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Thread: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    The trouble is that every month there is a new iteration of one of the major raw converters, and each time that happens things change. ...
    In my opinion, constantly worrying about using only the best RAW converter is a notion of a nature similar to constantly worrying about having the best lens or the best body or the best camera bag, ad nauseam. It does more to get in the way of doing photography than it helps. No camera is perfect. No lens is perfect. No software is perfect. Nothing is perfect.

    That said, LOTS of cameras, equipment, software are good enough. Pick a setup and work with it, learn to exploit it to do what you want. It will never be perfect, no matter how much change or improvement happens. The art lives in making what you have chosen produce what you imagine. Else you live forever on The Hamster Wheel of Progress.

    I was not posing my 'evidence' formally. One of the reasons I don't post my intermediate test results is that they will all look the same since the processing quality differences are so small. I pick what I work with based on other criteria (usability and workflow integration, mostly).

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    I hope nobody here considers it rude. But, I'd be super grateful if some of the RAW energy here could be channeled into the thread re: problems I've been having with DNG conversions following the upgrade to the most recent version of aperture http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showth...358#post120358 . Even if it's just to say bad luck, and that you're not seeing anything similar .

    Cheers. I'm running out of options here

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    So what you're saying is that in your opinion Adobe's demosaic algorithm is deficient?

    How do you tell this? What measurement methodology are you using?

    In my opinion, having evaluated ten or twelve different RAW converters over the past several years, while all demosaic algorithms are not equal the range of variation is indeed pretty small in practical terms. Other parts of the rendering process end up making a bigger difference in the quality of the final image.
    You may indeed be right that it isn't the de-mosaicing which is at fault - it could be some other part of the process - I'm not sure how it's possible to separate the functions. Maybe I was using the term too loosely, for which I apologise (like perhaps the term application code?).

    As I've not found anything I use that can read linear DNG files except Adobe I have no way of comparing the results.

    As for my methodology:
    I take a number of photos of different types and process them in whatever converters I'm looking at. I then use my eyes - because that's the measuring equipment I use to analyse all parts of my pictures - both on screen, and particularly in print. Numbers are more scientific, but, IMHO have less to do with real life situations.

    Unlike you I haven't compared many cameras this thoroughly, and not for some time. However the Olympus E3 the Leica M8 and the Sony A900 are three where I found that Aperture got more detail with less noise and better colour (in my very subjective opinion of course). The Nikon D700 and D3 seemed to be better with Lightroom - hence my lightly grounded suggestion that Adobe put more effort into the mainstream cameras.


    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    At its base, DNG is simply an alternative and standardized way for the RAW data file to be structured and written to disk. It is a container format, specialized from TIFF. Any application that knows how to read the data it contains will be able to process the data with any algorithm that is preferred, up to the limit of the application's support for the types of data that are contained.
    I think we know this don't we? However, as I understand it, with linear DNG files the demosaicing is already done, and cannot therefore be able to be processed again (unless, of course, the original file is also embedded in the container). If I'm wrong about this, please correct me. Mind you, I think it's rather beside the point as I don't think there is any conceivable reason for using a huge and unweildy linear DNG file now that the latest version of DNG converter will create normal ones. I'll put a note by someone else in the next message which you can comment on:

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by sizifo View Post
    I hope nobody here considers it rude. But, I'd be super grateful if some of the RAW energy here could be channeled into the thread re: problems I've been having with DNG conversions following the upgrade to the most recent version of aperture http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showth...358#post120358 . Even if it's just to say bad luck, and that you're not seeing anything similar .

    Cheers. I'm running out of options here
    HI There
    I'm really sorry - It was me being rude - apologies.

    Right - my unfortunate answer is that I've been using 2.1.3 for some time now, and I didn't notice what you've indicated with the DNG conversions. However, I suspect that the real truth is that once an import / wedding / holiday / party / month is done, I tend not to revisit it unless I want to use shots for a different album, and when I do that I tend to make some more adjustments, so I don't think that I would have noticed the change.

    So, I suppose the bottom line is to say 'hard luck'

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    At its base, DNG is simply an alternative and standardized way for the RAW data file to be structured and written to disk. It is a container format, specialized from TIFF. Any application that knows how to read the data it contains will be able to process the data with any algorithm that is preferred, up to the limit of the application's support for the types of data that are contained.
    Last word from . . .


