Working with RAW

Alpha Tutorial :28 - Working with RAW

Using Sony’s Image Data Converter (IDC) software to sort, rate and edit raw files shot from a Sony camera.

1. Photographers often take a great many shots, so the first thing you should do is to rate them. Go through your favorite shots and rank them from one to five stars. We like to rank the ones a single star first on our first pass. Then we use the Filter drop-down menu on the top left to only see our selection. If there are ones we really like then we can go in and refine our ratings.

 Photographers often take a great many shots, so the first thing you should do is to rate them

2. Double-click on an image to start editing. The most important setting to check first is to go to Display Control on the right and check both ‘Display clipped shadows’ and ‘Display clipped highlights’. This way, if you increase brightness or darkness too much, IDC will show you where the shadows and highlights are being lost. While you’re at it, check Distortion Compensation and turn it on to automatically straighten out any lens distortion.

 Double-click on an image to start editing

3. Next, you’ll want to adjust the image’s brightness. If you think the overall picture looks too dark or too bright. Here we see how useful displaying clipped highlights is, we’ve pushed the brightness too far and IDC is showing us where the highlights are being ‘clipped’, or being pushed to full white so no detail remains. In case this happens, we can lower the brightness setting.

 Next, you’ll want to adjust the image’s brightness

4. If you want to quickly change the look of your image without spending too much time on it, you can head straight to Creative Style and try out the many different presets to see which one you like.

If you want to quickly change the look of your image without spending too much time on it, you can head straight to Creative Style and try out the many different presets to see which one you like.

5. The next setting we want to adjust is White Balance. Most of the time, you can get a spot-on white balance by using the Automatic preset.

The next setting we want to adjust is White Balance. Most of the time, you can get a spot-on white balance by using the Automatic preset.

6. Of course, you don’t always have to adjust white balance for accuracy, you can play around with the different presets for a warmer or cooler look.

 Of course, you don’t always have to adjust white balance for accuracy, you can play around with the different presets for a warmer or cooler look.

7. If the accurate white balance eludes you, just the ‘Specify gray point’ feature. Use the eyedropper tool and click on a neutral gray area in your image, and you should be able to get a fairly accurate white balance.

 If the accurate white balance eludes you, just the ‘Specify gray point’ feature. Use the eyedropper tool and click on a neutral gray area in your image, and you should be able to get a fairly accurate white balance.

8. You can also manually adjust the white balance for effect instead of accuracy. Use the color temperature slider to make your image bluer or more yellow, and use the color correction tool to increase the amount of green or magenta in your picture.

You can also manually adjust the white balance for effect instead of accuracy

9. Next, we’ll increase the amount of contrast in our picture. There are two ways to do this; the first is to use the Contrast slider.

 Next, we’ll increase the amount of contrast in our picture

10. The other way to increase contrast is by using the Tone Curve tool (remember to have it set to control brightness in the drop-down menu). Points to the left of the tone curve control shadows, while points to the right control brightness. A standard tone curve is an ‘S’ curve, where we lift the tone curve up on the upper end to increase the brightness of the brightest areas, and we push down the tone curve on the lower end to increase the darkness of the darkest areas. Remember to display your clipped shadows and highlights so that you don’t accidentally lose any detail with too much contrast.

 The other way to increase contrast is by using the Tone Curve tool

11. Sometimes it’s hard to see just where your image is being clipped without zooming in close, so just click on the ‘Actual Pixels’ icon on the top toolbar to see the effect your adjustments have on the picture.

Sometimes it’s hard to see just where your image is being clipped without zooming in close, so just click on the ‘Actual Pixels’ icon on the top toolbar to see the effect your adjustments have on the picture.

12. To zoom back out to full view, just click on the ‘Fit to Window’ icon.

 To zoom back out to full view, just click on the ‘Fit to Window’ icon.

13. To see the difference between before and after you make a change, go to View and enable ‘Show Double View’ first, then make the changes you want. The split window will allow you to compare your picture pre and after adjustments.

To see the difference between before and after you make a change, go to View and enable ‘Show Double View’ first, then make the changes you want.

14. If there are areas which keep getting clipped no matter how much you adjust the brightness or the tone curve, the D-Range Optimizer can help. This feature processes highlights and shadows individually to correct them for optimal brightness and tone. Check on Auto to see if it fixes your problem.

 If there are areas which keep getting clipped no matter how much you adjust the brightness or the tone curve, the D-Range Optimizer can help.

15. For finer control, use manual. The Amount slider controls the overall effect, dragging to the right compresses the dynamic range more strongly. The Highlight effect adjusts the brightest parts of the image, dragging the slider to the right increases brightness while dragging it to the left makes them darker. The Shadow slider does the same for the dark areas of your picture.

For finer control, use manual

16. The Color feature lets you tweak the look of your colors. Hue adds an overall color cast to the image, while Saturation increases or decreases the intensity of colors.

The Color feature lets you tweak the look of your colors
The Color feature lets you tweak the look of your colors
The Color feature lets you tweak the look of your colors

17. Shading Compensation corrects for the look of vignettes in your picture. If you have corners darker than the rest of the image, you can use this feature to increase their brightness.

 Shading Compensation corrects for the look of vignettes in your picture

18. Sharpness increases or decreases the amount of texture and overall crispness of an image. While making an image sharper makes textures more prominent, you can also increase the appearance of noise by over-sharpening.

 Sharpness increases or decreases the amount of texture and overall crispness of an image

19. If you have a noisy image because it was shot at high ISO, you can use the Noise Reduction feature to reduce the appearance of noise. Usually, just setting it to Auto should be enough, but you can also fine-tune it manually. Be careful, as over-reducing the appearance of noise will also smooth out textures and fine detail. If color noise is the problem (speckles of red, green and blue), use the ‘Color noise reduction’ slider to specifically target those areas.

 If you have a noisy image because it was shot at high ISO, you can use the Noise Reduction feature to reduce the appearance of noise

20. To output your work in an easily shared format with all the adjustments you’ve made, click on the Output icon on the top right.

To output your work in an easily shared format with all the adjustments you’ve made, click on the Output icon on the top right.

21. To save your adjustments, click on the Save icon on the top right.

To save your adjustments, click on the Save icon on the top right.