Adding Support for New Raw Formats

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Adding perfect support for new raw formats in RawTherapee is easy. You can do it yourself, or you can take the needed photos and send them to us so we can do the measurements ourselves and add support for your camera.

Introduction

Reading a raw file properly requires knowing some things about it, and RawTherapee looks for this information in three places:

  • In the embedded dcraw code,
  • In the raw file itself,
  • In a text file called camconst.json

The needed information is gathered from all three places, and camconst.json is the most important source of it. If any information overlap occurs, camconst.json takes priority.

camconst.json allows one to set the following:

  • Color matrices for Illuminant D65, in dcraw format,
  • white and black levels,
  • raw crop size and offset to remove spurious rows and columns,
  • masked area size and offset from which black levels can be calculated

for each combination of color channel, ISO and aperture for a given camera make and model. For this reason, camconst.json serves both as a place for quickly adding detailed support for new raw formats as well as a place for improving support for cameras already but imperfectly handled by dcraw.

Needed Photos

To make the required measurements for perfect support, you will need to take several series of photos with specific settings:

  • Each photo must be completely overexposed everywhere! Do this by pointing your camera at a bright light (e.g. the sky, a lamp), zooming in as needed, and increasing exposure time until everything is absolutely clipped. Of course shoot in raw mode. If your camera has several raw modes, use the full one, uncropped, lossless compression if possible.
  1. If your camera has built-in noise reduction, turn it off. Take a series of photos as described above, one photo for every ISO value your camera supports, making sure not to exceed an exposure time of 0.5s, using an aperture of f/8. As an example, for a typical camera you would end up with about 8 photos: ISO100, ISO200, ISO400, ISO800, ISO1600, ISO3200, ISO6400, ISO12800. New cameras often include intermediate ISO values, e.g. ISO160, ISO320, etc. If your camera includes such ISO values, it is important that you shoot them as well.
  2. If your camera has built-in noise reduction, turn it on. Take a second series of photos as described above, one photo for every ISO value your camera supports 1 stop apart, making sure that the exposure time in all cases is at least 2 seconds, not less, using an aperture of f/5.6. That's another about 8 photos.
  3. Some cameras scale raw values for larger apertures, particularly Canon and Nikon models. The only way to know whether your camera does this for sure is to take a photo and measure it. Take one photo using your lens's widest aperture, e.g. f/1.7, at ISO100 with long exposure noise reduction turned off, and send it to us along with the rest of the shots. If we detect that there is raw scaling (or if you detect it yourself if you do your own measurements) then we will ask you shoot a series of photos at every ISO value one stop apart, with an exposure time less than 0.5s, from the widest aperture your lens supports down every 1/3 of a stop until such an aperture where raw scaling is no longer performed. This could mean many photos. Handling raw scaling caused by large apertures is not very important so don't feel daunted by it, you don't need to do it even if your camera does do raw scaling, but if you have the time and bandwidth then it would be better to check for it.

At the very least, you should end up with a series of about 8 photos from point 1. It is recommended that you take photos for both points 1 and 2, leading to about 16 photos, plus the one raw scaling test photo from point 3. If it is found that your camera performs raw scaling, you could additionally take the needed series described in point 3, but since this could potentially mean many photos (e.g. 50 or more) it's not expected.

Compress all these photos, upload them to filebin.net and send us the full link either through our GitHub page or in the Forum.

Completely clipped photos can have amazing compression, don't forget to compress them (7-Zip, ZIP, bzip2, whatever) before uploading! As an example, 10 completely clipped Sony 7M2 raw files with long-exposure noise reduction disabled weigh 234MB but if you ZIP them you get a 1MB file.

Details

For exact documentation, detailing the required photos and instructions how to measure them, read the comments inside the camconst.json file: https://github.com/Beep6581/RawTherapee/blob/dev/rtengine/camconst.json