Almost Had A Conniption

First: the good news. I just got a notice from B&H that the underwater case for my new G9 has shipped! I was not expecting this until next week. The case was to be released by Ikelite on the 17th [today], so I expected shipping lag time, but it seems that the case will be here on Friday. I gotta test it out! It will be the finest piece of underwater photography gear that I’ve ever owned.

Now, the bad news… I downloaded the RAW files from the new Canon G9 [which will be taken underwater on our vacation] and opened them in Adobe Lightroom. Much to my horror, I watched the pictures change from nice to HORRID!

This is a thing that happens when you import pictures into Lightroom – it runs Adobe Camera RAW [henceforth refered to as ACR] to process RAW files, and ACR has some defaults that it uses. So when you import RAW images into Lightroom [this doesn’t happen with JPG files], you see the thumbnail picture as it appeared in your camera’s LCD. Then, when it has a chance to fully process the picture and generate its own thumbnail, the picture “shifts” to the preferences specified in the ACR profile for the supported camera. This happens with both the 5D and the XTi, but the G9 is currently “unsupported” in ACR and Lightroom 1.2. This means that the software doesn’t have a statistical baseline for guessing what the proper defaults should be. The minor changes in images from the big cameras have so far been minor and have caused us some minor inconveniences, but the changes “guessed” at for the G9 have changed the pictures beyone recognition. I was going to have to revert to using the Canon software programs to perform all image extractions, but there is some good news.

I discovered a site that talked of using a color chart and a Photoshop script to calibrate ACR and Lightroom to not just the model of your camera, but your specific camera and any chromatic deviations that its senor might exhibit. This may mean that I can keep using Lightroom and make sure that it does not change my photos to look different than they were captured. I will post more of this tomorrow with links and such, as I’m getting tired and want to sleep now.

One thing I did learn, however, is that the CR2, NEF, and even DNG formats [basically all RAW file formats] are all a slightly modified version of TIFF. Interesting, yes? Oh – and I learned another thing: there is a science behind color management in the digital world – and I have had only the faintest glimpse and am seriously intimidated. Wow. My brain hurts.

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