02 January, 2017

RAW images are flat

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Santa Monica Beach [Click image to enlarge]

When I import my RAW files into Adobe Lightroom, Adobe has decided that any decisions about what my images should look like will be up to me — thanks, Adobe.

So, in order to leave the processing decisions to me, Adobe delivers the RAW images as raw as possible. This is particularly apparent by the absence of contrast or sharpening adjustments and without the white or black points having been set.

Lightroom's RAW images appear flat because RAW images ARE flat.

Some other image processing programs apply adjustments on your behalf on import. So those tweaked images look... well... less "raw." And that's fine it you want the program to make some of the initial decisions for you. 

So far, so good. What disappoints me, however, is that some software "reviewers" seem to presume that because auto-adjusted images look more like JPEGs than Lightroom's unadjusted ("flat") files, it's an indication of the inherent superiority of the auto-adjusting programs.

Nonsense.

Is this important for everyone? Clearly not.

Is this important for anyone? If we're unwilling to leave image quality on the table, then I believe that we need to understand what makes digital images tick and learn how our respective image processing programs address the range of digital elements.

Is control a lot of work? Absolutely, yes.

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