Digital Photography

Microsoft RAW Codec and Windows Media Center

Yesterday (see previous post) I wrote a little about the newly released Microsoft RAW Codec. One of the first things I did was try my latest batch of Nikon RAW NEF files from a balloon festival earlier this month. I had so-so results, especially inside Windows Media Center, where thumbnails appeared, but after selecting an individual image file, WMC could not display it. This set of images was shot with a D7000 DX camera, in order to take advantage of the longer reach of FX lenses used with it. I normally carry both a D700 and a D7000.

As it turns out, for whatever reason, the Microsoft RAW Codec does not support the D7000. I’m not sure why, since Adobe and others now support it, and the D7000 has been available since mid October 2010.

Anyway, if you have a supported camera, the new codec most definitely is supported inside Windows Media Center if you want to view your RAW images there. You won’t get detailed EXIF info in View Details, but you certainly can display your images on a large screen. The screen capture below shows one of the folders (highlighted) from an Orchid Show I attended in 2009 where I shot with my D700 and the Nikon 105mm Macro lens. Thumbnails appear as expected.

mce-RAW-1

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Microsoft Now Offers limited RAW Camera Support

Today Microsoft released a Codec Camera Pack which brings (long overdue) limited support for various RAW formats from the major camera vendors. While most RAW shooters use more substantial tools (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) for manipulating images, Microsoft has provided a download for both 32 and 64 bit Windows that allows viewing RAW formats in Windows Live Photo Gallery and some basic image manipulation, mostly rotate and resize. You can, however, copy a NEF to JPG format and edit it inside WLPG, but that is not the same as editing a native NEF (or other RAW format file) inside Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. This may be good enough for casual photographers.

Below is a screen shot in Windows Explorer Tile view of some Nikon NEF RAW images which is where I looked first. Note the generic Windows Live Photo Gallery icons, but please read further

msft-RAW

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Stupid Toshiba Advocates Lagging Edge Standard for SD Cards

June 22 press release from Toshiba announces an effort to “ promote a new SD card that integrates Wi-Fi wireless communication with data storage capabilities. The forum, the "Standard Promotion Forum for Memory Cards Embedding Wireless LAN"* has been founded by Toshiba and Singapore-based Trek 2000 International Ltd.. ‘

But they want to make this 802.11b/g and not the faster 802.11n (which is backwards compatible with b/g.

As any photographer knows, RAW files are huge, and even the JPEGs at Fine and Super-Fine resolutions are pretty big.

Eye-FI has done it right and offers SDHC cards that utilize 802.11n.

Why in the world would Toshiba (or anyone else for that matter) want to slow people down? This may be a price based decision. I sure have no interest.

Eye-Fi & iPad

If someone knows where I can buy the Apple iPad Camera Connector, PLEASE let me know. I just grabbed another brass ring off the iPad carousel.

Eye-Fi on its own is cool enough. Send digital photos from your camera to your desktop via 802.11n (2.4 GHz only)  for editing, to various online photo sharing sites, Facebook, and so on. It sure beats connecting cables or removing cards from a camera.

I thought that the advertised free iPhone app for Eye-Fi (available in the App Store of course) might be useful on my iPad since its function is to send photos from the iPhone via 3G to your desktop or a supported online photo sharing site (Facebook, Flickr, MobileMe, Picasa, Smugmug). And I was right.

eyefiupload2

Surprisingly, there was virtually no setup to speak up. You authenticate by entering the credentials for your Eye Fi account and the little app “just works”. Once I logged in, the computer showed an additional tab on the left labelled iPhone (which I promptly changed to iPad). A settings window popped right up (and it can be accessed at any time) that let me specify a folder hierarchy and type and some other options.

eyefipc11

Back on the iPad, since there is no camera and because I don’t yet have my hands on the camera connector for iPad, I was able to upload photos stored on the device. I used this feature to take the screen captures I made of the Eye Fi functionality on the iPad and send them to my desktop for editing and inclusion in this post.

eyefiupload1

Well, I can’t take a photo with the iPad as I said, but I sure can choose an existing photo and upload it. I just selected my Saved Pictures folder on the iPad and selected three images. The two above and one showing all the saved screen shots (appears below as iPhone005.JPG inside the Windows Explorer image).

I could tell the image uploads were completed via both a tool tip in the system and the Eye-Fi center window below.

eyefipc-2

Here’s the Windows Explorer view.

eyefipixdir

Yup, this is way cool. I really want to get my hands on that iPad Camera Connector. I’m relishing the thought of all my pictures being uploaded and ready for editing on the home computer when I walk in the front door at the end of a day of photo shooting.

RAW Image Support – W7/Media Center 32/64 bit

I feel like I just hit the jackpot.

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of support for Nikon NEF 64 bit support for as long as I can remember inside Windows Explorer. And I’ve been wishing for RAW support for NEF inside Media Center forever.

I’m happy to say that there is a really nice solution.

The free image codec pack at http://www.fastpictureviewer.com/codecs/ had all the answers and gave me the brass ring.

Here’s a snippet from their web site on what is supported:

Raw Image Formats

Extension(s) Name Autorotate Metadata Remarks
*.dng Adobe Digital Negative Y Y  
*.cr2, *.crw Canon Raw Image Y Y  
*.raf Fuji Raw Image Y Y  
*.3pr, *.fff Hasselblad Raw Image Y Y  
*.dcr, *.kdc Kodak Raw Image Y Y  
*.raw, *.rwl Leica Raw Image Y Y  
*.mrw Minolta Raw Image Y Y  
*.nef, *.nrw Nikon Raw Image Y Y Can be configured to skip raw conversion and always use embedded previews.
*.orf Olympus Raw Image Y Y  
*.rw2 Panasonic Raw Image Y Y  
*.pef Pentax Raw Image Y Y  
*.arw, *.sr2, *.srf Sony Raw Image Y Y  

Additional Features

Extension(s) Name Remarks
All formats WIC Thumbnail provider for XP Provides support for thumbnail views in Windows XP Explorer (SP3), for all the above formats and all existing WIC-enabled codecs.
All formats WIC Import Plug-In for Photoshop Enables Adobe Photoshop to directly import images from any installed WIC codec. The plug-in is available as a separate download in 32-bit only at this time (so it won’t work on Photoshop CS4 64-bit edition for the time being).

I shoot Nikon RAW NEF.  And I have full support now inside Windows 7 RTM. Explorer thumbnails, even inside Windows Media Center. Here’s the proof. Worth 3,000 words and a whole lot more.

 

nef1

Thumbnails inside Windows Explorer of my NEF files in Windows 7

nef2

Picture Details inside Windows Media Center/Windows 7

nef3

A folder filled with NEFs is now viewable inside Windows Media Center

Yes, XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 all can play with this. I’m excited, are you?

http://www.fastpictureviewer.com/codecs/ 

Clubhouse Tags: clubhouse, media center, Media Center Windows 7, windows media center, how-to, Tip

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