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My RAW/JPEG Comparison

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by dragion, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
    My curiosity got me thinking...
    There has been many debates regarding shooting RAW or JPEG.

    I previously shot only RAW with my Nikon gear, but that soon changed when I purchased the Sony A6000.

    I currently shoot only JPEG and tweak a bit in LR5.
    For my "hobbyist" needs, the results from JPEG is good enough for me.

    I decided to make a test comparison by shooting both RAW & JPEG and post process just enough for my liking in LR5.

    The subject is a calendar that I have hanging in my home office and the only light is from a desk lamp with 60watt bulb and my 27" iMac screen.
    The test isn't well controlled, but only wanted to see what results I get.

    Both the photos have been slightly straightened & cropped.
    Funny that the RAW file was a bit more uneven, but had additional information on the bottom of the photo.
    The JPEG file was already straight, but was cut off on the bottom compared to the RAW file image.
    The in camera JPEG correction might have something to do with it.



    Below are the files in JPEG format.
    RAW post processed in LR5 and converted to JPEG.
    The JPEG was only cropped in LR5 and pretty much SOOC.

    Sony A6000 : SEL35F18

    16587059735_3bf17a3e93_h.

    RAW Dragion Designs by dragioniii, on Flickr


    16585858881_c4cf082cd0_h.

    JPEG Dragion Designs-2 by dragioniii, on Flickr


    Is RAW the only way to go or is JPEG actually good enough?

    I would like to know your thoughts on this.
     
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  2. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran

    370
    Feb 5, 2014
    Australia
    The way I see it if your importing into LR and tweaking anyway why not just shoot RAW? I would say in good or controlled lighting JPEG will give good results but when you get scenes with large variations in lighting, such as landscapes, where you can have very bright sky's and dark/shadowed foregrounds JPEGS will not give anywhere near the same detail recovery of highlights and shadows as RAW will.
     
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  3. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
    Thank you for your insight.
    Yes, I know that shooting RAW can achieve better results based on certain situations.

    If I was concerned about the results that I have been getting from shooting JPEG, then it wouldn't be any question to not shoot RAW.

    Granted, RAW with the correct post processing will always end up with better end results than JPEG with in camera correction.

    I find that shooting JPEG for me has more pros than cons.

    The main reason for me to choose JPEG is that post processing from a RAW file takes more time to achieve similar results compared to the JPEG file SOOC.
    The time I spend tweaking the JPEG in LR5 is usually a quick crop, straighten and a bit of sharpening...only takes about 5-10mins.
    For me to get the same results for a RAW file, it would take me at least 3 to 4 times longer...maybe more depending what corrections are required.
    Call me "lazy" but I prefer to be behind the camera then behind the computer.

    For more examples, you can take a look at my Flickr photostream page...all the A6000 photos were taken in JPEG.

    Just to remind you, I'm not a professional...far from being one. ;)
     
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  4. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran

    370
    Feb 5, 2014
    Australia
    I'm with you I'm far from a pro, heck I don't even personally know a pro photographer. That being said I bet there are plenty of Pro Photogs who at time uses JPEGS and get fantastic results.

    For me PP in LR should not be so cumbersome. Spending 5-10 minutes on basic processing an image I would say is to long if you have your workflow sorted. I have numerous presets which I have either downloaded (free ones only) or created myself. With one click of a button 90% of my PP is done. It's only when getting into using brushes, grad filters, radial filters or healing tools that take extra time and if I decided to use any of these on an image I would most likely use it whether the image was a RAW or JPEG.

    There is no correct answer when it comes using JPEG or RAW as long as it works for you.
     
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  5. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    It does go to show that JPEG is perfectly good enough as long as you aren't looking to make too many adjustments to the image.

    As southy says, if you had a different subject you might want to adjust highlights, shadows, black levels, sharpening, white balance... etc.

    I'd be interested to see, just using that test subject, what the result would be if you underexpose it by 1 or 2 stops in camera. Then push the exposure back up in lightroom, and see if you can get results similar to the shots you posted.
     
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  6. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
    I too have plenty of presets, but hardly even used them...majority of them are designed for RAW files.
    I did create a "general" preset which I use all the time for tweaking my JPEGs...only additional crop/straighten might be required.
    By stating 5-10mins on post processing is based more on the longest time for editing in JPEG...compared to the amount of time for RAW.

    If I did only shoot RAW, then I would have to sit down and create several presets for different types of subjects...which takes time.

    Right now, the preset I created can be used for all my JPEG files and very little adjustments are needed.
    Simple & quick...that's how I like it.
     
  7. soeren

    soeren TalkEmount Top Veteran

    651
    Dec 12, 2014
    Næstved, Denmark
    Soeren
    Please continue this conversation. Im all ears.... or that is, in this case, eyes. New to digital photography I find that how stuff works differs a lot from my other cameras and techniques so Im really debating whether to start shooting RAW and get a -Converter and proper software for the processing or just stay with JPEGs for the time being and take things as they come. Can you work in layers with JPEGs? as in making multi exposures with film?
    Best regards
     
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  8. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
    I, myself is just a novice...as my signature indicates; I'm also learning as I go.

