MakeTiff takes care of interpolation and meta data, ColorPerfect's PerfectRAW does the color processing
Our auxiliary program MakeTiff converts raw camera images into linear Tiff files. This is required for PerfectRAW because it is impossible to open raw photos with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements and PhotoLine without using the host's raw converter and ruining the color. Tiff files can be opened without any color processing being applied to them so that PerfectRAW can do all the color processing.
If you have not installed MakeTiff yet please refer to our installation instructions first.
What is different about MakeTiff in comparison to other raw converters?
If you already have a favorite raw conversion program, please do not assume it will work properly with PerfectRAW even if it is supposed to be able to produce linear Tiff files.
Being of linear gamma is only one of two requirements. The second requirement is that all input for PerfectRAW must be completely untouched in terms of color. Getting the proper conversion is very tricky because current software is full of unannounced color tweaks intended to improve the image but which in this case will ruin it.
If you intend to try another raw to Tiff converter please check your results working several images using both your favorite and MakeTiff.
If you still prefer your favorite, fine - it is possible, just very unlikely.
How does MakeTiff operate?
MakeTiff uses a combination of three applications that are freely available on the web. The situation with raw images has become strained enough that the mention of these tools may cause some readers to throw up their hands in exasperation, so let us first assure you that our use of these tools is minimal and of what you might call an accounting nature. It gets the data through to ColorPerfect so that it can be worked with.
MakeTiff uses Adobe DNG Converter for three things it does well, recognizing a wide variety of cameras, doing the required Bayer interpolation, and decoding the camera's white balance information. Dcraw is used for producing a standard Tiff file from a linear and already interpolated DNG. Finally ExifTool transfers all of the original exif data and converts the camera's white balance information decoded by Adobe DNG Converter into a form that will reach ColorPerfect.
Are there any restrictions on the use of MakeTiff?
MakeTiff is free for all registered users of ColorPerfect but it is against our free license for anyone else to use it for any other purpose than evaluating the trial version of ColorPerfect.
How to use MakeTiff and its several options
To use MakeTiff, simply drag and drop raw camera images onto its dialogue. The items dropped can be individual files or folders or a selection of multiple files and folders. MakeTiff will convert all raw files to linear Tiff files, but will not try to convert any raw files for which a Tiff file already exists.
Keeping the MakeTiff window on top of an image browser
There is a checkbox option that allows you to keep the MakeTiff window above other windows so that you can conveniently drop files onto MakeTiff from within whatever program you use to preview and organize your raw photos. This application might be ACDSee, Adobe Bridge, Aperture, CaptureOne, Lightroom or one of at least a dozen others. If the program you use monitors the current folder it displays for new files please also read the paragraph on the advanced option that allows creating all of MakeTiff's output and intermediate files in a sub folder instead of in the folders where the raw images reside.
MakeTiff should be configured to assign your desired RGB working space profile to the linear Tiff files
For PerfectRAW to work correctly it is usually required that you assign an RGB working space profile to the Tiff file prior to calling the plug-in. After calling ColorPerfect, choosing ColorPos mode on the Start panel and activating PerfectRAW you will have to specify what RGB working space your image uses.
Only with an assigned profile present will Photoshop et al. render the preview and final image correctly both now and in the future. ColorPos mode's working space setting is remembered between calls to ColorPerfect so unless you use different settings for specific reasons you will not have to change this often.
For your convenience this necessary assign profile step can also be performed by MakeTiff. Simply choose the desired RGB working space from the pull down list prior to dropping your files.
Unless you have a reason not to we recommend using your host's standard RGB working space for this. In Photoshop the standard RGB working space is defined under edit > color settings. Using Photoshop Elements things are less transparent as detailed in our article on working spaces and PSE. MakeTiff allows PSE users to use any RGB working space supported by MakeTiff instead of just the two in PSE.
MakeTiff's advanced options
In order to keep things simple we decided to keep a couple of options hidden from view that will typically not be required by new users. Please try MakeTiff with its basic options before using any of these.
Enforcing interpolation by dcraw instead of using the Adobe DNG Converter
By default MakeTiff uses the Adobe DNG Converter to do the Bayer interpolation. We believe it to be generally superior for the task. There is an option however that forces dcraw to be used instead.
We don't expect that many people will want to use this option but there are a few scenarios where it will make sense to have. You might have put in a new version of dcraw that supports a camera which Adobe does not support yet. You might also use a Power PC where Adobe DNG Converter 6.4 was the final release and thus all newer cameras will need this option. Or you might use the Pentax 645D where using the processing sequence including DNG Converter currently leads to a gray linear Tiff file. (If you do own one of the three Pentax cameras we know to suffer from this problem and are a registered user please contact us.) Finally, while Adobe's Bayer interpolation is generally superior, there may be cases in which dcraw's interpolation is better.
