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Newbie questions about processing olympus RAW (E-M5 mark II)

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by manju69, May 2, 2016.

  1. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Pete
    After a long long time shooting jpegs, I am beginning to shoot RAW and have some simple questions (i hope), bear with me here...

    The files import into LRCC easy enough. And I can see they look dullish.(but better than i feared!) I know I need to process them using the develop module and yet, there are so many parameters to consider - like WB, colours settings, sharpening etc. I get a bit lost by all of them.

    Previously, I was developing the jpegs - and to be honest, was mostly happy with what came out of the camera - it seems like a good starting place to me. I often added a little contrast and perhaps adjusted exposure. Adjusted highlights and shadows - sometimes but not always.

    So can I import them and apply such a starting place (using a preset of some kind?) - something akin to the jpeg engine in camera? Then adjust from there?

    Or is this not a helpful workflow? It seems awfully intensive to adjust each one at a time.

    Sorry if this is plain obvious

    Any pointers would be helpful.

    Thanks
     
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    In the long term you probably want to get a good book or video guide to processing in Lightroom but for a really quick and dirty start to RAW processing you can try the following:

    - set your camera's white balance setting to Auto and don't touch white balance in processing

    - Basically the idea in the Develop Module is to work your way down the panels on the right side of the window, starting at the top and going down. You do not have to use every option, in fact you will probably never ever want to use every option, and small changes can sometimes make big differences. A method that works for a lot of the slider controls is to go too far and then back off until the problems associated with going too far disappear. That works quite well with sharpening and noise reduction which you should do at a 1:1 zoom. It can help with some other controls as well.

    For a really basic start to the processing, try the following:

    - Basic Panel: click on Auto. LR's Auto can work very well, or it can work badly. I find the setting I like least with it's Auto processing is Exposure so I tend to bring the exposure adjustment back towards the 0 point, often by a lot. Add a bit of Clarity and Vibrance if you like. Avoid adjusting Saturation, Vibrance is a Saturation control which is a bit gentler and easier to work with. One really good piece of advice for the long term as you learn more about how to use LR is to do as much of your processing as possible in the Basic panel and to use the other panels such as Curves and the HSL Panel to fine tune the results you get in the Basic panel. Get really good at using the Basic panel and you often need to do very little elsewhere. Also it's worth knowing that Contrast has an effect on saturation with increases in Contrast producing a slight increase in saturation and decreases in Contrast producing a slight decrease. Definitely use the Contrast slider, and don't try playing with Vibrance or Saturation until you have the basic Exposure/Contrast/Highlights/Shadows/Whites/Blacks settings somewhere close to what you want. It can be surprising how colour rendition and saturation can change as you adjust those basic exposure settings.

    - Sharpening: There are 2 presets in the presets on the left hand side of the window. For normal scenes, use Sharpen Scenic, for portraits and also for high ISO shots, try Sharpen Faces. Leave things at the preset result until you want to spend some time learning how to sharpen.

    - Noise Reduction: set the Luminance slider to somewhere between 10 and 25 based on how things look at a 1:1 zoom.

    You can also go down to the Camera Calibration panel right at the bottom on the right hand side and play with the Profile menu options. The default is Adobe Standard but there are 4 or so other options there which will give you slightly different looks.

    If you're interested in Black and White conversions there are a good set of presets with different looks in the Presets panel on the left hand side. You may also want to increase the Clarity setting a bit with black and white conversions. I rarely set Clarity higher than 10-15 with colour but I've been known to go as high as 90 or so with a black and white conversion.

    That's it for a really quick and dirty start to LR processing. It barely scratches the surface of what you can do but learning what you can do is a longer term process. One thing I recommend is that every time you learn how to do something, spend a bit of time going back over some of your old images and reprocessing them just to get a bit more practice and experience in using your new skills and knowledge. You'll be surprised how much of a difference you may end up making with some of your old photos when you do this.

