profiles or transforms that a RAW converter uses for these particular models, comes into play. Yet another problem with such comparisons is that they are usually made based on shots taken with different lenses, under different light, and with effectively different exposures in RAW (while the exposure settings may be the same).

Let's see how cameras compare in RAW if the set-up is kept very close to the same and the exposure in RAW is equalized.


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