14 Replies Latest reply on Mar 23, 2009 12:01 PM by Ddougb

    Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG

    seanchandler
      First let me apologize for the newb question and details but this seems like the right place to ask

      I have a Nikon D300 and D700 and have only recently started to shoot RAW after many years of shooting JPG.

      I use Lightroom 2.2 and Photoshop CS3, and I shoot mainly real estate interiors and landscapes with the occasional aerial helicopter photography.

      I have been reading about DNG Profile Editing etc, all in the aim of getting work done faster if possible. Moving from JPG to RAW has (in my experience) slowed me down, as I find myself spending more time on images in LR to get to similar-looking results as JPG's that were previously adjusted (levels, curves, shadow/highlights) only in PS3.

      Do I need to convert to DNG to get the full benefit of the camera profiles, and will I (after editing profiles) be able to improve my speed in LR - currently I start with the WB tool and work top to bottom from there, making small adjustments along the way to get the photo 'right'.

      Thanks for any help / advice
        • 1. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
          JimHess-8IPblY Level 3
          First of all, you have to create DNG files you want to use the Profile Editor. You cannot create custom profiles from your original raw images. If you become proficient at using the profile editor you may be able to save some processing time. But if you are devoting your time to making your raw images look like the JPEG images are you really gaining anything by shooting in raw?

          You do not need to convert your images to DNG to get the full benefit of the camera profiles. Adobe will tell you it is a good idea to convert because the DNG format is an open format that will always be supported. That may be true, but for me it is not a very compelling argument. I have used DNG in the past because I don't like all the XMP files that are associated with working with my original raw images. All of the metadata is stored within the DNG file. The image data is identical in either file.
          • 2. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
            seanchandler Level 1
            Jim - thanks for the response.

            On re-reading my post I realise that I could have written it better.

            Title should have been "convert RAW to DNG" instead of "...to JPG"

            What I meant by "getting results similar to JPG..." was nicely saturated images with no blown highlights and detail in the shadows.

            Shooting JPG is easy and produces decent results - I'm trying to produce great results and I know that JPG has limits that even PS cant magically make better.

            Not that I am looking for a magic solution - just trying to improve on the technical side while getting out and shooting as often as I can.
            • 3. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
              JimHess-8IPblY Level 3
              I just have a Nikon D40. But I have discovered that the profiles Adobe has provided really work well with my NEF files. Are you using the profiles?
              • 4. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                seanchandler Level 1
                Do you mean the D2x, D1x, etc profiles that are in Lightroom?

                Or are there profiles named for each camera, like D300 and so on?
                • 5. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                  PECourtejoie Adobe Community Professional
                  They are named D2X because it is what Nikon does: matching the rendering of their then-flagship model in their software.
                  • 6. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                    Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                    The camera profiles developed and provided by Adobe are very much camera-specific. In the ACR calibration tag you are presented ONLY with the profiles that pertain to the specific camera model that created the raw image you are opening at a given time. If you are opening a file from a D2x, you'll only see the profiles for the D2x, including the Adobe Standard for that particular camera model.
                    • 7. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                      JimHess-8IPblY Level 3
                      The only profiles you will see in ACR are the ones that are appropriate for your camera. That is true regardless of make or model. If I have loaded a raw file from my D40, the Adobe Standard and Camera Standard are the ones for the D40. If you have a file from another camera in the same folder, and you switch to it, the profiles will be the ones for that model and not for the D40. Most of the time I am using the camera standard profile with my D40 images, but occasionally I find that one of the D2x profiles work better. I also find that the portrait profile works extremely well with my flash pictures. You should experiment with different profiles for a while so that you can get a better feel for what they will do for you in different situations.
                      • 8. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                        Geoff the kiwi Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                        The answer to you question is no you don't NEED to convert to DNG to get the use/benefit if the profiles. Other posters have detailed how they work. The most beneficial use of DNG is workflow and organisation.
                        I import from the card converting to DNG and applying a develop preset at the same time which includes a profile so I have great images straight off, some will still need adjustment of course and I don't have those messy .xmp files which to me is a big plus.
                        • 9. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                          JimHess-8IPblY Level 3
                          At one time converting to DNG was an integral part of my workflow. I was using a Fuji S9000, and the conversion would reduce the size of the file by about 50%. I'm now using a Nikon D40, and the savings is not nearly as significant. Additionally, I use Lightroom now for my raw developing, and I don't have to deal with the XMP files because all the changes are stored in the database. As far as editing is concerned, you can get identical results from either the original raw file or from the DNG. So the conversion is something that you don't NEED to do. It's just a question of how you want to handle your own workflow.
                          • 10. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                            seanchandler Level 1
                            Saving time in workflow is something I am interested in for sure

                            GTK - what app do you use to import / convert DNG - or does LR do that

                            What type of settings are you applying to the incoming files
                            • 11. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                              JimHess-8IPblY Level 3
                              Lightroom will convert to DNG on import if that is what you choose. Alternatively, you can use the free DNG converter program from Adobe. Then you can just import those DNG files into Lightroom.

                              As far as settings are concerned, I just set the profile I want, and I have some sharpening settings that I prefer on most of my images.
                              • 12. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                                Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                                In my case, on my particular machine and setup, DNGs waste time, as they are significantly slower to open. Must be the compression/decompression.
                                • 13. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                                  Ddougb
                                  Sean,

                                  To really blow away the .jpg results try HDR, High Dynamic Range, with your interior and exterior shots, except helicopter. Last week I attended a NAPP seminar in Los Angeles where Ben Willmore presented how to take digital photo's seminar. One of the segments was HDR. He does his pre-proccessing in CS-3 or CS-4 and then uses Photomatix for something called tone-mapping because it beats the pants off of PS for that critical part of HDR. To learn more, go to Photomatix.com and they also have a gallery of user photos including some interior real estate and exterior landscaping samples.

                                  Good luck, Rich
                                  • 14. Re: Why (and when) should I convert RAW to JPG
                                    Ddougb Level 1
                                    Sean,

                                    Photomatix is at HDRsoft.com, sorry for the confusion.

                                    Rich