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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> RAW vs JPEG Debate
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07/20/2007 01:57:47 AM · #1
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

To try to wrap up this WB issue in simple terms:

1. The RAW capture is the way the camera "sees". No matter what form of output the camera gives you in the end, it began from a RAW capture. Sensors cannot "see" in JPG. The in-camera software reads the RAW data and generates a JPG or a TIFF or whatever file format you have instructed it to use.

2. All in-camera, after-exposure adjustments, like contrast, WB, saturation, sharpness, and so forth are used by the camera's software for the purpose of interpreting the RAW data and generating whatever file format you are using.

3. When you use a RAW converter as part of your workflow, you are taking those after-exposure adjustments out of the hands of the camera's software and putting them in your own hands. You can choose contrast, wb, saturation, sharpness etc in the RAW converter, and you can generate infinite variations if you wish. Each of these variations will basically be exactly what you would have gotten if you shot in JPG with those particular parameters.

4. The key variables you CANNOT change in RAW are the ones that affect pre-capture data: shutter speed, aperture, focus, ISO, and (for the most part) exposure.

6. Understanding this, RAW makes a tremendous amount of sense even as a "learning tool"; want to see what effect different WB would have? Instead of shooting 6 separate JPG files, just change the WB parameter in RAW.

7. The ONLY argument against using RAW is workflow considerations. You can create and spit our JPG's with incredible speed if you get your parameters right. But if you want to do serious "fine" photography, RAW is the only reasonable way to go. There is no downside to it at all.

R.


These points are all of the reasons one could consider RAW as the only way to capture images. The differences are flagrant especially when using a highly tuned calibrated screen with a very high resolution. I just purchased the new Samsung 22" screen and am using it at its highest resolution. You can visually see the gradation improvements using RAW over JPEG. Take a bit of time to master the process and you will never look back...
07/15/2007 12:22:24 PM · #2
To try to wrap up this WB issue in simple terms:

1. The RAW capture is the way the camera "sees". No matter what form of output the camera gives you in the end, it began from a RAW capture. Sensors cannot "see" in JPG. The in-camera software reads the RAW data and generates a JPG or a TIFF or whatever file format you have instructed it to use.

2. All in-camera, after-exposure adjustments, like contrast, WB, saturation, sharpness, and so forth are used by the camera's software for the purpose of interpreting the RAW data and generating whatever file format you are using.

3. When you use a RAW converter as part of your workflow, you are taking those after-exposure adjustments out of the hands of the camera's software and putting them in your own hands. You can choose contrast, wb, saturation, sharpness etc in the RAW converter, and you can generate infinite variations if you wish. Each of these variations will basically be exactly what you would have gotten if you shot in JPG with those particular parameters.

4. The key variables you CANNOT change in RAW are the ones that affect pre-capture data: shutter speed, aperture, focus, ISO, and (for the most part) exposure.

6. Understanding this, RAW makes a tremendous amount of sense even as a "learning tool"; want to see what effect different WB would have? Instead of shooting 6 separate JPG files, just change the WB parameter in RAW.

7. The ONLY argument against using RAW is workflow considerations. You can create and spit our JPG's with incredible speed if you get your parameters right. But if you want to do serious "fine" photography, RAW is the only reasonable way to go. There is no downside to it at all.

R.
07/15/2007 12:01:52 PM · #3
Originally posted by levyj413:


I'm getting closer to being sold on RAW. Enough so that I'll use it for a while and see how it goes.


Throw it in RAW+JPEG for a while. But then force yourself to play with the RAW files and ask questions about them. You'll be happy you did
07/14/2007 10:53:15 PM · #4
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

Originally posted by levyj413:

I keep hearing this claim about white balance. I fix colors in JPG all the time - that is, I load up a JPG in PS. How is that any different from fixing it in a RAW you load into PS? Color me confused.


I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but try making this:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5885/thumb/554887.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5885/thumb/554887.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

look like this :

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/701/thumb/541052.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/701/thumb/541052.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I only changed the WB setting in RAW conversion (to fluorescent) to make it wrong, otherwise, it's pretty much the same. If you go to correct the color and levels, you're going to get quite a bit of clipping and out of gamut colors.

