Monday, 13 March 2017

ways to cook up a RAW file

No matter what I've never been happy with being in a monogamous relationship with Out Of Camera JPG's

So to me the only question is "how to process it". Raw processing tools have come a long way in the last dozen years and we've seen a lot of movement in tools. Myself I'm always looking around at what I can use to process things with. While I'm a long time Photoshop user I've been reticent to keep upgrading Photoshop (which isn't cheap) just so that I can keep processing my RAW files?

Clearly that wasn't appealing (or financially justifiable) and so I've always been on the hunt for tools. Over time I've used also dcraw , Photomatix, RawTherapee and of course recently Snapseed (which I've been evaluating here for some few months on my blog here).

I like Snapseed because its fast, its free and it runs on my phone. Considering that I like to travel the phone (which is really a octa core CPU in my pocket) allows me to process stuff out in the field (or in this case at home) in a convenient manner.

But is it any good?

This post really just serves to show how well Snapseed can compare to the "PC" based alternatives.

So today I took a picture which I thought was a nice processing challenge. Black and White with details I could see in the whites and and in the blacks.

So here is the OOC JPG

which isn't bad but a little disappointing.

Good old dcraw has the advantage of being free and allows me to make 16bit TIFFS if I wanted to then process that in a version of Photoshop that won't support my RAW files.

better, but it actually blew the reds making the snow a little discoloured ... so I'd need to fiddle.

So I whacked it into RawTherapee where I needed to play a little with a few bits and adjust levels and I also employed a little bit of ToneMapping (which is exactly what what Snapseed or Photomatix does).

So here I've managed to get some of the tones in the waters but lost a bit of the sense of "blackness" ... I  could fiddle more but


This file took the least work, but that I liked the most. It controlled the levels in the development, I applied a little tone mapping (the HDR tools) where I could also work on enriching the water ripple and sky reflection details. As you can imagine getting it to look "perfect" requires a monitor which is perfect so at the end of the day (across 3 monitors) I prefer this one. The "proof" would be in a print (and getting that right).

So how does Snapseed actually stack up with the details if you were then wanting to actually use this to make a full sized print from the the files:

So in the same order:





The astute will observe that these are all 50% magnification because its my experience that what you observe on a screen at 50% is about what you end up seeing on a well made print at large sizes.

So, in summary all really good ... so essentially there is no penalty for sharpness in using Snapseed and indeed even if you didn't like the specific tonals I pulled, well then that is something you could simply adjust.

That it folks ... your call ... but I'm super happy with using Snapseed. Its free, fast and convenient. My only grips is that I need to use raw2dng converter to convert my RW2 files (although the maker claims the latest version works on RAW on android devices it doesn't an any of mine and not on some others either given the support forum).

People on various internet forum seem to obsess about expensive methods of how to back up their images when travelling and have ways to process them too. Well if you ask me you can get a bunch of SD cards for the trip for next to nothing. They don't need to be large (unless you're doing a ton of video) and to be honest SD cards are at least as reliable as the hard disks in those expensive "media back up" tools.

You can use your Android phone to back up your SD card to another SD card (if you're really that paranoid) via the reader (especially if you stick to smaller cards like 8 or 16GB (which are bloody cheap and take thousands of pictures).

I personally can't imagine filling up even on 8GB card with images on a holiday and then being able to ever find time to look at them ... but then I suspect for some people photography is about using the camera "like a pro" and never really doing much with the 12,000 images they took.

Anyway, I'm off to Prague in the next few days and I'll be able to simply take my phone (which I would) and my camera and a USB OTG cable + card reader.

Then I can either:

  • use the OOC JPG
  • process with Snapseed
then post to here, email, post to social media ... or even just keep to print later

Enjoy this revolution of free tools and powerful transportable processing in phones - I am.


gnarlydog said...

