Post processing help!
Hi, although I have owned a digital camera for a few years, I have never ventured into the world of pp.....until now. This summer I am going traveling round Europe and would like to get the basics before I go. I own a Nikon D50 and will suplement this with a good compact (either DP1 or GRDII), I will shoot raw and have no pp software other than iphoto that came with my macbook..

And so to my query's. Firstly, what software? I was looking at photoshop elements 6 as my general purpose software, but, I would also like to play around with other things such as panorama's and HDR, for which I have been recommended panorama factory and photomatix respectively, is this sound advice?Secondly, which software is best to do the raw conversion?.

Thirdly, I believe you are meant to adjust raw files during conversion, then save to tiff, after that you use PE6 to further tweak, save again as tiff and also save as jpeg for posting on web or printing. Is that right? If so, what kind of things do you usually adjust in raw conversion and what do I tweak later..

Finally, sorry about this  what in camera settings do I adjust regarding sharpening, saturation etc, or doesn't it matter when shooting raw..

Btw, my final objective is to print my photos into a book using an online publisher (either apple or blurb)..

I know there is a lot of questions here ( I should probably buy a book...actually if anyone knows a decent book that walks you through this process), all help is gratefully received.thanks in advanceMarc..

Comments (7)

Gooner74 wrote:.

Firstly, what software?.

There are many on the market. Many allow free 30 day trials so you can play around to see what suits you. I personally started off with photoshop CS and it took a while to learn the very basics. For what I want photoshop (probably including elements) is more than I need. I now use Lightroom and it really is just perfect for my needs. I am a keen amateur.

Secondly, which software is best to do the raw conversion?.

Again I use Lightroom. Some people say that Canon's DPP is better at RAW conversion of it's own RAW files but I personally do not like DPP..

Thirdly, I believe you are meant to adjust raw files duringconversion, then save to tiff, after that you use PE6 to furthertweak, save again as tiff and also save as jpeg for posting on web orprinting. Is that right? If so, what kind of things do you usuallyadjust in raw conversion and what do I tweak later..

There is no fixed work flow and it is what suits you that matters. As stated above I use Lightroom for all my edits and very rarely need to go into photoshop. I adjust WB where necessary. I crop and rotate (LR has a wonderful crop and rotate tool). I adjust the brightness of the image using the various sliders including adjusting the highlights and shadows. Where necessary I use the very useful colour adjustment tools.

The adjustments I make are stored and the only file I create is a low resolution jpeg for viewing on the web..

Finally, sorry about this  what in camera settings do I adjustregarding sharpening, saturation etc, or doesn't it matter whenshooting raw..

Correct. It does not matter if you only shoot RAW but if you use the histogram it is supposed to be more accurate if you neutralise the camera settings. This is what I do..

If anyone knows a decent book that walks you throughthis process,.

Sorry can't help you with books. All I would say is that you will probably find all you need to know in the form of tutorials, articles etc. on the web.Mark

Comment #1

If you are new to pp you must try Nikon Capture NX (30 day trial available). I use it for everything except printing with my D50 and D80 (where I use Qimage)..

NX applies your in camera settings to the RAW image it brings up on screen so it gives you a head's start. You can then adjust as necessary. So mistakes in cameras settings are much less of aproblem than with jpeg and the output is better. It is also generally acknowledged to give the best results with Nikon NEFs. The interface is a little clunky but not a problem if you are new to it. And it does require lots of RAM (Though with a D50 that will not be too much of a problem.

I have 2 MB on an ageing P4 2.8Mhz.).

One of the major benefits of NX - you do not need to save TIFF images. You can store the adjustments you have made to the image within the NEF fille. It is exactly like saving a jpeg but non-destructive. You can store as many different version of the image as you like in the same file and switch between them in moments (e.g different crops)..

My most recent outing is here:.


A mixture of D50 and D80 shots all at ISO 1600 and PP'd exclusively in NX. Given the conditions I have had to work quite hard on some of them with tools such as selective sharpening..

Hope that helpsChris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.


Comment #2

The following may prove helpfull-.

HDR=High Dynamic Range photographyto do hdr-.

