Raw or JPEG?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Mac-Addict, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Mac-Addict macrumors 65816

    Mac-Addict

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    #1
    Whats the advantages of using raw over JPEG? I will storing the photos on my Mac and they will be on my website.

    Posted on my wii (MBP in for repair)
     
  2. M@lew macrumors 68000

    M@lew

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    #2
    RAW gives you more flexibility if you want to post-process the hell out of your photo's. :)
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #3
    1. Raw generally gives you the ability to get more exposure information into the capture than the built-in JPEG engine. Generally 16 or 24-bits instead of eight.

    2. Raw allows you to white balance tricky mixed lighting situations in post processing, which you probably won't be able to fix well from a jpeg.

    3. Raw allows you to pick sharpness and noise reduction algorithms and weightings rather than accepting the camera manufacturer's choices.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #4
    These days for the average consumer, there is virtually no advantage shooting RAW. There might be situations when shooting RAW helps you, but today's cameras' metering systems are almost always dead-on. If they are off by a little, you can fix that, but usually these are minute corrections.

    Since your screen's color depth is 24 bit, you will not be able to see a difference between 8 bit colors and, say, 12 bit (e. g. the D80's AD converter has 12 bit precision). You might be able to see it when you do extensive corrections, but ultimately, you will probably convert back to 8 bit enventually (for prints or to put the pics on your website).

    RAWs consume much more space, so your app of choice (e. g. Aperture or Lightroom) need much more memory per project and the memory footprint is thus larger.

    I wouldn't shoot RAW unless a specific situation requires it (e. g. night shots where I need the extra detail).
     
  5. bmat macrumors 6502

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    #5
    I always shoot RAW.

    I try to adjust wb, meter perfectly, and no blow out highlights. But once in awhile I do, particularly when the lighting is changing rapidly as I'm moving outdoors. So, on many shots the ability to adjust a stop is invaluable, or to change the white balance when the body just got it wrong. (I used to shoot jpeg, and there are many shots on my harddrive that I wish were RAW -- important family moments, people no longer here, that perfect site. Sometimes I think I'd like to make an adjustment which just isn't going to be as good in a lossy format like jpeg, and I wish I had used RAW at that time.)

    On most modern computers RAW has become so easy that jpeg has losts much of its convenience factor. Harddrives are bigger, so the additional file size for RAW shots isn't that big a deal. Processors and graphics cards are better, so converting RAW to jpeg is a snap. And programs like aperture and lightroom allow for logical organization of files. So, more and more, think there's less downside to shooting RAW.
     
  6. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #6
    What computer do you have? One of the main reasons I rarely use RAW is because my 1Ghz eMac takes forever opening the files, let alone manipulating them.

    In the long run though, that's a poor excuse. I have a bunch of pictures I took of my daughter when she was born that I wish were in RAW.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Why do you wish they were in RAW? Aren't they properly exposed?
     
  8. bmat macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Well, now I have machines that are meant to handle it -- a Mac Pro and a MBP. But before I was using RAW files from a 5D on my powerbook 1.67, which was adequate. I wouldn't use aperture for sure, but lightroom, Canon DPP, and adobe RAW worked ok. I used Bibble Pro, and like the results, but it was a bit too much for the pb. For most shots you can batch convert; it's only those you need to save or really want to work on I found then were tedious.

    Mainly, I was thinking of the fact the OP had a MBP in the shop, which certainly should be able to handle most programs -- aperture runs very speedy on mine.
     
  9. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #9
    I find RAW to ba a lifesaver in bright and dark conditions, like others have said, there's much less post -p manipulation available if the image is already 'stepped on' by the camera software and compressed on top of that into jpeg. RAW is a good acronymn because that's what you're getting - pure unadulterated lens to sensor information. What does it stand for, anyways?:eek:
     
  10. bocomo macrumors 6502

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    #10

    it's actually not an acronym, just raw really
     
  11. valiar macrumors regular

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    #11
    Always, always, always shoot RAW.

    RAW conversion is quite a complex process, and conversion software is constantly improving. The software that you can install on your computer, that is.
    The algorithms your camera is using to convert RAW to JPEG are in most cases hardwired - and are just not as good as what Aperture or Adobe Camera Raw can do.
    If you use Aperture, Lightroom, or Photoshop there is really little difference between working with RAW or JPEG. It is just as convenient. The only disadvantage of RAW is size - but hard drives are very cheap nowadays.
     
  12. eddietr macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    I'm not a professional, but I switched to RAW just because I had a few pictures out of each hundred where the white balance just wasn't right otherwise. And the ability to adjust WB anytime, even after other edits, is really fantastic and let's you get the colors exactly as you remember them. For many pictures it won't matter, but it won't be long before you find a picture or two where it will.

    As others have said, hard drives and memory cards are cheap. Pictures are very often precious.
     
  13. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #13
    I always shoot RAW. I started about a year ago and have never looked back...yeah I can't fit as many pictures on my card, however I never have to worry about my white balance setting ever again. I set up the stuff that actually matters, shoot, and then play with the pictures later on to get the right white balance.

    Being able to make quick, lossless adjustments in photoshop is a huge plus, I just pop open a picture, twiddle the dials until it looks right, and save as a jpeg.
     
  14. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #14
    Sometimes I set the exposure compensation and forget... :(

    So all the pictures of my daughter's first few hours were 1/3 of a stop underexposed. Not the end of the world really. I adjusted them and they're fine, I think.

    But still, RAW doesn't really help you much with the wrong exposure setting, does it? It's more to do with the white balance, sharpness, saturation, etc type settings that affect the how the camera processes the data into a JPEG. Exposure is physical and affects the RAW image just as much, right?
     