Processing images is a preoccupation of an extremely small percentage of people that use a mobile phone as their photographic tool to capture images. While the cutting edge mobile phones will boast RAW capture capabilities it's purely a marketing trick, in my opinion.
I don't see too many "selfie stick" users capturing much in RAW, let alone being able to distinguish any differences in a Jpeg processed image from one in RAW, particularly if viewed on a mobile phone. You are a freak, in good way, that even bothers doing a comparison between different software! But in reality I see that the difference is purely academic.
Furthermore taste will differ so much from user to user that any subtle variation is truly lost on most viewers.
I for one continue to use PS as it allows me to edit an image with multiple layers, masks and tools that are not often available on competitors' editors.
One thing: I don't photograph with mobile phones and categorically refuse to view ANY images on that tiny screen too. I kind of feel insulted to reduce my viewing pleasure to such inferior display device; a bit like the level of appreciation of a classical museum masterpiece on a ... postage stamp.

obakesan said...

Hey gnarly

It wasn't written as directions for you to be forced to follow.

obakesan said...

And the above images were with my GF1 and the 20f1.7

Øyvin Eikeland said...

I do also enjoy shooting raw and editing in snapseed. I work a lot quicker getting the exposure the way I want it in snapseed than anything on my mac. I was curious about why you did not manage to open your raw files directly and did some digging. I downloaded a GF1 raw file from here:
I dropped the file into the same folder on my phone that the camera app stores to.
I was not able to view the file in my normal gallery app for some reason.
I was not able to open it directly from snapseed.
I was not able to send it to snapseed from Rawdroid pro (my favorite RAW browser)
I was able to open it directly from Rawvision! Just long press image->Press share icon->Send to->Snapseed
I was also able to open it directly from Portfolio!

Perhaps you could you give it a try?

Øyvin Eikeland

obakesan said...

Hi Øyvin

I am not able to do it directly with Snapseed on any of my Android devices. What I need to do is:
* set the camera to RAW + JPG (which yields 2 files RW2 and JPG both with identical names just the extension varies. I set the minimum size for the JPG)
* copy the pairs which I wish to Snapseed edit to my Phone (using ES File and the OTG cable
* run raw2dng (selecting the RW2 files) to make DNG files in that same folder. Note that its important to pick a folder which it can write to as some versions of Android prevent writing by apps to other folers than the Phone storage).
*my gallery apps display the JPGs and when I choose "share to" from viewing an image Snapseed seems to know to then open the DNG file (it will not do anything with the native RW2 raw files)
* I understand that many RAW browsers indeed only look at the embedded JPG. The hint will be if you get the Develop Cycle occur in snapseed when you share to it. If not then its opening the JPG (or embedded JPG).

obakesan said...

Quick video for the above instructions

obakesan said...

PS can't justify the pro version of Rawdroid to find it doesn't work, can you confirm that it's actually not just sending the embedded jpg please?

I tested the demo version and it most certainly only uses the embedded JPG

Øyvin Eikeland said...

Rawdroid did _not_ work (read my post again)
The apps that _did_ work was:

I confident that they do not use the embedded JPG as snapseed identifies the image as RAW and lets me access the image tool.

If you find any more apps that does the trick please let me know.

gnarlydog said...

I am confused: you say the image was taken with GF1 but then processed with a mobile phone? is that correct?
If so, how can you possibly see what is going on with such a small screen?
I mean: when I edit I work at least on a 24" and then enlarge (zoom in) my work to great extent to see what I am doing. Sorry, but anything else is just hacking to me...
Of course, for any image it all depends what the final viewing platform will be.

obakesan said...

Hey Gnarly

You have now got it right. Indeed the vast majority of my posts on Snapseed have involved either my GF1 or GH1 or my friends E-M5ii ...

You'll note the USB OTG cable and card reader mentioned, that is to easily move the RW2 file (which is the Panasonic proprietary RAW file format) to my phone for processing.

I understand that using a 24" monitor is handy, but in the field I don't normally have access to that. Also (having used Photoshop for about seventeen years) I'm of the view that it has its purposes but for getting tonal ranges and contrasts right 99% of that is not needed.

In the main I'd say that 99% of the viewings of my images will be my friends to whom I post them to on Facebook or my blog. So I'm of the view that pixel peeping a 4600 x 3456pix image for resize down for facebook is pointless and there is nothing that I can't see (that I need to see) on the image using my phone.

