RAW conversion/CS5 order of post-process operations for final output?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by studio460, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. RAW conversion/Photoshop CS5 file-prep order of operations for output: Durst Lambda
    I'm prepping some files (portraits) for a client for final output, and was wondering what the proper order of operations were. I'm planning to buy a stand-alone RAW converter: either Capture One, Capture NX, or DxO Optics Pro. However, I do not intend to include either Aperture, or Lightroom, into my workflow--instead, I'm planning to buy Phase One's Media Pro 1 + Photo Mechanic for general image management and editing.

    For this particular job, since only the most minor adjustments are needed (e.g., image size), I'm planning to batch-process the files after RAW conversion with a Photoshop action. Images were acquired as both JPGs and RAWs, using a 12MP Nikon D3s, set to capture in AdobeRGB colorspace, with Nikon's in-camera "Picture Control" set to "neutral." I'm guessing it goes as follows:
    1. Convert AdobeRGB ot sRGB in RAW conversion application.
    2. Apply curves in RAW conversion application.
    3. Apply color-correction in RAW conversion application.
    4. Perform RAW conversion, and save to JPG.
    5. Re-size in Photoshop.
    6. Perform sharpening in Photoshop.
    I was hoping to skip writing an intermediate TIFF file, and go directly from RAW to JPG. Also, I'm OS X, and am using a trial version of CS5. Does any of this sound right? Any suggestions, corrections, or any alternate workflows (which do not include Aperture or Lightroom) are most welcome!
     
  2. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I do not intend to include either Aperture, or Lightroom, into my workflow​
    That’s a shame because it would do everything you want to accomplish you list above quickly and easily. You’d have zero need to enter Photoshop for the steps you outline above.
     
  3. Well, regardless of the applications, is the general order correct? I'm not sure, but I imagine Media Pro 1 may have similar features.
     
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    For batch processing, ruling out Lightroom makes no sense. You're not doing anything that couldn't be done more easily and safely in Lightroom, you wouldn't have any intermediate file saving, and you could output for different uses directly from LR. It seems completely counter-productive to rule out the best tool, as Andrew points out.
     
  5. Well, it looks like there's some nice integration between Capture One (which is also a RAW converter), and Media One. So, I'll likely go with Capture One for RAW conversion, and perform whatever steps listed above that are within its domain, and then go straight to Media One for image management. I still may use Photoshop Actions for batch-processing for final output, if Capture One doesn't support some sort of automated batch-processing.
    But, again, aside from specific applications, I'm looking for the general order of operations.
     
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    You ask a question, inside of an hour you get a response from one of the industry's leading experts on post-processing and from a shooter who processes from events every week, and you completely ignore the responses making it clear that you had already chosen what tools you were going to use. You can easily go to the manufacturers' web sites and use their forums or support links rather than waste the time of people trying to help you here.
     
  7. . . . you completely ignore the responses making it clear that you had already chosen what tools you were going to use. You can easily go to the manufacturers' web sites and use their forums or support links rather than waste the time of people trying to help you here.​
    I made it clear I wasn't planning to use Aperture or Lightroom in the first post. How is that wasting anyone's time?
     
  8. [double-post]
     
  9. 1: Capture sharpening only in RAW convertor.
    2: Apply color-correction in RAW conversion application.
    3. Apply curves in RAW conversion application.
    4: Open in PS as 16 bit Tiff in Adobe RGB.
    5: Any other edits, there is always some dust removal, straightening etc
    6: Re-size in Photoshop.
    7: Perform output sharpening in Photoshop.
    8: Save a copy to jpeg and sRGB at the same time.
    Either select 'do not save' when closing the original or open it as a copy, that way you maintain your original file and can rework it in the future, you'd be amazed at the different way you will process files in time.
     
  10. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    How is that wasting anyone's time?​
    You obviously knew what tools you were using, you should have said that. However, if you want the best workflow, you might consider what people are telling you.
     
