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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> RAW format?
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11/10/2002 07:30:54 AM · #1
Hi guys,

How many out there shoot in RAW format? Would you recommend it and why? I guess I'm supposed to use some kind of coverter too. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
11/10/2002 10:16:46 AM · #2
from what i understand, because RAW uses more bits per pixel than the other formats, it's most useful in situations where you've got a wide dynamic range to capture, ie bright brights mixed with dark darks.

the other thing about RAW is that the data hasnt been sharpened or otherwise processed by the camera, so you can manipulate it yourself.

that said, I never use it. the differences are subtle, and there is too much hassle with the special software, etc. i've gotten acceptable results using best quality jpeg and restricting the amount of post-processing I do.

hope that helps.
11/10/2002 10:27:09 AM · #3
I always shoot in RAW. You seem to be able to do more things with the photo ie better sharpening--JPEG is a lossy system and you are throwing pixels away. To use RAW means that you have nearly the same compactness of JPEG with none of the lossiness. I view the RAW image as a negative and they must be treated as such--with JPEG it is too easy to change your original by mistake whereas you cannot change your RAW image.
11/10/2002 10:30:16 AM · #4
BTW Gordon Mcgregor has an excellent outline of how you should process your images in your digital darkroom--if you e mail him I'm sure he will give you the site address--he gives really great and useful info.
11/10/2002 11:07:12 AM · #5
i would like to see samples of raw vs jpeg because I too don't see much difference and it is a pain to convert 80 images into tiff after shooting in raw. But would like to hear more comments on this topic thanks
11/10/2002 11:21:47 AM · #6
As I understand it, RAW files are simply files for which all in-camera processing has been turned off (sharpening, white balance, etc). The files are huge compared to jpegs, though generally not as large as tifs.
11/10/2002 12:56:07 PM · #7
I use RAWs all the time. Mainly because I've seen enough people ruin shots by using JPEG that could have been saved by shooting in RAW.

The main advantages are that all the processing that normally gets
done in your camera can by done on your computer. The biggest win
there is with white balance. Auto white balance is very often pretty
bad but if you set a custom white balance and screw it up, RAW lets
you 'roll back' to a another setting, rather than trying to fix a colour cast in photoshop, which would ruin the picture.

The other general advantge to RAW is that you are shooting in 12 bit
colour, rather than 8bit colour. That gives you a whole lot more dynamic range that can be exploited, prior to converting down to an 8-bit final version.

The other key advantage is that sharpening gets done at the end of your
workflow, rather than at the start - also leading to much better results, especially if you are going to resize your images.

RAWs tend to be larger than JPEGs (about 2-3 times the size of superfine,
large mode on a G2) But are smaller than TIFFs because its a 12bit
rather than 16bit format, and also uses lossless compression. I get
about 85 shots in RAW mode, on a 256Mb card.

I use breeze browser (www.breezesys.com) to preview and convert the
images, so that I only bother converting the ones to TIFF that are
any good. I then convert them normally to 16bit TIFF (or linear TIFF
if I really want to do all the work myself) and process in photoshop.
11/10/2002 12:58:53 PM · #8
Originally posted by kathleenm:
i would like to see samples of raw vs jpeg because I too don't see much difference and it is a pain to convert 80 images into tiff after shooting in raw. But would like to hear more comments on this topic thanks

You will not really see the advantage to using RAW there (although there
is a slight difference, due to sharpening artefacts)

The difference is additional processing control/ recovery from screw-ups/
higher dynamic range for tone/colour adjustment. The 12bit vs 8bit
difference probably gives you about 1 or 2 stops extra range between
the highlight detail and shadows for a well exposed frame, which you can
bring out automatically in breeze browser, or manually in photoshop.
11/10/2002 03:45:45 PM · #9
I regard myself as an improving novice in digital photography. However, I shoot in raw format for everything I want to print, or that I submit to various challenges. I also tend to learn things during the post processing. I shoot "snapshots' of my family and friends in jpeg, where I don't need to spend (much) time in post processing.
Gordon has provided a nice summary of the reasons to use raw. It is consistent with other summaries from other good photographers. I'd recommend you visit his site on workflow here

