BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Katie Sliper

Imaging software woes

Can somebody explain to me why my photos look so different from one software program to the next? I have Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 and Digital Photo Professional (came with my camera). When I open a picture in one program it might look fine but way to bright, dark, etc. when opened with the next. I shoot in the RAW format and am using the same computer monitor to view them. Why is there such a difference straight out of the camera, no editing no adjustments made? Which do I trust when it comes time to get prints from a lab? By the way I do not speak computer so please respond as though you are talking to a first grader. Thank you!!

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5/14/2007 9:52:15 AM

Why do 2 apparently very similar tennis rackets feel really very different when you actually play with them?

Any number of reasons: different designers, different designs, different manufacturers, different products, different testers, different test results. Etc.
Which is why it is sensible to actually test a PP workflow from beginning to end, upto and including side-by-side prints, and side-by-side on-screen, to see what works best for YOU, before committing to one.

Have fun!

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5/14/2007 3:48:29 PM

Bob Fately   Katie, let me try to be a bit more helpful and a bit less bombastic. Unlike JPEG or TIF, RAW file formats are not the same, and different programs seem to interpret the color information slightly differently. Others have noticed this same issue when using various photo programs - Aperture, ACDSee, the software the camera manufacturer includes.

Now the lab you use most likely doesn't accept RAW files - they generally want either JPEG or TIF. So you will use your computer to create the JPEG, say, files that you will send to the lab. The point is, what matters is how closely your monitor matches the lab's monitor - if they're close, then a JPEG that looks good on your screen ought to come out well from the lab.

In other words, if you use Elements to make a JPEG and have to tweak it one way, and then used that Digital Photo Pro on the same RAW file and made a second JPEG that looks identical to the first, you would probably need to do a different set of adjustments to get there but if you send both files to the lab hey should come back the same.

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5/14/2007 4:52:32 PM

Of course! Bob to the rescue! Jumping in galantly to save the damsel in distress!

How romantic.

. . .

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5/14/2007 7:03:59 PM

Katie Sliper   Thank you for your help!

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5/15/2007 4:47:17 AM

Jon Canfield   Katie -

Some of what you're seeing is the differences in the way Canon DPP reads images compared to the way Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) does by default. ACR applies auto adjustments to your RAW files when you open them unless you turn this feature off.

Depending on where you send your images for printing, you'll want to use JPEG and either sRGB (safest), or Adobe RGB (better for printing) - ask the lab. If they can't answer your question on this, find another lab! For instance, I prefer to print for clients from TIFF files with Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB. Walmart, Costco, etc will want JPG and sRGB.

Hope this helps!

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5/15/2007 6:52:39 PM

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