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Problem

I shoot images but they are not displayed in the thumbnails gallery from Shutter Stream software. I only get a brief message that the RAW file has been saved.

Solution

You need to set your camera to JPG mode. From the camera menu, set the option to save the pictures as JPEG file format. You can also save both file formats (JPEG & RAW), but only the JPEG files will be displayed and edited in Shutter Stream. 

Shutter Stream does not display or process RAW files.  This is the reason you need to select JPG+RAW.  When selecting JPG+RAW, the JPG images are used for processing and the RAW files, that come from the camera, are saved internally for export later – if needed. You can export the RAW files and then develop them in Photoshop.  The RAW files will contain the entire original images and no pre-crop or other editing operations will be applied inside Shutter Stream.

The initial JPEG images are saved only if no pre-editing (i.e. cropping) is applied.  All additional image editing operations and background removal results are saved as lossless TIFF.  Therefore, if you ever apply a pre-crop to the original image, the resulting image is saved as TIFF, not JPG.  Again, files are saved as JPG only if they are the original files coming from the camera.  If any editing is applied, the files are saved as lossless TIFF.  These lossless TIFF images are exported to the final desired output format during batch processing or dynamic save.

RAW File Format

In order to understand the reasons for Shutter Stream not yet having support for RAW processing, it's important to understand a little more about the digital camera processing pipeline. 

In standard digital cameras, including Nikon, Canon and cell phone cameras, light is recorded onto a Bayer pattern CCD as shown in the Figure above.  The Bayer pattern is a single plane of pixels, of which some pixels record the red, others the green and others the blue colors.  The RAW file format records the RAW digital values of each of these pixels.  The RAW file format is unlike other file formats (say JPG, TIFF, PNG) in that it's not a common format that saves the RGB colors.  Instead, the RAW data needs to be "developed" in order to obtain a final RGB image.

The development process consists of several different steps, including:

  1. Color remapping from the raw pixel digital values to a meaningful RGB color space.
  2. Bayer pattern interpolation, as shown in the Figure above.
  3. Image denoising, which may contain sensor profiling in order to more efficiently denoise an image coming from a particular sensor (versus denoising any image).

There are several challenges with RAW processing:

First,  and the main reason for why Shutter Stream has not yet included support for it, is that the RAW formats are often proprietary information that camera manufacturers do not share with 3rd parties, such as Iconasys.  Ways around the proprietary RAW file formats are based on 3rd party libraries that have developed hacks and reverse engineered some of these proprietary RAW formats.  Iconasys is currently evaluating some of these alternatives, but the results obtained thus far have not out-performed the results obtained from using the camera's own raw developed images, which are the JPG results.

Second, RAW image development will require that the user will have to pull more levers in order to obtain the final image, which makes the RAW development process tailored mostly for the very professional market.  Furthermore, the camera already does its internal RAW processing.  It converts RAW to JPG as it outputs the JPG image and for most cameras, users will be able to control the RAW process from the camera settings themselves, as shown in this menu for a 70D Canon Camera.  (Notice the RAW-to-JPG conversion icon in the second screenshot.)

Third, adding support for RAW processing will slow down the acquisition pipeline.  The camera does its own raw processing inside the camera and because it uses customized hardware, the raw processing on the camera is significantly faster than the raw processing implemented on the computer.  Therefore, RAW processing will most likely have to be done after all the data is acquired and not while it's acquired.  This means that pre-cropping (and other editing functions) cannot be applied until the RAW data is processed.

Finally, RAW file formats do have several advantages over JPG processed images, including:

  1. Most of the time, the RAW data is saved as 16bit / pixel value.  This significantly increases the dynamic range of the image, compared to the 8 bit / pixel value generated by the JPG format.  This advantage is somewhat canceled by the fact that most displays are 8-bit / pixel so the data has to be converted back to an 8-bit image for proper display on a standard monitor.
  2. Because the raw sensor values are available, one can more easily use different color spaces to map the original raw data to a color space.
  3. Proprietary interpolation and denoising methods can sometimes out-perform the standard camera's algorithms, thus providing more vivid final results.

Because of these advantages, support for RAW processing is in the pipeline of the Iconasys team.  If you have a strong reason for RAW processing support please contact us and let us know why it's so critical to your workflow.  This might push up the priority of the RAW processing implementation.

In conclusion, Iconasys is strongly considering adding support for RAW processing, but that support will be dictated by the demand from our customers and our ability to find a reasonable solution for making the RAW processing speedy and intuitive enough so that Shutter Stream will continue to provide the time-saving workflow benefits that it currently offers.

For more information on the RAW format, please see this article:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_image_format#Processing