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Raw vs JPG - OR - What is my EM-5 doing?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by billyymc, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. billyymc

    billyymc New to Mu-43

    Dec 9, 2012
    Just joined the forum today. Picked up an E-M5 a few weeks ago and am having a blast getting to know the camera. Only using it with the kit 12-50 so far. A long time in the past I did work for a couple years as a photojournalist, and then did some freelance work after that. Once I totally left the business I realized I would never really carry my whole SLR kit, and after a couple years of gathering dust I sold it off. Carried an advanced P&S for a couple years, but this year finally saw a camera that was small enough to carry hiking and skiing, and excited me - the EM-5.

    So for the first time I'm experimenting with raw, using the raw & jpg setting. I did some reading so I understood what - in general terms - the camera is doing to create the jpg (obviously it's different for different settings). So at this point, still a newb to shooting raw, I'd like to get a better understanding of what processing the camera is doing to create a jpg, and if it could be exactly duplicated in Aperture (which I have just started learning)?

    I'm curious, because some types of photos - low light portraits for example - look way worse in raw form than in the jpg. The raw looks grainer (noise?), the skin tones are more reddish and less even.

    So for a plain vanilla setup, what is the E-M5 doing in terms of processing to create a jpg?
  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Camera makers know specifics about sensor responses, lens characteristics and make adjustments to achieve reasonably good color balance, exposure, noise reduction, lens distortion, etc. when creating a JPG. The Olympus software that ships with the camera will apply all the same settings, or any of the JPG filters and effects that the camera does to any RAW file. It will also allow other adjustments that aren't possible in camera. Third party software, like Aperture, don't use the camera specific settings that the OEM software does, so they need more manual adjustment of the files.
  3. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Sounds like Aperture isn't matching the camera's white balance. May be worth looking at some of the WB presets. As to the noise, if you want smoother images, you need to crank up the noise reduction settings (that's what Olympus does in the JPEGs).

    Aside from Olympus's own Viewer RAW conversion software, no RAW conversion will completely duplicate the camera JPEG settings. Unfortunately Viewer is a very slow and IMO unhelpful program in all other respects, so you're better of spending the effort on Aperture (or Lightroom).
  4. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    S.Yorkshire, UK
    On another forum, a Mac user was reporting that the colours in Aperture were just plain wrong from his OM-D, but the same image in Lightroom on his Mac were true to life.

    He posted images of an orange sweater with no PP other than importing into those 2 programs and exporting to JPEGs.
  5. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I also find LR to work well with the OM-D, even without any special camera file. Can Aperture externally created camera profiles like LR?
  6. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    The converter engine from raw to JPEG uses many parameters to create the final file. There is a tone curve, which is much like applying curves in Photoshop. There's the application of white balance, sharpening, noise reduction, distortion and lens corrections and a colour profile. The tone curve and colour profile are the secret sauce the manufacturers use to get the unique "look" of a camera. And the colour and tone profiles give you the different in camera looks (portrait, landscape, normal etc..)

    The colour profile is the tricky one because without knowing what the OEM profile actually is, it's nearly impossible to create via reverse engineering. They're certainly not based on accuracy. It's possible to create your own profiles in some raw software but there are limited controls over what you can acheive. A manufacturers profile can involve the tweaking of very specific bands of colour. The ones we can make are rather crude by comparison although the Color Checker system does quite well with a standard dual illuminant profile. You can also look at third party profiles from people like Huelight that have the time to carefully edit and create custom profiles for different cameras.

    Different third party manufacturers have different success at creating profiles that match the OEM ones. Even within a peeice of software the engineers may be good at reverse engineering brand "X" but terrible at brand "Y".

    OEM sharpening and noise reduction profiles can also be an issue although most of the time good software will match or exceed what the basic processor in the camera can acheive.

    The only way to perfectly match an in camera profile is to use the OEM software to process the raw files on your computer. Creating or purchasing a custom profile may help. But since the whole thing is subjective it's hard to definitively say one profile is "better" than another.

    The first step is to try the different profiles withing your software. SOme software offers "portrait" and "landscape" options for you to try.

    • Like Like x 1
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Never had a problem with Aperture on my iMac or MacBook with any RAW images from my OM-D's (except operator errors).
  8. Naftade

    Naftade Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 23, 2012
    Munich, Germany
    I agree. I use Aperture 3 and I totally don't like the colors (esp. red) it retrieves from raw-shots taken in fluorescent light. LR4 handles this much better.
  9. billyymc

    billyymc New to Mu-43

    Dec 9, 2012
    Thanks all. Flash - really appreciate that write up. Big help in my understanding.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. cputeq

    cputeq Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 27, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Different cameras have different "recipes" for creating their JPEG files. Just relate a JPEG to baking a cake - add this ingredient and that, cook in a different way, and presto - a cake. (perhaps this is why the slang "baked-in" is used when referring to how a JPEG works).

    Depending on the JPEG parameters and any user input available, the JPEG can take on a wildly different look.

    RAW is just that -- "raw", "uncooked" data from the sensor. Note: this "uncooked", though, is potentially misleading, as some camera manufacturers actually do a little "pre-cooking" on the RAWs, but generally nothing major.

    Anyway, with RAW your software basically has a "list of ingredients" and decides on how to interpret it. Generally, most software gets at least in the ballpark of a "correct" rendering, but there typically is no 100% "correct" rendering of this RAW data - they are just interpretations. Some software interpretations of this data (and its manipulation) are more pleasing than others.

    An example is when I use Lightroom's "default" profile of the OMD vs my X-rite profile of the OMD (say, in sunlight). The X-rite's profile, when I activate from LR4, is much more accurate and pleasing than Adobe's-- it's just a more accurate recipe for translating the RAW.

    From there, I can choose to manipulate the RAW in whatever fashion I want, and I could duplicate a JPEG's look if I really wanted to, but with typically better sharpness and/or noise.
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