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Thread: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

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    asabet
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    Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    I've been playing with ISO 200 NEFs using C1 v4, Raw Developer, Aperture, NX2, and Lightroom. Three out of five of those applications seem to extract similar levels of detail. Lightroom lags perhaps a touch behind. The standout is Raw Developer. Significantly more detail than in any of the other apps. Has anyone else noticed the same thing?

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Yes. Tested the same packages save for LR (using CS3 instead) and RD gave the best detail. NX2 SHOULD give the best, but may be needed to be tweaked for less NR and more detail.

  3. #3
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Here's a quick example. Not the greatest example, but it's what I have on hand at the moment. Corner crops from a quick shot I did to test a 24/2.8 AIS last night.

    Shot info: f/11, ISO 200, 0.8 sec, breezy night, so not a good test of the lens, but that doesn't matter since the same RAW file was used for all applications in this comparison.

    Processing info: Noise reduction set to off or minimum setting in each app. I tried to sharpen each file to the same extent. Also tried to roughly match overall contrast.

    Here's the whole frame with the yellow rectangle depicting the cropped region:



    Here are the crops:



    Here's the NEF for download in case anyone wants to give it a look -> http://www.box.net/index.php?rm=box_...ame=dsgtuyhbt7
    Last edited by asabet; 20th August 2008 at 07:13.

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Amin when I tried the Nikon capture it certainly did bring out more detail than the rest but i wonder how much Nikon did on the back side of it to begin with. This is a hard test since we just don't know how much they are doing in all the programs with there profiles and algorithms for the D700 in different programs. Still nice to know what defaults in each are truly doing so the end user can apply the correct sharpening and such to bring out the detail. Turning the sharpening off in some programs does not mean it is truly off.

    Things to watch for are the luminance and color values in the noise area. I know lowering the luminance in C1 will bring out a lot more detail than the default setting for my Phase back , same maybe true for other camera's as well. i think most raw processors the set the defaults for generally the best overall results at all ISO values, which maybe good for say a ISO 800 file but maybe not for a ISO 200 files. Defaults are somewhat deceiving. I recommend playing around in each and get them to what seems the best for each and than see what program works the easiest for you and most comfortable.
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  5. #5
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Thanks for the insights Guy. Just to clarify, I haven't been leaving things on default but rather playing with each app to determine settings for the maximum detail I can extract. Luminance and color were set to the minimum possible setting in each of the five applications. Sharpening was done differently in each app with a goal of matching the amount of sharpening amongst all of them.

    It is likely that optimal sharpening in any given application will bring out more apparent detail than I am showing here. Ideally someone will take the NEF from the link I posted and tell me the settings by which to get detail from one of the other apps to match what I'm seeing in Raw Developer .

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Yes did not mean to derail your tests far from it, just wanted folks to know what defaults really are or not really are. I do agree with you though some programs will produce more detail. Raw developer for a one man operation is very very good. Not sure how Brian does it but he does have a nice program.
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    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Yes did not mean to derail your tests far from it, just wanted folks to know what defaults really are or not really are.
    I couldn't agree more. It's too bad that many of these apps do significant baseline sharpening and/or noise reduction that cannot be disabled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Raw developer for a one man operation is very very good. Not sure how Brian does it but he does have a nice program.
    He also supports new cameras much quicker than Apple has been doing!

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Corporate politics. LOL Brian just has himself to answer too, you gotta love that.
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Interesting comparison. To be honest, they all look pretty similar to me. Lightroom seems to smooth the detail a bit more, but it also has fewer "artifacts". Raw developer looks excellent, but the best to me is NX2. One interesting thing is how they handle the highlights -- in the right side of the crop where the light is coming through the trees, Nikon renders these just white without color aberrations while the other processors have varying degrees of colored spots. I suspect this is the integrated color fringe reduction built into NX2.
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Hi Amin
    Thanks for this - definitely interesting.
    Guy - I agree with your points too.

    I can see differences in the different shots okay, but depending on what you're looking for, one seems better than the other.

    However, this is one shot, with a lot of green foliage (my favorite). My personal feeling is that even if you could decide on a hierarchy with this particular shot . . . another shot in different lighting / ISO / colour / WB / etc. etc. would show off the best of another converter.

    I've made my bed with this one, and it'd take a lot for me to go find another bed. Doesn't stop me being bugged by the time Apple take to support new cameras - they must be mad!

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  11. #11
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Interesting comparison. To be honest, they all look pretty similar to me.

    You're right Stuart, "significantly more detail" was overstating it. I was a bit excited when I wrote that .

