The Benefits of Shooting in RAW

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Alowisney, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. Alowisney

    Alowisney TalkEmount Regular

    49
    Sep 1, 2011
    Macon, GA USA
    I'm aware of the benefits of shooting in RAW when it comes to white balance and exposure, but I've seen samples comparing RAW and JPEG with the RAW file being much sharper from the NEX 5. My question is: how'd they do that?

    Is it that RAW files are able to be sharpened more in something like Lightroom? Is it that you have more data to work with, so your adjustments don't show as much?

    I'm going to shoot in RAW this weekend and try to see if it makes a difference in my image quality in the final product, but I'd like to hear from people that shoot RAW on a regular basis and have some real world experience with the difference in image quality.
     
  2. macjim

    macjim TalkEmount Regular

    158
    Aug 10, 2011
    Shooting in RAW is better than shooting in JPEG because RAW is just like a negative, and JPEG is like a zipped file, compressed to fit a size. With RAW you have much more information and detain to work with, especially in shade areas as this will allow more detail to be brought out when edited in software such as Lightroom 3 and Aperture 3. It does have its drawbacks as the file saved in RAW will take up a good deal more space on your memory card and, on your computer hard drive and backup device.
    It really depends on the way you shoot photographs too with your camera, you might find you are happy with the results that you'll get with the JPEG settings, but you will have less detail and information later to edit with when you decide it needs tweaking when viewed on your computer.
    Some things won't work with RAW files, I'm sure you can't upload a photograph to Flickr in RAW formats and not every software will read the type of camera RAW file too — NEX-5N RAW files have only just been added to Adobe's Lightroom 3 as a supported file so those early adopters had to work only in JPEG, or covert the RAW files with a converter software first, before now.
    I'd give RAW a try and see if you get on with it and, if you decide you don't like working in raw or you decide it's too much hassle editing the photographs, then I'd go back to using JPEG and enjoy your photography.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  3. macjim

    macjim TalkEmount Regular

    158
    Aug 10, 2011
    PS. I started shooting in RAW format only last year when I got my Leica D-Lux 5 camera — what a wee powerhouse of a camera! — as I got Lightroom 3 supplied with it and I can say I haven't looked back, or even thought about going back to using JPEG. :)


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  4. adanac

    adanac TalkEmount Regular

    51
    Sep 30, 2011
    Alowisney, another reason to shoot in RAW is that with tools like Lightroom when you "alter" the image, you never alter the original RAW file thus you can always recover. Non-destructive editing isn't strictly limited to RAW file formats of course, but some JPG only shooters don't see a need to invest in a tool like Lightroom and are doing destructive edits (crops, tweaks, whatever) to their image files. It takes an organized person to keep copies of the originals as well as the product of your edits.

    Ok, that's not so much a feature of RAW as a format so much as a byproduct of having to use serious tools for image refinement and publishing.

    You'll also find that the RAW (or raw) data offers a great deal more lattitude in pursuing different image refinement strategies. For example, when doing a black and white conversion the raw data allows you to selectively tweak the B+W rendering across the entire spectrum as many channels of colour are present. The JPG version won't be able to be tweaked nearly as easily. Some tools like Silver Efex Pro will take advantage of this additional data to great advantage.

    When undecided about what to shoot, shoot both. Unless you are an uber-prolific photographer, the extra disk space claimed by the larger RAW files is not going to be a problem, least not for some time and the solution - get more disc - is inexpensive. With the RAW files in hand you can produce anything going forward, and even take advantage of future advances in RAW file handlers as new versions come out.
     
  5. Alowisney

    Alowisney TalkEmount Regular

    49
    Sep 1, 2011
    Macon, GA USA
    I am using Lightroom 3, so I should be able to see quite a bit of difference in my editing. I'm excited to try it out!
     
