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Camera Raw to AE: gamma shift? Profile shift?

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Paulo Jan
Camera Raw to AE: gamma shift? Profile shift?
on May 9, 2014 at 12:59:41 pm


I'm trying to import the full dynamic range of a Canon RAW photograph (CR2) into AE, in order to do color grading. To do that, I'm following this recipe:

As you can see, what it does it basically to select process 2010 in Camera Raw, use the "linear" tone curve and then remove all Brightness, Saturation... adjustments. Oh, and make sure that no highlights are clipping.

After this, I thought that I'd be getting a 16-bit linear image in AE, with the full dynamic range of the original shot and without any of the tone curve adjustments inserted by Camera Raw. However, it seems to me that there's still some tone mapping/gamma adjustment/whatever going on, which the software is doing silently in the background.

Why? Let's see:

1) Open a CR2 file in AE. In the Camera Raw dialog, set everything as explained above...
2) ...and then, in Camera Raw, set exposure to -2.
3) Import the CR2 to a 32-bit float AE project.
4) Inside AE, add an exposure effect and set it to +2.

I thought that, after doing the above, the end result would be exactly the same one than an unmodified CR2 file with no exposure adjustments... but that's not the case. There is a slight difference in contrast.

Looking at "Color management", I see that AE assigns automatically the ProPhoto profile to imported RAW files, so one might think that this happens because of the color profile conversion. But if you select as the project working color space "ProPhoto" or even "None", this happens too. The only difference is that sometimes the modified file is more contrasty, and sometimes it's the unmodified one.

What's going on? Where is the gamma adjustment/whatever that I'm missing?

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