WB issues are more than just color balance issues, the wrong choice in WB can cause clipping of the color gamut and other issues too.


Thanks, Leroy! That's just the kind of demonstration I wanted. :)

I'm also thinking about what you said about only editing a relatively small percentage of your shots. That's me, too.

I'm getting closer to being sold on RAW. Enough so that I'll use it for a while and see how it goes.
07/14/2007 10:09:19 PM · #5
My primary reason for shooting JPG is my new Canon G7 :)

I know I'm sacrificing dynamic range etc but it's a compromise I can live with for the kind of stuff I do.

Otherwise, I prefer the flexibility of RAW and always use it when I'm shooting with the DSLR.
07/14/2007 07:47:50 PM · #6
to me this is all very simple...

Good JPEG is all I need. If I know I can get what I need right from the camera I shoot JPEG. If I'm not sure because of weird light or shot is extremely important to me I'll back myself up and shoot in RAW.

I think I'm experienced enough to get what I want from the camera. I can evaluate situation and setup camera the way I want to so I shoot JPEG most of the time.

That's just me :)

Nick
07/14/2007 07:46:21 PM · #7
Originally posted by levyj413:

I keep hearing this claim about white balance. I fix colors in JPG all the time - that is, I load up a JPG in PS. How is that any different from fixing it in a RAW you load into PS? Color me confused.


I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but try making this:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5885/thumb/554887.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/5885/thumb/554887.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

look like this :

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/701/thumb/541052.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/701/thumb/541052.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I only changed the WB setting in RAW conversion (to fluorescent) to make it wrong, otherwise, it's pretty much the same. If you go to correct the color and levels, you're going to get quite a bit of clipping and out of gamut colors.

WB issues are more than just color balance issues, the wrong choice in WB can cause clipping of the color gamut and other issues too.

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 20:00:26.
07/14/2007 07:41:21 PM · #8
Check this out man. Nikon Capture NX. Download the demo and check it out. You process the raw file then bring it into PS for final processing. I use NX for a bunch of editing tasks including my b&w conversion. RAW rules for printing in my mind because of 12 bit color and the purity of an uncompressed file.

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 19:42:46.
07/14/2007 07:34:17 PM · #9
I keep hearing this claim about white balance. I fix colors in JPG all the time - that is, I load up a JPG in PS. How is that any different from fixing it in a RAW you load into PS? Color me confused.
07/14/2007 07:30:45 PM · #10
Originally posted by levyj413:

Originally posted by MrEd:

I guess my REAL question is..."Why wouldn't you shoot in RAW and have more control over your photos?" I wonder if it's just a preference thing with no REAL benefit either way?


That's the wrong question for me, anyway. I don't know RAW, so in order for me to invest in learning, I need to know why I should bother.


the main question here is do you spend time post processing your pictures. If you do then RAW gives you more flexibility and it makes lot of sense.
But people like me who do not do post processing very much (because of any reason), shooting JPG is very good option.

(But here I shall make clear that many times for some shots I do think that if I had shot RAW it would be better. Because I realize that I can not do the post processing I wish to do with it).

07/14/2007 07:24:31 PM · #11
Originally posted by levyj413:


So far, the point about expanded dynamic range is the best argument I've heard for bothering to learn RAW.


I'd agree that it is the best argument. 12+ bits of data compared to 8. Flexibility in sharpness, contrast, saturation, and curves follow closely with WB high up there too.
07/14/2007 07:14:42 PM · #12
Originally posted by MrEd:

I guess my REAL question is..."Why wouldn't you shoot in RAW and have more control over your photos?" I wonder if it's just a preference thing with no REAL benefit either way?


That's the wrong question for me, anyway. I don't know RAW, so in order for me to invest in learning, I need to know why I should bother.

Now, once you know both, then your question definitely applies.

So far, the point about expanded dynamic range is the best argument I've heard for bothering to learn RAW.
07/14/2007 07:07:29 PM · #13
Originally posted by benjikan:

I totally agree. All of my files are saved in TIFF or PSD when given to the publication. If I gave them a JPEG there would be an uproar and my credibility would be put in to question.

//anashcreation.com/thenashgallery/BenjaminKanarek/reload4?full=1


Yes, but again, that's not an argument about JPG vs. RAW. I create PSDs out of my JPGs all the time - that's how I edit my entries here, actually. I could just as easily spit out a TIFF file.

