Going fully raw...?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by quezra, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Ok, so for some months now, I have not used a single JPEG as a final photo, and it basically looks like I'm virtually fully using raw already. But something makes me hesitate to take the plunge to shoot raw only.

    Part of it is workflow. Rather than import photos straight into C1, I usually cull first using a standard photo viewer. The JPEGs are simply sharper and therefore easier to see whether all the correct parts are in focus or not (on the other hand, the JPEGs are terrible for some ETTR scenes that are extremely dark in shadows). I then start importing after having deleted a sizeable chunk.

    Part of it is history. As some of you may remember, I used to be a fully JPEG shooter, and stayed that way even for a while after switching to A7. It's hard psychologically to leave that behind.

    But the other case is simple: I really don't do anything with the JPEGs. Aside from sorting (and occasionally passing the photos straight to people so I don't have to do any actual work on them), I don't use them in 99% of my shooting. Is it time to switch?

    What are other people's experiences of switching to raw only? What other possible downsides are there?
  2. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    I shoot only raw since 2006, using Nikon Capture NX and switched to Lightroom when version 4 came out. I literally cannot imagine what it would be like to shoot JPEG, seems difficult to me because you basically have to get it right in-camera.

    I can think of one possible drawback of shooting raw only: re-exporting raw files from an obsolete program (like Capture NX in my case) can be problematic, fortunately I had made JPEG exports at the time and included them in the LR catalog. Every once in a while I export all photos in the catalog to full-size high-quality JPEGs and include them in the catalog so that I always have the finished end products, even if Lightroom wouldn't be available anymore. After all, JPEG is a format that every computer can handle, however old or new it is. I even can upload them to my Smugmug site as an off-site backup.
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  3. pbizarro

    pbizarro Guest

    IMO, there are no downsides of shooting RAW. But if you are in doubt, you can always shoot RAW + JPEG.
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  4. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    I already do shoot RAW+JPEG. The question is whether I might give up something I don't realise by just going fully raw. The thing about outdated raw programs is a good point I hadn't thought about. Any others?
  5. pbizarro

    pbizarro Guest

    Ok, did not get that. In terms of outdated raw formats (not so much processing softwares), you cal always process a raw to high quality jpeg, that is what I do. Also, you can convert from proprietary raw formats (which tend to change from camera to camera, even for same brand) to universal raw format DNG.
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  6. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    DNG isn't as universal as Adobe would like you to believe. I have a bunch of old Olympus E-10 images that I shot raw, and at some point converted to DNG because I bought into the "universal" theory. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't open them in any software, including Lightroom. I have yet to come across any raw images from any of my old cameras that have become useless. Fortunately I had backed up those old Olympus files in their original raw state.
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  7. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    I've been all RAW for years - just simplifies the shooting flow and the file management flow IMHO. Lightroom gets 'er done.
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  8. izTheViz

    izTheViz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    May 10, 2013
    Yannis Marigo
    RAW...no brainer. I don't want the camera to give its interpretation of the scenes I photograph. And frankly speaking, starting with basic editing is really simple. So many tutorials to learn from on youtube.
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  9. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    I think OPs question is NOT Raw vs JPeg but rather RAW+Jpeg vs RAW only...

    At least that's how I understand it
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  10. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    I think it is primarily a workflow question. It was stated the JPEGs are only being used for culling before pulling into Capture One (C1).

    I also use Capture One, and I shoot only RAW. I did the RAW+JPEG thing for a while, but once I saw that Capture One even without any edit rendered the RAW as well or more to my liking than the JPEGs, I went all RAW. It does not take all that long to import for me, but I do not shoot thousands or typically even hundreds of photos at a time. So I simplify my workflow and cull after importing into C1.

    I had never really thought about it until now, but you could probably use C1 sessions to do this, before moving/importing them into your main catalog. That would keep focus on the current crop of photos (no pun intended), not sure if sessions build the previews so may or may not save any computer processing (which happens in the background anyway).