    Most of all, play and have a bit of fun along the way. Processing can be a really enjoyable part of your photography so make the most of the time you spend doing it.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Pete
    Thanks - that is really helpful. I can see how it is a long term process. And I really appreciate your quick and dirty guide whilst i learn! thanks for your time answering.
     
  4. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    771
    Nov 16, 2012
    Emily
    Scott Kelby's guide to LR for digital photographers is useful. Buy it in hard copy so you can have it open on your lap when you're working on something.

    There are loads of YouTube tutorials, including ones from Adobe that are very detailed. I found them a little too detailed when I was getting started, frankly.

    By the way, Curves is just another way of making the same adjustments that the sliders above (whites, blacks, highlights, shadows) do. If you've used one method, it's not necessary to use the other, although you could find that you like to use both methods to do your fine tuning.

    If you plan to do any B&W, I recommend downloading the Nik suite (hey, it's free). Silver FX has some great presets and it's easy to use. You do your basic processing in LR or whatever, then open the image in SilverFX, which will convert it to B&W and let you choose a preset, or use tools, or both. Google has great tutorials for the Nik suite on YouTube.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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  5. Drdul

    Drdul Mu-43 Regular

    104
    May 16, 2015
    Vancouver, BC
    Richard
    Your library may have a subscription with Lynda.com (many libraries do) that gives you free access to a ton of video training. I learned Lightroom with the series by Chris Ortwig.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Welcome to raw-file-land. The learning process in LR can be long but it can also be fairly short and simple.

    The default LR settings for raw files are not meant to be polished or final-ready: they are a bit under-cooked you might say, ready for finishing according to taste, nothing over-done that you need to dial back. I have the same camera as you, so IMHO most images need a little more contrast, a little more sharpening, and custom corrections individually if the camera didn't get exposure and white balance right.

    The Develop module is laid out to be worked on from top to bottom, in a general sense. Having said that, I'm going to contradict what I just said and suggest you have a look right at the bottom of the module, where it says Camera Calibration, and under that, Profile. You will see it defaults to "Adobe Standard", but there are other options like Camera Neutral, Camera Portrait, Camera Landscape, etc. These are very useful and are specifically calibrated for your camera model -- see below.

    You could do that, but here is my suggestion. Make a few presets that make use of the Camera Profiles mentioned above. Start with Camera Standard, open a typical general photo taken at base ISO 200 (not a portrait or landscape), apply the Camera Standard profile, and have a look at it. By all means compare it with the JPEG. Don't adjust white balance -- that will normally be left alone or adjusted for specific problems or needs photo-by-photo. [Push Auto Tone if you like, but then manually adjust Exposure to what works for you (I find that Auto very, very often cranks exposure way too high -- but not always). But don't use Auto Tone for making a preset: it is responding to the specific subject matter in that photo.] Leave Presence alone for making a preset. Now to Tone Curve: try the Mild Contrast setting under Point Curve. If you like it, keep it turned on. Now to the Detail panel. Sharpening and noise reduction are big topics, so what follows is just a starter to get you going. Turn Sharpness to zero, and adjust Noise Reduction/ Luminance while looking really really closely for noise in the image at high magnification at least 100%. You may not need any, but you may find you need a bit. Now go to Sharpening and adjust Amount until you are happy with sharpness while viewing at 100% magnification. At zero sharpening, it will look quite blurry (that's natural with raw files from most cameras), and based on my experience with the same camera, the default 25 will also be a bit too blurry. If you are seeing strong black or white artificial lines around edges like branches, light poles or telephone wires, you have gone way too high. If you have settled on Sharpening over about 30, then apply Masking to a value about 20 less than the Sharpening Amount. This is just a starting point: use your own eyes. Masking will allow the sharpening to stay on the edges but remove it from the rest of the image, where it just adds artifacts that look like noise. Now you are basically done. Save this as a preset e.g. !E-M5II Standard ISO200. (The '!' will lift the preset to the top of your list of presets.)