The final format isn't connected to the original format unless the editors insist on getting a RAW file.

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 19:08:11.
07/14/2007 02:09:32 PM · #14
Gotcha...thanks for the example Brad and thanks for the input Leroy.
07/14/2007 01:59:30 PM · #15
If I'm shooting a kid's b-day party the camera is going JPEG. All else is RAW :-)

Why? Because I make bad decisions and I definitely would prefer not have contrast, WB, sharpness, saturation, etc decisions set in stone. Memory is cheap. Lightroom 1.1 is pretty cheap. There are very few reasons for me to be lazy and shoot in JPEG.

Besides, other than weddings and parties, I rarely if ever "develop" anything approaching 100% of the shots I take in a shoot, more like 20-30%.

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 14:00:17.
07/14/2007 01:44:38 PM · #16
Fixing the WB in RAW is not all that it's cracked up to be sometimes.
If AWB is used under yellow sodium lights, fixing it after the click is not going to happen right.

Here is a shot that was taken in raw under just those conditions:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/520766.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/520766.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

No amount of after the fact would correct the color cast - believe me, I tried. Only way I was able to correct it, was to manually desaturate some parts of it and hand tone it, particularly his pants and skin:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/520768.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/520768.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Yellow sodium lights are perhaps one of the absolute worst sources of lighting, and I find that setting the camera to Tungsten gets it closer than anything else I have found. If my RAW image starts out that way, it's so much easier to tweak after that point.

I am finding that making adjustments using DPP and saving as a high-res jpeg to do the final editing are yielding much higher quality images to start with. I am also finding myself doing a lot less PP than I was, by using RAW. I can almost guarantee that if I had shot this in jpeg, the initial image compression would have never got it to the 30x40" print approval at 6,000 x 4,500 pixels at 300DPI.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/549516.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/549516.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Hard to say if Skip's shot would have been easier with the original in RAW. Much of the editing was making selective area color & levels adjustments. If anything, an HDR may have been a good alternate route, but in the end, the same selective adjustments would have been needed to bump certain areas of the image, do things like make the grass green, desaturate parts of buildings and lettering on the train, applying a luminosity gradient over the water to even it out, etc.

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 13:45:16.
07/14/2007 01:24:54 PM · #17
Originally posted by Brad:

Originally posted by MrEd:

To the RAW naysayers.......do you leave you WB on auto and, if so, has the camera ever chosen the 'wrong' balance. If it did choose the the wrong balance, what did you do?

Under yellow sodium lighting, AWB does NOT work:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554710.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554710.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' (straight out of default raw conversion, no editing)

Set WB to Tungsten in same conditions, couple minutes later:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554713.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554713.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' (straight out of default raw conversion, no editing)

Thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Brad. I notice those were shot in RAW, which would be a pretty quick fix. Other than eliminating a PP step and using less space on your card and hard drive, what would be the benefit of shooting JPEG? Then again, if you wanted to, you could always delete the RAW's when you were done.

I guess my REAL question is..."Why wouldn't you shoot in RAW and have more control over your photos?" I wonder if it's just a preference thing with no REAL benefit either way?

Also, I read ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Skip's interview and noticed he shoots in JPEG. Would it had made a difference (taken longer or less time) to process The Richmond Photo if it was shot in RAW?

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 13:25:42.
07/14/2007 12:31:53 PM · #18
Originally posted by levyj413:

Originally posted by RainMotorsports:

I Have a file that CAN NOT be fixed by using levels. It contains alot of blue objects that are thrown completly out trying to use levels to correct the white balance.


Really? You're using the white, gray, and black eyedroppers and it's not fixing it?

Or are you trying to do it manually? Would you be willing to post it so we could play with it?

I'm liking the point about extra dynamic range, though. Maybe within specific color channels you bump against one end or the other, so the extra stops give you some more room to play around to fix colors?


Jeff I'll dig it up for you. Maybe I just need help with levels, but i was doing shots of stuff and a few shots included blue objects such as one shot alone had a Blue Windows Vista CD. I mean bright solid light blue. No matter what i did still turned out too yellow or pushed the CD into being blown and an even brighter and lighter blue.