  11. Jeff said:
    You obviously knew what tools you were using, you should have said that.​
    Again, I did say that, in the very first post:
    . . . However, I do not intend to include either Aperture, or Lightroom, into my workflow--instead, I'm planning to buy Phase One's Media Pro 1 + Photo Mechanic for general image management and editing.​
     
  12. Scott Ferris:
    Thank you!
     
  13. Scott said:
    1: Capture sharpening only in RAW convertor.
    2: Apply color-correction in RAW conversion application.
    3. Apply curves in RAW conversion application.
    4: Open in PS as 16 bit Tiff in Adobe RGB.
    5: Any other edits, there is always some dust removal, straightening etc
    6: Re-size in Photoshop.
    7: Perform output sharpening in Photoshop.
    8: Save a copy to jpeg and sRGB at the same time.​
    Yes, of course, now that you've written that up, it all seems to make sense. I just wouldn't have guessed that color-correction preceded curves. Also, I wasn't aware of the RAW pre-sharpening step. Thanks again for your help!
     
  14. [double-post]
     
  15. I said:
    I'm planning to buy Phase One's Media Pro 1 + Photo Mechanic for general image management and editing.​
    Unfortunately, the original iView's noted robustness, and acclaimed utility did not survive its Microsoft take-over of the product and temporary re-productization as Microsoft Expression Media, which was subsequently bought in May of 2010 by Phase One, and is now known as Media Pro 1. According to multiple user reports, Phase One's Media Pro 1, which was only released in May, 2011, is still in version 1.x, and is still very buggy--not recommended (at least until Phase One releases v2.0).
     
  16. No problem ralph. The reason I do colour correction before curves is because changing overall colour will change the histogram/light levels in your image, the purpose of the curves is to adjust the light levels, ergo you must do colour before curves. Some sharpening, or capture sharpening, is already applied by default in most RAW convertors on opening an image, you can switch it off or adjust it, but by default it is on, customise it to your camera and capture circumstances and it happens before you do any adjustments.
    Whilst I understand you are not interested in LR, Andrew does have a point, to do what you really want, avoid the TIFF section, is one of the many things LR does so well. In it you can do all your editing, dust removal, straightening, cropping, etc all in a loss-less 16 bit RAW environment and then save to 8 bit sRGB jpeg. You can even batch apply dust removal.
     
  17. Scott said:
    The reason I do colour correction before curves is because changing overall colour will change the histogram/light levels in your image, the purpose of the curves is to adjust the light levels, ergo you must do colour before curves.​
    Thanks again, Scott. That makes sense. Since all of my RAW-conversion trials have expired, all I have right now is my second, trial version of CS5 (downloading the extended version allows you another 30-days, since it's a different SKU).
    Whilst I understand you are not interested in LR, Andrew does have a point, to do what you really want, avoid the TIFF section, is one of the many things LR does so well.​
    Copy. While not the intended topic of this thread, I'm still deciding on all of my applications purchases. But, mainly, I was leaning toward Capture One, hoping for some tight integration with its sister-application, Media Pro. But, since I just learned that Media Pro is a no-go for now, certainly, Lightroom is worth re-considering.
     
  18. Why sharpen and resize in Photoshop? CaptureOne and CaptureNX (I have and use both) do this perfectly fine. Photoshop has no added value in what you suggest.
     
  19. I wonder why you don't refer Adobe ACR for RAW conversion as you already have it within CS5.
    Not all the RAW converters you indicate works the same way and that will impact your workflow, for instance: Capture NX2 will consider your camera settings in a way some others will not; DxO will offer you an automated workflow for your body+lens if included in the existing modules, and so on.
    Either in your list of procedures and the one pointed by another member, I don't see any reference to Highlights (white point) or Shadows (black point) adjustments, the same going for Contrast and Saturation. Being portraits maybe you have all this under complete control and you can skip it, looking only at curves but IMHO including these steps in the list could be useful...just in case. Besides using non-destructive conversion steps may not force to a rigid procedure, on practical grounds the order can make it more or less easier to you to achieve the expected results.
    Therefore, and without any judgments about your choices, I think that you should make your mind on the programs to use before trying to conclude on a definitive workflow.
     
