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I have just started shooting in RAW. I was wondering what settings are completely ignored while shooting in RAW.

  1. Picture Control (Standard,Vivid, Neutral etc)
  2. Exposure Compensation
  3. White Balance
  4. Active D-Lighting
  5. ISO?
  6. Any other

Edit Forget to include my camera details Its Nikon D7000 and I look at my RAW files in LR

marked as duplicate by NickM, Matt Grum, MikeW, Paul Cezanne, mattdm May 13 '13 at 11:01

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    Exposure compensation and ISO are not ignored. – Pouya May 13 '13 at 7:34

None of the settings are "ignored", all the settings are used to produce the RAW preview image and to show information in camera like the histogram and the over exposure blinky thing - but some settings can be changes later in raw processing without quality loss.

The settings that effect light hitting the sensor (Aperture and shutter speed) are obviously set at shooting time and can't be changes later.

In most sensors ISO is done inside the sensor and is also set at shooting time, for some sensors in some ISO ranges the amplification is done at processing time - but we can mostly assume ISO can't be changed later.

So, the big 3 (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) are set at exposure time, also, obviously, all the features that work by modifying the big 3 (metering mode, exposure compensation, Active D lighting (highlight priority in Canon), etc.) are also set at shooting time.

The white balance set in camera is usually used by the raw processor but can be overridden in post processing without quality loss.

Picture controls (picture style in Canon) are usually only used by the camera manufacturer own raw processor and can also be changed at processing time with no quality loss.

Noise reduction (but not "long exposure noise reduction") and lens corrections can also be changed in post processing.


The answer - in general - none. In detail: It depends.

For a Canon, shooting in RAW, DPP will give you the same (but less compressed) output as the in-camera JPEG conversion. In contrast, Adobe's RAW converter has no idea what a picture style is (standard, neutral etc.) and ignores that setting as well as any other manufacturer specific setting.

Now ISO, aperture and exposure will directly affect the data readout of the sensor. Aperture and exposure are "physical settings" and not digitally added. ISO will determine by how much the signal is boosted when it is read out.

My understanding of exposure compensation is that it is applied to the meter readout, i.e. the result is actually a combination of ISO, aperture and exposure.

This leaves one major setting, which is the white balance: In my experience, the white balance reading is read out by Adobe's RAW converter as it defined the colour temperature of the image - as is the colour tone. On the other hand, minor differences are easily corrected in the RAW converter making this setting less important than ISO, aperture and exposure.

I have no idea what "D-Lighting" is, in case you mean peripheral illumination correction in Canon, then that is not part of the RAW because the lens data is and the software can apply its own correction to the RAW data.

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    ADL is designed to be used for high dynamic range situations, where the difference between highlight and shadow is greater than the dynamic range of the camera. The camera modifies the RAW image a bit to compress the dynamic range to fit the capabilities of the camera, but in the process it reduces the exposure a bit. There are limits to the ability of ADL to compress the dynamic range. It isn't magic, just signal processing. The signal has to be there to process, not zero in the shadow or saturated in the highlights. – Michael C May 13 '13 at 9:11
  • 1
    There's a (long) informative thread on flickr at flickr.com/groups/nikondigital/discuss/72157623298578772 about ADL. Thom Hogan has some information about it in his ebook series for various camera bodies. In effect, he says you should only use it when you absolutely need it for dynamic range problems that can't be addressed by bracketing (e.g. dynamic scenes). – Michael C May 13 '13 at 9:11
  • So basically a cheap "single frame HDR" with some fancy processing... why not do a proper HDR then... ah well... for those who need it I guess. – DetlevCM May 13 '13 at 10:26
  • As to "why not?", the first answer would be non-static subject. – Michael C May 13 '13 at 10:31

It depends on what you mean by ignored and which camera you are shooting with and which software you are using to do your RAW conversion. The settings that affect what the camera does before or during the exposure will affect the contents of the RAW file. The settings that affect what the camera does in the processor after the image has been exposed will usually not affect the contents of the RAW image.

It does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The way Nikon and Canon apply noise reduction (NR) to RAW files, for instance, is significantly different. Many astronomers shy away from using Nikon for astrophotography because the NR applied before the RAW file is saved will erase faint stars. Canon applies the NR resulting from long exposure noise reduction, in which the noise from a second exposure with the shutter left closed is subtracted from the exposed image, to RAW files but does not apply any other NR to RAW files (Which goes a long way towards explaining the disparity of DxO mark scores between similarly capable Nikon & Canon sensors).

In general, settings that affect the ISO, shutter speed (Tv), and aperture (Av) will have an effect on an image saved as a RAW file because they affect what is recorded in the RAW file. Depending on shooting mode and other variables, your White Balance (WB) setting may affect exposure metering. Of the list in your question the following are factored into the exposure decision if you are using any shooting mode other than Manual: Exposure Compensation, Active D-Lighting, ISO. WB may or may not, depending on several other variables.

The settings that are not affected when shooting RAW are things like contrast, saturation, sharpening, WB (in terms of the WB used to display the image), some aspects of Noise Reduction, Lens Correction, Picture Control, etc.

When you open a RAW file in most third party editors, the in camera settings for saturation, Picture Control, contrast, etc. aren't applied. That is why some people refer to RAW files as flat. If you open a RAW file in the camera manufacturer's own software, however, often the in-camera settings will be applied to the image you see on your monitor. You are free to change any or all of those settings before converting to TIFF or JPEG and baking in those settings.

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