Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?

Started Mar 24, 2013 | Discussions
EyesHigh
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Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
Mar 24, 2013

Hi there,

I just have a quick question about the way Lightroom imports and exports photos directly from my memory card.

I have a Nikon D7000 and recently took some long exposure photo's of the night sky which look absolutely fantastic on both the camera screen and also the computer screen after importing them into Lightroom. However, being that all of my photo's are shot in RAW, I have to convert them into JPEG in-order to get them printed (as the printers in the shop do not recognise RAW files) and it is here that the problems appear. Once exported as JPEGS the low-light pictures display large amounts of noise (as they were shot in ISO 1000) which could not be seen in the original RAW files, and they also get noticeably darker - to the point that the balance between the darks (foreground subjects like tree's) and highlights (like the crystal clear stars) which once made the picture so good is completely off.

Is this a common problem and does anybody know if it can be avoided or minimised?

I also imported a regular photo which had been shot at ISO 100 in RAW in broad daylight and after exporting in JPEG the original colour, saturation, and contrast (all of which were perfect) heavily dissipates and, again, almost ruined the picture.

I understand that editing in software is a great tool, but I can't understand what changes happen between the camera and the PC/Lightroom which can affect pictures so much.

Any advise would be much appreciated,

Cheers!

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Bob Collette
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to EyesHigh, Mar 24, 2013

I don't use Lightroom, only Photoshop.  However the problem is the difference between JPEG and RAW.  A RAW file is actually the raw image data from the sensor.  There is no processing applied to it.  All of the processing is done in the raw converter (ACR in Photoshop/Lightroom).  The camera uses a set of processing parameters to render the raw imager data into a JPEG image.  If the processing parameters are significantly different in ACR than they are in the camera, you'll see a significant difference between the camera JPEG and the rendered RAW file.

It would appear that the default ACR parameters are quite different from what's used in the camera.  You can change the ACR default parameters to better match the camera values, so that the ACR "starting point" is much closer to optimum values.  I would suggest that you take a few shots, some "good" and some "problem" and try to find a set of ACR parameters that emulate the camera JPEG.  Once you find the parameter values, make them the ACR defaults.

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RedFox88
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to EyesHigh, Mar 24, 2013

You are probably asking in the wrong forum, try the retouching forum or the forum in which your camera "belongs" to.

To me it really sounds like you are not understanding RAW, Lightroom, or colors spaces.

First off, RAW is not an image format.  It is simple RAW data.  Lightroom allows you to set conversion settings to be used upon export.  A RAW file needs to have the conversion settings tweaked and fine tuned for every image in order for it to looks its best.

The color space you choose to export, and other export settings will affect the image file JPG as it is sent to a printer.  If you don't understand RAW yet, you might be better off shooting JPG instead.

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Simon Garrett
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to RedFox88, Mar 25, 2013

RedFox88 wrote:

You are probably asking in the wrong forum, try the retouching forum or the forum in which your camera "belongs" to.

Agreed, but while you're here...

Remember that rendering of a raw image is somewhat subjective.  There's no single right way (though plenty of wrong ways).  Nikon software (View NX, Capture NX) will render the raw the same way as the in-camera firmware (i.e. Nikon firmware) renders the raw to jpeg, hence Nikon software makes the raw look like the camera-produced jpeg.  Adobe doesn't by default.  However...

The thing to try (if you haven't) in Lightroom, in Develop Module, bottom right in "Camera Calibration" panel and set the profile to "Camera Standard", "Camera Landscape" etc, corresponding to the Nikon picture control you want (Standard, Landscape, Portrait, Vivid etc).  This should match fairly closely the equivalent Nikon rendering.

The default camera calibration profile in Lightroom is probably "Adobe Standard", which isn't very close to Nikon rendering (and isn't very good, IMHO).

Remember that software other than Nikon's can't read any of the proprietary Nikon camera setting metadata, and so can't read which picture control you had set in the camera.  You have to set the equivalent in the raw convertor (e.g. Lightroom).

Hope that helps.

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Simon

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tomoo1000
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to EyesHigh, Mar 25, 2013

Hi if you want the image to look like the one on your camera just use View NX and use the convert files icon to make a jpeg or tiff from the Nikon RAW file.

Phil.

Ps I do not use LR to import my NEF's

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GideonW
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to EyesHigh, Mar 25, 2013

EyesHigh wrote:

Hi there,

I just have a quick question about the way Lightroom imports and exports photos directly from my memory card.

I have a Nikon D7000 and recently took some long exposure photo's of the night sky which look absolutely fantastic on both the camera screen and also the computer screen after importing them into Lightroom. However, being that all of my photo's are shot in RAW, I have to convert them into JPEG in-order to get them printed (as the printers in the shop do not recognise RAW files) and it is here that the problems appear. Once exported as JPEGS the low-light pictures display large amounts of noise (as they were shot in ISO 1000) which could not be seen in the original RAW files, and they also get noticeably darker - to the point that the balance between the darks (foreground subjects like tree's) and highlights (like the crystal clear stars) which once made the picture so good is completely off.