    Jeff Schewe, writing in a 2005 issue of PhotoshopNews.com
    reported that Adobe's DNG converter application "allows you to either keep the DNG in the un-demosaiced form or to demosaic the file and convert to a linear file. Generally, you'll want to keep the file in its un-demosaiced form as there is a space savings. Linear DNGs have already been converted to RGB files and therefore are larger."
    The article as presented includes an inserted editor's note:
    "[Digital imaging expert] Bruce Fraser sent the following comment regarding Linear DNG: 'The only reason to use Linear DNG is to feed the file to a DNG reader that can't understand the particular flavor of DNG that DNG Converter creates for the specific camera, or to act as an interchange format—e.g., lens correx with DxO can write out a linear DNG that ACR can read. This is typically NOT an option people want, not because of size considerations, but because it's no longer really raw—it's half-baked. All the operations that take place during demosaicing are set in stone and can't be redone.'"
    I'm sorry for that interjection Sizifo - It's not my words, but I think it closes the conversation with respect to comments on linear / 'normal' dng.

    I really will shut up now.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    In my opinion, constantly worrying about using only the best RAW converter is a notion of a nature similar to constantly worrying about having the best lens or the best body or the best camera bag, ad nauseam. It does more to get in the way of doing photography than it helps. No camera is perfect. No lens is perfect. No software is perfect. Nothing is perfect.

    That said, LOTS of cameras, equipment, software are good enough. Pick a setup and work with it, learn to exploit it to do what you want. It will never be perfect, no matter how much change or improvement happens. The art lives in making what you have chosen produce what you imagine. Else you live forever on The Hamster Wheel of Progress.

    I was not posing my 'evidence' formally. One of the reasons I don't post my intermediate test results is that they will all look the same since the processing quality differences are so small. I pick what I work with based on other criteria (usability and workflow integration, mostly).

    Philosophically I agree with you but the question is inevitably one of degree. In other words, how much of an advantage can be gained from using one converter/lens/camera/etc rather than another.

    I fought for ages against the conclusion that C1 was a visibly and significantly superior RAW converter to Lightroom, because I have a lot invested in the Lightroom workflow. However, I am totally convinced that at least with a 1DSIII, a 5DII, a P45+ back and an M8 I get results with C1 which are better than LR and which I cannot, with any amount of tweaking, replicate in LR.

    Now I am am a man who could not de-mosaic an ancient Greek bathroom with a claw hammer so I can only judge by the results I get but I simply can't buy the argument that all RAW developers are within such close spitting distance of each other that there's no important difference between them... if that's roughly what I take you to be saying?

    Best

    Tim

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Of course



    There ARE lots of tempting things about Pentax aren't there - the K7 is a nice looking camera.
    I keep a K20D as spare and it has a wonderful user interface and a great 300mm lens. It's more fun to use than a 5DII. It's files aren't very good though. :-(

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    I keep a K20D as spare and it has a wonderful user interface and a great 300mm lens. It's more fun to use than a 5DII. It's files aren't very good though. :-(
    I guess that begs the question, "compared to what?"

    The files off my K20d are certainly "better" than from the E-P1 (noise/resolution). But they aren't as good as I've seen from a900 (some of Jono's files). I haven't looked at 5D raw, but have looked at older Nikon (D70) and didn't think those were good at all by comparison.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    You may indeed be right that it isn't the de-mosaicing which is at fault - it could be some other part of the process - I'm not sure how it's possible to separate the functions. Maybe I was using the term too loosely, for which I apologise (like perhaps the term application code?).

    As I've not found anything I use that can read linear DNG files except Adobe I have no way of comparing the results.
    It goes without saying that if you can't compare results between processes in a way that clearly separates the criteria you are trying to judge, making a useful assessment is impossible.

    VueScan and dcraw, and most of the RAW conversion applications based on the distributed dcraw libraries, can all read DNG files with linearly represented data.

    BTW, it is not only Bayer mosaic RAW data files from cameras that can be represented in DNG format. Some devices, for instance scanners, can output RAW data with the appropriate driving application (like VueScan). The data is acquired from the scanner in a linearly represented RAW (not gamma corrected) form ... VueScan can output that data either to a TIFF file or to a DNG file. Same goes for data captured by Fovean sensor equipped cameras ... it's not a Bayer mosaic. So a DNG file with linearly represented data is a container for another generic RAW data form, nothing more.

    As for my methodology:
    I take a number of photos of different types and process them in whatever converters I'm looking at. I then use my eyes - because that's the measuring equipment I use to analyse all parts of my pictures - both on screen, and particularly in print. Numbers are more scientific, but, IMHO have less to do with real life situations.
    My methodology is to make a set of representative reference exposures, saving to RAW+JPEG so that I have both the RAW data and the in-camera rendered JPEG data (with the JPEG data set to maximum rez and minimum compression) that I will do testing with. I then spend time with each RAW converter ... typically up to a week's time depending on how much time I have and my level of interest ... learning how to get the most out of each converter application's capabilities.

