When is a RAW file no longer RAW?

Community Beginner ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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Greetings, I'm hoping I can put out a RAW file forest fire here and start a good discussion.  I enter a photographic 'print' competition with a PPA affiliate.  It's a digital submission nowadays but is still called print competition.  There is a new RAW category.  The powers that be are saying the file is no longer RAW if it was imported into Lightroom.   I disagree.  I'm seeing no sidecars or any evidence that the actual image was changed even if I name them as I bring them in.   So, who is right.  If no changes or adjustments were made except naming it, is it still a RAW image or not?    Go ahead, hit me, I can take it.  
I had to remove one of mine because LR touched it.  

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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In all Adobe raw converters, raw is read only.

Edits are instructions to render the image. That is not raw data. But render you must or the raw, which few applications actually show is rather ugly! 

This, from RawDigger is an example:

http://www.digitaldog.net/files/ThisIsRaw.jpg

A8D3C515-F807-492B-AD2B-495BEAFD099B.jpeg


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 09, 2022 Feb 09, 2022

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is it still a RAW image or not?

If you provide the 'Original' 'Out-of-camera' proprietary RAW file, then Yes! (Whether it has been imported by Lightoom, or not.)

 

If they want an edited version, suitable to print (in JPG, TIF format), then someone, somewhere, has to render the RAW into an RGB (bitmap) format. (And that could be with any software- Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.)

 

 

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 11.4.1 Photoshop 23.4.1, ACR 14.4.2, Lightroom 5.3, Lr-iOS 7.0.2, Bridge 12.0.2, Windows-10.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 10, 2022 Feb 10, 2022

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Thanks, Bob.  They want a native RAW file for a RAW category.  Just for the hell of it, I checked the image with "Get Info."  6 months after capture, I did change the name to the left of the extension to the title I was using for it.  The creation date and the modified date remained the same which means nothing changed in the image.    I couldn't upload here because it's too large coming out of the R5.  Does Adobe have anything out here in cyberland that speaks to this particular topic?  

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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This makes no sense as the RAW processor HAS TO apply edits (demosaicing, rendering to a color profile) just to view the image.

Importing a file into Lightroom is irrelevant.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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quote

This makes no sense as the RAW processor HAS TO apply edits (demosaicing, rendering to a color profile) just to view the image.


By @Lumigraphics

 

Yes it makes no sence.

No, one can view a raw non demosic raw if you have the right software:

raw


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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Yes, just like how I can see an MP3 waveform in Audacity. Actually hearing the audio is a separate thing.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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I'm seeing the raw image provided. It's ugly but it is an image and I can see it.


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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The images being judged are being handled by the folks at printcompetition.com.   The judges will each be on high resolution monitors set to PPA standards.  I'm not a techie but will try to find out what the specs are, for those of you who are interested.  
There is a reason RAW and Reportage´ have been added to the list of categories.  Some folks are feeling so much more is being done by the software, Photoshop/Lightroom et. al. that we've lost touch with the capture itself.   Both categories demonstrate an in-camera capability that was ignored over the last several years.  
I've attached a .jpg image here of one of my RAW files, just for your entertainment.  Nothing was done to it.  It was just exported out of LR as a .jpg with no adjustments.  My RAW's in this series are too large to upload here.  I'm told a .jpg can be pulled from the RAW image - perhaps the same one we see on the camera's LCD at capture.  
My initial question has been answered to my satisfaction.  Importing RAW files using LR does not change the file itself.  Neither does naming them on import.  As long as the extension stays the same there is no change.   
I tried something.  Tell me if I'm nuts.  I highlighted one of these files and changed the name to the left of the extension.  Then I did a "Get Info" on the file to see it the capture date and modified date remained the same.  They did as you can see.Get Info 2022-02-11 at 7.09.43 AM.pngWater Drops - red-green-5239.jpg  

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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What they are proposing, short of viewing a raw (and as I illustrated in two captures, even that can be somewhat altered depending on how you want to see the data) is preposterous.

All prints, short of a Polarid have to be rendered.

A color neg is rendered to make a color print. A B&W neg is rendered to make a B&W print. Even a print from a transparency has to be rendered for a Type R or Ciba (contrast mask or no?).

They could in theory judge a transparency on a light box. But even that was rendered based upon the film selected, the same scene will appear different from identical cameras using differing transparent film.

Rendering an image is a fundamental part of photography too! Outlined so well in this long but superb article that does discuss rendering raws and other images:
http://www.lumita.com/site_media/work/whitepapers/files/pscs3_rendering_image.pdf

The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” – Ansel Adams


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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@slrimagery wrote:

The images being judged are being handled by the folks at printcompetition.com.   The judges will each be on high resolution monitors set to PPA standards.  I'm not a techie but will try to find out what the specs are, for those of you who are interested.  