Is this a common problem and does anybody know if it can be avoided or minimised?

I also imported a regular photo which had been shot at ISO 100 in RAW in broad daylight and after exporting in JPEG the original colour, saturation, and contrast (all of which were perfect) heavily dissipates and, again, almost ruined the picture.

I understand that editing in software is a great tool, but I can't understand what changes happen between the camera and the PC/Lightroom which can affect pictures so much.

Any advise would be much appreciated,

Cheers!

If you import one of the "bad" JPEGs back into Lightroom (or open it in PS), does it look okay there?

What I suspect to be happening is, unlike what all the other posters suggested, a colour management issue. Lightroom (and Photoshop and such) treat this differently than the Windows Photo Viewer (and most browsers). The result is that Lightroom/PS use their own colour management while Windows Photo Viewer and browsers just inherit the system default. If the system default is wrong, the same file looks different in LR/PS than it does in other programs.

I had the same thing happen after a reinstall, pictures looked great in LR, but once I exported them and opened them in the Windows Photo Viewer or a browser, they looked terrible, contrast was completely off and all detail was gone in the shadow areas. If I opened the same JPEG in LR or PS, it looked fine again. I went into the Windows colour management settings and noticed that it had selected a monitor profile that was supposed to match my monitor. When I switched it to the default sRGB profile, the problem went away. So that's what I recommend you check.

To all the posters trying to explain the difference between RAW and JPEG: It is highly unlikely that this is the problem because what you see in Lightroom is already a rendered JPEG (as you can't 'see' the RAW picture). The exported JPEG file should look identical to what you see in Lightroom.

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Simon Garrett
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to GideonW, Mar 25, 2013

GideonW wrote:

To all the posters trying to explain the difference between RAW and JPEG: It is highly unlikely that this is the problem because what you see in Lightroom is already a rendered JPEG (as you can't 'see' the RAW picture). The exported JPEG file should look identical to what you see in Lightroom.

Thanks for pointing that out, I may have misunderstood the OP.  It's not clear to me from the OP whether:

  • the raw images look different in Lightroom compared to camera-produced jpegs,
  • or whether raw images look different in Lightroom compared to the jpegs exported from Lightroom. 

In the latter case I'd agree with you, it sounds like a colour management issue.

However, I'm not sure I understand your comment "what you see in Lightroom is already a rendered JPEG".  That isn't always right.

  1. In Develop Module, you're looking at a ProPhoto RGB rendering of the raw, which is not a jpeg, and has never been through jpeg encoding. 
  2. In Library Module, you're looking at an Adobe RGB preview, which is stored as a jpeg. 
  3. An exported jpeg is going to be a different rendering (depending on export settings), often in a third colour space (sRGB). 

All three should look the same, provided colour management is working.  Or, to get picky, they will look the same on a normal gamut monitor, approximating to sRGB.  On a wide-gamut monitor, with images containing large areas of very highly saturated colours, those saturated colours (and only those saturated colours) may look a bit dull in an exported sRGB jpeg.

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Simon

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alvie
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to EyesHigh, Mar 25, 2013

Your going to get noise anytime you shoot long exposures and especialy when you crank up the ISO.  Check and see if your camera has a noise reduction setting when shooting long exposures.  When you find it, and I do think Nikon has one, you'll note that your long exposures will take twice as long to complete.  Example; if you take a 3 min exposure the camera process time is about another 3 min for a total of 6 min.  I hope that this helps.

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EyesHigh
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to alvie, Mar 28, 2013

Hey everybody!

Thank you all for your overwhelming responses, they have really solved this problem for me. I downloaded the Nikon View NX2 software and was really pleased with how effective the simple adjustment  tools were, and how the program kept my RAW images looking the same as they were taken. I think Lightroom certainly has its advantages over View NX, but for my needs I like minimum editing and so don't need them!

Pictures, after a few very simple adjustments in View NX, got printed in the shop and came out brilliantly.

I will be revisiting and taking notes on all the suggestions and info. raised here by you all,

Thanks!

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RedFox88
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Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?
In reply to EyesHigh, Mar 28, 2013

EyesHigh wrote:

. I think Lightroom certainly has its advantages over View NX, but for my needs I like minimum editing and so don't need them!

Pictures, after a few very simple adjustments in View NX, got printed in the shop and came out brilliantly.

Well if that's the case, why are you shooting RAW then?  And why did you buy Lightroom? You might want to consider shooting only JPG with noise reduction and compression set to the lowest setting and sharpness up.

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