Lightroom/Camera Raw: Transferring camera JPG processing to DNG files

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Shooting in RAW (and converting them to DNG) has several advantages, but one major disadvantage is that the (initial) quality (apart from resolution and no information loss) is usually less than JPG pictures. In many cases the camera JPG processing is sufficient and it is therefore a pity that there is no possibility to transfer the camera JPG processing to RAW or DNG files. Now I am shooting RAW and JPG simultaneously and I was wondering if it is not possible to transfer the JPG processing which was applied by the camera, to the DNG files when converting from RAW to DNG. Or add it as an option in Lightroom.
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Jan Hoogendoorn

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Posted 6 years ago

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jdv, Champion

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This is pretty much what camera response profiles are for. Unfortunately, the secret sauce for how a camera bakes the raw data into a JPEG is just that: secret and proprietary.

You can mimic some of the built-in JPEG profiles using camera profiles.

But it is unlikely there will ever be a magic "match what was done in this JPEG" gesture, as the information necessary is unlikely to even be present in the JPEG metadata. Assuming the metadata is even accessible and isn't magically stashed away in some binary maker notes somewhere.
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Rob Cole

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You can get *very* close using Ottomanic Importer - Camera emulation mode.

Just beware: you must do some tricky setup work for your camera if not already supported.

And that said, I do *not* recommend doing it! Why? - because I think it's better to learn to use Lightroom to get superior results to what your camera can do - if you can't do that, then what's the point of shooting raw and processing with Lightroom?

PS - I do use Ottomanic Importer for importing, but I *don't* use camera emulation mode, although I have helped a few folks, despite my recommendations to the contrary, get it set up for their cameras - and they just love it.

Why are the jpegs sometimes better?
* because they have luminance noise reduction applied at higher ISOs.
* because you are used to the color style of the camera manufacturer, or would prefer it even if not due to familiarity.
* because they have enhanced brightness and intelligent contrast enhancement/reduction applied.
* etc.

But once you set up presets to apply appropriate baseline adjustments, and learn to edit appropriately, Lr @v4 can do a better job than *any* camera. - yes: in my opinion.

As John mentioned, simply choosing a matching camera-emulation profile will get you half way there, and if high-iso: some luminance noise reduction - now you're 75% there. Toss in some combination of:

+exposure
-blacks
+whites
-highlights
+shadows

Maybe -contrast (a fair amount) and +clarity (a little) and a little +vib/sat if picture is way overly contrasty to begin with. Or likewise, +contrast if picture is way underly contrasty to begin with*.

and you may find you are plenty close, rather quickly, or beyond...

*PS - I recommend going easy on +contrast until you have all the -blacks +whites you'll want, since those things also increase contrast.

(there are times when +blacks and/or -whites are appropriate, likewise +highlights -shadows, but these are the minority cases, in my collection anyway) and obviously if you've overexposed it to begin with '+' will be the wrong direction for exposure...... - so take with salt: the point is - learn to be proficient in Lr and you won't even bother looking at those jpegs from camera anymore! :-)

Cheers,
Rob
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Jan Hoogendoorn

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Thanks for your detailed explanation, John and Rob. I am not very experienced with Lightroom yet and Lightroom's user guide is not very informative about this subject. Where can I find camera-emulation profiles and more information about how to use them?
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Rob Cole

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Hi Jan,

1. Camera Calibration -> Profile.
2. I am not well qualified to suggest additional information sources, but in general, just pick the one that looks the best ;-)

You can also create your own, but that's probably jumping the gun at this point.

Rob
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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