    My personal workflow is to import to my "new photos" folder, run a quick script that renames photos to my liking, import to C1, delete the useless images (more than I'd like to admit), edit to taste, then export to full-size, highest quality JPEGS in a separate "finished images" folder. The last step helps me preserve my edited photos in the event I change cameras or software (e.g. used to shoot Canon, and have changed software 3 times from PS Elements to Canon's software to Lightroom to Capture One). Someday I mean to get around to taking my very best or otherwise valued photos and get some high-quality prints that might outlast the digital images for my descendants to discover in a box in the attic. :)

    Oh, and I have a backup process for my computer that runs while I sleep. Do not forget backups, not just for pictures but all your stuff that is stored locally.
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  11. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Thanks bdbits, that's a very informative answer. I shoot burst a lot (kids are a major subject of mine!) so inevitably I need to delete a lot of photos. I know this before I even download them (sometimes I do a rough cut in camera).

    I guess some of it is down to processing power. My next computer might be a lot more powerful so importing doesn't take any time at all (right now I'm on a Core i7 laptop but no graphics card, so I don't know how much faster it could be).

    How do you do scripts to rename photos (presumably in a Windows folder)?
  12. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Right now I do the RAW+JPEG. 95% of the shots are just fine with only marginal tweaking. But when needed it is a blessing to have the RAW's.

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  13. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    Note that I have been doing computers professionally since the 1980s so I am extremely comfortable with command lines. Not everyone is, so this may seem ridiculous to some, and I could probably do this with C1 renaming now but that was not there when I started so I still have this simple (to me) routine I have used for a while now.

    The batch file uses exiftool, a powerful command line tool that can read (and write) metadata, filenames, and folders. I store exiftool itself in d:\tools, and the batch file has just one line.

    d:\tools\exiftool -d %%Y.%%m.%%d_%%H.%%M.%%S_%%%%f%%%%c.%%%%e "-Filename<MediaCreateDate" "-Filename<DateTimeOriginal" D*.*

    Looks a bit intimidating, but what it does is rename all the files that start with a D to the date time in the metadata, followed by the original filename, and if necessary a counter to keep filenames unique. So a file named DSC01234.ARW might get named to 2016.06.16_23.18.11_DSC00862.ARW. This also works for jpegs. If metadata item MediaCreateDate is not found it will look for DateTimeOriginal. I found one of these in all of the various image files I have, your mileage could vary I suppose.

    That probably seems screwy to most, but when I export the file even if I strip the EXIF data I can see by the filename when it was taken. I retain the original filename on the end for no particular reason and it is not really necessary. I originally did it thinking I might for some reason want to revert the name, which exiftool could also do (I did this just to prove to myself it could be done).

    So, this batch file resides in a folder where I always drop my new files, then I can just double-click the batch file to rename all the new files. Because of the D*.* it will not touch the old ones, just don't name andy files you do not want renamed with a name beginning with a "D". :-D

    If you want to explore what exiftool can do, it is available at ExifTool by Phil Harvey. The documentation can be overwhelming and I found it a bit confusing at first myself. Also note that I have more % in the batch file than you would need if you are entering the command. This is due to % being a special character, so inside a batch file you have to double it up.

    This is probably way more than most anyone here wanted to know, and now all will realize I am certifiably insane. But you asked. :rofl:
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  14. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    I used to be a 'raw only' guy even if I shot 'raw + jpeg' but over the past year or so I have been doing quite a bit more 'jpeg' processing.

    The big advantage of jpeg processing is the 'speed'. I can download jpegs to my ipad from my camera, give them a quick run through 'snapseed' and then immediately share them. I find 'nowadays' with a lot of family and friends snap shots, many people appreciate the 'immediacy' of a photo rather more than a properly processed one at a late time or date.The other advantage of 'immediate jpeg processing and sharing' is that it frees up time for properly processing raw photos that are important to me. There is quite a bit of room to process jpeg images in any case as long as they are roughly right.

