Post processing Leica CL files is so streamlined and effortless. Why is everyone else so complicated? 

Can we talk about editing for a second? If you’ve been following along, then you know I’m not much for editing my images. Maybe I’m lazy, but I prefer to get it right in camera, shooting JPEG and utilizing custom film simulation recipes and settings. But that doesn’t mean I never edit. I’m all for shooting RAW in scenes with extreme or harsh lighting so that I can take advantage of the camera’s full dynamic range, recovering highlights and shadows as needed. In fact, if editing RAW files were easier, I might shoot RAW more often.

Enter the native DNG files produced by Leica. Every editing app on my iPad Pro (my only editing device since March, when I gave up using a laptop) can open and edit the files: Snapseed, VSCO, Darkroom, etc. Even the native Files app and Apple Photos can view them without a problem, something I can’t say about Fujifilm RAW files. The only way for me to view Fuji RAWs is to load them into Lightroom mobile. But Lightroom doesn’t talk to the Files app so if I cull in Lr and then delete images from Lr, I still have to go back into my files and delete the images from my iPad. It’s a very convoluted process that takes twice as long. 

I’m going to give a little step by step breakdown of my editing workflow with both my own Fuji gear as well as the Leica gear I’ve recently rented so that you can see just how much easier it is to work with DNG files.

Fujifilm RAW (.raf) workflow:

  1. Transfer images from SD card to Files app on my iPad Pro. I use the Files app rather than Photos because I prefer to keep only images shot with my iPhone in my my camera roll.
  2. Import images to Lightroom.
  3. Cull images and delete the rejects from Lr.
  4. Note the file names of the deleted files and then find them in the Files app so I can delete them from my device. Deleting images from Lr does not remove them from your device.
  5. Edit images in Lr. Because other apps (including native Apple apps) cannot view the .raf files, Lr is my only editing option for RAW. (Of the apps I have, that is.)
  6. Export files for future use.

Leica RAW (.dng) workflow:

  1. Transfer only the images I want to keep to the Files app on my iPad Pro. All the .dng files are viewable so I don’t have to transfer all of them, just the ones I want to keep. This means I can cull as I transfer.
  2. Edit images in the app of my choice because they can all view and edit the .dng files.
  3. Save or export for future use.

As you can see, it’s literally half the number of steps to work with the Leica .dng files and I’m in love with the simplicity. I’m not going to lie; this one fact alone makes me want to switch to Leica and Ricoh. Truth is, I would love to get alway from Adobe subscriptions. I blogged about that previously and I even managed it for six months or so. Then I switched to a mobile workflow and encountered this problem, which sent me right back to the software I’d worked so hard to break free of. Leica offers so much more flexibility in this area. It’s amazing to me that Apple hasn’t caught up with the proprietary file formats and at least programmed their software to read it. I mean, that’s not Fujifilm’s fault.

And none of this is meant to knock other camera brands. I honestly think they all produce amazing cameras with amazing images these days. I’d be happy using a camera from pretty much any major manufacturer: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Ricoh, or Leica.

But after this past weekend, if I had to pick, it would be a Leica.

Or a Ricoh, if I could commit to just one focal length…

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