Shooting RAW with the Sony NEX is awesome! And using Lightroom to process your RAW files is a great way to improve the look of your photos as well as keep them organized!
Here are a couple Lightroom tips we found useful when shooting with the NEX.
Convert to DNG
Converting to DNG gives you maximum archival compatibility. Here’s what that means. The NEX produces RAW files (here’s why you should be shooting in RAW) with the extension “.arw”, which is a proprietary RAW format exclusive to Sony cameras. This means that essentially only Sony has the instructions for how the file should be read—they aren’t publicly available. The problem with this is that in 5, 10, or 20 years this particular format of RAW may not be easy to open because of it’s proprietary format, so you might not be able to view or open your photos!
DNG is an open source RAW file format created by Adobe. Because it’s open source, Adobe has made the instructions on how to decode the files publicly available. So when you convert the “.arw” files to DNG you’re ensuring that you’ll be able to easily access those RAW files far into the future.
It’s super easy to convert to DNG on import and you have the option to either delete the original file (which is what we do) or embed the original file in the new DNG (which would take up quite a bit more space). We’ve found the converted DNGs to be identical in terms of image quality, and so we see no need to keep the original.
For our typical portrait and wedding work we shoot RAW with Canon cameras and skip the step of converting to DNG. We do this mainly because we’re turning the images over quite quickly and delivering the files or products to the client. Because the work is for clients we likely won’t need to be editing the original RAW files in the distant future, so the extra time it takes to convert to DNG isn’t necessary.
But with personal work, travel, and fine art work we want to make sure that we’re archiving things in a way that can be easily accessed in the future!
So think about how you intend to use your images, and whether or not you’ll be needing to access them far into the future. If you’re using the NEX for travel or personal photography, you’ll probably want to start converting your files to DNG!
Use Profile Corrections
In Lightroom, you’ll find the Profile Corrections in the Lens Correction panel. This is a really powerful feature to take advantage of!
See, the 18-55mm lens on the NEX produces some barrel distortion. As you can see in the photo below barrel distortion bends straight lines so that they appear to bulge outward. This effect is more noticeable in some images than others.
If you watch the line on the street you’ll see it very clearly. When the line is bent, that’s barrel distortion. Luckily Lightroom can help correct this!
In the develop module under the Lens Corrections Panel if you click on “Enable Profile Corrections” Lightroom will detect which camera and lens you’re shooting and automatically correct the distortion. Easy!
The profile that Adobe has created will also remove other defects created by lenses like vignetting (darkening around the edges) as well as chromatic aberration (coloured fringing). At the bottom of the panel you’ll find you can adjust the profile’s distortion, chromatic aberration, or vignetting if needed. We found the default setting was usually perfect and all we had to do was check off the box.
Do you have any tips for using Lightroom to make your Sony NEX photos look awesome? Share them in the comments below!