  20. C1Pro + Media Pro = 600$ (maybe you can still get media pro for free if your get C1 i think)_
    you can do all you need there of course, i find the UI of C1Pro to be a bit scary to new user.
    CS5 = 800$
    it is the big daddy of them all BUT it is not a software for or oriented for mass production of what you are wanting to do. Bridge + ACR are kind of like Lr 3.. but not as well made let say.
    Lightroom = 300$
    THE application of choice for anyone who even thinmk about making what you want to do.. you dont want it? fine, but it is like asking what kind of car you will need for a family of 6 and dont want anyone suggestion a Dodge Caravan.. only sport car. non sense.
    ____
    About the order of your workflow.. not correct. here with what you offer a better (i should the bestter solution)
    1_Apply color-correction, curve, white balance, lens correction, noise reduction etc...AND capture sharpening in your RAW developper
    2_crop, frame, correct horizon line
    3_export with the color space of your choice, the size, the format, you need. Apply another sharpening (output sharpening) for this particular export.

    As you can see, it is so simple to do all this WITHOUT even touching Photoshop. And farrrrrrr more simplier and faster then your workflow as you suggested it. I can do all this with the help of preset in less than 10sec per image, from import to export (import is around 3sec. export is around 3sec. applying a defined preset WHILE importing... and add some refinement globally to suite the image batch i have)..... Lightroom for production.. priceless.
    But you dont want anyone to suggest it.. what a shame ; )
    *** something to read if you care.. skip the whole bla bla about the shoot itself, go to post prod section
    http://www.photo.net/learn/digital-photography-workflow/overview/fashion-photography/
     
  21. Unusual workflow sequence, but then I don't understand your intended output...which is the whole point of any workflow.

    For what its worth my workflow steps in ACR:
    1. Open RAW file after importing from Bridge.
    2. Workflow options at bottom of window set to: AdobeProPhoto, 16-bit, Native resolution of camera capture.
    3. Set White Balance with WB tool on neutral object (R=G=B values) or target if included in image, adjust accordingly for aesthetic considerations.
    4. Set Black Point Slider to just before clipping occurs with option(alt) key held down.
    5. Set Exposure Slider to just before clipping occurs with option(alt) key held down.
    6. Set Brightness (Midtones) as an aesthetic consideration of what was actually shot...no numeric or histogram value.
    7. If needed Set Fill light (rarely) to fix bad exposure/lighting.
    8. Set Recovery slider with option(alt) key held down, but with a gentle hand as it can smear out highlights when specular highlights should exist.
    9. Clarity Vibrance and Saturation are also aesthetic controls but can give images a brittle look or "Hawaii" look if over done. Lowering clarity does wonders for bad complexions though.
    10. Evaluate image...does it really need any Tone Curve adjustments after color correcting and setting White and Black points properly? If so a little Point adjustments or Tone Curve...but very little. NEVER Sharpen here UNLESS you directly outputting to a .JPEG file with the Save as button for quick files for proofs, web etc
    Your done!
    Open as a 16-bit Photoshop .psd file and proceed with any pixel fiddling: Cropping, Resizing, Dodge&Burn with Overlay Layer, Additional Tone Curves with Curves layer, Clone stamping for retouching on duplicate Background layer.
    Soft Proof to Output device, make adjustments if out of Gamut, THEN Sharpen and convert to output Profile for printing or sRGB profile for web/email/un-profiled printers. If needing jpeg output drop to 8-bit mode now AFTER editing. Why throw away half of your pixels for a JPEG at the beginning of editing?
    Why any extra file formats, steps ie., tiff, jpegs etc?? K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid!
     
  22. John said:
    Unusual workflow sequence, but then I don't understand your intended output...which is the whole point of any workflow.​
    I don't really have a defined workflow yet. My intended output is for a 400ppi Durst Lambda Type-C printer for prints in the following sizes: 8" x 10"; 5" x 7"; 4" x 6".
    For what its worth my workflow steps in ACR:​
    Thank you! I really appreciate you posting those detailed steps--much appreciated!
     
