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Author Topic: Convert RAW to DNG and then into Lightroom? (Pro and Cons)  (Read 7938 times)
gaholba
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« on: September 09, 2009, 07:58:28 AM »
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Hello

I've been struggling to decide which RAW converter and post processing software to use on my PC while working with Nikon RAW files.

I like the workflow and DAM of Lightroom 2, so that is what I have started with. However, since trying Capture One 4, Caputre NX2, and in particular DxO Optics Pro 5, I would prefer to do the basic conversion in one of these and them make amendments in Lightroom. Lightroom, like Camera RAW, seems flat on conversion and it takes a lot of work to bring it up to the "neutral" conversion that the other three converters appear to provide. So, thinking this through, I have wondered if I could use one of these converters to create DNG files from my NEF RAW files and then import them into Lightroom for additional work.

Does anyone have a view on whether such a workflow would maintain original RAW quality into Lightroom? Your thoughts about any pros or cons would be gratefully received.

Thanks
Greg
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digitaldog
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2009, 08:39:39 AM »
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Quote from: gaholba
Lightroom, like Camera RAW, seems flat on conversion and it takes a lot of work to bring it up to the "neutral" conversion that the other three converters appear to provide.

Have you tried just making a new custom default rendering? You don't have to use the supplied "Camera Raw Defaults", roll your own, load and everything will start out that way, after which you can continue (or not) to tweak. The "flat" appearance is a safer starting point for many, that's why those defaults are set that way. But you don't have to accept that and can build you own.
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Andrew Rodney
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2009, 09:39:22 AM »
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Hi,

I would be be concerned about "linear" or "demosaiced" DNGs. Why ? Because they are not raw files any more. Undemosaiced DNGs are OK, IMHO, but once demosaicing has been done some information is irrevocably lost.

The ideal solution in my view would be if Lightroom had a plugin interface to allow for third party converters to be used as parametric processors. This may be easy or hard, I don't know.

I also buy Rodney's argument that having a bit flat image is a sensible default. I always use that approach for panos, for instance.

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: gaholba
Hello

I've been struggling to decide which RAW converter and post processing software to use on my PC while working with Nikon RAW files.

I like the workflow and DAM of Lightroom 2, so that is what I have started with. However, since trying Capture One 4, Caputre NX2, and in particular DxO Optics Pro 5, I would prefer to do the basic conversion in one of these and them make amendments in Lightroom. Lightroom, like Camera RAW, seems flat on conversion and it takes a lot of work to bring it up to the "neutral" conversion that the other three converters appear to provide. So, thinking this through, I have wondered if I could use one of these converters to create DNG files from my NEF RAW files and then import them into Lightroom for additional work.

Does anyone have a view on whether such a workflow would maintain original RAW quality into Lightroom? Your thoughts about any pros or cons would be gratefully received.

Thanks
Greg
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2009, 10:45:01 AM »
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"Flatness" is certainly none of LR/ACR's weaknesses; you need to learn which profile is the best for a given image and how to adjust the conversion starting with that profile.

However, ACR is not particularly good with noise reduction, nor with CA correction. Pick some problem-shots (chroma noise, strong CA) and try the different converters. Two-stage conversion via linear DNG is nonsensical.
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Gabor
Misirlou
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2009, 11:01:12 AM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper
"Flatness" is certainly none of LR/ACR's weaknesses; you need to learn which profile is the best for a given image and how to adjust the conversion starting with that profile.

However, ACR is not particularly good with noise reduction, nor with CA correction. Pick some problem-shots (chroma noise, strong CA) and try the different converters. Two-stage conversion via linear DNG is nonsensical.

Depends upon how one defines "conversion." I generally import shots from cards in Lightroom, and use it for general organization. Some images will need lens corrections, or something else that I prefer to do in DxO. So I'll go over to DxO, and pick up those images directly from my Lightroom catalog. Once I process them, I'll import the new versions into Lightroom so that I can keep track of them. I will often print them from Lightroom, and sometimes make little development tweaks, or maybe new crops. Would you consider that a "conversion" process?
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2009, 11:48:41 AM »
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Quote from: Misirlou
Depends upon how one defines "conversion." I generally import shots from cards in Lightroom, and use it for general organization. Some images will need lens corrections, or something else that I prefer to do in DxO. So I'll go over to DxO, and pick up those images directly from my Lightroom catalog. Once I process them, I'll import the new versions into Lightroom so that I can keep track of them. I will often print them from Lightroom, and sometimes make little development tweaks, or maybe new crops. Would you consider that a "conversion" process?
I meant the raw to TIFF or JPEG conversion. The raw to mosaic DNG conversion is mostly a file and data format conversion without affecting the image data.

