I recently have been shooting a lot of NEF ( Nikon’s RAW format) photographs with the Nikon D300. The size and depth of the minimally processed files allows for lots of latitude and adjustment before the conversion to a jpg. Shooting a jpg in camera does have benefits. Shooting sports, for example, where a faster frame rate is desired. Despite what magazines like Popular Photography, and many professional/advanced digital photographers say, that “you must shoot RAW” cliché really does not hold up under all circumstances. But, for a static image, where speed is not the objective, shooting in RAW can be a great option, particularly if you are going to pull the file into tools such as Photoshop, or Lightroom. And, you can work there around the somewhat limited dynamic range of digital photography, and change your exposure, white balance, and take advantage of the many options that the Camera RAW tools provide. Additionally, clone stamping and healing brushes tend to be much more powerful and precise with these files, as opposed to working with in-camera native jpgs.
Downsides? The files are huge. And, they cannot be natively viewed by many applications or web solutions. And, they do take slightly longer to capture in the camera. Yes, you wil indeedl notice this if you try any continuous sports shooting.
These were taken recently at Dodge Park in Worcester, And did the B&W conversions in Lightroom, and used the DXO Film Pack 3 tools. Film Pack 3 allows the photographer endless B&W, color negative/chrome slides, and cross processed film emulations, right down to the grain. It will have an impact on exposure, so don’t choose a filter such as Kodak Tri-X, and expect an exact replication, without a bit of trial and error. Still, a lot of fun.
Had I taken the above shot with a film camera, it is likely that the sun would be rendered more roundish, as opposed to a slightly overexposed mass. Still quite happy with the results, after some burning and dodging.
Lightroom will indeed recognize the chip information of modern day Integrated Circuited lenses, such as the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8, and the other modern day DX lenses. That is maybe the best DX lens Nikon has made, and they sell a ton of them, despite the rather steep price tag. If the lens suffers from any flaws, it is noticeable barrel distortion and keystoning, especially when you shoot wide. In Lightroom, you can apply profile-based lens corrections, which will take into account the focal length used for the shot. The results are straight vertical lines, which do not bow, or suffer from awkward looking geometry. Brilliant!
The temperature outside was about 8 degrees F, and it was almost physically impossible to take lots of shots. Shooting in RAW can be a lot like shooting film, though, so as one has a tendency to make each shot count, as opposed to the spray and pray approach that shooting in jpg seems to lend itself to. There are fun, and practical ways to use digital photography, as another tool in the bag.
Spring is on the way. Arthur’s Spring Trail sure hopes so.