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RAW image files appear dark - EOS 250D

I posted this before but for some reason it got marked as spam so reposting. So after two weeks of pain and agony, I got my photos to appear exactly how I'd like. I'd noticed the RAW file preview appeared dark in Windows File Explorer however upon opening in the windows app after a few seconds the RAW image would appear exactly how I'd like! I've discovered this is Windows displaying the built-in jpg. All I needed to do now was make the image a bit brighter so I proceeded to open Digital Photo Professional 4 and I found that the RAW files appear just like the Windows preview, very dark not like how Windows photo app displays it. How can I get the RAW files in digital photo professional 4 to appear how windows photo app interpret the RAW image - that image is almost perfect but just needs the exposure adjusting. I have tried everything in digital photo professional using various settings to get it to match with the way Windows displays the raw file but I just can't get it close enough.

What am I doing wrong? Should I go back to the drawing board and retake the images so they aren't under-exposed in the first place? I've tried this but it seems to get it exactly how Windows is displaying the raw image I have to use a lower shutter speed which is affecting the overall quality of the image. I have read I maybe need to play around with the ISO settings.

I've attached an example of how the Windows Photo app renders the raw file, it's perfect but notice it just appears a tad bit dark, could do with being a bit brighter, I've got my monitor brightness set at half and when I compare it to other images of fabrics they are considerably brighter (do you think the image is OK?, am I over thinking the brightness, I'm a complete amateur but I'm quite proud of the shot!). I suppose if the image brightness is OK I could just save the jpg from the Windows Photo app which I have done btw and it works a treat!


Then we have the RAW File (Using Manual Mode with F10 1/30 ISO 100) as seen in Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4 - I have tweaked all the settings but I just cannot get it like the way the windows photo app renders it:


Am I using the wrong lens? My Camera is Canon EOS 250D + Canon EF-s 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens

I want to get this right as I have over 100 images to shoot. I'd rather redo the first few photos than use the current method and get it wrong for all of them.

Any advice would be much appreciated! If you think I should go back to the drawing board what advice would you give for photographing fabrics? I want to show as much detail as possible with the images looking professional and crisp. I'm using a softbox 5600K light as well. Can you please give me some advice as to what shutter speed, aperture setting and ISO setting I should be using?


I'm not familiar with what a COB light would be.  Is it a continuous light perhaps?

Your histogram is definitely showing that things are underexposed (peak towards the left edge of the histogram).

In terms of flash, having a single on-camera flash would not work well if pointing it directly at your fabric (will lead to very flat lighting).  If you want to show off texture and include some soft shadows in the folds, you could swivel the head of the flash to point it at a wall or ceiling to bounce off of.  However, if the walls and/or ceiling are not white/neutral, that will lead to incorrect colors.

I personally use Profoto studio strobes now.  They are very expensive, but produce incredible results and have a very high degree of color accuracy.  There are definitely other brands that should work well for you.  Note that when working with strobes/flash off camera, you often need extra gear such as lightstands (I personally use C-stands).

When color is critical, highly recommend using a color chart.  I use a Datacolor Spyder Color checker.   I also always capture in RAW.   Every time you're in a different lighting scenario/setup, take one image with the color checker.  Then take the images of your fabrics.  In whatever software you're using to organize and edit your photos, you can use the color chart image to perform any adjustments and then apply that to the following set of images.  This latter step often involves a different workflow depending upon what software you're using and what brand color chart.


Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers


When you open the RAW images in Windows Photo app it automatically enhances the image. This is why it looks dark in the explorer, but when you click on it to open it larger it changes to a look you like. 

If you are using Windows 11 there's a series of steps to disable this auto enhancement. I found this on Windows Answers 

So it would seem that you are indeed underexposing the shots, and need to follow the advice about camera settings elsewhere in the thread.

EOS specialist trainer, photographer and author