If you put camera into full auto matrix metering, take first shot note fstop and shutter speed. put camera into full manual, see if camera still has the matrix fstop and shutter speed. if yes, then using shutter speed go up 2-4 shutter speeds 1 fstop worth of shutter speed at a time. the back to matrix shutter speed and go down same number of shutter speeds..

Christian bloch in his hdri handbook did a test of 1 fstop bracketing vs 2fstop bracketing. there was an obvious image quality falloff using the 2fstop bracketing.this is on a tripod with cable release..

No, you should not use 1 raw shot and convert 1 stop up and down, because their is not enough dynamic range in the 1 raw shot. dynamic range is why we are doing this, hdr is trying to get all it can..

The group of shots can be raw or jpeg. if jpeg they can be used as is. if raw remember that you HAVE to batch process all 5-9(?) shots. this is because the pp has to be all the same on every pic. you cannot, for example make any attempt to get the shadow details of the group of raw pics, because that would require different amounts of pp, and you cannot do that with hdr. the pp for all shots has to be identical..

For me I just shoot them in jpeg and use them from the camera, that way they are all identical because the camera jpeg settings are the same for every shot. I also put my hand streched in front of the lens and take a check shot and when done take a ending shot with hand. this tells me where the hdr group is on my memory card when I transfer to the pc..

The only important item is to bracket using shutter speeds only. if fstops are used it changes dof between shots. and shoot enough shots, 5-9(?) is the optimum. the only other thought is to shoot a scene that deserves the the hdr technique, too many people are shooting hdr because it is new or different or whatever. many people are using hdr software on scenes that do not have enough dynamic range; they end up with images that have been enhanced by hdr software, they are not hdr images. the dynamic range was not in the scene to begin with.

This can be checked with a spotmeter on different areas. NOTE: use of auto bracketing on a camera may not work unless you know the bracketing is using the shutter speeds to bracket. in any event, you really need 5-9(?) shots for hdr; this is more than the auto bracket fcn on almost all cameras. and the bracketing has to be both sides of the middle shot. make you use enough brackets to cover the previously checked dynamic range.

And the scene should have no movement, if so the item will blur in the hdr image..

Do not adjust the focus. set the focus on infinity or use a hyperfocalsetup for focus..

Do not adjust the white balance for individual shots. go with awb or 1 setting and do not change it..

Remember, hdr was created and meant for scene that have a dynamic range that exceeds the dynamic range of the camera sensor, about 5-6stops. hdr with the required software allows the user to capture a scene that has very high dynamic range..

I currently use Dynamic-Photo HDR and recommend it. Less than the price of photomatrix and it has 6 different looks, (the photomatrix look is included, and each of the 6 looks can be fine tuned. Get Dynamic-Photo hdr here- also included is a program that is part of DP hdr that can make a fake hdr look image from a jpeg...

Comment #3

To do panoramas-.

For panoramas- -use tripod. you must keep it level with the horizon. if your tripod does not have a level builtin then buy one that slides into your flash hotshoe. again make a max effort to get the camera level..

-for exposure. set the exposure by pressing halfway and noteing the fstop and shutter speed. you are trying to find the brightest part of you panorama scene to be. once you have found the brightest check the fstop and shutter speed. put camera into manual metering mode and use those settings. do not change them for any part of the panorama..

-lens selection. I shoot mine with a 20mm. tried a 35mm didn't work, the individual shots didn't overlap. the angle of view wasn't wide enough. note: SHOOT THE LENS VERTICALLY. this is the only way to get some vertical scene, otherwise the panorama will be shaped like a hotdog.

In vertical you are cutting your angle of view way down. my tripod has degrees engraved in the mount, I was shooting at only a 15 degree spread and in looking at the shots before stiching there wasn't that much overlap. I later shot panoramas with 35mm 50mm; the hot dog effect was more pronounced. the panorama itself did work..

-determine in advance the center point of the scene and try to go X number of shots on each side of it. for me with my setup a 120 degree scene is 7 shots; the center and 3 on each side. if I go with a 35mm lens then a 120degree scene will take 13 shots. no matter what lens you use realize that you are adding only 33% new scene with every shot, the rest is overlap for the right and left adjoining shots. the only exceptions are the end shots in the whole scene. it is possible to add another row above and/or below the first one.

