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5D Raw Color Problems (CS2)

A couple of months ago, in the middle of traveling, I started to shoot raw (after spending the last years shooting jpg) and taught myself a little along the way. However, I noticed (and here, I’m not sure if something changed or if i hadn’t noticed before) about a month ago that there were certain files that just would not process normally with CS2. The jpg preview, both on the back of the camera and in photo mechanic, would look terrific with deep rich tones/colors, and the conversion via CS2 would look just outright different and awful. I’ve tried messing with the color space both in camera and in the conversion, but nothing seems to make a difference .. the conversions (especially on certain files) look nothing like the originals no matter what settings I put in.

So, what am I doing wrong? Is there any way with CS2 to process a raw to look exactly like the jpg preview? Clueless, and appreciate the help! Sorry if I’m missing something obvious, I’ve tried to search around but haven’t found anything that helps me.

by [a former member] at 2007-07-22 19:23:57 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Seattle , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I think that if you want your processed file to look like the camera-generated preview you should probably try Canon’s DPP software (which came with your 5D). Like that, both your raw file and the converter come from the same manufacturer. That would be my starting point. By the way, are you sure you have the right Adobe raw plug-in?

by DPC | 22 Jul 2007 21:07 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
You might try Lightroom, which will have the latest version of Adobe’s raw file processing engine. You can download it and use it for 30 days before buying (should you like it). The same with Capture One, which is very Canoncentric.

by Peter Calvin | 23 Jul 2007 01:07 | Dallas, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
I’m no raw expert, so sorry if this is either stupid and/or stating the obvious. Since the jpeg preview is basically an auto-corrected version of the raw image, doesn’t it make sense that once you convert to raw, you’ll need to do a lot of correction to get it back to how the cooked jpg version looked?

I know that when importing images in Lightroom, you can choose develop settings. ‘None’ seems to leave the settings which made the jpg preview look corrected. ’Zero’d’ strips those settings so that you get the uncorrected image, which can be dark and muddy, vastly different and requiring a lot of re-correction.

Could it be something along these lines? I’ve only worked with raw in Lightroom, so not sure this would translate to other programs.

by Bill Crandall | 23 Jul 2007 02:07 | Washington DC, United States | | Report spam→

Digital 101 tells us not to go by the jpeg version of an image. The jpeg you see on the back of the 5D is not accurate in terms of exposure etc. Of course the jpeg looks good since its been processed by the camera and given contrast. 5D RAW files are inherently low contrast and require some skill in properly converting them. I wouldn’t mess with the color space in the camera. It should be Adobe RGB (1998). Unless your camera has an actual problem, I think you might pick up Martin Evening’s book on photoshop. There is a huge difference between the way a jpeg looks and an unprocessed RAW file appears. A jpeg is actually missing lots of information and you would be cheating yourself if you shoot with a 5D on jpeg. There is no equivalent, but would you have shot slide film or Tri-X, say on a Leica, in some ‘low quality’ mode if there had been one?!

by Davin Ellicson | 23 Jul 2007 02:07 | Great Barrington, Massachusett, United States | | Report spam→
Another thing that you might want to know – the ‘color space’ setting on the camera has no effect on RAW files. They do not have a color space. As far as I know this setting is only written into metadata, and does not change the pixel data. However, I think that CS2 may read that metadata, as may the software which generates the JPEG preview. One thing that comes to mind is that you may be converting your RAW into sRGB — you should be converting into Adobe RGB.

Martin’s book is excellent. There are also some pdfs for free download here:


Look at Schewe’s Color Managed Workflow. There’s also a great pdf by Karl Lang called Rendering the Print. I don’t think the url will paste here, but you can google it.

by Jonathan Lipkin | 23 Jul 2007 04:07 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Matt, that is the reason why I dislike 5D when shooting in Raw. But logically that is what it should be, Raw…
Shooting Raw, you have AN UNPROCCESED NEGATIVE, while with a jpg file you have a “corrected” PRINT straight out from camera…
As Bill said, you can that can be corrected only with software later. But with Canon is pain in the ass. A Nikon camera is far more intelligent when shooting in Raw, settings are near to the jpeg format, or near to what you want. But with a Canon forget about it.

by Bevis Fusha | 23 Jul 2007 11:07 | Tirana, Albania | | Report spam→
And the same goes for the white balance. . . David Carr has a post right now on LS near this one titled “Is it Just me?” that might be worth reading. . . He never remembers getting skin tones to look right being so difficult when he shot film. . . with the 5D it can be another story.

by Davin Ellicson | 23 Jul 2007 11:07 (ed. Jul 23 2007) | Great Barrington, Massachusett, United States | | Report spam→
The screen on the back of the camera is a very poor guide to what a good file will look like. A perfect RAW file from my 5D looks like shit if you see it on the camera’s screen.