    I would shoot both RAW & JPEG and see which format suites you better.
    For some good instruction on workflow and what Lightroom can do...I recommend watching "Learning Lightroom 5 series - by Anthony Morganti"



    I would download the free 30 days trial version of Lightroom and go from there.

    There is plentiful of information to be learned.
     
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  9. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    I used to be a 100% JPEG shooter. Since starting doing occasional paid photography (I won't call it semi-pro because it's really ad hoc), I've gone to about 40% JPEG 60% RAW (results probably skewed because the last thing I did was a wedding). For event photography (usually indoors) I am happy to send the JPEGs to clients. I always shoot RAW+JPEG of course.

    Here's the thing - JPEG is 8 bits and Sony's RAW is 11+7 bits. High dynamic range scenes really need (not just benefit from) the extra data. However, the vast majority of everyday shots aren't high dynamic range (I've read somewhere that typical indoor shots are only about 7-8 EVs of dynamic range). Under these conditions, it's really hard to tell the difference between RAW and JPEG from a good JPEG engine. That of course omits bad JPEG engines, and I really dislike some of them, especially Panasonic's (and Sony's old JPEG engine from NEX cameras had lots of white balance issues). So I only shoot RAW with my GH3.

    So anyway, for a casual shooter, the only things you really need to go to RAW for are things like sunsets. But if you are going to PP anyway, there's no harm shooting RAW as well.
     
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  10. soeren

    soeren TalkEmount Top Veteran

    651
    Dec 12, 2014
    Næstved, Denmark
    Soeren
    Like Agree Winner Informative Appreciate Useful

    Hmm maybe I shouldn't have left out funny since your work suggest you are far from a novice.
    Ill take a close look on that series
     
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  11. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
    As I stated, to time consuming for me.

    Here is an example of a sunset at the beach...shooting JPEG and with the SELP1650 kit lens:

    14485637832_0c7b3ccf74_h.
    by dragioniii, on Flickr

    There is more on my Flickr Page.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragion/sets/72157644904694970/
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  12. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Nice photo!

    For the above example, I'm sure one with good knowledge of LR (not an amateur like me :D ) could fix the under-exposed parts of the photo (sand, background land/buildings) with a RAW file ;)
     
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  13. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
    Nick~
    If I can remember correctly, these weren't post processed in LR.
    The only processing done on some was B&W conversion and/or crop in iPhoto.
    They are pretty much SOOC.

    At this point, I could still enhance the photo...maybe not as much as if it was RAW, but adjusting the exposure, shadows & highlights in LR5 will do the trick. :cool:
     
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  14. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    339
    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill
    You can only get out of raw processing what you bring to it.
     
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  15. dragion

    dragion TalkEmount Top Veteran

    799
    May 8, 2014
    Boston, MA
    William
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  16. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    It is not bad, but you could get a whole lot more out of a RAW. Just saying...
     
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  17. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Speaking only for myself, I think the first one looks better, more natural.
    All of us view things on different monitors, but I think the 2nd one has some greenish cast to the sand.
     
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  18. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    It has that greenish cast because it was processed from a jpeg, and not a raw file. The WB is baked in with a jpeg, and all the digital data needed to change it has been simply thrown away. It's gone. If you could compare that edit with one done from a raw file, you would not only see that the green cast would be eliminated, but all of the shadow areas that were lifted would have much smoother tonality because the file would contain so many more levels of "light" with which to work.

    There's simply no getting around the fact that a jpeg contains a small fraction of the information in a raw file. You've left the rest on the table. Deliberately. And any edits done to a jpeg not only are very limited, but will often make a photo look worse if you try to get to where you want the image to be.

    The "extra work" argument holds no water for me. I dont spend any more time on my raw files than I would on a jpeg. Less, in fact, because I don't have to overcome all of the limitations that a jpeg would throw at me.

    This raw vs. jpeg dilemma has been going on since digital photography was born, and will probably go on forever. If you are happy with the results you're getting from jpegs, by all means continue to do what makes you happy. Unless you're a professional who has to please a client, who cares what anyone else thinks?

    But I have a lot of jpegs I shot when I first got into digital photography. And some of them fall just short of what I now have the skills to develop. I'd love to go back and see what I could make of them, now that my developing skills are much better. But I can't. The data needed to take those images from OK to good has been lost. And I now regret having shot them as jpegs.
     
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  19. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    714
    Feb 17, 2015
    As an interested bystander to this conversation I'd like to add this comment. Early on when I first got a digital camera, a friend of mine who taught art said the best thing I could do for myself is shoot RAW if possible. It would always be useful to have those files for if/when I got around to really getting into photography more so than just using the SOOC jpeg's. I'm glad I followed his advice. I have just about every picture I've ever taken digitally in a RAW format. Luckily for me, my Nikon can record both RAW + jpeg so that's how I use it. Same with the NEX now.
     
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  20. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Not to beat a dead horse here... and really, this never-ending raw vs jpeg discussion has become more like whacking a fossilized eohippus with rock hammer :p , but going back to the cards in the first post in this thread, you may be able to see the smoother tonality in the eyes and hair of the little creature in the lower left. That increase in latitude would be much more evident in, say, a landscape image with a large dynamic range. I would go out and shoot that sort of comparison, but all of my spare time is spend noodling with my raw files until they're just... perfect! :D
     
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