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Using RAW

paulbroad 10 123 1250 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2007 3:47PM
I've been at this Photography game for a long time - 45 years seriously, and digital since 2001 when I bought a Fuji Finepix 4900Z as an early retirement present to myself.

I do a little semi-Pro work for my old employer and usually use best JPEG on my CANON EOS digital SLR's unless I expect exposure problems, in which case I switch to RAW + Best JPEG.

I am continually being told by the magazines and many keen photographers that I should ALWAYS shoot RAW. I use RAWSHOOTER ESSENTIALS to process RAW files and have saved quite a few shots because of that, but many have been indoor flash shots at presentations etc. in large rooms.

I'm finding that in most cases a best JPEG is virtually indistinguishable at A3 from a correctly processed RAW file and that when I shoot RAW + JPEG, in 50% of the cases my labouriously processed RAW file comes out exactly the same as the JPEG saved at the same time by the camera.

I accept that RAW gives us a 'negative' for long term storage and can be processed to give different effects, but unless you learn to process in RAW correctly, I'm becoming convinced that best JPEG is a better default setting.

How does everyone feel.

Is it better to use common sense when choosing format, or is it better to shoot in RAW all the time - bearing in mind that I shot just over 1700 images in two weeks in Majorca recently and life is short!


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jaspernina 11 1.0k Wales
23 Aug 2007 3:51PM
I am really new to photography, I find that a RAW file is a lot more forgiving, as I can alter the exposure ect, if i get it wrong in camera, a lot easier than if it was taken as a jpeg. But as you have been taking photographs for 40 years you may not make mistakes like i do.

Coleslaw 12 13.4k 28 Wales
23 Aug 2007 3:59PM
Strange, I thought I saw the same thread before...I am going crazy Sad
jaspernina 11 1.0k Wales
23 Aug 2007 4:04PM
With all respect, Paul is new to this website. Smile
conrad 13 10.9k 116
23 Aug 2007 4:12PM
Even just something like using a simple slider to adjust the colour temperature of a picture makes using RAW worthwhile to me. But it is a subjective matter, of course. We each have our own preferences.
Coleslaw 12 13.4k 28 Wales
23 Aug 2007 4:14PM
Raw is a rescue for me, a god sent, as I can never get it right on the camera....Smile
lobsterboy Plus
14 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2007 5:10PM

Quote:Is it better to use common sense when choosing format, or is it better to shoot in RAW all the time

Unless you absolutely have to, I would say stick with just one (IMHO raw). That way you always go through the same processes with your images and it becomes automatic.

Take two workflows into the shower? not me I just want to raw and go!
AnthonyM 13 423 2 United States
23 Aug 2007 7:19PM
Like you said, I too rarely see much difference from a well processed RAW and JPEG. The difference comes in when JPEG can't quite hold enough info to expose everything well.

The following link is to an image I made due to a mistake in a photo I recently took, but I think it shows to some extent how much more detail there is in RAW, that you could never get out of JPEG. (It is a before & after shot for this forum post... do not vote on it, that would be silly!)

I don't think that the final photo linked above is very good, RAW can only do so much, but I was surprised to see what was pulled from the RAW file. I'm usually more careful and get images more properly exposed, but in a few cases it wasn't possible, or for whatever reason the camera metered slightly different than I expected and RAW has saved an otherwise poor photo.

I have slowly started to become a convert and shoot in RAW+JPG mode, converting the few poor photos from RAW when necessary.
I'm have a feeling as I shoot more, I'll probably go exclusively to RAW.
David0944 10 4 United Kingdom
23 Aug 2007 7:47PM
I'm new to this site and was obviously guided here. I'm interested in the RAW debate, as I now have a camera that will shoot in the Raw format.

Everyone seems to recomend shooting in Raw and I've been looking a a demo of the Raw processor in Photshop CS2 - the results seem to make me at least try with Raw.

Little Jo Plus
16 2.3k United Kingdom
23 Aug 2007 10:50PM
The raw versus JPEG debate will probably continue for many years to come. It is horses for courses. I would expect any serious photographer to shoot raw, it's the digital equivalent of using slide film. The original image as captured by the camera with no adjustments. Raw files are much more tolerant of post-processing (what we do to it on the computer ie. contrast adjustments etc) than JPEG. JPEG by its very nature has lost quite a lot of data and each time you save it you lose a bit more.

If you are just taking snapshots, then taking them to ASDA or some kiosk for printing, then JPEG is fine. JPEG is also fine if you know all you will do with that image is sent it by email or upload to the web.

Do what is best for you, relative to the final presentation of the image. If you don't know - shoot raw. You can reduce the size of a large file easily, but you cannot recreate data that is no longer there.

Boyd 14 11.2k 11 Wales
23 Aug 2007 10:56PM

Quote:The raw versus JPEG debate will probably continue for many years to come.

Similar to the full frame/cropped frame argument that reared it's ugly head between the fanboys of Canon and Nikon. Oh, hang on...D3.
paulcr 13 1.5k 9 Ireland
24 Aug 2007 11:12AM

Quote: I've been looking a a demo of the Raw processor in Photshop CS2 - the results seem to make me at least try with Raw.

In CS3 you can now open jpeg files as raw files..
rossd 15 1.1k England
24 Aug 2007 2:54PM

Quote:JPEG by its very nature has lost quite a lot of data and each time you save it you lose a bit more.

A popular misconception. You can open and and close a jpeg image as many times as you want with no loss of quality although you will lose some quality when you repeatedly open, edit and close the image.
rossd 15 1.1k England
24 Aug 2007 2:58PM
Sorry, forgot to add a link for those that are interested
paulbroad 10 123 1250 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2007 8:14AM
I'm not sure you are strictly correct, kamerman. I think that you loose data each time you open and save a JPEG - you don't need to do any editing.

I assume that is what you meant. If you just wish to view a JPEG open it, then close it - DON'T save it.

On the rest of the thread - I'm still not fully convinced. I accept that RAW is capable of the best possible image providing the RAW processing is carried out correctly - but beginners need to know what a good digital image looks like before they tackle RAW.

The one saving grace of the camera club competition in the wet darkroom days was that the newcomer could actualy see an accomplished workers big monochrome print and see what a good tonal range actually looked like. Then they could develop their own style having established ground rules.

Most of my published work has been shot as JPEG. I know at least one local (very good) professional who shoots a lot of stuff in JPEG but fdoes wedding in RAW in order to solve the white dress/black suit problem.

The bottom line is - suit yourself.

It's a bit 'Catch 22'. Experience tells you when to shoot RAW and when JPEG - but you need to gain that experience. The bottom line is probably to gain experience by shooting RAW + JPEG if your camera has that facility - in fact I am being persuaded to do that more often myself, but it will depend on the situation.

A set piece shoot, or even a day out with potentially limited exposures is OK in RAW + JPEG but how about that 1700 shots in Majorca! That is, very approximately, 36000 MB of Data in RAW - rather a lot of cards and my portable Flashtrax hard drive is getting on a bit - only 20 GB. My 'holiday' shots are not family record - they are potentially competition or library saleable material, so storage and then processing becomes a real issue.



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