Have you calibrated your computer monitor?

by James Colburn | 23 Jul 2007 15:07 | Omaha, Nebraska, United States | | Report spam→
The problem is not jpeg vs raw, or a calibrated monitor. The LCD on the 5D is 20 times brighter than a computer screen, think laptop in direct sun vs your LCD screen.
The question is what do your prints look like?

by Jim McGill | 24 Jul 2007 23:07 | Yorba Linda, United States | | Report spam→
Well, ok, Jim, but one also needs to know how to process a RAW file properly. 5D files needs a bit of work on them always compared to some other cameras such as the Leica M8. . .

by Davin Ellicson | 25 Jul 2007 01:07 | Great Barrington, Massachusett, United States | | Report spam→
Sorry I posted then was out of touch – internet died immediately at my house :)

Of course I didn’t explain this too clearly the first time around, and I’d like to think thats because its kind of hard to explain :) This isn’t an issue with calibrated monitors, color space, brightness of the screen or anysuch — the ‘preview’ of what the file looked like (which is identical on the camera and in photo mechanic; and is something I assume valid enough for predicting what a ‘normal’ processing of the raw file would be. Otherwise, why have a preview on the camera, or in your sorting program, at all? especially if what it shows you is nothing like what the file would actually produce?) would look nothing like the processed raw no matter what I did. (when using CS2 and a couple of other raw processors).

Actually, I must thank David for suggesting the Canon software (which I hadn’t access to on the road). I tried it out and it happens to turn out exactly what I’m looking for. When you just tell it to ‘batch process’ without any adjustment it gives you what the camera/computer shows the raw file should look like. A raw processing of ‘raw’?

Sigh, i’m confusing myself :) Anyway, thanks for the help! I think its worked out now, which will suffice even if I don’t know what’s what here ;)

by [former member] | 25 Jul 2007 04:07 | Seattle, United States | | Report spam→
Hello Matt,
I have to say that I agree with David regarding DPP Digital Photo Professional. When I began to shot raw I tested both softwares, DPP and CS2 with plug ins for the specific raw file and, reluctantly since it would have been simpler to have one less program do deal with in the editing process, I had to admit that Canon knows Canon raw files better that Adobe does.

by Michele Molinari | 25 Jul 2007 13:07 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
“5D files needs a bit of work on them always compared to some other cameras such as the Leica M8”

Always? Not the RAW files coming out of my 5D…

by James Colburn | 25 Jul 2007 15:07 | Omaha, Nebraska, United States | | Report spam→
“5D files needs a bit of work on them always compared to some other cameras such as the Leica M8”…. i’d say not. if it’s white balanced and exposed correctly a 5D CR2 file is near perfect on most occasions… especially when compared to the Leica M8, which in my experience, needs more work.

DPP is a great application. However you will get better results converting CR2 files to JPEG using Adobe CS3 and Camera RAW.

by Kevin Coombs | 25 Jul 2007 19:07 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
Hi Matt, well for me I’m still feeling my way around but now have a 5D after a 20D which was a significant step in the right direction. I started processing my raw files with Canon DPP but abandoned it in favour Capture One which gives so many more user-friedly features before converting to TIFF, WB adjustment for starters though later versions might offer this.

My colour space can be either be Adobe (1998) or sRGB, I don’t see the difference in the CR2 preview and it really needs little adjustment apart from minimal levels and contrast.

I’m not sure whether that’s because I eventually got the hang of interpreting histograms or whether the 5D is a brilliant bit of kit. Probably the latter!



by Richard Baker | 25 Jul 2007 21:07 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

JPEGs from these cameras are inherantly rubbish and throw away a lot of useful information. But if you want to get something like the JPEG the camera produces from the RAW file try using the auto adjust button in CS2 or 3 RAW and it’ll give you an image not to different. To really get the best from your 5D you need to shoot RAW, shoot bright but not overexposed…yes it will always look terrible on the LCD but with a Photoshop and a properly calibrated screen. When shooting look at the histogram rather than image, exposing the image properly is waht counts. You could also shoot JPEG and RAW and then match one to the other in photoshop.

My advice is forget about JPEGS unless you are just snapping for fun…

by Nick Turner | 27 Jul 2007 09:07 | Stroud, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
The way i understand it is RAW is exactly what it sounds like. That’s why they look so aweful coming straight out of the camera. Programs such as aperture and lightroom put the saturation and sharpness back into a raw file so it looks a jpeg coming straight out of the camera. If you don’t do anything to a raw file, however, it looks flat.

by Matthew Williams | 29 Jul 2007 04:07 | Ventura, California, United States | | Report spam→

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