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Raw vs JPEG Is it worth the extra space and effort?

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Dave_Canon
19 Mar 2014 - 1:36 PM


Quote: Even a RAW shot image at last needs to be converted into JPEG so why not perfect the shot and spend less time on computers?

RAW have advantages, but the file format differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and they may not support it deep into the future.

So if you are more of a photo enthusiast than a computer and do not earn your living from large billboards, JPEG is perfect. Wink

Regards.

Why do you need to convert Raw files to JPEG's, I don't; I store my final images as TIFF's or PSD's. JPEG's are not perfect simply because they cannot deal with scene dynamic ranges above say 7 stops. Most outdoor scenes I take have dynamic ranges from 5 to 14 stops. If I used JPEG but avoided clipping I would lose a lot of shadow detail in many shots which is not good enough for me. The JPEG format is also destructive so if you do edit and resave several times you gradually destroy the image. It does not take long to make basic adjustments in a Raw editor like Lightroom and one or two changes can make a huge difference. Of the 24 images I mentioned above that I processed there was one where I made no adjustment in the Raw editor. The idea that all you have to do is get it right in camera is just not an option if your camera/format does not have the dynamic range then you must do something to increase it or limit yourself to low dynamic range scenes.

Dave

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19 Mar 2014 - 1:36 PM

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kodachrome
19 Mar 2014 - 3:02 PM

RAW with out doubt carries the most compelling reasons to use it and I have no problem with that, it gives the photographer the most comprehensive post processing available. However, it would be a bit blinkered to discount Jpegs completely as they are so much more improved these days, or at least from some cameras and to Quote DPreviews with their review of the Fuji X-E1, The Jpegs are so good, little would be gained from using RAW 'most of the time'. Olympus are also nearly in the same camp with their excellent Jpegs. Also, Jpeg PP soft ware is quite good now and quite a bit can be done.
I use both, but mostly Jpegs for landscape as I just haven't the time to PP RAW.

Sptsman
Sptsman  4 United States
19 Mar 2014 - 5:54 PM

Thank you to the many kind and expert members that replied to my question. In summary, it seems that to take my photography to the next level is going to require some effort and time (and stepping outside my JPEG comfort zone!). For landscapes it seems I need more dynamic range and for wildlife I usually need better low-light performance. Those are the 2 main reasons that I upgraded to the Nikon D7100. So, I guess it is time to take the next step towards those goals in post-processing as well. Also, I struggle with orgainizing 500k photos. My organization now is in the naming e.g. "2013-05-12 Yellowstone NP bison, elk, wolves". I have the date, the place and the highlights of that folder in the name which makes it a little easier to find things. But then I also have a "best", "best of best", "best photoshopped", and "best photoshopped resized". Not for all folders but most photos are saved at least twice and sometimes as many as 5 times (plus everything is backed up on another drive). I also have folders for contests, facebook, "best" by animal, etc. So, the organizational part of Lightroom will be welcome as well. I also realize that I need to be much more ruthless in what photos I keep. No more "this one has potential if I just sharpened it a bit" or "removed that distracting ...".

However, no one has responded to the "RAW or compressed RAW" or 12 bit vs 14 bit questions. I suspect the answer will be "if you a going to shoot RAW then get all of the data you can. But, practically speaking, what do I lose if I use compressed RAW or 12 bit depth? Can the human eye see it and can printers print it?

Again, thanks to all of those that responded. Any JPEG advocates were conspicuously absent and you, collectively, were able to convice me to take the time and effort to switch to RAW.

lobsterboy
lobsterboy Site Moderator 1014145 forum postslobsterboy vcard United Kingdom13 Constructive Critique Points
19 Mar 2014 - 6:28 PM


Quote: Life is too short for RAW, I shoot in JPEG,

I do wonder what people do with raw files that takes so much time? I recon if I switched from raw to jpg it would save me 2 or 3 minutes a year.
My phone shoots jpg and I can't say I have ever noticed any vast savings in time when handling the shots from it.

Last Modified By lobsterboy at 19 Mar 2014 - 6:45 PM
discreetphoton
discreetphoton Site Moderator 93453 forum postsdiscreetphoton vcard United Kingdom20 Constructive Critique Points
19 Mar 2014 - 6:45 PM

Actually I think it would take me longer if I switched back to jpeg, since the contrast, detail and colour edits that I make would become that much more complicated. Raw has saved me about 2 hours an image Wink

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315388 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
19 Mar 2014 - 7:02 PM

I`ve just done a quick test myself.

It took about 30 seconds to apply a color profile to one raw image, and all of another 90 seconds to sync and paste these settings to another 49 raw images, this included the time needed to convert them all to jpeg and save them all to a separate folder.

I don`t know what all the fuss is about, unless your all using extremely slow machines.

This is about all I do with most of my images, it quick and painless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q89NW8jtn_8

lobsterboy
lobsterboy Site Moderator 1014145 forum postslobsterboy vcard United Kingdom13 Constructive Critique Points
19 Mar 2014 - 7:26 PM


Quote: this included the time needed to convert them all to jpeg and save them all to a separate folder.

And there is a step I wouldn't normally bother with Wink

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315388 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
19 Mar 2014 - 9:04 PM


Quote: this included the time needed to convert them all to jpeg and save them all to a separate folder.