  15. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #15
    I'll agree that exposure is the most difficult to correct even in RAW... not much wiggle room if the highlights are blown, but I manage to save quite a few with levels in pse. The foam in my surf pics always gives me a hard time unless I get it spot-on with the original.
     
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #16
    You can easily fix 1/3 of a stop if your pics were taken as jpg. I've done that frequently with images from the ancient times of digital photography (think 2-3 megapixel cameras with bad white balance algorithms, etc.). This is something I fix literally in seconds in Aperture.
    RAW files are not some sort of miracle drug. A properly exposed jpg will (in the end) look as good as a RAW file since pretty much all ways to output files reduce the color depth to 24 bit.

    Another thing is that you shouldn't underestimate the camera's abilities to process images. Any modern dslr will produce excellent pictures when used properly. You usually have different settings as well and the result is usually more than adequate. I suggest you have a look at Ken Rockwell's site. His key sentence on whether to use RAW is: `If you have to ask then just shoot JPG.'
     
  17. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #17
    I've been less and less impressed with Rockwell since I first started reading his site last summer/fall. I think he oversimplifies a lot and underestimates people.

    I think I want to use RAW, for example, for shooting my friend's wedding this October. I think that wedding dresses (although for all I know this may not be an issue with the dress at hand) tend to cause problems for auto white balance, and for that reason alone I think I'd like to use RAW. I know from the pictures from my wedding that the combination of my wife's white dress and a red shawl that she had confused a lot of the cameras taking pictures. For most things though right now though, I think that I can tell well enough if something's seriously askew looking at the LCD on my camera, so I use JPEG. When sitting around with my daughter, I can almost always just take another shot if I don't like the results of the one I've just taken. At a wedding, that's not going to be an option.

    Absolutely 1/3 of a stop isn't something hard to fix. I just wish I'd noticed I'd set the camera wrong and didn't have to. Obviuosly, it's not the best thing for picture quality to underexpose pictures and then compensate for that in post processing.
     
  18. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #18
    This is one of the most important facets of working with RAW...when you're shooting things that you'll never be able to shoot again, RAW gives you one more safety net...even if you mess up a little on exposure and if you don't white balance at all, it's fixable at home. If you see something awesome and your white balance is off the hook, you'll come home with a bunch of blue pictures and no way to fix it.
     
  19. Mac-Addict thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mac-Addict

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    #19
    Looking at all your posts I think I will be shooting RAW, my machine can handle it and if it means its easier to mess around with the pics later in lightroom then all the better.
     
  20. bmb012 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Well, on my D80, the color in RAW looks FAR better and more professional, though iPhoto is just fine at turning those RAWs into JPGs with good color.
     
  21. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #21
    I don't subscribe to every single one of his suggestions, but he often does have a very good point. The two that are most relevant here: RAWs are usually not needed when taking pictures, especially if the picture is correctly exposed. miloblithe said that the reason the pictures weren't exposed correctly was a mishap (which happened to all of us at one point). While RAWs might give you better material in extreme cases, e. g. when the white balance is only slightly off, you will not see any difference under normal circumstances.

    The second and equally important suggestion is to focus on the picture, not on the equipment. I see so many people running around with a 5D or D200 hanging around their shoulder, pro glass from the manufacturer (coz that's the only way to get good image quality), but their pictures are mediocre at best.

    I've tried shooting RAWs with my D80 once again last weekend, and it doesn't show. I ended up converting the pics into jpgs and reimporting them. All pics were correctly exposed and none of them needed special tweaking.
    IMHO instead of focussing on these small variations or extreme cases, focus on mastering your camera first. Learn to avoid wrongly exposed images. Shooting RAWs definitely add a layer of complexity and increase the time it takes to sort your pictures. Once you have reasonably mastered all the above, you may want to add RAWs, but by then you know when you need them. It's not easier to `mess around with the pictures' afterwards, it's harder.
     
  22. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #22
    I think that's because you're talking about art and creating an image, not just accurately reproducing `reality' in the form of a picture. Ocean or snow pictures are always very challenging for your equipment (same effects, very bright surfaces, sparkles, etc.).
     
  23. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #23
    I think that's absolutely true. I'm well aware that my equipment exceedes my ability at this point. On the other hand, to some degree, that's the advantage of RAW. In a way, it allows you to concentrate on composition, exposure, and timing, just like in the good old days, and leave the more "electronic" elements of photography to when you're in front of a computer.
     
  24. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #24
    No, it doesn't make things simpler, it makes the whole process more complex to work with and gives beginners strange ideas about the RAW format. For correctly exposed pictures, it gives you little advantage, unless you are interested taking pictures under special circumstances. But then you (i) know that you need to shoot RAW and how to work with RAWs afterwards.

    In the good old days, it was a lot more difficult just to have a correctly exposed picture! You had to know your camera's moods and tendencies. With film, you cannot correct the exposure after shooting (the printers can, but the negative/positive is still the same). In the good old days (before I was born), the film material was less forgiving, too. That's why taking pictures used to be `hard', you had to keep track of many technical details before you were able to focus on the composition.

    Shooting RAWs and JPGs is pretty much akin to shooting in medium format versus 36 mm in the old days: for most things, there was little difference. If you knew what you do, it could make a big difference, but nobody started learning how to take pictures with a medium format camera.
     
  25. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #25
    If you have a lens that's prone to chromatic aberration (CA), it's almost trivial to correct if you have a RAW file. In JPEG... not so much.
     

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