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Old Dec 18, 2012, 11:26 PM   #1
filmbuff
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Why do my RAW photos look better in editing?

I've always shot in JPEG but I got a new Nikon D5100 so I decided to shoot in RAW+JPEG to see if I could get better editing results. I noticed right off the bat that the RAW photos look way better, they have much more dynamic range. Even the "neutral" image setting on the camera tends to make it too contrasty.

I tried editing the RAW photos in iPhoto but noticed right off the bat that when I export them as JPEGs they look a lot more flat and desaturated compared to how they look in the software. While I edit them in iPhoto they look rich and colorful (even oversaturated), then I export them and they look terrible.I decided to try the View NX2 software that came with the camera and I got a similar result to iPhoto. I edited a RAW photo, saved it in the software, then exported it and when I opened it the exposure looked right but the colors were very flat.

Just to make sure it wasn't the viewer I'm using (Xee) I compared an edited photo in Xee to Preview and they looked exactly the same.

Other info:
I'm using a 2012 MBA 13" with the Samsung screen
The laptop is set to the default "color LCD" color profile
The camera is set to sRGB
JPEGs seem fine.
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Old Dec 19, 2012, 12:07 AM   #2
ijohn.8.80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filmbuff View Post
I tried editing the RAW photos in iPhoto but noticed right off the bat that when I export them as JPEGs they look a lot more flat and desaturated compared to how they look in the software.
Try looking at the settings you have for iPhoto to export Jpegs at. It sounds like it's way over compressed to me.
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Old Dec 19, 2012, 12:19 AM   #3
filmbuff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ijohn.8.80 View Post
Try looking at the settings you have for iPhoto to export Jpegs at. It sounds like it's way over compressed to me.
I'm exporting them at maximum quality. I don't think the problem is in the export, because if I open the .nef file in Preview and iPhoto at the same time, and put them next to each other, the one in iPhoto looks way more saturated. When I export it however, all that saturation goes away. It makes it impossible to edit because I have no idea what it will look like until I export.
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Old Dec 19, 2012, 01:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filmbuff View Post
I'm exporting them at maximum quality. I don't think the problem is in the export, because if I open the .nef file in Preview and iPhoto at the same time, and put them next to each other, the one in iPhoto looks way more saturated. When I export it however, all that saturation goes away. It makes it impossible to edit because I have no idea what it will look like until I export.
.NEF files are never going to look the same, given that they're heavily interpreted. After that like if you process to tiffs or jpegs, issues can arise due to color management problems. You seem a bit confused about dynamic range. Ideally you'd be able to get it to a point where the way it looks in something like photoshop or lightroom matches a program like preview to a reasonable degree. If the display profile is too far off, it can cause problems in that regard. Usually they should be close though.
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Old Dec 19, 2012, 07:07 AM   #5
Cheese&Apple
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I use Aperture and don't use I photo. If it was Aperture I would suggest:

1) Check to confirm what your eyes are telling you, export an image and import it back. Then check your histograms to see the resulting change between the RAW and the JPEG. There should only be a small difference between the two.

2) This may by too obvious but...if you're importing both RAW & JPEG from your camera, double check to make sure that you're converting and exporting the RAW image and not the JPEG.

3) In Aperture you can create "Image Export Presets" that will not only establish JPEG compression quality but other settings as well (gamma adjust, DPI and colour profile). Check these settings.

Last edited by Cheese&Apple; Dec 19, 2012 at 03:12 PM.
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Old Dec 19, 2012, 11:33 AM   #6
snberk103
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Also, don't export as sRGB. That is the lowest common denominator colour space. It is designed to show just the colours that an average monitor can display, and will discard/shift all colours that fall outside of that limited range. If your monitor happens to be average and happens to be smack dab in the middle of this "average" range then in theory you shouldn't see much difference between the RAW and sRGB. However, if you monitor better than average, or if your monitor is calibrated off to one side then you will not be seeing some colours.

Try exporting as aRGB (or AdobeRGB - same thing, really). This is a wider gamut, and suitable for most printing jobs.

Good Luck.
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