Rachel, original and optimized files.
Rachel. The original file straight out of the camera is on the left, and the digitally optimized image is on the right. Photos © Jim Doty, Jr.

This is an excerpt from a longer article:

“Point and shoot digital cameras are designed to produce punchy (colorful, high contrast) photos right out of the camera. This saves the average person from doing a lot of digital work on their computer. There is a cost: images that lose valuable photo information that shows up in lost highlight and shadow detail. Pixelation, banding, and other problems can show up in large prints. Fortunately, many of the better point and shoot cameras will allow you to tone down the in-camera image processing if you want to work with the digital files yourself and maximum quality is important.

“Professional digital cameras are designed to capture maximum data with minimal in-camera processing. The images may look flat coming out of the camera, but more data has been saved so the skilled digital darkroom artist has the maximum potential for beautiful enlargements. Levels, Curves, Hue-Saturation, Shadow-Highlight, Channel Mixer, Adjustment Layers, Gaussian Blur, Unsharp Mask, Layer Masks, Clone Stamp, and Healing Brush are just a few of the tools and options available to make the most of an image. Just as in the old black and white darkroom, skill and experience are still important.”

You can read the full article at my photo web site.

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