  23. Wouter said:
    Why sharpen and resize in Photoshop? CaptureOne and CaptureNX (I have and use both) do this perfectly fine. Photoshop has no added value in what you suggest.​
    How do you like Capture One? I think I've settled on the Phase One product as well for my primary RAW converter. Although I do also like both CaptureNX and DxO Optics Pro for different reasons. As I said, all of my RAW converter trials have expired, so now I have to decide which one to buy. It's a tough decision, since I like things about all three.
     
  24. Antonio said:
    Therefore, and without any judgments about your choices, I think that you should make your mind on the programs to use before trying to conclude on a definitive workflow.​
    Thanks for your comments. This thread, initially, had a very narrow purpose: I'm prepping some files for output for a friend/client at no charge, that I'm to deliver within a few days. Deciding on my suite of post-processing software (a separate topic), is exactly what I'm in the process of doing now.
     
  25. Patrick said:
    As you can see, it is so simple to do all this WITHOUT even touching Photoshop. And farrrrrrr more simplier and faster then your workflow as you suggested it. I can do all this with the help of preset in less than 10sec per image, from import to export (import is around 3sec. export is around 3sec. applying a defined preset WHILE importing... and add some refinement globally to suite the image batch i have)..... Lightroom for production.. priceless.
    But you dont want anyone to suggest it.. what a shame ; )​
    Thanks for your comments. It's not that I refuse to consider Lightroom, it's just that I had previously decided on the Capture One/Media Pro suite, which would have duplicated some of Lightroom's functions. But, I've since discovered that Media Pro is still quite buggy, and now will definitely consider Lightroom.
    Photoshop/ACR is the only software I have on my computer at the moment, so that's all I have to work with right now.
     
  26. John said:
    Soft Proof to Output device, make adjustments if out of Gamut, THEN Sharpen and convert to output Profile for printing or sRGB profile for web/email/un-profiled printers.​
    Thanks again for all your advice, John! Last question: She wants prints at three different sizes (8" x 10"; 5" x 7"; 4" x 6"). Again, assuming I only have Photoshop to work with for the moment, do I need to prep separate files for each print size (e.g., 400ppi @ "print size: xx by xx inches," etc.)?
     
  27. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    It's not that I refuse to consider Lightroom, it's just that I had previously decided on the Capture One/Media Pro suite...​
    Then WTF did you ask us?
    Considering you say you only have a few days to process this data, you sure seem to be spinning your wheels here. Go process with whatever products you wanted to hear recommended before asking.
    Photoshop/ACR is the only software I have on my computer at the moment, so that's all I have to work with right now.​
    You do realize that you could use Photoshop/ACR and Bridge to do everything you asked for and probably be done by now (albeit slower than had you just did the work in Lightroom).
     
  28. Patrick put it perfectly with the car anology. The problem isn't that Andrew isn't helpful in answering your question; the 'problem' is that Andrew is trying to answer the question you meant, and not the question you asked.
    You told us what software you wanted to use. Scott gave a very good answer. But one can only assume that the reason that you asked what order in which to do things was because you wanted to make your life easier. If you want to make your life easier, the correct thing to do is to use Lightroom.
    It's not what you asked, no. But if you really did want to know how to make your life easier, then it is the correct answer.
     
  29. Andrew said:
    Then WTF did you ask us?​
    I asked:
    But, again, aside from specific applications, I'm looking for the general order of operations.​
     
  30. Zack said:
    It's not what you asked, no. But if you really did want to know how to make your life easier, then it is the correct answer.​
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, Lightroom is apparently the preferred choice among many for this type of workflow, and I'll now probably buy Lightroom for these types of jobs in the future.
     