Dcraw can be used to denoise using its wavelet denoising feature - even when using DNG Converter
ColorPerfect does not contain any denoising or sharpening logic. To sharpen you can simply use the capabilities of Photoshop et al. and to denoise you can also use what the host application provides or you may use a number of specialized plug-ins or programs. Since many of these solutions are commercial ones and dcraw, one of the command line tools MakeTiff uses, contains a free denoising feature we have made that feature accessible via MakeTiff's interface.
The three options relating to it are there for your experimentation. We neither claim that the feature is particularly good nor that it's particularly bad.
To use it check the according option which makes two more settings available. The first is the degree of the denoising operation to be used which runs from 1 to 9999. Dcraw's manual suggests that values between 100 and 1000 are what's commonly used. When using this you don't see what you get so we have added the second option to append the setting used to the output file's name so that you'll know what used what and can easily create multiple versions as you experiment with this feature. Creating multiple versions works as long as there is no Tiff file without a denoising suffix in its name for the current raw photo. If you like what you're getting with this feature please let us know what settings you use.
Putting the linear Tiff files into a sub folder named MakeTiff instead of putting them alongside the raws
There is an option that will let MakeTiff use a sub folder named MakeTiff in each directory holding raw photos and make it create its output and intermediate files there.
When using MakeTiff on top of the program you use to preview and organize your raw photos there might be trouble without this option if the program constantly monitors the current directory for new files. If that is so the MakeTiff processing sequence might not complete or intermediate files might not be deleted because of file locks imposed by the program monitoring the folder for new images and trying to display those as they appear in the folder. Creating all output in a MakeTiff sub folder solves such issues and some might also prefer it for structural reasons.
Stripping profiles from linear scans or batch assigning the desired one
Finally there is an option to strip profiles from linear scans or to assign the desired one instead of what's currently assigned. This has nothing to do with the normal operation of MakeTiff and the working space used here is stored separately from what MakeTiff normally uses. In this mode you can drop Tiff files from scanners and remove profiles that the scanner software may have placed in them. All such profiles are meaningless for linear scans unless they reflect your RGB working space as discussed here. Any other kind of profile may cause serious trouble.
In this mode ColorPerfect's two supported standard grayscale profiles Gray Gamma 1.8 and Gray Gamma 2.2 are also included. Of course they don't work for RGB image files so black and white and color scans should not be dropped at the same time.
NikonScan will always embed an sRGB profile in your linear scans for example, even in monochrome ones, so MakeTiff can be used to strip that wrong or undesired profile and if you like you can also batch assign whatever you intend to use instead.
The ablity to batch assign profiles is very useful for users of Adobe Photoshop Elements especially when working with black and white scans as it allows them to choose freely what standard grayscale profile or RGB working space they'd like to use instead of having to use one of the two profile pairs PSE allows.
Using *.mtconf configuration files by drag-n-drop
Our configuration files are simple text files that must be stored under the file extension *.mtconf instead of *.txt and they contain comment lines intended to explain the format. In order to use an *.mtconf file, start MakeTiff normally and drag and drop the intended configuration file on the MakeTiff interface just as you'd usually drop raw camera images. MakeTiff will then apply the settings from the dropped file and on Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) it will currently restart so that its interface redraws and shows the active configuration.
Download our default settings as MakeTiffDefaults.mtconf and drop that on MakeTiff to reset all settings. If you'd like to use different settings please open the configuration file as a plain text file using TextEdit and follow the directions inside to denote the settings you prefer and save the edited file under any name while keeping the *.mtconf extension. Dropping configuration files on MakeTiff allows you to easily switch between a number of predefined settings.
Special options that are exclusively accessible through *.mtconf
We'll provide some special options that are rarely used or only useful to small groups of users through the *.mtconf format. If any such option is active MakeTiff will display that fact in its main text readout area while idle.
Transferring the camera's color balance information to old ColorPerfect 2.0 plug-ins or in PhotoLine 15.x
When combining MakeTiff 1.13 and above with old version 2.0 ColorPerfect plug-ins or when using PhotoLine 15.x as a host (which is only supported in 32-bit mode because PhotoLine's first 64-Bit release 15.5 did not work with our plug-ins) you'll need to set the special option legacyExifFormat: ON by use of an *.mtconf file. This allows the camera's color balance information to be transferred to ColorPerfect in these cases. If you have a reason to use ColorPerfect 2.0 instead of the current version please let us know about it.