I am new to shooting in raw. I have tried Darktable and RawTherapee and a like Darktable more. However, I am puzzled by one thing, how to get the images to look similar to the .jpg preview and, hence, look lifelike.
I understand that the purpose of processing a raw image is not to reproduce the jpg preview, but it seems to me that it is at least a similar representation of the image is a good starting point. In RawTherapee, the Auto-Matched Tone Curve make the image look this way. In Darktable, I am not able to achieve similar image.
Let me show an example, take the image from raw.pixls.us database,
which is take by the same type of camera as I have. If I open it in Darktable, it looks like this
It’s a choice. Most software do choices for you to start processing, so you have a similar jpg rendering. darktable do not do choices for you but let you choose yours. If you want to start near jpg rendering, maybe darktable is not for you. But if you want to choose entirely the results and understand that this choice could let you more possibilities by giving you more choices to process your images and not doing them at your place, so welcome to darktable.
And to complete paolod and my answer, you could then find your good starting point to process by images (and not software one) by saving à preset to each module and applying them on all images, to apply it automatically on future importer ones.
When I first jumped into darktable, that was my main concern.
After a couple of months (and many videos and post readings), I started to feel that usually you have to tweak a small group of modules to get you to the starting point.
That was before scene referred.
After that workflow became the default, that small group of modules became smaller, so it became much easier to get a good starting point.
This is my interpretation. (Which I don’t claim to be better than the ooc rendering. But there are some things in the latter that I don’t like)
Same here. But then, I realized I was in some cases trying to undo what had already been done, and adding what I wanted on top was just slinging the data back and forth. And so now, while I have a default filmic curve in my proof processing, I usually disable it when I open images I want to work further to see what the linear RGB looks like, and go from there.
This is a good point and I had been suspecting to run into this problem.
May be it is best to explain that I am not into heavily processing all my images (yet). Until now, I have been shooting in jpg and, in fact, mostly satisfied. But here and there, I felt like the image could benefit from post-processing. And I have actually been using Darktable for this even with the jpg’s. Since much more can be accomplished when editing raw I would like to give it a go in the following sense: when I return from a photo trip I would like to be able to play with a few images and get the others (hopefully almost effortlessly) developed in a similar way as they are from the camera. Is it possible to achieve this with a well tailored style in Darktable, or is my best bet for this purpose to shoot in raw+jpg?
But I strongly advise you to read again the manual section linked by Mica above, specially the Process section.
You’ll see that, at the core of my edit, lie exposure, filmic and color calibration (if you import my xmp file, you’ll notice that I struggled a bit with the color calibration module, full of comes and go’s)
As for mass editing, I’m still not there, I have to learn how to do it with styles. Sometimes, though, simply copy and pasting edits from one image to another works fine (when the images are similar).
Since you’re beginning with raw, I’d shoot raw+jpg.
What also could be interesting is looking through the playraw category here; not necessarily to study how a certain effect was obtained, but to see what’s possible and why editing raw is interesting. Personally, I like a less contrasted look (and less sharpened) than the OOC image.
You also can get the .xmp sidecars to study how an image was obtained, but that might be a bit overwhelming for some images.
And you really win with high-iso images, where the camera can get a bit heavy-handed with the denoising. Not surprising, as the camera cannot take a minute to calculate the jpeg image (a second is already a long time…)
@gadolf: I just gathered some basic settings I use all the time in a style, and take it from there. There’s too much difference between days for me to get fully automated mass editing going, so the style just handles a few basic settings that suit me. E.g. I need a bit more exposure correction than the defaults, and I like using local contrast. I also add a bit of sharpening (one of the “Diffuse and Sharpen” presets). Some others (like common crops) have module presets, which usually need tuning.
But if I have a series taken under the same conditions and where I want the same “look”, I edit one, then copy the history stack to the others.
I wandered through just this sort of evolution to my thinking, and tried raw+jpeg for a bit for the same reasons. Y’know what got me to finally go all-raw? The size of the camera JPEGS!
I like to make 800x600 “proof” JPEGs as my default processing. They’re easily schleppeded over dodgy internets, and the small size (I think) deter’s unauthorized use, or at least hobbles it. I don’t own a camera that’ll make a JPEG smaller than twice that size. If they did, I might still be doing raw+jpeg…
Well, probably not. The software I use writes the processing toochain in the JPEG metadata, and I can open a JPEG with the option to instead, read that toolchain, open the source file, and re-apply the processing. That way, I don’t have to re-bulid the toolchain from scratch for each rendition. The only way I think you can get close to that is to use the camera manufacturers’ software; yech, for other reasons…
You could have a look at this old tutorial by Aurélien:
Instead of color balance, use color balance rgb, and just add the preset basic colorfulness for a start, then tweak later if needed.
For local contrast, you can either use local contrast, or (if you have a powerful computer and/or a GPU that provides OpenCL acceleration) the new diffuse or sharpen module with the add local contrast preset.
When tweaking the basic colourfulness preset, I found that adding more chroma to the shadows and less to the highlights in colour balance rgb really helped to get rid of the slightly flat grey look whilst avoiding making colours in the mid tones and highlights too lurid. Worked for me anyway…
This is a bit unrealistic…I think you need to shoot both for now and also abandon the notion that the raw is just a better version of the jpg waiting to happen…you will find the raw data is just that very raw. It gives you access to an unmodified source of the light information from your camera.
Your jpg is a baked in recipe created by your camera manufacturer. So first you will never match it bang on for sure and the effort to do so will be time consuming…
Having said that for sure with some practice you can and will be able to if you so choose likely come somewhat close to it but really the advantage of raw is access to that unprocessed data giving you the raw canvas to process and create the image…
So there are advantages to raw images but also its not by default a better version of your jpg just waiting to happen…when you embrace that you will be off to the races…