Additionally the colour gamut and gamma of my phone will more closely resemble my friends devices so by editing there I get the best chance to send to them what I want them to see.

Lastly my phone screen has 1280 x 720 pixels which I am quite sure that I view more closely than the 24" screen on my workstation. So in fact I can see things quite well. The phones pinch and zoom is so easy to use that it makes working with photoshop (without my digitising tablet) feel cumbersome.

The UI on snapseed is entirely different to PS so you need to stop thinking in PS ways and think in Snapseed ways ... for sure its not something I'd ever want to work with in the same way as I work with Photoshop (or Lightroom) but it does indeed work for me.

I know some other people who it works for too ... if it doesn't work for you then ... well .. it doesn't have to ;-)

Øyvin Eikeland said...

I have been using my phone or my tablet (10") to edit photos when I am on the go. My pictures are only meant for facebook, instagram, my blog(private) or my photo gallery(private). I turn to RAW when I encounter a scene that my phone(DMC-CM1) or camera(DMC-G7) has problems exposing correctly or the white balance is off. I prefer the exposure correction controls in snapseed. They are more intuitive than what I use on my mac (photo ninja, rawtherapee). When I get home I often find it hard to match or improve the image using any program on my mac. To you it may be hacking. To me it is useful and enjoyable.

obakesan said...

Hi Øyvin

indeed I tried that one too ... I did not try the pro version but the one that I tried was that "free" version. It was so amazingly slow that it never actually loaded an image. It just sat there cycling. I thought I must have got it wrong, deleted my reply and tried the other one (which you identified in your subsequent post as being one that didn't work) and it (as you found) didn't work (only sending the JPG to Snapseed.

Is RawVision able to do this in a timely manner (like I gave up after about 5 minutes waiting for the spinning circle)

Also I really really disliked the navigation and screen presentation, so I'm unlikely to buy it because while clunky raw2dng and my methods of moving the files (and then seeing them in the gallery) works across all my devices (and is relatively quick)

Thanks for your inputs

obakesan said...


The developer seems to be unfriendly and uninterested in feedback.

So based on his answers to my feedback I wouldn't buy the software

Øyvin Eikeland said...

I am not giving up on you yet. You can do this!
I have made two videos for you:

Now I am going to go pestering the developer of rawdroid to make this work from his app also.

Good luck!
Øyvin Eikeland

obakesan said...


thanks heaps for taking the time to make those (I just watched them and commented) and comment here.


Best Wishes

gnarlydog said...

Photography can be so many things to different people. I don't find the social aspect of the "constant and immediate connection" the most driving force for me or I would indeed embrace the need to post images while out and about.
I am yet to encounter the situation where I can not wait to get to a large monitor to edit my images, no matter how long that takes.
Of course, rarely my images these days are documentation of my life but rather a study of a world that I want to look surreal
The way I see it: if one does need to feed the fanbase of his/her FakeBook account constantly and "as it happens" then I think these mobile editors are essential.
However, results speak for themselves :-)

obakesan said...

Gnarly, your comments belie a negative judgement of many things (revealed in your choice of words).

I can identify with the basis of things you have implied, for once I had a job where I went to work daily and had a well appointed computer. I went out infrequently and part of my "grokking" of my experience was my photography, which extended into the development of the films, the contact sheeting and even to making post cards which I would send to people (contact prints for instance from my 4x5 film).

But I left that job (and the computer) and I left my house and it is something I have done before. In 1999 for instance I left everything for 3 years on the road. Back then things were not as compact as they are today. But that surely marked the transition from what one can have with a house you live in (for many years at a time), space for a large desktop computer and lastly time to sit before it.

Email is a good example of this. Once I had a morning ritual to check my mails, this started in the 90's when I began using email for work and had an IT job with a well appointed desk and space. Then I soon developed a better system at home to distinguish between my work and private emails (private emails were regarded as "not official use"). I of course had a desktop. My time in Japan (and my small 1LDK aparto) forced me into a minimial style which I embraced. I had a laptop which soon became a portal as well as a repository of scanned negatives and the mounting digital camera images. But having a laptop meant that I didn't need to be in a specific room in the house for doing that.