    Lightroom seems to smooth the detail a bit more, but it also has fewer "artifacts". Raw developer looks excellent, but the best to me is NX2. One interesting thing is how they handle the highlights -- in the right side of the crop where the light is coming through the trees, Nikon renders these just white without color aberrations while the other processors have varying degrees of colored spots. I suspect this is the integrated color fringe reduction built into NX2.

    Yes, that shot has a decent amount of color fringing, and NX2 is the only one that cleans it all up by default.

  12. #12
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    However, this is one shot, with a lot of green foliage (my favorite). My personal feeling is that even if you could decide on a hierarchy with this particular shot . . . another shot in different lighting / ISO / colour / WB / etc. etc. would show off the best of another converter.
    Hi Jono, I agree. It bugs me that I can't find one converter that seems to do everything as well or better than the others. With the Canon 5D, C1 v3.7 did that for me, or at least I thought that it did. With the D700, I'm probably going to settle in with Aperture, if only because it also does a very good job with Olympus files.

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Why not stick with the one that is easiest for you to use, and then if you are in a situation where you need the bleeding edge of file quality, you can use the version that gives you the best file (if it is not the same as the easiest)? In 99% of cases, the differences you showed will not be visible in the final output, so it makes sense to use the most convenient processor unless you are going to need that last 1% of performance. For me, Lightroom is probably the most convenient (I am still on 1.4), so I would stick with that unless I was printing 16x20 or larger.
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Amin, Stuart
    I quite agree - choose the converter that works best with your workflow, then shell out to something else if you really need it.

    The advent of the Nik plugins for Aperture (outrageously expensive though they may be) seems to me to be another good reason for staying.

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Amin, Stuart
    I quite agree - choose the converter that works best with your workflow, then shell out to something else if you really need it.

    The advent of the Nik plugins for Aperture (outrageously expensive though they may be) seems to me to be another good reason for staying.
    Jono

    As you well know, the Nik plug in's are for CS3 as well.

    I think one of the interesting questions is how much to process in the raw converter vs going to CS3. Lightroom has substantially improved selective edits with its new retouch brush in Version 2. This allows selective edits of exposure, brighteness, sharpness, shadow, highlight etc. It is a very powerfull tool and perhaps the one main reason to choose Lightroom as your converter..................if you want to do your selective edits inside the raw converter as opposed to CS3.

    I think there is a case to be made for simply "developing" the digital negative inside a good and fast raw converter (e.g. Raw Developer) and then bringing the really good files you want to work on into CS3 for the final edits. CS3 is still the most powerful selective editor on the market and with the advent of these new plug-ins e.g. Viveza, The Nik Suite, Alien Skin suite etc increasing in power every day. I may be wrong but i think that expecting to get the best raw conversions plus the edits in one program is a bit much to ask. I know that CS3 opens ACR 4.x and is a full featured raw converter but frankly I find C1 and Raw Developer better. So I choose my raw converter based on which is the best (IMHO!) and then on to processing.

    Just my thoughts on the matter

    Woody

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    To me workflow is the key element for me too get my work done on deadline and get off the damn computer. But i do agree if you need that extra whatever out of a certain converter they maybe slightly better than just use when absolutely needed. Myself i am in the c1 camp but mostly because of the Phase back and it's files that also give me lens corrections as well that no other converter can. LR for me just flat out sucks at default with the Phase files unless i set up some pretty serious presets on import of them. Aperture is not supporting my Phase back and I wish I had that option also. Raw Developer will though. So for me i am a little backed into a corner with C1 although I do love the program anyway. To me find your best workflow converter , this way you know exactly what you need to do or may want to do easily. There all pretty close and you can really achieve similar results although some maybe harder to get there than others. The good news is there are no real dogs between them. They all work pretty darn good
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    The difference in terms of resolving detail between the NX2, RD, C1V4 and Aperture 2, when in printed form would likely be splitting hairs - and the CA control and integrated Nik/U-pointy software (which can be worked on ANY TIFF from any DSLR within NX2) are big pluses in NX2s favor.

    That said, I am in the camp that no one software package, as yet, offers an all-in-one solution - IF you want speed, the Nth degree of detail and ultimate control.

    Guess that's why I have Aperture 2, C1V4, CS3 and may upgrade my RD copy from the trial version if I make the move to Nikon this fall.

    I guess the upside is at least we have some choices....