If you are importing TIFF in Lightroom as "new version" (I guess you are not importing JPEG), then the raw conversion took place in DxO. I don't know if DxO outputs DNG at all; C1 does, there was a thread about that. Creating a linear DNG with some processing in one raw processor and further processing it in another raw processor does not seem to be a good way.
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Gabor
Misirlou
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2009, 01:26:47 PM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper
I meant the raw to TIFF or JPEG conversion. The raw to mosaic DNG conversion is mostly a file and data format conversion without affecting the image data.

If you are importing TIFF in Lightroom as "new version" (I guess you are not importing JPEG), then the raw conversion took place in DxO. I don't know if DxO outputs DNG at all; C1 does, there was a thread about that. Creating a linear DNG with some processing in one raw processor and further processing it in another raw processor does not seem to be a good way.

DxO can output a DNG, and I believe it's demosaiced.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 01:27:23 PM by Misirlou » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2009, 01:36:21 PM »
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Quote from: Misirlou
DxO can output a DNG, and I believe it's demosaiced.

It would have to be.
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Andrew Rodney
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GregW
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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2009, 05:12:25 PM »
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Quote from: gaholba
I would prefer to do the basic conversion in one of these and them make amendments in Lightroom.

Have you investigated the DNG Profile Editor from Adobe? If not you should try the profiles and see if you prefer the results. I find that the D2X Mode II setting gives a result that is very similar to Capture NX.

This explains what it is and what it can do:

http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2008/08/the_d...ile_editor.html

And you can get it here:

http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/DNG_Profiles
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 05:14:18 PM by GregW » Logged
NicholasDown
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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2009, 12:13:10 AM »
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Quote from: GregW
Have you investigated the DNG Profile Editor from Adobe? If not you should try the profiles and see if you prefer the results. I find that the D2X Mode II setting gives a result that is very similar to Capture NX.

This explains what it is and what it can do:

http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2008/08/the_d...ile_editor.html

And you can get it here:

http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/DNG_Profiles

Hi Greg
This presents a very interesting problem and a potential dilemma for those using DXO/CS3 and LR.
I've downloaded the camera beta profiles. These only seem to be available for Raw files processed via LR prior to 5Dmk2 (in my case) Canon CR2>LR(converted to DNG). They do not show up as options if I have used DXO to convert my CR2 files in the first place, as the DNG files produced by DXO are linear and demosaiced.
Which begs the question about DXO in the workflow. If (as DXO suggests) you use it as the first part of the Raw chain and output linear DNG files you can import them to LR but lose functionality, even though you've gained all the lens corrections that DXO offers.
On the other hand if you use LR to convert your files to DNG you are then stuck with the fact that DXO will not be able to use the Lightroom DNGs as optimally as possible for all that it offers with lens corrections. I wrote to them about this and heard back that they might be working on this issue in the future so lets see.
The beta profiles look very interesting for all the tech. reasons outlined in the adobe blog but it sure represents a problem if you want to use both DXO and LR.
Meanwhile CS3 will not read my CR2 files (Canon 5Dmk2) unless they have been converted to DNG (as discussed a thousand times elsewhere) and when LR adds a CR2 file to its catalogue the beta profiles are not available for use.
So I am now keeping my RAW CR2 files in an archive because I am sure that there will be many future developments in RAW processing to come.
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Misirlou
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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2009, 12:25:22 AM »
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I've built profiles for several Canons using the Adobe editor, and I feel they're better than the ones provided by Adobe. I don't know if that's because my individual cameras respond differently than the ones Adobe tested, or for some other reason. In any case, I seem to get a better initial color balance, and a more even tonality in wide expanses of similar color, skies for instance.

As I understand it, the later versions of DxO have a similar sort of provision. You can take a shot of a test card, and DxO will write out a file designed specifically for the creation of custom profiles. There is also a menu provision for loading those custom profiles, which you can then apply to your images. The kicker is that the only software package I've found that will build a profile under that procedure is something from Gretag Mcbeth that costs about $2k. I'm actually using DxO to make up for the fact that I can't afford to buy high-end lenses, so it's not like I'm ready to pay for that sort of utility at the moment...

Which makes the whole DxO/Lightroom integration question a little messier for me too.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 12:26:25 AM by Misirlou » Logged
madmanchan
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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2009, 09:59:23 PM »
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Misirlou, without seeing your profiles I'd be hard-pressed to guess why you prefer your custom profiles ... but I'm guessing it's partly camera differences, but also (perhaps more importantly) personal preference. Hence the reason for providing the DNG Profile Editor as a free tool: so photographers who aren't partial to the Adobe-provided profiles can roll their own.
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