I’ll be making another video soon about the RAW format and the choices you might want to consider about starting to shoot RAW in the first place. But to give you the quick explanation of the difference between RAW and JPEG: RAW is like a negative, JPEG like a print.
Discovering RAW for the first time, some years back now when I was lent a Fuji S2 DSLR by a friend, it seemed to me – a photographer who had grown up with film – like all my dreams come true. OK, the files were huge compared to JPEGs but the format offered such huge potential: corrections of exposure, white-balance, dynamic range [and much more] all after the event of shooting the pic in the first place.
As I got more into digital, buying my first DSLR [the Nikon D300] in November 2007, I started experimenting more and one of the first things I discovered was that in order to get the pictures out of my Nikon looking exactly the same [especially in terms of the colour] as they looked on the camera screen, I would need to abandon Adobe’s Camera RAW engine and use Nikon’s software instead. Why? It’s simple….
Nikon, like most camera manufacturers, does not dish-out their RAW algorithm to Adobe – or anyone else for that matter. So consequently Adobe Camera RAW is a ‘best guess’ at interpreting the setting of the RAW file. Sure, Adobe Camera RAW has – as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop – moved on since I wrote this previous article. But, the fact still remains that opening RAW files side-by-side directly into Photoshop or Lightroom as compared to opening them in a Nikon software, produces very different results – specifically in the realm of colour saturation, depth and tone.
Plus if you, like me, enjoy using or making your own Picture Controls for your Nikon then you’ll need Nikon software to see the results if you shoot in RAW. Sure, shooting in JPEG will preserve the effects of the Picture Control. But I like to still shoot RAW when I am shooting in a particular style in-camera; I get to see the effect on the screen of the camera – which helps me think in that style when I’m shooting. But I also get the RAW file with all its myriad of editing potential. Open a RAW file shot in a black and white picture control in View or Capture NX and it will look the same as it did on your camera, plus give you the choice of swapping it into any of the other picture controls you have loaded into your camera/computer. Open it into Lightroom or Photoshop and you’ll see the shot in a standard colour space, as Adobe Camera RAW simply can’t read the fact that you’ve shot it in a custom control.
So, with all this in mind please enjoy this little video I made of some basic workflow I practice in Nikon ViewNX. I don’t use Capture NX anymore for reasons I explain in the video.
Excuse the audio quality. I need a better external mic and just haven’t got around to buying one yet.