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RAW Decode preview should apply lens correction

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  • RAW Decode preview should apply lens correction

    I kind of have expectations that RAW Decode should basically look almost exactly like the embedded JPEG preview - only sharper and better.

    Unfortunately, this is not the case. Most noticeably - there are absolutely NO lens corrections applied to the RAW Decode preview, so the thumbnails have massive pin-cushioning or barrel distortion. Sure, I can correct them in Developer mode, or do a batch edit - but that kind of defeats the purpose of using the metadata to apply the correct lens profile.

    When culling photos and assigning ratings for which ones I want to keep & fine-tune, this is a pretty big deal.

    Am I missing a setting somewhere, or was this just a dropped ball?

  • #2
    Originally posted by sagaciousb View Post
    I kind of have expectations that RAW Decode should basically look almost exactly like the embedded JPEG preview - only sharper and better.
    Hi sagaciousb - With no disrespect, your expectations are the complete opposite of what's really going on. Let me explain. The whole purpose of the Raw format is to give photographers a pure, untouched image that is precisely what the camera captured with no changes and no "improvements" whatsoever. Hence the name Raw.

    Conversely, Jpeg images (including the embedded Raw preview images) are altered by most cameras to make them look better. In Canon cameras, this enhancing ability is user programmable and is called Camera Styles. Nikon, and the others have their own counterparts. However, Pro photographers do NOT want Canon or Nikon's idea of how to make their images look better forced into their images. Even though the Raw images upon initial decode will not look as good as their own Jpeg preview images, that's the whole point of Raw -- to give photographers 100% control of their images. The net result (which really confuses users new to the Raw format) is that the Jpegs and embedded preview images actually look better (initially) than undeveloped Raw. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by LV_Bill; 01-23-2018, 10:19 PM.


    • #3
      I do see your points. Personally, I like that all of the underlying RAW data is there to manipulate, but I think you could argue either way whether the image should be attempted to be shown with some level of sane defaults for, say, noise reduction, sharpening, color correction, etc, or whether to not apply any defaults. There are pros and cons to both.
      For instance, when shooting like 200 photos of a family member's bday party, I may not be trying to perfect every single moment of every single gift opening. I just want them to look acceptable to send to family. You could argue I should just use JPEG in this case, but what if some images do need touchup, or were heavily over/underexposed, or had bad white-balance?

      Regardless, I think I can make a very strong argument that since ACDSee lets the user set default values in Develop mode for all of these settings - including lens correction - to suit their own tastes, that the RAW Decode preview should also use exactly those same defaults. Otherwise, there's a huge discrepancy between how the image looks before and after going into Develop mode, which is strange and unexpected.

      So, even if my expectation that RAW should look like the camera's JPEG output is flawed (I understand this is basically impossible without identically re-implementing the manufacturer's 'look' algorithms in the software), I do think that RAW in 'View' mode should look just like RAW when opening the image in 'Develop' Mode.


      • #4
        sagaciousb - Actually "re-implementing the manufacturers 'look' algorithm" is very much a part of the overall concept of ACD Develop Mode -- except that you (the user) get to develop your own 'look' algorithms. These are called Develop Presets. Here's an example of how they are created and used. Take a 'keeper' image in a Raw shoot and enter Develop Mode. Adjust the settings to your taste with the objective of finding a universal group of settings that you would like for your "look algorithm".. I call these Master Presets, and I actually have three of them that are the starting point for every Raw shoot that I Develop. My master presets include settings for: Contrast, Vibrance, Clarity, Light EQ, and Sharpening, The only variable in my three master presets is the setting for Light EQ. One preset is for normal exposure, one for under-exposed, and one for over-exposed.

        Presets are obviously only the starting point. But, once you get your master presets finely tuned, I have found that most of the time there is very little, if any, additional tuning required. That leaves me free to concentrate on the other settings that are not part of my master presets, such as: Noise Reduction (varies with ISO), Geometry settings, and Repairs if needed.

        In the end, you should think of this process as applying your own customized 'look' instead of being stuck with the manufacturer's 'look'.


        • #5
          LV_Bill, thanks for the tips. Indeed, I should look into setting up some presets, myself.

          I guess some killer features would be some dynamic presets. As you say, some things may vary based on the ISO, focal length, lens, etc.
          Basically, I'd love for presets to:
          • Auto-select lens-correction for the lens in the Metadata based on my Default Mappings.
            • (Right now, I believe if you select a lens-correction in the profile, it applies that chosen lens to all images, even if it doesn't match the METADATA. That's not ideal if I'm switching lenses a lot!)
          • Apply Noise Reduction, Sharpening as a function of ISO - perhaps by entering a factor/multiplier? That's for a different thread, probably.
          Back to my original point about lens-correction, I realized my request could introduce a new discrepancy issue with regards to exporting.
          Case A
          Lets say things are done as they currently are with RAW previews.
          1. Sees RAW preview with no lens-correction.
          2. Thinks it is perfect with no lens-correction and likes the fisheye barrel-distortion & grainy look for this particular photo
          3. Does NOT enter Develop mode (No .xmp is generated)
          4. Exports image to TIFF for printing.
          5. I believe, in this case, that the user would get *exactly* what they expected - a TIFF containing the photo with the un-corrected image.
          6. Happy photographer!
          Case B
          Now, imagine that my request to apply defaults & lens corrections to RAW previews in View/Manage mode was implemented.
          1. Sees RAW preview with lens-correction & default NR/Sharpening/etc applied
          2. Thinks that this preview is perfect as-is, no more modifications are needed.
          3. Does NOT enter Develop mode (No .xmp is generated)
          4. Exports image to TIFF for printing.
          5. Sends TIFF to printers without opening it to verify output (bad practice!)
          6. Gets delivered a print with a RAW image with fisheye look barrel-distortion, no applied lens-correction Noise Reduction or Sharpening or any other defaults
          7. This doesn't match what they saw in the RAW preview!!
          8. Sad photographer!
          So, it seems like if you apply the defaults/corrections to RAW Previews, you'd also have to do it to RAW Exports - and that seems like it could have its own sets of issues - especially if it comes to repeat-ability if the user's default values change. I suppose that you could generate an .xmp for every single image that had defaults applied during export, so that next time the image is opened, it is guaranteed to look the same as when it was exported - even if the user later changes their default correction values.

          Alternatively - being able to at least select a bunch of photos in Manage/View and apply the Master Preset, as mentioned above, but have it use Metadata for applying lens-correction would probably be sufficient.


          • #6
            sagaciousb - Some excellent suggestions - especially the "dynamic" Batch Develop idea. I'm currently traveling, but as soon as I can, I will read your post more carefully.