Ill see if i can find either shot that im talking about. I know i have them. It was my fault for not setting manual white balance. I was shooting agaisnt a white peice of paper so i could edit out the background.

Mind you this was also 1 year ago (the vista disc's were Beta 2 copies), maybe I have gotten better? Ill dig it up for ya though either way.
07/14/2007 12:27:49 PM · #19
Originally posted by RainMotorsports:

I Have a file that CAN NOT be fixed by using levels. It contains alot of blue objects that are thrown completly out trying to use levels to correct the white balance.


Really? You're using the white, gray, and black eyedroppers and it's not fixing it?

Or are you trying to do it manually? Would you be willing to post it so we could play with it?

I'm liking the point about extra dynamic range, though. Maybe within specific color channels you bump against one end or the other, so the extra stops give you some more room to play around to fix colors?
07/14/2007 12:23:37 PM · #20
Camera Raw 4.0 is as much a part of my workflow as removing my lense cap. I shoot knowing I have headroom on the exposure and white balance as long as I don't exceed the histogram. Allows me to focus on other aspects of the shoot and not be solely dependent on a 2.5" LCD in bright sunlight to make my exposure/WB decisions.

But certainly, there are times when JPEG makes sense (burst, deadlines, small capacity CF). For me, only the exception. I am going to upgrade to a firewire CF card reader however because I am impatient.
07/14/2007 12:18:12 PM · #21
Originally posted by levyj413:

Originally posted by MrEd:

To the RAW naysayers.......do you leave you WB on auto and, if so, has the camera ever chosen the 'wrong' balance. If it did choose the the wrong balance, what did you do?

I use curves or levels to fix it. It's a 15-second fix. And yes, I leave WB on auto unless it messes up. In my dining room, with CFLs and yellow walls, I have to manually set the color temp as low as it will go, which is 2500K.

WB really isn't an argument for RAW. Heck, my camera can even bracket WB, RAW or JPG.

BTW, I'm not a RAW naysayer, I'm a "use the tools you need when you need them" sayer.


Not a raw naysayer.

I Have a file that CAN NOT be fixed by using levels. It contains alot of blue objects that are thrown completly out trying to use levels to correct the white balance. Had it been shot in RAW not only would it be fixed so easy, it would have resulted better.

Its an image that needs ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Brad Tool's 4.1! The only software to be re-recommended 5 times by CNET LMAO!

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 12:20:49.
07/14/2007 12:03:35 PM · #22
Originally posted by MrEd:

To the RAW naysayers.......do you leave you WB on auto and, if so, has the camera ever chosen the 'wrong' balance. If it did choose the the wrong balance, what did you do?

Under yellow sodium lighting, AWB does NOT work:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554710.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554710.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' (straight out of default raw conversion, no editing)

Set WB to Tungsten in same conditions, couple minutes later:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554713.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19708/thumb/554713.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' (straight out of default raw conversion, no editing)
07/14/2007 10:54:08 AM · #23
Originally posted by MrEd:

To the RAW naysayers.......do you leave you WB on auto and, if so, has the camera ever chosen the 'wrong' balance. If it did choose the the wrong balance, what did you do?

I use curves or levels to fix it. It's a 15-second fix. And yes, I leave WB on auto unless it messes up. In my dining room, with CFLs and yellow walls, I have to manually set the color temp as low as it will go, which is 2500K.

WB really isn't an argument for RAW. Heck, my camera can even bracket WB, RAW or JPG.

BTW, I'm not a RAW naysayer, I'm a "use the tools you need when you need them" sayer.
07/14/2007 09:14:20 AM · #24
To the RAW naysayers.......do you leave you WB on auto and, if so, has the camera ever chosen the 'wrong' balance. If it did choose the the wrong balance, what did you do?

Message edited by author 2007-07-14 09:15:38.
07/14/2007 04:26:54 AM · #25
Originally posted by RainMotorsports:

I was waiting for you to see that. For a grease monkey your not a bad Post Processor!

Ahem - 5 time re-certified ASE Master Technician, 4 time re-certified Advanced Engine Performance Specialist, and Certified Service Consultant as well as an ASE workshop member that writes the tests.
hehehe - fancy wurds for a mechanik huh.
Thanks btw!
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