    Now take a nice portrait photo and repeat the above using the Camera Portrait profile under Camera Calibration. (As soon as you select Camera Portrait profile, you will see how the image is somewhat softer and less contrasty, even the colours change subtly.) Save a preset e.g. !E-M5II Portrait ISO 200. You may or may not want a bit less sharpening.

    And again with a nice landscape photo and Camera Landscape profile. You may or may not want a bit more sharpening (but careful of how it affects the sky) or Vibrance.

    If this is your only camera and you are only shooting in raw, you can go to the LRCC Import page, and set the Standard preset you made above as the default preset applied on import of images. Otherwise, apply the preset of choice in bulk once the files are imported and you are in Library grid view.

    Even if you decide on something much simpler than the above, going through the steps will probably serve a purpose.

    cheers
     
    • Informative Informative x 4
  7. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Pete
    Thanks - that is really helpful...
     
  8. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    To expand on Args' comment:

    I will agree whole heartedly that the default Lightroom settings are not meant to be polished or final-ready, and that they are a bit under-cooked. They're meant to be a starting point. After that, his and my experience is a little different :)

    Args said that he thinks "most images need a little more contrast, a little more sharpening, and custom corrections individually if the camera didn't get exposure and white balance right". I think pretty much every image benefits from different sharpening to the default, but the sharpening required depends on the image so I do that on an image by image basis, like I do the corrections in the Basic panel on an image by image basis. Many, perhaps more than half, of my images seem to require less contrast but the reason for that is that I tend to shoot a lot of scenes with a very wide brightness range and I expose to preserve the highlights which means I tend to do a lot of shadow recovery and reducing contrast is part of the process for that. He and I both live in Australia but he lives in Adelaide right at the south of the continent and I live in Brisbane which is much closer to the tropics. We have different light, kind of like the difference between London and Rome, say, and that probably affects how we expose and perhaps even what and where we shoot. Adobe's defaults may or may not suit you but they were probably derived from the experience of their programmers in dealing with their own images and those programmers may well be shooting different things in different light to what you do, to what Args does, and to what I do.

    It's handy to know how other people find an application's default settings work for them but that information is really only relevant to you if you and the person who's providing the information are dealing with exactly the same sorts of lighting conditions and expose their images in a similar way so that you're both ending up with very similar results out of camera. I have no doubt that Args' comments are spot on for his photos but quite a bit north of him and in a quite different climate zone my experience with my subjects is different. You're in the UK, a lot further from the equator than I am, so his experience may be closer to your experience than mine is but you are going to have to find that out for yourself. His comments on what his images need may be spot on for you but they may not be. There's also the element of personal taste and different people like different sort of result. Don't be surprised or think you're necessarily doing something wrong if your experience is different to his, or different to mine, or different to anyone else's. Different conditions, different exposure preferences, different personal tastes, can make for a lot of different views about what the image looks like at the default settings and what needs to be done to it to get to a final result.
     
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  9. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Yes, good comments David, although I did mention near the top "...and custom corrections individually if the camera didn't get exposure and white balance right."

    Your ETTR practice likely makes mid-tones a little dark in sunlit scenes -- it would with my camera -- but only with sunlit scenes, and not so much with lower contrast scenes. So, that makes it more difficult to create a useful import preset.

    Ultimately, individual attention to each image is the recommended approach, not just when shooting raw but also with camera JPEGs. The only way to avoid this, and still get near-perfect results, is when the photographer completely controls and standardizes the scene, for example a professional studio portrait photographer. In that case he or she can create a universal preset for all such images and get great results. Your comments about individual shot-by-shot variations in scene brightness range are absolutely right IMHO.

    Having said that, Pete (the OP) was looking a bit lost or overwhelmed, and quite rightly not seeing the default LR raw treatment as being as good-looking as his camera JPEGS, so I just wanted to give him something standardized as a starting point (or three starting points actually: Standard, Portrait, Landscape). I also took into account that Pete said he usually adds contrast to his camera JPEG images, when I suggested he try the 'Mid Contrast' setting in the Tone Curve module.

    cheers
     
  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    I will be interested to hear what is the justification for this. In RAW the white balance settings are only metadata and do not effect the data stored in the RAW file.

