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I'm taking photos of some (positive) slides to digitize our family collection.

I use a Nikon D5000 which I use to shoot both in JPEG and NEF formats.

Here is an example of the original JPEG photo shot by the camera

Original JPEG

I want to convert all the NEF files to TIFF so I'm using the UFRaw command line as follow

ufraw-batch.exe --out-depth=16 --exposure=0.75 --out-type=tiff --output="ConvertedFromNEF.tiff" "OriginalRAW.NEF"

However this produces an image like this:

enter image description here

As you can see the face is much more pale than the original photo and also the T-Shirt is darker. I'd like the TIFF file to be as close as possible to the JPEG one.

I know almost nothing in photography so I tried to randomly play with all the different settings with the UFRaw desktop interface but I just can't get what I'm looking for (a face more red and a lighter green T-Shirt).

Any advise using UFRaw or even afterwards, when the file is already converted to TIFF I'm using Image Magick to automatically crop the black borders and rotate the photos.

You can download the JPEG, TIFF and NEF photos using this link.

I'd really appreciate if you could help me with that. Thanks a lot

  • imo, though the tiff is still a bit punchy, the jpg looks absolutely terrible; complete colour-overkill. Do you have a colour-managed workflow? Not perfect by a long way, but I'd have gone for something more like i.stack.imgur.com/ohrPI.jpg pulling the heavier warms out of it. Your google photo post is missing the original nef, which would be the most use. – Tetsujin Jun 21 at 11:52
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    Ah damn you're right, Google automatically converted my files... – Jérôme MEVEL Jun 21 at 12:22
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    It has an unfathomable interface. It keeps wanting to put the images into my own Google account, for some unfathomable reason. [I hate stuff like this that tries to be "clever" & just ends up as irritating as hell!] ;) – Tetsujin Jun 21 at 12:24
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    I'd try 2 things. 1. Get Nikon's own ViewNX-i from their site. Freeware, can read your nefs properly, provide some basic [but quite clever] colour & brightness/contrast tweaks & export to jpg or tif afterwards. 2. Shoot on Neutral not Standard. Very quick example from your nef - i.stack.imgur.com/KG9gn.jpg - it even managed to recover a bit of detail from the umbrella which I honestly thought was completely gone. – Tetsujin Jun 21 at 12:36
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    I very very much doubt you will get a one-setting-fits-all fix for this. I had to play with the Highlight, shadow & D-Lighting to even get this far. From there I'd move over to a more flexible editor such as Luminar or Affinity [because they're cheaper & easier than Photoshop if you're not used to this kind of thing.]. You're going to have to do much of it by hand. Let me throw in an answer with a 'simple but manual' workflow idea... – Tetsujin Jun 21 at 12:51
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After comments, I think your best bet is to start from Neutral colour settings in-camera, rather than Standard .
Get the .NEF files into Nikon's own ViewNX-i to do the first basic tweaks for Highlight & Shadow Protection, and D-Lighting. These are great tools for over-bright or over-dark areas. From the RAW NEF they can recover a lot of information otherwise gone forever. You can do some white balance tweaks in here, but I'd really move to the next stage for proper colour-balancing.

Export these results as TIF & use something like Affinity Photo, Luminar or OnOne to do your final edits. They're all 'Photoshop-alikes' but with a far shallower learning curve. Gimp could also be used, but that is back to the steep curve, same as Photoshop.

Affinity, Luminar & OnOne can all do presets, if you find there are batches that will take similar settings. ViewNX-i can also do simultaneous edits on "all selected" but it won't batch process, as such. The very nature of the project - hundreds of different rolls of film taken presumably over many years in many different circumstances probably precludes any full-workflow automation of this.

Images from comment thread…

Photoshop tweak of over-warm initial jpg
enter image description here

Quick fix in ViewNX-i from the original RAW, which managed to almost rescue some parts I thought completely lost in the over-bright umbrella section [I'd fix the yellow cast in Photoshop normally, but left it for this example]
enter image description here
Click for larger

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  • Thanks a lot for your help. The Neutral picture control tip is already a great improvement, I tried shooting it another time with this setting and I like it better. The most important for me is to digitize them all with the correct settings. Then when all those slides are safe on my hard drive, I'll have all the time I want trying the different softwares you mentioned – Jérôme MEVEL Jun 21 at 19:05
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The basic cause for the difference between your JPEG image and the TIFF is that the JPEG is generated from the raw data by the camera's JPEG engine. The TIFF is generated from the same raw data by UFRaw's conversion algorithms. Both interpretations are equally valid results of the information in the raw image file, but they are different interpretations.

There's no single "correct" way to render a raw image file. It has to be demosaiced and developed to become a viewable image. Part of that process includes setting color temperature and white balance correction based upon the color of the light illuminating the scene. If you are using "Auto" color settings, each application will take its best guess at what color settings should be used. Each result that you see on your screen is one of nearly countless possible interpretations of the raw information collected by the sensor.

In the case of reproducing slides, if you are using a controlled light source that is consistent for every shot then you can create a custom color profile to use. The easiest way to do this would be to put some neutrally colored diffusing material in place of a slide and take a picture to set a "Custom White Balance" in your camera. Your camera's manual should explain how to set a "Custom White Balance". You'll probably also find it better to use the Neutral Picture Control instead of Standard. If you then open the raw files of your slide photos in Nikon's ViewNX the CWB should be applied to the raw information. (If the default behavior of ViewNX is to use another method for color development, you can always change it to apply the CWB.) You can probably also apply the same settings to many images using a "batch" function from within ViewNX but I'm a Canon shooter and can't help you with exactly how to do that. This will allow you to consistently duplicate what each slide looks like, but it will not correct for any imperfections in the color of the individual slides themselves.

If you are interested in optimizing each slide, please see Why can software correct white balance more accurately for RAW files than it can with JPEGs? There are several links at the end of the accepted answer to that question that you may also find helpful.

In the case of raw vs. TIFF. vs JPEG, both TIFF and JPEG already have the color more or less "baked in", though there is a bit more latitude to alter the color of a 16-bit TIFF than to alter the color of an 8-bit JPEG or 8-bit TIFF. Neither allows anything near the amount of color and exposure correction that working with a raw file does. The accepted answer to the question linked directly above goes into much greater detail about this.

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  • Absolutely agree with your answer, but the OP's question history already has a white balance 'fix'. I can confirm this image [checked from the NEF] did have a custom white balance, presumably done after the previous question, as it's a vast improvement over that initial blue LED issue. I think this issue may lie more in the original image than its current re-capture [flipping the camera's Standard to Neutral did help in ViewNX-i]. I have no idea how to correct for white balance in that other than by hand, especially as it may change from image to image through a historic collection. – Tetsujin Jun 21 at 18:13
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    Thanks for your answer. As @Tetsujin just mentioned he actually already helped me setting up the correct white balance in a previous question. I removed the slide, added 2 more layers of diffuser and manually preset the white balance with my Nikon (the light was too strong with just one layer, the preset wasn't working). I'll read your other answer tomorrow, it looks really complete and detailed. I just tried to shoot in Neutral picture control and it does look a bit better, actually close result to my TIFF file now – Jérôme MEVEL Jun 21 at 18:58
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    @JérômeMEVEL For whatever reason I hadn't seen the other question until just now. I try to look at all new questions, but I missed that one when you asked it a couple of months ago. – Michael C Jun 22 at 0:10

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