Jim msp


* This message has been edited by the author on 11/10/2002 6:21:11 PM.
11/10/2002 04:00:20 PM · #10
I keep hearing about RAW files having a wider dynamic range then JPEGs and I am not sure about this. I understand that 12 and 16 bit files contain more color information then an 8 bit file but it has been my understanding that the darkest balcks and the brightest whites are still the same and that there are just fewer colors used in between. I thought it was like two movie strips recording the same scene where one strip is recording at 60fps and the other at 45fps but they both record the beginning and the end of the program. The first strip can appear smoother then the second strip but depending on the material the differences may not be noticable. Please correct me if I am wrong but this is what I thought. It seems to me that even an 8 bit file has plenty of color information for photos to look fantastic. BTW, doesn't the file need to be in 8 bits to do most of the processes in your image editor anyway?

T
11/10/2002 04:28:11 PM · #11
Originally posted by timj351:
I keep hearing about RAW files having a wider dynamic range then JPEGs and I am not sure about this. I understand that 12 and 16 bit files contain more color information then an 8 bit file but it has been my understanding that the darkest balcks and the brightest whites are still the same and that there are just fewer colors used in between. I thought it was like two movie strips recording the same scene where one strip is recording at 60fps and the other at 45fps but they both record the beginning and the end of the program. The first strip can appear smoother then the second strip but depending on the material the differences may not be noticable. Please correct me if I am wrong but this is what I thought. It seems to me that even an 8 bit file has plenty of color information for photos to look fantastic. BTW, doesn't the file need to be in 8 bits to do most of the processes in your image editor anyway?

T


The darkest blacks are the same as in a jpeg (black) and the brightest whites are the same (white) What is different is the number of stops between the darkest black and brightest white.

So if I shot a dark scene, with bright white highlights, I'd be able to capture more of the dynamic range between the dark and the white, before one extreme or the other was saturated out.

The file does eventually need to be sampled down to 8 bits, but you
can do most of the colour range manipulations in 16 bit mode in photoshop, until you get a good range, then downsample to 8bit.

With 8 bit colour, you can display 2 to the 8 * 3 colours, with
16 bit more ranges can be displayed - this leads to a wider dynamic
range than with 8 bit colour, which translates to wider exposure
latitude for 12 bit files over 8 bit captures.

Once again I'll say it, the only advantage of RAW over JPEG is control
over the process. Your camera always shoots 12 bit images, and then
samples those down to 8 bits for the JPEG. If you shoot RAW, you get
to use that full range, manipulate it, then down sample it later.

this page shows one use I've put this to. I would agree though
that if you are not really interested in the image processing side of things, or not too concerned about being able to control the whole
process and get the best results, that JPEG usually give very adequate
results.

* This message has been edited by the author on 11/10/2002 4:26:13 PM.
11/10/2002 04:45:25 PM · #12
You can also see the difference between working in higher bit depths
in photoshop, by making a few colour changes to an 8-bit picture in
levels or curves, and looking at the resulting histogram. You will
see gaps and banding starting to occur. This corresponds to a final
image with reduced tonal range, which doesn't happen with a higher
bit colour image. RAW gives you access to this, via 16-bit TIFF files.


11/10/2002 06:43:28 PM · #13
I never tried using the TIFF quality mode of my camera, because then I could only save about 80 photos on my microdrive in stead of 500+ in JPEG quality. At least that's what the display says.

But reading your posts I was curious and did a test. I photographed a random scene in TIFF, JPEG fine quality and JPEG economy quality.

Now the funny thing is that the supposed to be TIFF file is in JPEG format instead. The filesize is 621kB. The fine JPEG is 1.4 MB and the economy JPEG is also 621 kB. So the TIFF quality file is smaller than the fine JPEG? Visually I can't see any differences between all three of them.

Did anybody else experience that, too?