    I would disagree with it from the perspective that if you use Auto WB then every shot in the same room (thinking wedding for instance) will be white balanced that bit different. You will then in post need to ignore that and override the WB in the RAW ingest process in LR (which may be better as an approach anyway) or risk having EVERY IMAGE just that bit different.

    So to me: I happen to like the way my Panasonic renders colours. When I make the point of setting WB then I can rely on ACR to do a good job with that. Further if I've custom WB for a room then I've just given ACR a head start on making each image the same.

    To me nothing screams amateur like a set of proofs with every one having slightly different WB and exposure.
     
  11. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Arg,

    For the really wide range scenes I don't ETTR, I use spot highlight metering mode and still often end up exposing to the left rather than the right in order to avoid clipping in cloud highlights. I'm also often trying to catch the first bright highlights on the clouds at dawn so my mid-tones are more than "a little dark" and my shadows are looking black before I start making adjustments. I suspect you have no idea just what some of my files look like before I start work on them :) I do a lot of contrast reduction, and by that I mean I do it often and I often make what I would regard as large reductions.

    For user import presets I would definitely avoid including any of the Basic panel adjustments because they tend to be too variable in practice for me. About the only things I've done with an import preset is to include the CA correction plus a small noise reduction setting since the LR defaults don't include any noise reduction. Pete could add the medium contrast setting in the Curves panel to a user import preset if he routinely adds a bit of contrast. Alternatively he could look at just what settings he makes with the Contrast slider and simply include a setting of the lowest amount of contrast he usually adds with the slider. I'd tend to prefer to go that way rather than with the Curves option since the Contrast slider adjustments are image specific so the scale of the actual adjustment made will be tailored to the image while the Curves adjustment aren't adjusted to the image in any way. I think it's best to start with the Basic panel adjustments and use the Curves panel to fine tune that result so I prefer not to use the Curves contrast option as an alternative to increasing contrast with the slider first. In practice either will work, I just have a preference for using the Contrast slider rather than the Medium Contrast option in Curves.

    As for being lost or overwhelmed looking at Lightroom, I agree completely. It's an incredibly flexible application and there are often several ways to achieve the same outcome. It's not only a matter of learning what to do but also of learning what's the best way of doing it in a lot of cases such as adjusting contrast with the choice between Contrast slider, curves adjustment, or a combination of both. Then there's the issue of developing some eye/hand co-ordination skills as well when it comes to using things like the adjustment brush.

    To try and put some structure into the learning process, my recommendations for an order in which to tackle things would be as follows:

    1- learn to use the Basic panel first, with the 2 sharpening presets LR provides and a basic noise reduction setting in the 15-25 range. Work with a single camera profile, whether that be Adobe Standard or one of the 4 camera profiles. Just pick the one you like most no matter what it's called and just work with it. Don't bother with local adjustments like the adjustment brush and graduated/radial filter at this stage.

    2- next work on sharpening and noise reduction.

    My reason for putting those 2 things first is simply that every image needs attention in those areas. Some images even need nothing more than what you can do in the Basic and Detail panels


    3- next work on the other panels such as Curves, HSL, lens corrections and so on.

    4- finally start working with the local adjustments.

    My reason for leaving those 2 areas until later is because not every image needs work in those areas, and not every image which does need work in those areas needs work in the same areas. These things can make a difference, a big difference in some cases, but all of these things are really ways of fine tuning the initial results you get in the Basic and Detail panels.

    Note that I'm not saying people shouldn't do anything in areas 3 and 4 before they finish learning how to work with the Basic and Detail panels but I am saying that I think people are better off spending more time learning how to work with the Basic and Detail panels before they really start spending a lot of time on the other adjustments.