This was extended again in about 2008 when I got my first phone with email ability. I discovered that the old adage of "do it now" enabled me to quickly respond to emails as they occured (my phone notified me) and (because it had a proper QWERTY keyboard) I could type a reply and it was done. Over time I found myself using less and less my desktop computer at home, save for the use of Photoshop CS4 (at that time) to tweak and edit images for various reasons (sometimes blog posts, sometimes weddings, sometimes funerals ...).

As you may know (for I know you've followed my blog for a while) I have moved house and am living in a small flat in Finland right now. I have with me only a 10" tablet, a laptop and my phone (as well as some assorted m43'rds cameras and a reduced lens stock). So this transition from using phone for email has continued and developed for me using my phone for more things now (indeed its my internet router and internet connection here in finland where I sit typing this on my laptop).

You are right ... there are many reasons for photography and its easy to take the view that your views are "more correct" than others. But the answer is found in the understanding that "one may not actually have walked that mile in the others shoes" and that your guesses as to what their motivations are are rooted in your own experience (necessarily).

Your comments seem to presuppose that I am somehow "wrong" or a wayward padawan who does not yet grasp as the master has seen ... perhaps. Perhaps we just walk different roads or perhaps I've been on yours and made a change.

Life is change ... one either embraces it or is angered by it

gnarlydog said...

You are right that there is an undertone in my comments and I apologize if it felt that it was directed to you.
I see it more a global thing instead of your personal case.
You seem to have very valid points in using a mobile solution that is more compact than a sit-down big ass PC and monitor, old school style.
What maybe stemmed my reaction is the erosion of a traditional social interaction that I am missing dearly; the face to face one.
Way too often I am surrounded by social zombies, my family included.
We seem to be so preoccupied by what our phones say that we ignore the persons that one think are dear to us, next to us.
Social gathering are becoming awkward to me where the flow of conversation is interrupted by my friends having to attend to the phone, constantly. ( I need new friends...)
Xmas is no longer what it used to be... most of my family is busy on the small screen too engrossed with updates to be unable to communicate with the people present. And you may guess the subject: FakeBook.

So, yes, I am an old grumpy bastard that is swimming upstream against the main stream of mobile users that "connect" us, but do they?
So, maybe one day I will see the light, or maybe not, to find the need to detach myself from the real moment so I can share the wonderful life that I lead (or not) with other, right there and then.
I try to not let technology get in the way of my life too much and live it instead to the fullest and savor the experiences of being with others living in the moment.
Needles to say your mileage (situation/case) does seem to vary :-)

PS no room for even a laptop in your life?

obakesan said...


thanks for the clarification ... it was unclear if you were directing that (and other missives) at me. It was reasonable to assume because it was a comment on my blog post and didn't contain anything to say that it was "general musing".

you ask:

"PS no room for even a laptop in your life?"

I said above in the 5th para: "I have with me only a 10" tablet, a laptop and my phone (as well as some assorted m43'rds cameras and a reduced lens stock)"

But as I mentioned, just like my old Nokia phone gave me access to email and liberated me from the need to be before my laptop, so too has Snapseed done that for me.

I can't only speak well of the move to the modern as indeed typing anything of lenght is a miserable experience on on screen devices. However (being the engineer) I've found that many of these tools have specific purposes. So while I have a garage full of sockets and other wrenches for working on my motorbike I also still have a leatherman in my pack on trips.

After the death of my wife (there is a lot here on grief) my friends (you know, the actual human ones) have followed me on Facebook because they care. They also like to know what I'm doing and are very happy to see what I'm seeing. So Facebook (for instance) enables me to share that with them rather than me having to maintain lengthy email lists to distribute.

The last big print I made was in the staircase of the house I sold in Australia. It was taken with my 4x5 camera. While I have all my BTZS tubes and film developing equipment here in Finland with me, I just haven't sat still long enough to order chemistry from Germany and do that.

