Can't get my RAW images to look as good as the jpg? Help!

Started Jun 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
Michael Thomas Mitchell
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In reply to davdav99, Jun 3, 2012

The camera is "processing" your raw file whenever it makes a JPG for you. And Canon has deliberately chosen algorithms that will give you images a little "pop". These algorithms are NOT the default settings for your raw files. And that's where you're being disappointed. Basically, you are approaching each raw file image from a lessor position, insofar as having an image that has that "pop".

So, you basically need to do two things: first, create some default settings in your raw processing software that serves as a good jumping off point for all of your images. Then, second, learn how to customize each image beyond that for optimum appearance.

I've been using the new processing engine for Adobe ACR and Lightroom for some time now, having worked with the pre-release version for a couple of months before the final release. Adobe did exactly what I wanted them to do with the tone and exposure settings, although it has taken me some time to adjust. But I have, more or less, come up with a good set of default parameters which I believe is a good jumping off point for the kind of images which I want. Note that this is NOT considered to be a final solution for all images, or any image for that matter. It's just an alternative set of defaults to the set provided by Adobe.

Basically by default settings are:
Highlights -25
Shadows +25
Whites +25
Blacks -25

Clarity, Saturation, & Vibrance all +5 each

If I compare an image with ONLY these settings applied with a JPG right out of the camera (with "flat" settings), the raw files wins EVERY time. From these default settings, I then work to adjust color and exposure, changing the other tonal sliders to address individual image characteristics and needs. Then cropping, sharpness, noise reduction, and lens corrections.

I'm normally processing hundreds of images at a time, so speed and efficiency is important for my work. These default settings are a real time saver for me, allowing me to get right to work making corrections to images rather than just starting from scratch and trying to find the "pop".

Your eyes and your knowledge will develop together with experience.

davdav99 wrote:

Hi all, I recently bought into the Canon system with a 5D3 and I am very happy with it. Even my wife loves it... but she didn't want to know how much I spent.

I have been shooting in RAW/jpg and then 'playing' with the RAW images (in DPP LR4 and also PS CS5.5) to output a jpg image, but in most cases I end up with an image inferior to the jpg that comes straight out of the camera... and the files are also larger.

I realise I have to hone my RAW processing skills, however can you give me some pointers please?

Thanks in anticipation.

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