    THEN I do my comparisons using my eye and various tools in Photoshop, using the tools as analytic instruments and comparing the out-of-camera JPEG against the RAW conversions saved out as TIFF files. I compare on noise and resolution primarily, color rendering can be easily changed.

    I test both default and customized settings in the RAW converter .. defaults vary a lot, some better than others, but with customized settings
    they all come down to being very very similar, in my experience.

    ...However, as I understand it, with linear DNG files the demosaicing is already done, and cannot therefore be able to be processed again (unless, of course, the original file is also embedded in the container). If I'm wrong about this, please correct me. Mind you, I think it's rather beside the point as I don't think there is any conceivable reason for using a huge and unweildy linear DNG file now that the latest version of DNG converter will create normal ones. I'll put a note by someone else in the next message which you can comment on:
    The DNG files from the G1, when lens correction metadata was in the file, had to be represented as a demosaicked linear form with the lens corrections embedded in order that the intent of the DNG format was met (that all DNG compatible applications would be able to read the data) as well as Panasonic's intent (lens correction injected by the lens applied to the RAW data during demosaic time). It was obviously not what Adobe wanted to do but this form of metadata to be applied at RAW conversion time was a new thing. They acted speedily to update the DNG spec in order to enable both saving disk space and the ability to retain the original mosaic data form with the DNG converted files, without losing the LC metadata, for all applications that are DNG capable. I applaud their efforts.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    HI Godfrey

    You are much much much more conscientious about your testing than I am; we both know that, but I've done enough to establish that Aperture suits me best for the cameras I use, both in workflow and results.

    Changing is out of the question, but right now, as I have an E-P1 I do have to work out some way of dealing with the RAW files. Capture One is a backup I like (and one which I have used over the last few years in special circumstances) - as Tim says, it's hard to ignore the fact that it gets the best detail out of most cameras. It's very simple to get Capture One to get good results from the E-P1.


    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    In my opinion, constantly worrying about using only the best RAW converter is a notion of a nature similar to constantly worrying about having the best lens or the best body or the best camera bag, ad nauseam. It does more to get in the way of doing photography than it helps. No camera is perfect. No lens is perfect. No software is perfect. Nothing is perfect.
    Couldn't agree more . . . . erm, except that lenses really do matter, and I guess that the Leica 50mm f1.4 'lux and the 75 'cron are as close to perfect as one is likely to get. I fixed on Aperture a couple of years ago as my software of choice, and imperfect though it may be I've seen nothing to make me change my mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    My methodology is to make a set of representative reference exposures, saving to RAW+JPEG so that I have both the RAW data and the in-camera rendered JPEG data (with the JPEG data set to maximum rez and minimum compression) that I will do testing with. I then spend time with each RAW converter ... typically up to a week's time depending on how much time I have and my level of interest ... learning how to get the most out of each converter application's capabilities.
    But if you're spending weeks testing RAW conversion software, and, as you say, they're almost identical, it sounds like you aren't taking your own advice - sounds like ad nauseam to me.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Hi Tim


    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    I keep a K20D as spare and it has a wonderful user interface and a great 300mm lens. It's more fun to use than a 5DII. It's files aren't very good though. :-(
    Well, I've not looked at them, but in reality there isn't anywhere to 'fit it in' sensibly. I love the A900, and whether by luck or judgement I have a good and tiny 24-105 Minolta lens for lightweight (it cost £125) - and the zeiss glass for quality. For small and light there's the M8 and the E-P1. Tough to find a reason to go for another system.

    Hi Todd
    Quote Originally Posted by nostatic View Post
    I guess that begs the question, "compared to what?"

    The files off my K20d are certainly "better" than from the E-P1 (noise/resolution). But they aren't as good as I've seen from a900 (some of Jono's files). I haven't looked at 5D raw, but have looked at older Nikon (D70) and didn't think those were good at all by comparison.
    "better" is a difficult word isn't it! My son has eschewed various cameras and now shoots almost exclusively with an E1 . . . . he likes the files. The A900 files are fab - they still give me a hit every time I open a new one.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    Hi Todd

    "better" is a difficult word isn't it! My son has eschewed various cameras and now shoots almost exclusively with an E1 . . . . he likes the files. The A900 files are fab - they still give me a hit every time I open a new one.
    The a900 files are wonderful - I just can't bring myself to spend $$$ to get into the system. I'm at a bit of a crossroads with the Pentax (again) as the K7, while a great camera, is just too small for my tastes. I think once you're into dSLR territory, there is a lower limit for size/weight/balance. The K7 with small ltd primes would be awesome. But with a 50-135 it felt too small and unbalanced. And if I have a dSLR for "serious" shooting where I need a great file, then I likely need flexibility. That said the 50-135 is great on the K20d, balances well, and gives a "good enough" file. And it ends up being a lot lighter than the equivalent a900/Zeiss setup.

