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raw processing

ufraw is the key to processing nikon's nef format using standard linux tools and without needing expensive non-free things like nikon capture, adobe capture raw, adobe lightroom, bibble, or whatever. as I mentioned in the software section, installing the ufraw gimp plugin is quite simple now that it's a standard fedora package:

$ sudo yum install ufraw-gimp
              

if you ever want to compile ufraw from it's source (for example, the current stable release and fedora packages don't support d300 whitebalance presets but ufraw from cvs does) you'll need some development libaries first.

$ sudo yum install lcms-devel exiv2-devel libjpeg-devel
              

then you can download and install ufraw from source

$ cvs -d:pserver:anonymous@ufraw.cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/ufraw login
$ cvs -z3 -d:pserver:anonymous@ufraw.cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/ufraw co -P ufraw
$ cd ufraw
$ ./configure && make && sudo make install
              

once ufraw is installed you can launch gimp and open a *.nef file directly. ufraw will intercept the open and provide you with a basic interface for maniupulating the raw image before it is imported into gimp. here is where most of the confusion starts...

in order to get good looking images from ufraw you need to understand color management. the ufraw color management page does a far better job explaining it than I ever could, so please take a read. then read it again :)

after you understand the basics you will understand that you need an input color profile that matches the d300. you will also note that there are none for the d300 on the ufraw color page, nor anywhere else on the web. this phenomenon is well explained in this amazingly helpful post to the ufraw discussion forum but I'll quote part of it for you here.

"it seems that Nikon has no pre-installed profiles for particular camera. Instead it uses on the fly generated ones. More over - it puts inside correction information for color mode/color saturation/tone correction, etc. Maybe it has internally some default profile for every camera and then it simply adds/subtracts current corrections to it. Fortunately, it temporary stores resulting profile as file ;o)

Run Nikon Capture NX and open some NEF file captured with camera you want to get icc profiles for. Look into your temporary directory (for WinXP it's typically C:\Documents and Settings\"Your logged user name"\Local Settings\Temp, note, that by default it hidden - so allow explorer to show hidden files/folders). NC creates there temporary sub folder with scripting unique-generated name like "NknB3D.tmp". Open this folder in windows explorer and watch what's happening when you open open the NEF, when you change color mode/color saturation/tone correction, etc - every set of changes - NC creates new icc profile file, named like "Nkx_D80_4_1612_01_000_466.icm", which reflects your current settings... You can safely copy that files, rename them for something meaningful and use then in UFRaw as camera input profiles! This profiles are for gamma 2.2 thus it's necessary 0.45 gamma tune in UFRaw with linearity 0..."

so, the crux of it is that there is no single d300 input profile - nikon capture generates a input profile on the fly based on your in-camera settings (or whatever tweaks you make to the image via the software, it seems). what does that mean?

for one, I suppose it means that if you want to get decent images out of ufraw you need to

o set your camera to the picture control settings you prefer (page 150 in the d300 manual). most people seem to prefer standard or neutral settings and keep away from vivid.

o find someone with a windows machine or a mac (or *cough* "find" *cough* one yourself and run it in a free trial of vmware and install (the supplied with every d300) nikon capture software

o open a raw file from your camera in nikon capture and save the generated *.icm file to your linux box. be sure to save it before you close the image or software :)

o use the saved file as the input profile for ufraw, setting gamma to 0.45 and linearity to 0.0

to me, that process really sucks, and it makes me dependent on windows for the first time in 5 years. so, to ease matters along here is an input profile for you: Nkx_D300_standard.icm. it is for a standard picture control in the AdobeRGB color space. I'll keep this around until nikon comes after me I guess.

anyway, that's all there is to it :)

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