    The small underlying problem with raw + jpeg shooting though is that the right exposure for raw is rarely the right exposure for jpeg.
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  15. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Thanks so much everyone for all the information. Lots to mull over!
    This is really starting to be where I am at now! Too often the JPEG is unusable in any case. But the few times when lighting is fine for both, there is zero extra work required. I guess I need to try to objectively balance whether that makes any sense, since the vast majority of the time the JPEG goes straight in the bin. I think if I were using a near ISO-less A7rII it would already be raw only, since I could lock everything in at ISO-100 (and ISO-640/800 for lowlight, according to DxO) and adjust in post? Or am I just fantasizing?
  16. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    dpreview states in an article that the A7R2 is practically ISO invariant but in that case it is wise to use uncompressed raw; in the boosted ISO 100 example the compression artefacts are clearly visible. Luminous Landscape also has an article on it but I'm not prepared to pay up the subscription fee to see if it's any good. For me this means that I underexpose by 1 or 2 stops as soon as I start to think highlights might blow. My standard setting is uncompressed raw already unless I shoot in continuous mode, I hope that Sony will one day feature lossless compression of raw files; when I save test shots or other less important stuff I convert them to lossy DNG in Lightroom.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
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  17. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Everyone's needs are different, as are their priorities.
    I used to shoot RAW only during my Canon DSLR days because the JPEGs were unacceptable to my eyes. Perhaps I could have tweaked the camera settings, but didn't see the point of the effort.
    Today, I shoot RAW+JPEG, because my needs have changed, and so has how much/often we're sharing the photos. But more so, the Sony JPEG engine does a pretty acceptable job. Only in low light does it falter with compression and noise reduction artifacts. It will never replace the improved data of a RAW file, but it's handy to have a working JPEG immediately. Not all shots require attentive RAW editing. I like to look at RAWs as negatives, and JPEGs are similar to Polaroids. Immediacy and convenience.
    But also efficiency when that becomes important.
    While shooting with many manual focus lenses, evaluating them is far more easier and accurate with JPEGs as a base standard out of the camera. Far simpler to compare similar lenses on a camera with its JPEG output, than RAWs, which will end up getting one's creative interpretation, and wiping away the rendering characteristics of the lens.
    Also after shooting hundreds of shots, sometimes a thousand, it's faster to review the JPEGs to determine keepers and which not to waste time on the RAW versions.

    Light Room's default output of the RAWs are pretty flat and lifeless. So I now use C-1 as well. I personally like its default output better.

    If you only have JPEGs as a review, you can go RAW only and still review the embedded JPEG from the RAW. It contains a JPEG thumbnail and 1080p image. That is what you see on camera. If 1080p is enough resolution for your evaluation, you can use Faststone Image Viewer 5.5 to view the embedded JPEG from the ARW files, before importing into the C-1 library.
    It also has a handy Batch file naming tool built-in.
    Personally, I use a Windows Explorer replacement called Free Commander XE. It has a a much more powerful renaming tool with naming templates you can save. I use the templates to append the lens model to the file name so I can tell which manual lens I used. The number of saved templates is unlimited so it helps to fuel my LBA. :D
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
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  18. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    I know of several fine photographers online that shoot only JPEGs and produce very high-quality images. It has led me to reconsider my own workflow a number of times. But as noted, everyone is different in this regard. Personally all RAW generally works for me, and being a bit OCD with my image files I do not want to deal with what I mentally think of as duplicate images. And as I said, my volumes are relatively low so the 'extra' processing is pretty minimal. Still, has me thinking maybe I should spend the time to tweak the JPEG engine and see if I am making things needlessly complicated and a little more time-consuming than necessary. Life is too short as it is, and speeding up post will allow more time to shoot. :thumbsup:

    RAW vs JPEG gets rather heated in some places; nice to have a civil discussion about it. I do like getting different perspectives from time to time. It is helpful to review one's workflow now and then.
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  19. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    When I used to only have LR and wasn't quite comfortable, I would always be able to convert to my liking, I would shoot JPEG for those family events. LR seemed to be a lot of work to get raw to look good. Ever since I got DXO Optics, I shoot raw only. For quick stuff these days, I just run it through with the standard setting and I'm okay with the results.
    That said, I hear a lot of people saying they shoot jpeg for the immediacy of sharing and downloading to phone and tablets for quick edits. I'm a little confused as to why jpeg matters in this case because I always shoot raw only and use the Sony PlayMemories app on iphone or android to download files from camera to phone/tablet and never needed to convert to jpeg first. The camera or app must do a real-time conversion.
    Just this Friday, I shot my daughter's 5th grade dance and while at the party, I sent a few shots from my camera, to my phone, and loaded to the PTA FB page for parents to see. I never did any raw conversion until I got home.
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  20. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Yeah when you shoot raw + JPEG it automatically sends the JPEG pic to the device. I usually shoot raw +j... My jpg are always black and whit as it helps me focus more on the subject.

    Sent from my iPhone using TalkEmount mobile app
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