 

Thanks for posting that link. It's slowly becoming clearer what is going on. But…it is also slowly becoming clearer that this is not a competition I would want to touch with a 10km pole. There are lots of clues.

 

“…high-resolution monitors…” In photography, resolution is a lot less important than the quality of tone, color, and detail. And you don’t need the highest resolution to judge them. In fact there are some old-timer pros who stick to the old (non-Retina, non-4K) displays because they find it easier to judge sharpness on those, or they’re just more used to it. I think a lot of us in this forum would be more impressed if they said they were going to view on “calibrated” displays.

 

And the link…I went to the printcompetition.com website and was appalled. It is 2022, but the printcompetition.com website looks like it was built in 1998. It is absolutely not mobile-friendly, it’s actually rather mobile-hostile (try it on your phone), in an age where mobile-first design is the industry standard because more people now browse on mobile devices than desktop. I am not surprised to still see some hobbyists and casual users building old-style web sites, but the more serious the web site wants to be, the less such a web design is expected or acceptable.

 

@slrimagery wrote:

There is a reason RAW and Reportage´ have been added to the list of categories.  Some folks are feeling so much more is being done by the software, Photoshop/Lightroom et. al. that we've lost touch with the capture itself.   Both categories demonstrate an in-camera capability that was ignored over the last several years.  


 

OK. This is interesting. The general idea? Totally valid. They want to get away from digital manipulation, they want to focus on the capture, the “in-camera capability,” get closer to what it was like when you shoot slide film: You cannot do anything to it after you hit the shutter. There is nothing wrong with this goal.

 

The problem is, digital raw is not like slide film, it’s more like negative film: If you want to see a “normal” image, you have to make unavoidable choices after the shot. The film is developed by choosing specific chemical ratios and timing, and the same goes for the print, so there are two sets of creative decisions for film after the shot. It is the same with digital raw.

 

So how would the competition reach the goal of only showing “in-camera capability?” They must remove not only post-processing interventions by the user, but they must also remove digital processing variations across cameras and applications that could be used to view the raw files. They might not like Lightroom, but the same problem is going to come up with any other software they use. They are all going to render raws based on their own defaults like Lightroom, and they are all going to do it slightly differently.

 

You know what they really want, even though they don’t appear to say so? 

They don’t want raw. They should have photographers shoot for this competition in JPEG.

An out-of-camera JPEG file would be the closest to the slide film experience, where you see what the camera rendered itself, and the image’s appearance will not change in different applications. It’s locked in, and the photographer’s creative intention is locked in and visible with it.

 

Unprocessed raw won’t get them that. All they will see is “oh, that's a lot of nice linear raw data,” but what will be completely missing is…the photographer’s creative intention. To get at the photographer’s intention, they probably want to refer at the JPEG camera-rendered preview that came with the raw file, but that just gets you back to the idea in the previous paragraph: They don’t need the raw file, they only need to see a JPEG rendered by the camera only.

 

But even that just raises more questions: Is the photographer allowed to change in-camera processing presets of defaults (sharpening, tint…) in camera? Or is there a rule that all photographers must shoot at camera defaults? If so, there is still potential bias…For exampkle, if the judges happen to like Sony default color/sharpening better than Nikon color, but you shoot Nikon and aren’t allowed to alter the camera settings, you could lose to the Sony shooters…

 

…so, there are all kinds of things about this competition that need to be clarified or are just questionable.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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To add to the last through post, for the OP, the camera JPEG came from the raw. If the photographer asked for a raw, just a JPEG or a raw+JPEG: It is rendered from that raw. It did undergo a lot of processing. The rendering wasn't under the photographers control to a huge degree. It is proprietary. It is no more or less valid than any other rendering. There may or may not be a way for judges to know it was further manipulated and my take is, so what? Is dodging and burning in the conventional darkroom manipulation? Yes. What they are trying to produce for this contest, based on what we're being told is rather silly IMHO. There are degrees of image manipulation from rubbing your warm finger on the print while in the develop solution, to burning to using full blown Photoshop cloning and more. Again, so what?


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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We can set the camera up in any fashion we choose.  The idea is to capture it in camera.  Use those bells and whistles.  Shooting in jpeg sounds like a great idea.  I seems far better than the RAW option.  Is there a way to guarantee the image wasn't shot in RAW, post processed and then sent out as a jpeg?  I suspect there is.   I don't know what it is.   