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Hi Woody
    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    Jono

    As you well know, the Nik plug in's are for CS3 as well.
    Of course - I wasn't implying anything else

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post

    I think there is a case to be made for simply "developing" the digital negative inside a good and fast raw converter (e.g. Raw Developer) and then bringing the really good files you want to work on into CS3 for the final edits. CS3 is still the most powerful selective editor on the market and with the advent of these new plug-ins e.g. Viveza, The Nik Suite, Alien Skin suite etc increasing in power every day. I may be wrong but i think that expecting to get the best raw conversions plus the edits in one program is a bit much to ask. I know that CS3 opens ACR 4.x and is a full featured raw converter but frankly I find C1 and Raw Developer better. So I choose my raw converter based on which is the best (IMHO!) and then on to processing.

    Just my thoughts on the matter

    Woody
    I think we just think really differently about this - I've lived with the convert/touch up/create 4 different output files / catalogue workflow for several years, and I never want to go back there again.

    Maybe it's epitomised by the fact that you decided to go medium format . . .and I decided not to. if I'm to be brutally honest with myself, perfection is not my aim . . . the best is the enemy of the good and all that.

    I still feel that nobody cares if an image is technically perfect if it's interesting, and if it isn't interesting, nobody cares anyway!

    For me, the difference between one converter and another, although significant, is never likely to be enough to change the mind of a viewer.

    If I have an event, or a wedding, or a holiday, or whatever, and I've got 500 shots, I don't want to spend 250 hours processing them.

    Aperture allows me to get the job done to a decent standard and onto the net or to a DVD or a book or printer within a few hours. If a particular shot needs something extra, then of course I have CS3 or Nik plugins or C1 or Bibble come to that. But to start from somewhere else . . . no thanks.

    Everything's easier - backup, cataloguing, printing, websites - everything.


    I think I'm just admitting to being a kludger!

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Hey Jono

    No offense buddy but if you feel this way then why are we wasting so many words on this thread topic.

    We all have different priorities and workflows and i agree that any of the modern converters get the job done. The point the OP was working at was whether there was one converter which would do it all. The rest of the discussion I believe was trying to elaborate on that premise.

    If it doesn't matter at all to you to go for what you call technical perfection then so be it, but others here apparently do care.

    Just trying to clarify

    Woody

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Hi Woody
    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    Hey Jono

    No offense
    In my experience, when people say this they mean exactly the opposite
    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    buddy
    and when they add this they're really trying to rub it in. Why so heated? By the way, of course, I'm not even slightly offended.
    Last edited by jonoslack; 20th August 2008 at 15:33. Reason: Because I don't need to explain myself

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  21. #21
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    After playing with these apps some more, I'm even more impressed with RAW Developer. Using RD with the Richardson Lucy method for sharpening (RD gives several options) is giving me the kind of "per pixel sharpness" in D700 files that I was used to seeing with the 5D and Capture One. Makes me wonder what 5D files look like in Raw Developer!

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Forgive me for being dense. How are you opening D700 files in Aperture? I have some sample D700 files and Aperture (latest version) reports them as unsupported formats.
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    What do you all feel about Adobe Lab's recent profiles for ACR, the CS3 version? I am finding that the Beta does a really nice job on the D700 files, and (echoing Guy) for me it's all about the workflow. I have not tried Aperture or Lightroom even though I am all-Mac based (in the middle of a big project), but Bridge and batch processing work well for me. cheers to all, KL

  24. #24
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    Forgive me for being dense. How are you opening D700 files in Aperture? I have some sample D700 files and Aperture (latest version) reports them as unsupported formats.
    Hi Carlos, Jono gave a method here. Another way is to use a program like Exif Tool to change the EXIF to Nikon D3 as the camera model. I've been using this method because D3 NEFs are supported in all of my RAW apps.

  25. #25
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    What do you all feel about Adobe Lab's recent profiles for ACR, the CS3 version? I am finding that the Beta does a really nice job on the D700 files, and (echoing Guy) for me it's all about the workflow. I have not tried Aperture or Lightroom even though I am all-Mac based (in the middle of a big project), but Bridge and batch processing work well for me. cheers to all, KL
    Hi Kit,
    I think they did a really nice job matching the NX2 colors with the beta ACR profiles. If I were a pro handling large numbers of files, I'd probably be using ACR/Lightroom more than anything else.

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Thanks Amin. There are times of course where you can spend hours on a single image, and it is time well spent. Other times other criteria apply; then it's workflow all the way. Cheers, KL

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    What do you all feel about Adobe Lab's recent profiles for ACR, the CS3 version? I am finding that the Beta does a really nice job on the D700 files, and (echoing Guy) for me it's all about the workflow. I have not tried Aperture or Lightroom even though I am all-Mac based (in the middle of a big project), but Bridge and batch processing work well for me. cheers to all, KL
    Kit,
    I am using Lightroom and downloaded all of the profiles from Adobe. I have not found one that is a general "go to" for all files however. I am not sure how many of these ACR gives you access to. If you have them all have you tried the ones called D2x?