You must make sure that there are no gaps..

- I stick my hand in front of the lens and shoot, then shoot the panorama, the 7 shots, then put hand in front of lens and shoot. later I know that everything between hands is the panorama..

-i have used cs2 or the panorama factory software to make the panorama. for either couldn't be simpler simply select the shots and it does the work. this is where using a level pays off. the software is leveling the scene to make the long rectangcal, but if the scene was not as level as possible in the first place the vertical becomes less and less(you end up with hotdog shape). so having the tripod and camera level is very important. also when mount and shooting vertically make sure the camera really is vertical, carefully check by looking threw the viewfinder.

-on focusing- what I do is to simply preset the 20mm lems at infinity, because of depth of field everything from 5.64ft to infinity is in focus at f11.0 distance 200ft. you can also use a hyperfocal focus setup. but thanks to the DOF table, just setting the lens at infinity is simpler. -i left WB alone, that is set at AWB; or you can use a preset setting like sunny or cloudy, but once set donot change it till panorama shots are done..

-online depth of field calculator available here-

-parallax error. It is usually not so much a problem outdoor shooting. This is because the distances are greater than inside. In any event if you shoot panorams outside and at short distrances OR any inside any building, you should be thinking of getting a panorama tripod head. This is to eliminate parallax error..

-for panoramas, the software I use is either panorama factory orPTGui or cs2. the one that works best for me is PTGui. I have since gotton PTGuiPRO, expensive but worth it. has many features and abilities that the other software does not have, including the ability to process 360 and 720degree spherical panoramas, plus many projection types...

Comment #4

Thanks to everyone for their help, much appreciated, and Chris, great photos.cheers Marc..

Comment #5

I like Bibble for my raw processing..


It has comprehensive controls and is easy to use..

For HDR, try out Qtpfsgui. It's very effective, easy to use and FREE..


For panos try Autostitch, the panorama engine that is used in many commercial products. It's also free. It says 'demo' but it is fully working..



Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.


Comment #6

Gooner74 wrote:.

I own a Nikon D50 and will suplement this with a good compact(either DP1 or GRDII), I will shoot raw and have no pp software otherthan iphoto that came with my macbook. [...]And so to my query's. Firstly, what software?.

Right now, Sigma's Photo Pro 3.1 (which comes with it) is the only software that supporst the DP1. In a couple of months, Adobe (Lightroom or CS3 or Elements) will probably support it as well. Also on the mac, a program called Raw Developer has had good Sigma support in the past (again, not the DP1 quite yet.).

Secondly, which software is best to do the raw conversion?.

Like with cameras, there is no single best. They are all good with slightly different things. The camera maker's own SW will usually produce color most similar to the out-of-the camera color. 3rd party converters often offer more/different noise vs. detail options..

If you want one program that will handle almost any camera, then the Adobe programs are the best bet..

Thirdly, I believe you are meant to adjust raw files duringconversion, then save to tiff, after that you use PE6 to furthertweak, save again as tiff and also save as jpeg for posting on web orprinting. Is that right?.

For absolute best quality, yes. However, for all but the largest prints/crops you will notice very little difference if you save as best quality jpeg instead of TIFF. Even a couple of edit/saves will cause few problems..

If so, what kind of things do you usuallyadjust in raw conversion and what do I tweak later..

General exposure, highlight or shadow recovery, and white balance are the most important to get right at conversion time..

What in camera settings do I adjustregarding sharpening, saturation etc, or doesn't it matter whenshooting raw..

The in-camera settings will be used for two things:1. The preview JPEG and histogram will use these settings..

2. If you are using the camera maker's SW, it will default to the camera settings unless you change them (e.g. a quick batch convert will use those settings)..

One option is to set the camera for highest sharpening and lowest contrast. The sharpening will help you judge focus when reviewing LCD screen. The lowest contrast will give you the most accurate histogram and/or hightlight clipping that you can get with raw..

The other option is to set the camera for the settings you like best. Then if you switch to jpeg because you are low on card space or shoot raw+jpeg, you will get results that need minimal PP. Or this will what you'll see if you do a quick batch conversion to look for the best ones to examine more closely..


Comment #7

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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