Fixing color issues with Lumix G7 RAW files

I recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix G7. I wanted a more modern camera with good lens support; The only other interchangeable-lens camera I own is an old Sony a230 DSLR. It still works fine and takes good pictures, but Sony has completely abandoned DSLR cameras in favor of mirrorless cameras. I didn’t want to be stuck without the ability to buy a new lens, if I broke one.

The G7, like all modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras, has the capability to store the images it captures as JPEG or “RAW” files. Most of the time, I find that I get decent results from the G7’s JPEGs. However, I still have the camera configured to save every shot as both JPEG and RAW, on the off-chance that the camera really gets something wrong.

For example, my Sony a230 is really bad about this - the JPEGs it produces are so blown-out and contrast-y that I don’t even bother. The RAW files just look better. Well, imagine my surprise when I start shooting RAW with my brand new camera, and the images look like shit!

Here’s an example that really showcases the issue. The first image is the JPEG from the camera, and the second is the RAW file processed by RawTherapee.

Those colors are fucked! RAW files are rarely “better” than JPEGs - they’re usually just different in exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. But this is far from anything I’d seen before. It wasn’t just RawTherapee having this problem either, I tried Darktable and LightZone with little success. I even sent a file to my friend who uses Adobe products, and we both agreed that something was wrong.

Thankfully, RawTherapee has a really good wiki, and while trying to resolve my problem I found my way to the article for the Color Management module. In the input profile section, it explained that it was possible to acquire color input profiles for certain camera models through Adobe’s DNG1 converter.

Adobe DNG converter runs really well under Wine, and it did include a DCP profile for my camera. I found it in C:/ProgramData/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles/Camera. There was a subfolder for my camera model within.

I configured RawTherapee to apply that DCP profile to any RAW image from my camera, and…

Much better! It’s not exactly the same as the JPEG - there’s some very slight yellow casting/desaturation(?) when you look at them side-by-side. However, the reason I was looking at the RAW versions originally is that I felt the camera-produced JPEGs were a little over-saturated, so I’m happy. This is eminently more color-correctable than the RAWs processed without the profile.

  1. DNG is short for Digital Negative, an open container format for RAW data. Some camera vendors use it natively in-camera, for producing files from sensor data. Panasonic doesn’t. Actually, most don’t. It’s a mess. ↩︎