And there is a step I wouldn't normally bother with Wink

Yes same here, I might just export a single image to Photoshop or simply leave as is.

mikehit
mikehit  56483 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
20 Mar 2014 - 9:43 AM

It is wonderful to have all that dynamic range of a raw file available instead of the limited DR of the jpeg, but what is the dynamic range of most commonly available printing papers and most 'consumer level' screens?

lobsterboy
lobsterboy Site Moderator 1014145 forum postslobsterboy vcard United Kingdom13 Constructive Critique Points
20 Mar 2014 - 11:33 AM


Quote: It is wonderful to have all that dynamic range of a raw file available instead of the limited DR of the jpeg, but what is the dynamic range of most commonly available printing papers and most 'consumer level' screens?

There is always going to be some reduction in DR as you move from one to the other but the difference is that with raw you get to choose how the reduction is done whereas with jpg it is an algorithm that decides.

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315388 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
20 Mar 2014 - 3:26 PM


Quote: It is wonderful to have all that dynamic range of a raw file available instead of the limited DR of the jpeg, but what is the dynamic range of most commonly available printing papers and most 'consumer level' screens?

Some compacts can now match the dynamic range of some DSLR`s or APS-C sensors, but it is not all about dynamic range.

billeden
billeden  7 United Kingdom
20 Mar 2014 - 8:23 PM

Hi Sptsmn


Quote: Also, I struggle with orgainizing 500k photos. My organization now is in the naming e.g. "2013-05-12 Yellowstone NP bison, elk, wolves". I have the date, the place and the highlights of that folder in the name which makes it a little easier to find things.

Try this book, it sorted out my haphazard filing of photos

http://thedambook.com/

It takes you from start to finish, eg downloading thru rating to naming and archiving.

chrs
Bill

redhed17
redhed17  8658 forum posts England
21 Mar 2014 - 11:44 PM


Quote: Some compacts can now match the dynamic range of some DSLR`s or APS-C sensors, but it is not all about dynamic range.

Which compacts, and compared to which DSLRs? :-/

Back to Raw and Jpegs. Smile

There is just so much more information to play with with a RAW file. Whether you have the skills to take advantage of that information is another thing. Wink But I'd rather have too much information than too little. Smile More colours and range than just enough, or too little. I'd rather make changes on an image by image basis (or group of images) than let the camera apply a picture style/control to a set of images. Yes, you can change pictures styles/controls as you take the shot but I doubt many 'Jpeg only' shooters are doing that.

People talk about all the extra 'work' you have to do if you shoot in RAW, and if you don't do anything to your images and send them straight to print/the internet, then you have to do some work with a RAW file by comparison. Most Jpeg shooters are cropping images, tweaking exposure/colour adjustments, (if only slightly because they get almost everything close to perfect in camera Wink lol) and if you are doing that you are doing about the same amount of work as a RAW shooter, but any changes you make, especially large changes, have a less detrimental affect on the final image.

With a Jpeg your dynamic range may have been curtailed depending on the Picture Style/Control chosen as contrast curves will have been applied, as well as sharpness, colour tone and saturation settings. Losing dynamic range may not matter on some images, but for some it could be crucial to have as large a dynamic range as possible. Having an uncompressed 12/14/16bit image as opposed to a compressed 8bit can only help in getting the most out of the dynamic range and colour depth.

If you are happy with your Jpegs fine, but at least give RAW a try to see whether you have made the right choice 'for you'. Smile

Last Modified By redhed17 at 21 Mar 2014 - 11:45 PM
MichaelMelb_AU
22 Mar 2014 - 10:19 AM

I thought that the issue of RAW vs JPG wider dynamic range (DR)was worth writing a few extra words here. To put it simply, DR is a ratio between the darkest and lightest tones. It may be the same for an image taken with DSLR or compact and generally is not a camera but the photographed subject characteristic. However the number of light and color gradations will be quite different.

For example, modern Fujifilm compacts have high DR capacity built into the sensor. They split photosites in two groups and take an image with two different exposures at once to combine them later in some sort of in-camera HDR. They are easily capable of dynamic range of an entry level DSLR, not that many things are too white for them.

But the final images from those cameras are never as good as the ones that come from a DSLR - the pixels are too small for catching all that dynamic range smoothly enough. It's like a DSLR quietly walks through the dynamic range while the compact does it in bounds and leaps. Not much to be noticed on the run...

Now to RAW vs JPG. While JPG may have brightness diapason (which is DR by definition) not smaller than RAW, the distribution of gradations (number of steps from darkest to brightest) will be very different. This allows to build more than a few JPG images from a single RAW file without seeing rough changes (jumps) in color and brightness. And this number of variants will be considerably bigger with any camera with larger sensor pixels. Here is where JPG taken by an experienced photographer with a DSLR will beat small sensor camera RAW.

Final image quality does not depend on file type, rather on camera capabilities and photographer's skill in using them.

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315388 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
22 Mar 2014 - 2:15 PM

For example, modern Fujifilm compacts have high DR capacity built into the sensor. They split photosites in two groups and take an image with two different exposures at once to combine them later in some sort of in-camera HDR. They are easily capable of dynamic range of an entry level DSLR, not that many things are too white for them.

But the final images from those cameras are never as good as the ones that come from a DSLR - the pixels are too small for catching all that dynamic range smoothly enough. It's like a DSLR quietly walks through the dynamic range while the compact does it in bounds and leaps. Not much to be noticed on the run
...

But those settings do not apply to Raw, there Jpeg only.

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