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Sunday, January 17 Front Page >> Random Rants >> Camera RAW

Jun 18, 2003, 11:40pm

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RAW Image example
Here's my first RAW photo, with some post-processing done in Photohsop. I've scaled this to half the image capture size (original was 3000+ pixels wide), but be warned - this is a 600kb jpg file.

I forgot to mention in the previous rant what camera I actually bought.

It's an Olympus C-5050.

There's also another feature of the camera that, only for the first time tonight, I've been able to take advantage of, and it's awesome... this camera has the ability to deliver RAW format images - in other words, exactly what the CCD inside the camera captured, without any post-processing by the camera. Raw, naked pixel capture.

Previously, only the really expensive SLR digicams (like the Nikon D100, or the Canon EOS D1 series) offered this ability - as far as I know, this is the first sub $1000 camera to offer it.

Why is it important? Well, it isn't, if you don't have the tools to make use of it.

But tonight, I bought Adobe's RAW import / plugin for Photoshop, and got to play around with it for the first time. Amazing stuff. Not only do I have complete control over what the camera normally automates, but it results in more vibrant, detailed images.

The image above is the first one I shot - handheld, a macro shot of the keyboard on a shortwave radio. That's handheld, in crappy florescent light. The RAW import lets you negate that light source - you completely set it all. Amazing control over the imagery.

It does, unfortunately, show a serious flaw that plagues all high-resolution CCD captured images - if you look at the photo carefully, you'll see lots of purple fringing (called chromatic distortion) around high contrast areas. That is an endemic problem in all CCD image capturing - and no manufacturer has found a fix for it, other than pixel substitution, which the cameras normally do. Since this is a RAW import, with no camera post-processing, we see it pretty starkly.

The only CCD solution I know of that doesn't have chromatic distortion is the Foveon triple CCD. But their licensing and proprietary system is whack, and it's only in one major shipping camera at the moment - a Sigma S9. When Nikon or Oly picks up this technology, I may buy, but until then, I love this Oly.

PS... no one's made an offer on the Nikon Coolpix 4500 yet. Email me if you're interested.

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