FastRawViewer Developers Blog

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.

DIY Reliable, Cheap, Easy-to Use Universal White Balance Reference

Libraw White Balance Reference DIY Project

DIY projects are always popular, so we’ve decided to throw another one into the mix. This particular little idea comes from a problem that many photographers have – where do you get a good, small, white/gray surface to use for white balancing your RAW shots in conversion?

We’re proposing a solution that will save you time and money, as well as make you feel good for not buying into some inefficient, overpriced product of limited usability.

So, welcome to LibRaw’s Wacky Cheap 5-Dollar DIY White Balance Reference Project.

The Three Most Obvious Reasons to Look at RAW and Not Cull Based On Previews

"...Really, why do you even want to look at RAW files? The whole point of RAW is to be processed according to your taste into a JPEG. I never look at RAW files; I never need to. They are loaded into LR, processed, and I look at the processed images.”

FastRawViewer. Pink azaleas. JPEG prevew vs RAW

Why do you want, or, as a matter of fact, not just want but need to look at RAW and not some previews rendered in some arcane manner when you’re choosing RAW files for conversion or presentation? Why, in fact, shouldn’t you trust neither embedded nor rendered JPEGs/previews, nor the preview / histogram on the back of your camera, for that matter?

We will both answer these questions, and illustrate the massive disconnect between a preview and real RAW data.

Unfortunately, photographers are throwing away perfectly good captures while keeping captures that are sub-optimal, because they are not being provided with the facts about the RAW. We are going to demonstrate why they need to examine actual RAW data before making any decisions about which captures to keep or consider editing.

How to Use the Full Photographical Dynamic Range of Your Camera

FastRawViewer. Optimally exposed RAW

Suppose you've read somewhere that the dynamic range of your camera at a certain ISO setting is 11 stops. And here comes the immediate question – how can one use such a treasure to its full potential? Optimal exposure for RAW is the answer. But now we need to explain what we mean when we say, "optimal exposure for RAW".

Let’s start with one of the problems, which arises as a result of non-optimal exposure for RAW.

Dealing with Damaged RAW Files

FastRawViewer. Damaged shot. RAW. Zoom to 24%

"I should have checked all the frames before I left the site!

There does seem to be a problem with the green channel but with the tools I have I can't get my head around it. Looks like I will have to contact Canon."

You may find this article to be useful in a practical way, not just as an isolated case of raw data damage. Often, just a casual look into raw data provides arguments allowing one to persuade technical support that there is a problem with your camera body that needs to be addressed.

Deriving Hidden Baseline Exposure Compensation Applied by a Raw Converter

ACR Process 2010 Default Settings

We explained in an earlier article (“Forcing a Raw Converter to Render Tones Accurately”) that the majority of raw converters process raw shots with hidden, uncontrolled adjustments. This can cause a bumped midtone, clipped highlights, and compressed shadows; ostensibly, the point of this is to "improve" the way the shot looks.

Here, we intend to show you how to determine what sort of unseen exposure correction is being applied to your raw shots by your raw converter.

Forcing a Raw Converter to Render Tones Accurately

"What happens to my mid-tones? I set exposure using exposure meter; open the shot in Adobe Lr (or Adobe Camera Raw, or some other converter) - the shot looks overexposed and everything starting from mid-tone and up looks very flat. If I shoot RAW+JPEG, JPEG looks OK, while RAW is not. Should I expose lower?"

Df_CT02.NEF in ACR - image looks overexposed and flat on the higher tones

Don't set the exposure any lower. You'll have underexposed by another stop in addition to the underexposure caused by camera meter calibration. This can be painful, particularly if you don't have a lot of light and have already cranked up ISO to above 400.

We'd recommend fine-tuning the default settings that your raw converter has (detailed below). Taking the time to set up customized defaults now will save you a lot more time later.

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