I'm off to Prague tomorrow for a week (as an example) and so even though I'm not going to work I like to share what I see. Meaning that I can do it conveniently at a cafe while waiting for my coffee / lunch or filling in time before I go to bed at the hotel means I'm actually more likely to share it, than have it pile up into a large collection of stuff to do that I may never get done.

I share posts like this because while I totally know its not main stream, I don't think my blog posts are ever aimed there anyway ...

Best Wishes

obakesan said...

PS: I don't let my phone interupt my living life when interacting with friends. I hate it when I see people refuse to get off the phone even at a checkout (I don't talk or text there).

I am conscious that living as sharing can and does distract from the sense of placement in the place you travel to ... its as if you're just in "Disney land" for a brief time ... never having left.

I observed this back in 2000 in Japan (where being in IT was perhaps more connected then than many are nearly 20 years later) and have made steps to ensure that I do place myself in the place.

I enjoy my daily outings (snow is nearly gone now, so no more daily ski) and never take my phone when in places like the Hanhikoski ski trip recently (not that there was even coverage out there)


gnarlydog said...

Yours seems like a sensible use of the technology to me, unlike most of the people that surround me (where phones do indeed intrude in our social gatherings)
I see just one risk, and that would be mine solely: if I keep on connecting with the distant friends I dedicate less time to make new one, in the place where I am now?

As I left USA years ago I maybe subconsciously longed to be still with them and I engaged in maintaining a memory more than I should?
Not sure what is healthier for me: live in the present and work towards the current environment or maintain a distant memory of the times gone by that I know will not come back.
I don't know what is a healthy level of engagement and what could be instead preventing me from seeking new relationships...

obakesan said...


let me know if you wish the above comment published or if it was indeed intended to be personal communications.

On to your topic I see that throughout my life many friends have come in and gone out. They were no less friends for that. Sometimes its clearly a situational relationship, sometimes is based on stuff that endures.

It is hard to identify which is which by examining it and so I find that one has to allow the answer to come in time.

Some relationships I thought would endure have not, others which I placed no emphasis on at formation have become lifetime relationships.

There is a cliche that says "if you love something set it free ..." my observation is that true friendships can tolerate your absence for even decades as you pursue other things in life. Just as my door is always open to some of my friends I know theirs is for me too. It matters not if I make my way to their door often.

Some blog posts of mine which may provide input into this question:

in this one my view of congruence with your issue is that as we cycle through life we seem to come back to the same places but we are indeed changed and separated by that.

Best Wishes

Øyvin Eikeland said...

One more thing:
I actually prefer snapseed to the tools I have on my laptop. I get better results quicker. I have been able to find the last iteration of snapseed released for OSX but it is not as good as the current version for android. It also does not support retina mode so resolution on my macbook pro is low. I have been trying out android emulators on my mac to get snapseed into my "workflow" but it is not efficient or good. So there are two motivations for using snapseed: 1. I like it. 2. It is available when I am on the move. I wish they would make an updated version of snapseed for OSX.

obakesan said...


so the developer of RawVision not only patronisingly brushed off my review that the product does not actually use the RAW (instead using the embedded JPG) but then in email conversation says that he made no claims that it used the RAW data and asserted (essentially) what kind of idiot used a phone to do a demosiac anyway ...

So crap product and IMO crap attitude of the developer

Øyvin Eikeland said...

I downloaded (and paid) for all these RAW apps to try and find something that would allow me to browse RW2 files taken with my phone and edit them in snapseed. This was before snapseed started to support RW2 from my DMC-CM1. I was hoping to find an app that would convert the RW2 file to DNG on-the-fly when sharing to snapseed. Normally there will be 100-2000 photos in the Camera folder on my phone. Doing a batch convert is therefore out of the question. Now that snapseed is supporting RW2 I can browse the photos with the standard Lumix gallery app and share the files directly to snapseed. Problem solved (for me). I do not like RawVision either but I have not spent much time with it. Did you try Portfolio? Does it work better for you?

Portfolio video:

Link to Portfolio App:

Øyvin Eikeland