RAW Processing Tips

So you might be a great photographer who takes wonderful photos with a digital camera, but when it comes to processing those RAW file images it can be a steep learning curve. I use some software called On1 Photo RAW 2019, not Adobe software, so this may vary from some other articles you’ve read. So here are a few tips from my experience that you may find useful.

1 Make a preset which matches your camera settings and apply it to all photos after import. One of the most frustrating thing about sorting through RAW photos is you are quite often not shown the photo as it appeared on the back of the camera. So a photo you thought was ok can look rubbish in it’s RAW format on the computer. So I did a basic edit using On1 to make it look like it did on the camera. This included contrast, shadows, blacks, lens correction, saturation and vibrance. I did not change the colour temperature or exposure. Once I was happy I saved those settings as a preset named as the camera body name and lens and start point, in my case “E-M5 mkII 45mm start point”. I then made one for each lens. Using the filter in browse I selected those images with each lens type, 45mm for example, and applied the 45mm start point to all those photos. Now when I rate and cull my photos, they at least look half decent. I believe On1 2020 has a feature called AI Match which is meant to make the photos look like they did on the camera, but I don’t know how well this works.

2 Work out a rate and cull system that works for you. I personally star rate my photos from 1 to 5. Anything that is definitely trash, I reject using the “x” key, and delete all those at the end using the filtering tool. Then I filter photos with 5 stars and see if I have enough photos from that shoot and down grade anything that isn’t up to standing. Similarly, I filter by 3 or more stars and boost anything that I think I really want to keep, or is missing from the 5 star shot list. For example, I might think “hey, I’ve got photos of everyone except the the brides dad, I need a headshot of him”. I then go through, the lower rated pictures and make sure I get the required shots to forefill the shoot. Once I’m happy with the 3 or more star shots, I delete the 1 and 2 star shots. This usually leaves me with a good selection to move forward. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this, just do what works for you. I find the auto-advance tool which automatically goes to the next photo when you rate one really useful.

This image was processed using the settings below and still holds most of its quality and sharpness, but is only 167kb in filesize!

3 Export to JPG. Once you’ve completed editing your shots, its time to export them. Most of what I’ve been doing recently is for web use, so the shots have to small jpgs, the smaller the better for quick web page loading. For this I’ve set up two export presets which speed things up.

  1. Resize. Short edge to 1000px or 1200px. These work great for in line images in articles.
  2. Sharpening. When exported to JPG, a lot of photos lose their crisp detail when compared to the processed RAW preview. I find the “Amazing Detail Finder” sharpening great for low res images and really makes them look higher resolution than they are.
  3. JPG quality. I usually set this around 75% for web use. If it’s obvious though with plenty of artifacts then I pump it a bit higher, but that can increase the file size dramatically.
  4. Colour space. This is really important! Set it to sRGB for web use. The reason being, if you set it to Adobe RGB for example, then apps like Instagram and Linkedin will force it to be displayed in sRGB, resulting weird colours in your photo (see example below).
  5. Filename. I usually have this as “date” and “1000px”, and then save them in a folder within my Processed Photos directory, which is synced with Google Photos, ready to post online from my smartphone or computer.

I hope that has helped some people. Some of these things take a long time to figure out, so I hope I’ve saved you some time.

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Published by samdavis

Sam is a professional photographer and writer based in the UK. Visit www.samsphotogallery.com to see his portfolio.

4 thoughts on “RAW Processing Tips

  1. Some useful tips – when I become more familiar with the million or so options in On1 I can make use of them. Only had it for 2 years so lots to learn still (and sadly the instruction videos are very little help – and mostly expired for On1 2018.)


    1. Hi Steve. Thanks for the comment. Yes On1 is a bit of a funny one and I’ve done a fair bit of trial and error to get usable jpgs from it, so thought I’d share the findings! I think it is a good program with lots of potential but it needs a lot of work doing on it to make it stable.


  2. Hi. What is the best way to do the preset refered to in the beginning? I often am disappointed when I see my raw pictures, they don’t have the vibrance and colour that I saw on the screen when taking the photo. Looking at the raw a few hours after taking it there is no reference anymore to do the preset as I can’t remember what the specific photo looked like exactly when I took it


    1. Hi Paul. I recommend next time you take you camera out to set it to save as RAW plus large jpg, take a few images of varying scenes and deselect “Delete images from camera” when you download them, so that they stay on the camera as well as the computer.

      Then using the jpg or photo on the camera as a reference, adjust the tone and colour of the photo on develop till it matches the original “in-camera” image. Then save those settings as a preset.

      Then try that preset on a couple more photos to see if it looks right and adjust it as necessary and save it, till you get something that looks consistently like the original photos.


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