Camera Profiles and Tone Curves

RAW converters generally include usable generic camera profiles for all supported camera models. Camera profiles (section 3.4) describe the individual color characteristics of a camera. The most precisely formulated camera profiles do not necessarily produce the best images, and the newest versions of ACR have several profiles for each supported camera model - including one that simulates each manufacturer's own JPEG output.

A good tone curve will brighten shadow detail without sacrificing too much contrast or making shadow noise too obvious.

Some RAW converters allow you to add your own profiles or edit the ones they supply. Generating camera profiles requires additional software and a lot of know-how.

There are two basic schools of thought regarding the use of camera profiles:

► Generalists believe that generic profiles produce adequate results.

► Perfectionists claim that you can only produce really great results using individually generated, camera-specific profiles.

We usually use the generic profiles supplied with our software, and we expect future versions of the programs we use to include profiles that are tailored to specific shooting situations. Generating custom profiles is complex, time-consuming, and usually not worth the effort, even for professional photographers. Adobe's DNG Profile Editor [31] is designed to make generating and editing camera profiles for ACR and Lightroom simpler, and it is available for free download at the Adobe website.

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