  6. macjim

    macjim TalkEmount Regular

    158
    Aug 10, 2011
    Ps. You can make virtual copies of the photograph allow you to edit it without losing the original detail so you end up with a RAW copy and an edited copy. I do that when I make a grey scale copy as I'm a B&W fan. You don't have to do that as you don't actually destroy the RAW file.


    Cheers, Macjim.
     
  7. allofthelights

    allofthelights TalkEmount Rookie

    15
    Sep 6, 2011
    Another way of thinking about it is this: even if you are to apply the exact same settings as your camera, do no exposure adjustments to tthe files, and simply accept the files as-is from your favourite RAW converter, what do you think has the greatest computational power, your PC or your camera? Which one would you prefer for processing RAW data?
     
  8. macjim

    macjim TalkEmount Regular

    158
    Aug 10, 2011
    My Mac. In camera is by the manufacturers settings but on my Mac it's my judgement.


    Cheers, Macjim.
     
  9. C Wadsworth

    C Wadsworth TalkEmount Regular

    33
    Aug 31, 2011
    As a long time RAW only shooter, I was shocked at the latitude afforded by the new 5N JPEGS. After shooting both RAW and JPEG and processing in Lightroom, I have become convinced that JPEG is suitable for anything under 800 ISO and really is fine for the higher ISOs as well but you can do better noise reduction in Lightroom on the RAW files.

    I'm looking forward to saving a ton of disk space by using the JPEGS. I shoot in Portrait mode with the contrast reduced an additional -3 which gives a flatter file, more easily worked in post. Honestly, I cannot tell the difference between working a 5N RAW file or a JPEG.
     
  10. Travisennis

    Travisennis TalkEmount Veteran

    209
    Aug 7, 2011
    Jasper, Indiana
    I shoot in RAW and then convert to DNG. I do so because it gives me the raw data captured by the camera in a format that is relatively open and hopefully with some longevity. I can make my images from these now, and I also can keep them and archive them. In the future, as Adobe finds more and more ways, hopefully clever and effective ways, to process the raw data in the DNG file, then I get them back out and see what else I can do with the image. The one reason I don't shoot Jpeg because it is an image format that loses info each time it is modified. Non-destructive edits help in this regard, but I just don't like the idea of my images being in a format that could possibly degrade.
     
  11. C Wadsworth

    C Wadsworth TalkEmount Regular

    33
    Aug 31, 2011
    Travis, in real world terms, editing a 5N JPEG and saving as a TIFF (so you are not making destructive edits to the original JPEG) makes no visible impact to me. You could also make the claim that a JPEG and TIFF are going to have more longevity in terms of file compatibility than any Adobe DNG or camera RAW format.

    Even exporting that TIFF as a JPEG for web use means nothing in terms of image degradation. And if I am making a print, I'll just use the TIFF.

    Believe me, I am a RAW guy through and through, but I just don't see the need with the 5N files. They are dripping with latitude. I cannot believe how easily I can recover highlights and open up shadows in these JPEGS.

    I'll still shoot my 5D and X100 in RAW though...and you really can't go wrong shooting RAW unless you are uncomfortable processing your own images.
     
  12. Travisennis

    Travisennis TalkEmount Veteran

    209
    Aug 7, 2011
    Jasper, Indiana
    Good point. Converting a JPEG to a TIFF would gain you back both longevity and archival qualities. Out curiosity, if you take a 5N jpeg and convert it to TIFF, how big is the resulting TIFF file?
     
  13. C Wadsworth

    C Wadsworth TalkEmount Regular

    33
    Aug 31, 2011
    Good question. The TIFF files are 96.3 MB which is not a small thing but I create TIFFS in LR when I edit RAW as well so I'm saving space on the RAW vs. JPEG comparison.
     
  14. adanac

    adanac TalkEmount Regular

    51
    Sep 30, 2011
    I'm simply using the native raw format regardless of which format/which camera system, provided it is supported by Lightroom / Adobe Camera Raw. I don't convert to TIFF or DNG as a matter of course, although some tools do a conversion (like Silver Efex Pro) as part of their regular function.

