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Old January 30th, 2009, 10:34 PM   #1
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Nikon NEF looks horrible on the computer....

So when I shoot in RAW on my D80, the pictures look GREAT on the camera LCD, but when I put them on the computer and look at them in Bridge, they look horrible. The pictures on the computer look very dull, under exposed, and drab. As soon as I hit "auto" in Camera Raw, the picture lights up and looks more like it does on the camera. Is there a reason for this?

If you look at the screen shot below...you can tell that the top 3 pictures are more "dull" than the bottom 3. They all start out looking a little bit like they look on the camera (vivid, bright, etc), but when the photo "loads" it turns dull.

Jeff

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VietNinjaJ30A1
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Last edited by VietNinjaJ30A1; January 30th, 2009 at 10:46 PM..
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Old January 31st, 2009, 01:05 AM   #2
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I played around with it a little more and to get one of those pictures to look "right"...I have to up the exposure in Camera Raw to about +2 to +3 :O. I don't think that's right...especially when some of them were already +1 on the camera.

Could it be that Camera Raw doesn't know Nikon's proprietary curves? I've been reading that NEF is Nikon's own and that only Nikon's programs (like Capture NX) can open them "correctly". It also looks like Camera Raw opens NEF files in 8-bit color when I think they are really 16-bit color. I dunno...

Hopefully someone's got some ideas. I'm about to try out Capture NX 2 and see how it goes. I think I can convert NEF to TIFF...and then I'll touch up the TIFF files in Photoshop.


EDIT: Tried Capture NX 2. It seems to do a LITTLE bit better with the colors...but the exposure is still WAY off from what it looks like on the camera. The only reason I need it to look more like the camera is because that's what I'm going off of when I'm shooting and I need to make adjustments. So if it's gonna be totally different when I put it on the computer, there's no point in making adjustments to the camera output.


Check out the stats on this picture...
http://flickr.com/photos/vietninjaxtc/3240795512/meta/

The picture was taken with a +1 exposure bias on the camera, THEN processed with +2.25...and the result looks right. Actually it looks just a little bit brighter than what it looks like on the camera.

Last edited by VietNinjaJ30A1; January 31st, 2009 at 01:39 AM..
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Old January 31st, 2009, 06:27 AM   #3
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I'd say something was off with your exposure in the first place if you're having to add that much exposure. But yeah, the thing with RAW is that each software package has its own interpretations of what the camera settings should be. Only NX uses Nikon's algorithms, but that software package has been and continues to be a complete pile of garbage. I'm guessing you were maxing out your flash or your lighting setup wasn't quite right, and then with a base ISO of 100 and no Auto ISO, the Auto ISO wasn't kicking in to crank itself up a bit to make up the difference. If your exposure and lighting and everything are all right, there should be very little difference between JPEG or RAW.
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Old January 31st, 2009, 08:57 AM   #4
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That makes sense. Looking at the pictures again, most were a little under exposed, but on the camera they looked a lot less under exposed. I read that the output you see on the camera is the same as the JPG output, that would be the raw image data with Nikon's algorithms applied. So when I was opening the NEF in Camera Raw, it wasn't applying Nikon's algorithms therefore making it look different.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 04:06 PM   #5
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Are you sure your monitor is calibrated? How many stops underexposed were the photos on your camera's LCD, looking at the RGB histograms?
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Old February 1st, 2009, 08:15 PM   #6
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I think it may be the brightness/color of the camera LCD vs. the computer LCD...but I'll check the histogram and see.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 02:14 AM   #7
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I have my cameras color profile set as Adobe RGB because I only use Photoshop CS3, and at that point I pretty much just tossed Capture NX because the program is a piece of crap and the interface sucks. The photos might not look as good on the computer as they do on the camera's LCD initially, so don't be too discouraged. RAW will change yo' life!



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Old February 2nd, 2009, 03:53 AM   #8
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all those pictures look under exposed

You definitely need to calibrate your monitor as a first step
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 09:49 AM   #9
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Well after I post process them (using the same monitor) the pictures look fine on all the monitors I view them on (work lcd, gf's laptop lcd, parents' desktop crt). So I'm not too worried about the monitor calibration.

Kevin, if I use Adobe RGB color space, I'll still have the same problem with CS3 not being able to recognize Nikon's algorithm right? Since I'm shooting in sRGB and CS3 supports that as well.

I think the problem with these pictures is that they were way underexposed when I took them. I opened them in Capture NX 2 and they were only a LITTLE bit brighter than in Camera Raw. The only problem is that my camera LCD shows them looking fine (exposure-wise), so now when I shoot I pretty much have to look at the histogram to figure out if it's exposed correctly. Rather than just glancing at the picture itself.
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