    I love the E-P1 files - mostly because shooting jpg with NR off I get a gritty look at hi-iso. It reminds me of GRD shots I've seen but with much higher rez and more definition. It is like my DLux4 but "better."

    Every once in awhile (like now) I get tempted to sell all my Pentax stuff and buy an a900, 24-70 and 135 and call it good, just using the E-P1 and DLux4 for "street" and everyday. Actually if I sold all my Pentax glass it would about pay for at least the Sony body and one lens. *sigh*

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    You are much much much more conscientious about your testing than I am; we both know that, but I've done enough to establish that Aperture suits me best for the cameras I use, both in workflow and results.
    And that's fine. It's an excellent application, given what it does, and if you find it a good fit to your work so much the better.

    ... but right now, as I have an E-P1 I do have to work out some way of dealing with the RAW files. ...
    As I've said here and other places, I'm very interested in the E-P1. But until my tools*(Lightroom) support its RAW files, I will not purchase one. Whatever advantage/benefit it might bring me is not realizable if I need to do workarounds. What I have now is perfectly capable of doing the job I need, a new camera like the E-P1 might bring more options but only if it integrates into my workflow seamlessly.


    In my opinion, constantly worrying about using only the best RAW converter is a notion of a nature similar to constantly worrying about having the best lens or the best body or the best camera bag, ad nauseam. It does more to get in the way of doing photography than it helps. No camera is perfect. No lens is perfect. No software is perfect. Nothing is perfect.
    Couldn't agree more . . . . erm, except that lenses really do matter, and I guess that the Leica 50mm f1.4 'lux and the 75 'cron are as close to perfect as one is likely to get. I fixed on Aperture a couple of years ago as my software of choice, and imperfect though it may be I've seen nothing to make me change my mind.

    But if you're spending weeks testing RAW conversion software, and, as you say, they're almost identical, it sounds like you aren't taking your own advice - sounds like ad nauseam to me.
    Of course, some things (like good lenses instead of mediocre ones) do make a substantive difference. The question is one of "when to stop?" I passed that point quite a while ago: I really don't need any new lenses to do my photographic work. The bodies continue to advance and as that advancement makes sense, I consider them.

    Regards evaluating RAW converters, I made my decisions to go with Camera Raw, and then Lightroom when it came out, several years ago. I test new versions of other RAW converters and development environments to keep abreast of what's happening, mostly ... I have very little intention to change any time soon ... or rather, it will take a HUGE improvement in efficiency, quality, advantage to be worth changing things. I don't "do nothing else and test RAW converters" ... I test them as new versions come up and as I have time and interest, wasting as little time as possible from my work.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Jono,

    If Adobe's ACR/LR do a bad job with 4/3 sensors and their .orf raw files, would they still do a bad job if Adobe's dng converter converted them to dng?
    Behind this question was another; does dng conversion do anything more than just change the file format? If I could do, say, .orf > dng > .orf, would the two raw files be absolutely identical? [and I'm thinking of translations between languages, where after a few iterations, the original meaning is totally garbled].
    Sláinte

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Behind this question was another; does dng conversion do anything more than just change the file format? If I could do, say, .orf > dng > .orf, would the two raw files be absolutely identical? [and I'm thinking of translations between languages, where after a few iterations, the original meaning is totally garbled].
    HI Robert
    As Godfrey said, a RAW file is a container, and as long as you're passing the information from one container to another it should be fine.

    He is much better informed about the technicalities of this. However, I've done serious comparisons with both the A900 and the E3 (which were supported by Adobe RAW converter some time before Aperture chipped in). I've never been able to tell the difference between ORF or ARW files converted to DNG and opened in Aperture, and the same files opened directly in Aperture.

    Certainly, with respect to ORF files, if you convert to DNG before opening in Aperture, if you're going to lose anything, then it's two tenths of SFA (as they say).

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    Regards evaluating RAW converters, I made my decisions to go with Camera Raw, and then Lightroom when it came out, several years ago. I test new versions of other RAW converters and development environments to keep abreast of what's happening, mostly ... I have very little intention to change any time soon ... or rather, it will take a HUGE improvement in efficiency, quality, advantage to be worth changing things. I don't "do nothing else and test RAW converters" ... I test them as new versions come up and as I have time and interest, wasting as little time as possible from my work.
    I think that's an excellent post - we are really in a very similar position with a different application. This is a point we really can agree on.