    My feeling is that if support for a format is dropped in the years to come, I'll have plenty of opportunity to perform conversions at that time. Being a software developer I don't fret about such a future task - whipping up a script to loop through my collection and migrate one file format to another isn't going to be a big task and is one I can safely put off until that future day.
     
  15. macjim

    macjim TalkEmount Regular

    158
    Aug 10, 2011
  16. macjim

    macjim TalkEmount Regular

    158
    Aug 10, 2011
  17. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    339
    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill
    Raw works for me, but....

    RAW works for me, but I recognise that it’s not for everyone.

    I understand why a serious digital photographer who is


    • taking the time to make sure that the picture going in the lens is the one that he or she wants; and
    • does not intend to manipulate the image in the computer; and
    • wants to print at 8 x 10 or smaller (or directly to the web)

    will be happy to work with JPEGs.

    The NEX cameras do outstanding jobs of in-camera handling of exposure, contrast, white balance, noise reduction, and sharpening. And, if further capture adjustments are necessary, they’re usually available (pre-capture) as options from the camera’s menus.

    I think that JPEG users are also right to see the format as future-proofed. JPEG will probably be around longer than most of the RAW formats.

    Most of us are time poor. So, if that means having to decide between taking pictures or manipulating pictures already taken, then I see that benefit too.

    And, finally, many of the pictures that we take are of family or friends. Working in JPEGs means that they are immediately portable. They can go into emails, social media sites, photography sites, blogs, into the new live photo frames, or many of the high-res digital TVs — with no more work to do.

    If, however, you have ambitions (and the time) to


    • print at exhibition sizes or quality;
    • work seriously in black and white;
    • rescue shots that might otherwise be lost;
    • maximise photos taken in low light;
    • exploit the full potential of photographs; or
    • improve the aesthetic appeal of your photos —

    then you should be working in RAW. But RAW is not without its troubles:

    Working with RAW as a once-in-awhile thing isn’t fun. For me, working with RAW needed to be part of a regular workflow. (For this reason I found saving in RAW + JPEG, and and doing a bit of one and then a bit of the other unhelpful.)

    At first I was using Silkypix, Raw Therapee, Sagelight and Noise Ninja (all great programs), but in ad hoc sorts of ways. I had some success, but I struggled.

    There’s a learning curve with RAW – understanding what makes digital files tick. (If you don’t understand them, it’s harder to fix them.) I see now that I didn’t have a firm grasp of all (okay, most) of the digital elements.

    Two things turned that around for me: First I bought Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom introduced me to a real workflow. Suddenly I had a, well, flow. Then I got the Luminous Landscape’s Lightroom videos. In addition to learning the program, that took what I knew about film and oriented it to digital photography.

    (While Lightroom worked for me, I’m not suggesting that similar results couldn’t be obtained by other programs like Aperture.)
     
  18. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico


    I am one of these people, so I love shooting in RAW, use LR4 and Silver Efex Pro 2, I love working in B / W, and in this format I have more information to work in it.
     
  19. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    France
    I'm a strict jpeg shooter, and comfortable with full time exposure simulation that once I've made choices (aperture, shutter, ISO, WB), I don't feel I need any safety net.
    Every now and then I try to save RAW + jpeg, only to realize I never use the RAW files. I do edit everything I display and share, but all my PP can be done on jpeg files. For MY use, RAW = waste of time.
     
  20. Selten

    Selten TalkEmount Regular

    188
    Oct 22, 2012
    Rhineland, Germany
    Lusi
    Tried out RAW today - it is sooo different compared to woring with jpeg's all the time. Just so many more options and possibilites to play with. I am not yet sure whether I will shoot purely RAW or mostly RAW+jpeg - but the former offers just so much in sense of tinkering around with photos...

    However, it is time consuming and not always needed, I guess. Both sides have their positive and negative points...