  31. While off-topic to the original question, let me try and back-fill here:
    1. Digital asset management: I was initially searching for a robust digital asset management (DAM) application, and one of the most reportedly robust was iView (now, Phase One's Media Pro 1, which unfortunately, is very unstable in this initial release). Thinking I had a total Phase One solution, I wasn't considering Lightroom as my primary DAM.
    2. Client work: Lightroom, as others have mentioned, is a superior tool for efficient post-processing of most types of work-for-hire. Agreed.
    3. Personal work: Well, I guess the problem is that I want a Ferrari and a Dodge Caravan, and certainly, I'm sure most would agree that there are different tools for different types of work. For my personal work, I'd like to use Capture One, Capture NX, and/or DxO Optics Pro, and finish in Photoshop.
    So, as a given, I will be purchasing CS5 Design Premium. While not the workflow workhorse that Lightroom is, I'd certainly like to have the option to use the more sophisticated features of Photoshop for certain jobs, and especially for personal work. I also have some design needs which require both InDesign and Illustrator.

    As for Lightroom, yes, that looks like a necessary and valuable addition to my arsenal. I certainly don't want to spend my time inefficiently processing clients' work. However, I would rather perform asset management in something else. So, for my primary DAM and RAW converter (I'll probably end up buying all three), I'm still undecided.
     
  32. Patrick said:
    . . . something to read if you care . . . skip the whole bla bla about the shoot itself, go to post prod section . . .​
    Excellent article! Superbly written! Amazing work! I plan to read every one of your other articles with avid interest! Thank you for your generous contributions!
     
  33. I do all of this plus keep track of about 300,000 pictures (all RAW) with Aperture and Photoshop. Nonetheless, your sequence is incorrect, in my opinion. I would do it in the following sequence
    1. Convert AdobeRGB ot sRGB in RAW conversion application.
    3. Apply color-correction in RAW conversion application. {White balance correction, I assume)
    2. Apply curves in RAW conversion application.
    6. Perform sharpening in Photoshop.
    5. Re-size in Photoshop.
    4. Perform RAW conversion{PS has already done this so I would not go back to something else}, and save to JPG.

    It has been so long since working on images directly in Bridge/Photoshop, but does anyone know this happens without modification of the original RAW file?
    If this work is important, I would recommend a final save as a TIFF file as well, just in case you need to go back to it when the client/friend asks for a bit more.
    I am sort of curious as to why you chose not to use either Aperture or Lightroom.
     
  34. Steven said:
    Nonetheless, your sequence is incorrect, in my opinion. I would do it in the following sequence​
    Thank you for sharing that clearly stated workflow! Much appreciated! Yes, my main point of confusion was the sequencing of color-correction and curve adjustment, and also, when to make the colorspace conversion. Thanks again for helping to clear that up.
    I do all of this plus keep track of about 300,000 pictures (all RAW) with Aperture and Photoshop . . . I am sort of curious as to why you chose not to use either Aperture or Lightroom.​
    Well, I haven't really decided on anything yet, and I haven't yet completely discounted anything. That's a rather impressive amount of files. Do you simply keep different libraries on different drives, and then option-click when opening Aperture to choose which library you want to use?
    I am currently using Aperture, but an older version. I hadn't upgraded, since I had always planned to switch over to Lightroom 3 for its many notable improvements (e.g., noise reduction). But when I started trying out stand-alone RAW conversion apps, and saw how powerful they were, I started to move away from the PIE workflow model, and became very intrigued by DxO Optics Pro, in particular, for its impressive (and easy) perspective control capability. But I also really like Nikon's CaptureNX. They're affordable enough to actually get both, which is probably what I'll do.
    Again, for my personal work, I'll probably do as much as I can initially in something like DxO Optics Pro, then finish in Photoshop (if needed), since I won't be post-processing large volumes of files. Lightroom is just the application I'm least familiar with. Photoshop, is the application I'm most familiar with (but, far from expert), since I've always had an active license of one version or another since the early 1990s.
    So, to make a long story even longer, I haven't discounted either, completely, and again, each application, I think, serves different types of work, and I did want to at least explore the other available options.
     

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