11/10/2002 06:45:41 PM · #14
You might want to read your manual again then - TIFF mode is
going to be larger than the same sized JPEG
11/10/2002 06:56:38 PM · #15
I thought so.
Also the camera takes a very much longer time when saving a photo in TIFF quality (about 3 times slower). Does that happen with your camera, too? To me it almost seems that while trying to save on TIFF the camera experiences problems or has an error and just saves it in economy JPEG instead.

The manual does not say a word about that or what "TIFF quality" exactly means. I'll search the Casio-Website for more information.

11/10/2002 07:06:33 PM · #16
I dont know about color bits, dynamic range, or any of that stuff, but I use RAW mode for several reasons. The most important of which was mentioned by andrewm above... RAW files are essentially digital negatives. You can't accidentally make changes to them and "save" the changes because you have to convert them to TIFF's first. Sure it's a bit of a hassle, but its more than worth it, imo.

As someone mentioned. shooting in RAW mode gives you the "cleanest" image possible from your CCD, with the camera adding no extra "noise" from sharpening, contrast, or saturation controls. That, and the ability to adjust white balance (which is an awesome creative tool in itself).
11/10/2002 08:58:50 PM · #17
Originally posted by mcmurma:
I dont know about color bits, dynamic range, or any of that stuff, but I use RAW mode for several reasons. The most important of which was mentioned by andrewm above... RAW files are essentially digital negatives. You can't accidentally make changes to them and "save" the changes because you have to convert them to TIFF's first. Sure it's a bit of a hassle, but its more than worth it, imo.

As someone mentioned. shooting in RAW mode gives you the "cleanest" image possible from your CCD, with the camera adding no extra "noise" from sharpening, contrast, or saturation controls. That, and the ability to adjust white balance (which is an awesome creative tool in itself).


Yup, these are the more important reasons I use them too, and being able to work in 16-bit mode in photoshop
11/10/2002 09:12:03 PM · #18
Originally posted by stephan:
I thought so.
Also the camera takes a very much longer time when saving a photo in TIFF quality (about 3 times slower). Does that happen with your camera, too? To me it almost seems that while trying to save on TIFF the camera experiences problems or has an error and just saves it in economy JPEG instead.

The manual does not say a word about that or what "TIFF quality" exactly means. I'll search the Casio-Website for more information.



It records in TIFF format at the highest resolution (2240x1680) and the file size for each shot should be about 11,000KB (compared to 1,300KB Fine JPG at that resolution) and take about 53 seconds to record to the microdrive after the shot (all according to dpreview.com's review of the casio QV-4000)
11/11/2002 02:16:57 AM · #19
On the Canon G2 you can save 61 shots in superfine jpeg and 42 shots in RAW-so jpegs have a 50% advantage.
11/11/2002 10:09:51 PM · #20
Originally posted by anz:
On the Canon G2 you can save 61 shots in superfine jpeg and 42 shots in RAW-so jpegs have a 50% advantage.

More info on why you might want to use RAW here
11/11/2002 11:34:41 PM · #21
Originally posted by Gordon:
I
The other general advantge to RAW is that you are shooting in 12 bit
colour, rather than 8bit colour. That gives you a whole lot more dynamic range that can be exploited, prior to converting down to an 8-bit final version.




FYI, the RAW mode in the Canon G1/G2 is only 10 bits. The Canon G3, D60, D30, etc. are in 12 bits.

11/12/2002 12:09:26 AM · #22
Originally posted by paganini:
Originally posted by Gordon:
[i]I
The other general advantge to RAW is that you are shooting in 12 bit
colour, rather than 8bit colour. That gives you a whole lot more dynamic range that can be exploited, prior to converting down to an 8-bit final version.




FYI, the RAW mode in the Canon G1/G2 is only 10 bits. The Canon G3, D60, D30, etc. are in 12 bits.

[/i]

Yup, that is correct. However, most of the advantages of RAW have nothing to do with the bit depth, though the extra 2 in the G2 still
make a difference when it matters.


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