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    The more I play with RD (trial version) the more I like it - on NEFs and CR2s. CS3 will always be the 'next step' package for image origami if the image/intended output necessitates it.

    However, as a simple, clean and exceptionally fast 'raw developer' that excels as wringing-out detail and gives you just enough (but not too many tools), I'm really starting to develop some respect for it.

  29. #29
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    If Alien Skin develops plugins for Aperture or Lightroom, then I may fully commit to a self contained RAW/DAM environment. However, as things stand, I bring a lot of images into Photoshop in order to apply color film simulations in Alien Skin Exposure. I tried using Color Efex in Aperture and the color film simulations in Color Efex just don't so it for me. The Exposure simulations by comparison take a long time, even on a quad Mac Pro with plenty of RAM, but they're worth waiting for IMO. Since I'm bringing files into CS3 anyway, it makes sense to use a lightweight RAW processor, and RD excels in that aspect.

    If anyone experienced at using Aperture is willing to try a file of mine, I'd be very interested in seeing the results. I've uploaded a D700 NEF along with my version processed in Raw Developer. Mine lost a touch of detail because of a subsequent red/cyan CA removal step in CS3, but it is still noticeably more detailed than anything I've been able to get out of an Aperture workflow.

    I used the Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AIS at f/11 ISO 200, and some of the foliage is blurred due to windy conditions and a slow shutter speed. Still, there's enough detail for these purposes. I'm interested to see whether someone who knows their way around Aperture can get the same kind of apparent detail using that program that I'm getting in Raw Developer. I don't doubt that someone more experienced with RD could get more with that app also.

    The NEF and my version (saved as 8-bit TIFF) are here.

    Regards,
    Amin

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    I am interested in RAW developer, but it just seems too pricey to me. 125 dollars for a very slim featured program. Lightroom only cost me 99 dollars with a student discount (I had taken classes at ICP), and lightroom does so much more...
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Kit,
    I am using Lightroom and downloaded all of the profiles from Adobe. I have not found one that is a general "go to" for all files however. I am not sure how many of these ACR gives you access to. If you have them all have you tried the ones called D2x?
    Both Lightroom and ACR use the same set of profiles.

    Herman

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    I am interested in RAW developer, but it just seems too pricey to me. 125 dollars for a very slim featured program. Lightroom only cost me 99 dollars with a student discount (I had taken classes at ICP), and lightroom does so much more...
    Stuart

    For my money Lightroom and RD have somewhat different purposes. Llghtroom is a wonderful DAM tool and does a credible job at raw conversion as well. Raw Developer, much like C1, seems to get the most from the files that you want to work on for later printing etc. Colors are more accurate and the detail seems better at least to my eyes. Given that C1 Pro is $400, and Lightroom is $199, Raw Developer at $125 is priced competitively in my opinion. I love the program and Brian is a super responsive guy if you ever do have any issue.

    I would say give the trial a real hard try to see if you maintain that $125 is too pricey. JMHO and YMMV

    Woody

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Thanks Woody. I will give it another try. I tried once, but I don't remember it being worth the expense or the hassle of learning another software program.
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    The nice thing about the RD trial is it uses a discrete watermark vs a time limit so you can play with it ad infinitum.

    What I like about it is the simplicity and (as result) speed: Raw in -> TIFF into CS3/Aperture/LR for DAM/further bending.

    Having CS3, Aperture 2 and C1V4 on my Mac, I'm reluctant to buy yet another package - especially as am now eyeballing Nik's Silver Efex and Viveza (if I don't go Nikon), but RD is looking better and better the more I play with it.

  35. #35
    asabet
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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    I'm now using Aperture for most images. It's fast, easy, has the great plugins, and does a great job with D700 colors. However, when I really like an image, I export the NEF from the Aperture library and rework it in Raw Developer. They make a great combination!

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    Re: Getting the most detail out of D700 NEFs

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    I'm now using Aperture for most images. It's fast, easy, has the great plugins, and does a great job with D700 colors. However, when I really like an image, I export the NEF from the Aperture library and rework it in Raw Developer. They make a great combination!
    Hi Amin
    I'm sure that's the right way to go about it (mind you, I keep all my files 'in their current location').

    DAM first - exception afterwards

    Just this guy you know

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