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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@slrimagery wrote:

We can set the camera up in any fashion we choose.  The idea is to capture it in camera.  Use those bells and whistles.  Shooting in jpeg sounds like a great idea.  I seems far better than the RAW option. 


Just the opposite. For more than the lack of control over rendering the image as the image creator wishes; the art and science of photography. Ideally you want to stick with the raw data. The JPEG engine that processes the raw massively clips and compresses highlights. We often don't when editing the raw. This compression can clump midtones as much as 1 stop while compressing shadow details! People incorrectly state that raw has more highlight data but the fact is, the DR captured is an attribute of the capture system; it's all there in the raw but maybe not in a camera proceed JPEG.

 

A raw capture that's 10 or 11 stops of dynamic range can be compressed to 7 stops from this JPEG processing which is a significant amount of data and tonal loss! So when we hear people state that a raw has more DR than a JPEG, it's due to the poor rendering or handling of the data to create that JPEG. The rendering of this data and the reduction of dynamic range is from the JPEG engine that isn't handling the DR data that does exists as well as we can from the raw! Another reason to capture and render the raw data, assuming you care about how the image is rendered!


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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@slrimagery wrote:

My initial question has been answered to my satisfaction.  Importing RAW files using LR does not change the file itself.  Neither does naming them on import.  As long as the extension stays the same there is no change.   
I tried something.  Tell me if I'm nuts.  I highlighted one of these files and changed the name to the left of the extension.  Then I did a "Get Info" on the file to see it the capture date and modified date remained the same. They did as you can see.


 

Watch out here: When you imported the raw file into Lightroom Classic, sure, the file itself did not change, but what the competition is complaining about is that the appearance in Lightroom Classic is now different than the in-camera JPEG preview of the raw file, because like any raw processor, Lightroom Classic renders it differently. If it was to be exported, it would be the Lightroom Classic rendering.

 

You do not see this in your file size measurements, because the changes happen in the Lightroom Classic catalog and preview files. If you measured the change in the file sizes of those files after import, then you would measure the change you were looking for. That’s how nondestructive editing works: The changes are not in the raw file itself, but in the data stored by the application that processes it, and in the preview generated from that render data.

 

The competition is not against Lightroom Classic specifically, they are against the default renderings of any raw processor which are essentially all different from the camera. But to reach their goal of showing skill in in-camera capture, they should probably be avoiding raw completely, and requiring out-of-camera JPEG instead.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2022 Feb 12, 2022

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Out of camera JPEG is meaningless too. Any camera today has multiple JPEG presets which can change color balance, sharpness, contrast, and highlight recovery. I shoot with Canon and can specify Adobe RGB or sRGB in camera as well. Fuji is well known for film simulation modes. Even if you had cameras set to "neutral", what about white balance? Two cameras from different manufacturers will have different out of the box JPEG rendering, that simple.

A few minutes of dpreview spent looking at camera reviews and sample JPEGs will demonstrate that. They have standard test scenes that look different for different cameras.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 10, 2022 Feb 10, 2022

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Everything seems to hinge on what software they are going to use to view these “raw” photos for their competition. By picking any application, they are picking a specific raw processing engine with a specific look. A different application would produce a different default rendering. Are they going to view them in RawDigger? Or are they going to judge based on the camera-generated JPEG preview of the raw file?

 

A raw file is like undeveloped photographic negative film. It is capable of a wide range of potential appearances, depending on the choices made during development and then printing. I’m really curious how they are going to judge raw files. It would be like asking Ansel Adams to submit his undeveloped film for a competition…he would have to decline, because so much of his distinguishing expertise and style was in the technical choices he made during development and printing. Take that away and it isn’t a complete Ansel Adams. With raw, take away the raw processing application and all you have is a pile of raw data run through some defaults.

 

Is the contest information online for us to check out?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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Conrad is spot on: it's a totally meaningless requirement. Just looking at a raw file means it's already processed - but using (random) default parameters set by whatever (random) application is used.

 

It's tempting to think that they don't understand what they're asking.

 

 

 

 

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Advocate ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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Maybe they are judging the most beautiful Raw Digger histogram.

 

"...we've lost touch with the capture itself. Both categories demonstrate an in-camera capability that was ignored over the last several years."

The Raw capture might be spiritually fulfilling, creatively insightful  and exhibit faultless technical expertise - it is still worthless without the second half.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 11, 2022 Feb 11, 2022

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Conrad, I don't think so, but I can hunt for it.  All I know is it's to standards set by PPA and or an affiliate.  [P]rintcompetition.com is the platform that many of the affiliates use for their print competition.   I couldn't find a link to anything there today when I looked.  I'm not particularly good at poking around looking for that kind of stuff.   

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