    5- And when you've done all of the above and have a good basic grips on things, start doing more in the areas you are weak in or think are most useful to you, and keep refining your skills that way over time.
     
  12. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    566
    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    Seems to me you should start just by working with the parameters you're already comfortable with and ignore the other sliders until later!
     
  13. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    You're right that if you're shooting RAW the white balance setting is metadata, but you have to set white balance in the camera to something and that bit of metadata is what your conversion software uses to generate the image it displays. I find with my E-M1 and E-M5 that setting it to Auto usually produces a good result. I don't often change the white balance I get by setting the camera to Auto. If I run into problems with colour variations across a series of shots taken at the same time in the same light I simply get one right and sync that white balance setting to the other shots but I normally take no more than 2 or 3 shots of the same subject at the same time.

    And while I don't shoot weddings or anything like that, I can certainly understand the problem with a set of proofs with every image having a different white balance and exposure. You can avoid that by manually setting the camera and using the same settings for related shots as you suggest, or you can sync settings in Lightroom and get a set of images with the same white balance and exposure. I sync settings in Lightroom when I have to and that works extremely well for me.

    But my reason for suggesting that Pete set white balance to auto and not touch in processing it is even more pragmatic. He asked about starting to learn how to process E-M5 II raw files in Lightroom and in my experience Olympus bodies usually to do a very good job with auto white balance. Since the camera usually does a good job, then for someone starting to learn raw processing my advice would be to let the camera do white balance and concentrate on other aspects of processing at the start. Yes, he needs to learn about white balance but there are other adjustments he should learn about first in my view. I was suggesting what I stated was a "quick and dirty" approach to starting to learn how to work with raw files. I wasn't suggesting that he should continue doing that forever. For the average hobbyist photographer I just don't think professional white balance shooting and processing techniques are something that needs to be focussed on or mastered when you're just starting to learn how to process raw files.

    And I will make the point that what works well when it comes to a process for setting exposure and white balance for something like a wedding where you're taking a lot of shots at a time under relatively constant lighting conditions often doesn't work as well if you're outdoors taking shots using only natural light and the light is rapidly changing because it's sunrise or sunset, or because you've got a lot of fast moving clouds moving over your scene and changing the lighting on a moment by moment basis. I suspect that Pete is probably taking more shots under natural light than he is under the sort of lighting conditions that apply for much of a wedding photography session. No, I'm not suggesting that all wedding photography is done under strictly controlled lighting but I am saying that most wedding photographers do have more control over their lighting than the average hobbyist photographer shooting outdoors using only natural light does. If you are shooting outdoors in natural light and not taking lots of shots of the same subject from the same angle and under the same lighting conditions at a time, setting the camera's white balance setting to Auto is actually quite a sensible approach if the camera does a good job with auto white balance. Not all cameras do so I wouldn't suggest it with every camera. What you're suggesting is the best approach for things like wedding shoots is fine, but not every shoot is a wedding shoot and that approach is not necessarily the best approach for every shoot.
     
  14. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Pete
    Thanks for this discussion, it is helping me get clearer about what I am wanting. For me I needed some simple starting places, then over time i can refine and add skills.

    I am interested in batch processing them as they are imported. (I guess I'll need to use a preset to do that) I say this because on the whole I liked the SOOC jpegs from the camera, so having it a bit closer to that when they import would save a chunk of work for me. Ideally I don't want to cook every image individually at first. I guess i am wanting better "previews" of the RAW files so I can choose more easily what i want to process. As it is, each one needs fixing...

    Could this work flow work?

    A. import into LR with a preset (not just the adobe standard - something closer to the SOOC jpg)
    B. Delete and choose images I want to process.
    C. Work through the basic panels for those images in the way people have set out here

    The question is how to create/find a preset?

    Does that make sense?
     
  15. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Yes that should be fine. Everything I wrote in post #6 was directed towards answering your question: how to create a preset.
     
  16. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    493
    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Pete
    Excellent. Now I get the whole picture. Thanks.


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