    So Let's Do It!

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Behind this question was another; does dng conversion do anything more than just change the file format? If I could do, say, .orf > dng > .orf, would the two raw files be absolutely identical? [and I'm thinking of translations between languages, where after a few iterations, the original meaning is totally garbled].
    Translation from one data structure to another is always a little dicey until proven by lots of testing experience, both in the lab and in the field. Earliest versions of the DNG specification lacked the means to encode various and fluffy bits of the many native RAW files that were not considered "essential" to the RAW data and processing it, so indeed at one time there were several bits lost in the conversion. (None of them significant to processing the DNG file, mind you, since none of the manufacturers' proprietary RAW processing software will process RAW files of any format that are not generated by cameras it supports...)

    The DNG file specification has grown since its inception to accommodate a lot of additional bits. Beginning with DNG Specification v1.2, all private data and maker notes are identified by the DNG Converter (and LR and CR) and transformed into well documented token-data constructs inside the DNG file. Of course, it is still the case that only the manufacturers' RAW conversion software knows what to do with many of those bits, and none of them process DNG files not made by the cameras they support ... nor is there any transform possible to take a DNG file back into the original, native RAW file from which it was generated.

    What this means is that if you translated all your native RAW E-1 .ORF files into DNG format and disposed of the .ORF files with an early version of DNG Converter, some data might have been lost that some possible DNG compatible application in the future might have been able to use to your advantage, and there's no way to get it back. If you did the same translation with the later or current version of DNG Converter, the possibility exists that you could take advantage of this new capability. The chances of such capability coming about are small, the significance of the advantage is also small (since you have presumably converted to DNG to do your processing with something else already and will be unlikely to need to reprocess again from scratch all your work...).

    To future proof your files against possible developments of the DNG specification that *might* include some new data construct or whatever which isn't currently handled well, the only option is to either embed the original native RAW file into the DNG file such that it could be extracted back into the manufacturers' proprietary software in the original, native RAW form, or reprocessed by a later version of DNG Converter into an updated DNG file. This generally doubles the size of the DNG files at least, but if you really really must have absolutely all the data that existed for some once and future moment, it's the way to go.

    Of course, all the essential data required for a DNG compatible app to process DNG RAW files is there in the files already. So if you rely upon DNG files for your work, and an application that uses them, there are really no worries at all. The Open Source dcraw converter knows how to convert DNG files too, so even if Adobe dried up and blew away in the wind, source code to interpret DNG files is immortalized on the web.

    I archive all my native RAW files onto a separate disk drive, have been doing so since 2003. All my working files are converted to DNG format since the introduction of Camera Raw v2.4. I have never once actually NEEDED to retrieve an original RAW file from the archives ... my only reasons for doing so, to date, have been purely for experimentation and research purposes.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Thanks for the info. I use LR, and was happy enough with it -- until I started reading here. And I wasn't sure if the extra conversion to dng was worthwhile, even if a 'universal format' seems to be a good thing.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Thanks for the info. I use LR, and was happy enough with it -- until I started reading here. And I wasn't sure if the extra conversion to dng was worthwhile, even if a 'universal format' seems to be a good thing.
    The conversion to DNG format currently nets three advantages:

    - DNG files with lossless compression are often, but not always, a savings in file storage space over native RAW files. It depends to a good degree on the particular camera you're using. Over time, this has the potential to save a lot of disk space.

    - DNG files can contain all the metadata (IPTC and rendering instructions) embedded within the files rather than contained in .XMP sidecar files. This reduces the risk of losing edit data by moving files or changing filenames external to Lightroom, and also reduces the number of files in a directory, which on some systems can cause improvements in performance.

    - If you use other Adobe Creative Suite tools and write the metadata into the DNG files (LR's "Metadata->Save metadata to file..." command), it can all be consumed and coordinated between all the various other applications that use those files. Same for various other software tools, like Cumulous and Extensis Portfolio, etc.

    Then there's the future proofing that a RAW format standard provides, but the immediate benefit of doing that isn't particularly easy to assess.

    None of these benefits are so huge as to make doing DNG conversion a rubberstamp Yes at present, but over time and with the proliferation of more and more native RAW formats, and more and more DNG compatible applications, the benefits could be great.

    (Lightroom, however, is an excellent product, unequivocally imo. I'd say it's quadrupled my productivity since I started using it, and probably saved me another couple of Terabyte drives in the process.)

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    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Raw workflow with the E-P1?

    Thanks; of course, saving both the raw and a dng doesn't save space! And my geotagging program writes sidecars even with dng, which is annoying.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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