I'm shooting with a Fujifilm X-E2 with an XF35mmF2 "R WR" lens by Fujifilm, in .RAF format.

When I open a photo in Windows Photo, it looks pretty terrible, with washed out colors and terrible exposure.

But give it a second, and it "pops" into a much better looking picture. It even looks like a lens correction has been applied.

However, the same cannot be seen in lightroom, which looks to be a mix between the two states of the photo, if I haven't applied any editing.

It can be seen more dramatically in the below series of test shots




What's going on here? Why does Windows Photos seem to be applying some not so bad adjustments?


1 Answer 1


The reason is, that the RAW RAF file is not an image per se. It is sensor data. To display it, the data has to be interpreted into an image.

This is done by a piece of code and takes a little while. Being interpretation, the result may differ between programs.

What you see in Windows is that the explorer or most editors shows you a low-res jpg which is embedded in the RAF first and has a lot of imaging magic already applied in-camera. If you set the camera to black and white, this preview will be in B&W.

When opening, an explorer extension or your photo editor will try to interpret the image. Usually RAWs will look a bit flat, less sharp etc. That is exactly what you are seeing. Note: B&W images will now be color, as the RAW is always in full color (unless you are using one of the curious B&W only cams).

In Lightroom, the preview in the RAW will be discarded very early, so you then see its interpretation.

The differences in interpretation is in the code of the publisher. The extension in the Windows Explorer is probably from your camera's manufacturer, while LR has its own interpretation.

If you want to check which parts of your process shows the preview and which the RAW data, I recommend the experiment of setting your cam to B&W. It then will be very obvious, where you see the B&W preview and where the color raw data.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure it is the preview JPEG and not a really haphazard interpretation of the RAW? The effect the OP describes is even more evident with eg strongly electronically corrected lenses like the Sony SELP1650 (fisheye like at first at 16mm!). \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20, 2020 at 21:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @rackandboneman I am not a user of Windows Photo - and thus cannot speak for that particular software. However, the questions "Why do my raw look so low res?", "Why are my BW pics now in color?" and "Why does it first look so good, then so flat?" are pretty near this and tend to pop up a lot as soon as the people start shooting in raw. To make things worse, often you get the raw embedded jpg, then a quick render of some explorer extension by the manufacturer (which might be ok-ish) and then the first rendering in whatever. And all 3 look differently. Or any mix thereof. ;o) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2020 at 9:14

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