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Is there a good workflow to have ViewNX do lens correction and then simply output new RAW file?

948 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Dec 17, 2012 11:39 AM by Kirby Krieger RSS
Bmachine Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Dec 16, 2012 4:26 PM

The great thing about the jpg options in most cameras (well, at least Nikon) is that they include the appropriate lens corrections.  If you use RAW, however, you have to apply lens distortion corrections yourself. 


As we know, Aperture sadly has no lens correction built-in.  You can add the PTLens plugin but that is an external plugin which means that if you apply it, Aperture writes a new TIFF file with the correction baked in.  If you also want to do some image corrections such as saturation, white balance, etc..., you should do that first while the image is still in raw format.  But if you also want to do some cropping and straightening, you need to do that AFTER PTLens because the plugin assumes it is working with an original image.  So then you must wait for the plugin work to be done and then apply final cropping and straightening.  If you then need to make a change to saturation or highlights or whatever, you have to go all the way back to square one, then re-run the plugin which saves another TIFF file and then redo the cropping and straightening.


If you are dealing with a couple of images, that is not a big deal.  But if you have a set of 100+ images, this becomes incredibly tedious.


After doing a little bit of research, it appears that Nikon's ViewNX should be able to apply the lens correction and save out a new .nef raw file.  I could then bring that into Aperture and do all standard correction the usual way.  I tried to do this but it seems that ViewNX is incredibly clumsy and crumbles very quickly under the weight of any large number of raw files.  It has frozen my machine with a spinning "Processing" message numerous times even though I did not ask it to "process" anything.


Does anyone have a good workflow to automate this lens correction process over a large (150) number of files in ViewNX?  Or is there a better way to do this?

I suppose I could just run PTLens first and then simply do everything on the TIFF files but I hate losing possibly critical information when it comes to lifting shadow details etc later on.


Thank you for any help.




iMac 24", OSX 10.8.2, Aperture 3.4.x, Nikon D600 nef files, ViewNX 2.6.x

Safari, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.1)
  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,550 points)

    Hi Bo,


    RAW is sensor data.  It is not an image-format file.


    In order to create an image from the RAW data, the file must be converted.  For this one uses a RAW converter.  RAW file goes in, image-format data comes out.


    Here is a short Adobe white paper I found invaluable when I was trying to understand RAW.


    The reasons to record RAW files instead of JPG (for instance) files are many -- you touch on them.  Most are because JPG must be 8-bit.  That throws away a lot of data.  Many more reasons are due to the fact that we prefer more powerful tools and more controls to make adjustments prior to "baking in" the adjustments.


    But -- this is critical -- you cannot actually edit or adjust any RAW file.  The file is _sensor_ data -- again, not an image-format file.


    So your workflow, when you want to use lens-correction, is to record RAW, import to Aperture, apply lens correction (save the new quasi-Originals as 16-bit TIFFs for maximum data-retention), and then apply adjustments.  You will still have a very useable range for White Balance and all other adjustments (I think it is either almost identical or imperceptibly close to the straight not-converted-to-16-bit-TIFF RAW Original, but I am not certain of this).


    A short experiment should be able to show you whether you lose any visible IQ when converting RAW to TIFF and "then simply do everything on the TIFF files".  I don't think you lose any critical information or detail.  Please let us know what you find out.  (Make two Versions.  Run one through PTLens, saving as 16-bit TIFF.  Make WB and H&S adjustments on one.  Lift.  Stamp on the other.  Examine at 100%.


    The important point -- other than the above -- is that you don't actually make _any_ adjustments to the RAW file, except those for which you have controls in the RAW Fine Tuning brick.  This is true even if the Original is in a RAW format.

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,550 points)

    You're most welcome  .

    Bmachine wrote:


    True indeed.  BUt the strange thing is that Nikon's viewNX appears to allow you to save a .nef file after making some adjustments.  That is what I saw when I was trying to make that &%$#@ software work.


    This is -- to me a least -- an acknowledged gray area.  Camera and lens engineers are now dealing with the ability to make what might be called (I've not seen this, fwiw) "virtual lenses":  in effect, software that re-maps recorded light data.  From an engineering standpoint, it is now makes sense to design less-expensive-to-make lenses and then apply a "virtual lens" to the data this actual lens causes to hit the sensor.  The image quality is _the same_.  (This is easy to understand -- lenses bend light into a desired pattern, and then sensors record it.  What is being done is reducing the amount of bending needed to be done by lens, and adding a software layer that mimics the bending-no-longer-being-done-by-the-lens.)


    The gray area -- again, to me, and know only what I happen to see on-line -- is what this does to "RAW".


    I don't know.  .  But keep in mind that "RAW" describes a family of proprietary sensor data file formats.  There is no RAW standard.  Every manufacturer sets their own.




    Message was edited by:  Added the bit after the "nomoticon" - Kirby Krieger

  • Jeffrey Jones2 Level 6 Level 6 (8,425 points)

    Don’t confuse NEF file with raw data. Nikon stores their DSLR raw data in NEF files, but that is not the only thing that a NEF file can be. In addition to — or instead of — raw sensor data, a NEF can contain a TIFF or JPEG image along with a number of other kinds of data.


    I haven’t used View NX, but I have used Capture NX. I don’t know for sure what you get if you save a NEF from View NX. But you can be sure it is not lens-corrected raw data. There are at several possibilities. What Capture NX would do is save the original unmodified raw data plus the edit steps telling Capture NX to re-apply the lens correction the next time you open the file. Capture NX is very much like Aperture in that it is a non-destructive workflow: it saves the original data plus whatever adjustments are required to reproduce your adjusted image. The difference is that Capture NX saves the edit steps in the NEF file itself, rather than in the library, as Aperture does. The problem is that only Capture NX can interpret the edit steps. If you import the NEF into Aperture, Aperture reads the raw data and ignores the Capture NX data.


    Perhaps View NX does something similar, but another possibility is that it simply renders the corrected image in TIFF or JPEG format, and stores that in the NEF, alongside the raw data.

  • William Lloyd Level 6 Level 6 (19,205 points)

    Well, Nikon owns the format so if anyone should be able to do this, it's Nikon


    That said, I _know_ of some cases where doing this (editing the RAW file with Nikon software and saving it before reading it in other RAW converter software like Aperture or Lightroom), has "corrupted" the file in a way that the 3rd party software cannot properly read the file.  The extra adjustments are not understood.


    I would suggest not doing it, or at the very least, making a backup of ALL RAW files that you're planning to work with in this way, in the event that they become unusable in all 3rd party software.

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,550 points)

    Bmachine wrote:


    So running [it] all frames that require it (primarily wide angles) through PTLens first and then doing all the rest over those TIFF16 is probably the only way to do this.

    Bo -- it would still be helpful to hear the results of a comparison test of IQ between an adjusted Version based on RAW and one based on a TIFF-from-PTLens, if you do it.  Thanks.




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