Why you should shoot RAW over Jpeg

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by fractal, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
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  2. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    I shoot RAW and think there are a lot of good reasons to do so. The first part is good, and I agree with her that it gives a lot more latitude to adjust exposure and especially white balance. But I would take issue with some of the Bonuses section.
    * It assumes everyone post-processes images. Many do, but not everyone. I've seen excellent images from jpeg-only SOOC photographers.
    * Best quality? Maybe, but it depends on your workflow and output medium. And again, assumes you will edit your images.
    * Speed - never tested it out, but intuitively it should theoretically take less computer horsepower to edit 8-bit versus 12-bit and higher images. Interesting question though.
    * My biggest complaint is that you can in fact do non-destructive editing of jpegs. This is far more dependent on your editing software than on the file format. IQ degradation in JPEGs generally comes about when people save to JPEG, open the saved image, edit, save it, open the image again, edit, save, etc. Even then, if you save at the highest compression level it may not be noticeable for a couple of generations. By contrast when you import the image into most editors (Lightroom, Capture One, etc.), it is going to store a reference to the original file and an edit list that is applied only when you export the image. Not at all the same thing, and far different results in the two methods.
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  3. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    First let me say I have no issues with shooting jpeg if that's what works for you. There are many good reasons to shoot jpeg. However your responses are a bit biased in response to her questionable bias.

    "* It assumes everyone post-processes images. Many do, but not everyone. I've seen excellent images from jpeg-only SOOC photographers. " A jpg file by definition has been post processed by the jpeg engine of the camera. Yes there are excellent images from jpeg SOOC. However, just becuase it's good doesn't mean it's optimal. I don't think she said you couldn't get excellent shots from jpeg. Let's say you nailed nailed exposure and had optimal lighting conditions that allowed for perfect 8 bit conversion, you would still need to have more faith in Sony's color, contrast, and sharpening mix than your own perspective. It's important to emphasize it is exactly what you are suggesting because SOOC does not mean it represents reality; it's actually far from it. This is a fallacy often sited for shooting jpeg. The fact is that every camera and lens manufacturer has a secret sauce. This sauce will actually change over the years. The sauce is not based on accuracy or else the sauce wouldn't exist. The sauce is based on the manufacturer's own taste, feedback from customers and the need to distinguish themselves. This is why great professional photographers of the film days did there own PP in the dark room. They would not trust a generic film development company to process their images.
    "* Best quality? Maybe, but it depends on your workflow and output medium. And again, assumes you will edit your images." It may be better to say, raw gives you the potential for best quality output. However it is accurate to say that raw provides the best quality files (more information about the captured scene vs less). This really can't be debated. Just as it can't be debated that the average sports car is faster than the average economy car. That doesn't mean that there are not times where having the faster sports car is irrelevant or unnecessary.
    * Speed - never tested it out, but intuitively it should theoretically take less computer horsepower to edit 8-bit versus 12-bit and higher images. Interesting question though. - I agree this is questionable, but remember the reference was toward "image editing". This means you plan to edit your jpeg. If so, I agree processing raw can be quicker. If you setup your raw processor (especially DXO or Capture 1) to use a default process as most of us do, then pushing through raw files are simple. When you use jpeg this is not as simple because you are essentially editing and already edited file. My experience is that it doesn't work well and it's best to deal with each jpeg file individually.
    * My biggest complaint is that you can in fact do non-destructive editing of jpegs. This is far more dependent on your editing software than on the file format. - "Every" jpeg output, even a SOOC jpeg destroys data. The only debate is how much you are destroying with each creation and how much it matters to you. On the other hand, I know of no modern raw processor that destroys raw data unless you explicitly go out of your way to do it. They all keep raw files intact.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
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  4. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
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  5. SamSS

    SamSS TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 11, 2014
  6. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    I honestly don't want to flame the incessant wars over RAW vs JPEG. As I said, I myself do shoot RAW, and of course I realize cameras are cooking RAW data for you when shooting JPEG. (It might be noted that when you do your final export to JPEG as we usually do, you are "destroying" data at that point as well.) And that SOOC does not mean somehow more "real". I get all of that, really I do, and it really was not what I was commenting on. It's just that for some people - for their methods and set of skills - RAW is just not something they have any interest or maybe ability in doing for whatever reasons. But maybe they can get great images using jpegs. They are going to do better because that is what works for them. It's not a technical thing, it is just what works for different people. And I did not think the video left the impression that it was an option. That's all I have to say about that. I am done.
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  7. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Honestly, I didn't watch the video. It may have been entirely reasonable. But after more than a few rounds on the Internet over raw vs. jpeg, I'm firmly in the whatever works camp. There are solid reasons to shoot either way.

    But hey. Maybe it's a good thing that these jpeg vs. raw discussions bubble up from time to time. It's prudent to re-examine dogma every now and then. :D 
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  8. Andromeda143

    Andromeda143 TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 19, 2015
    Melbourne, Australia
    Clive Dickinson
    Everything in life is a compromise. You 'pays your money and you takes your choice'. Driving a Ford, rather than a Rolls Royce is a compromise. Living in a house, rather than a palace is a compromise. Shooting with a mobile phone is a compromise, shooting with an APS-C is a compromise and shooting with full frame 35mm is a compromise. Using a Sony is a compromise rather than a Hasselblad. Shooting in a compressed format rather than a raw format is a compromise. Cropping photos is a compromise. All of these compromises may be worthwhile in some circumstances. However, we, as enthusiasts, usually try to compromise as little as possible and only where we see necessity (eg financial necessity) or an advantage (eg expedience). It is everyone's right and also everyone's lot to make the compromises they see appropriate for them. However, it is a wise person that takes the trouble to know what compromises he/she is making, what are the consequences and why he/she is choosing to make them.
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  9. soeren

    soeren TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 12, 2014
    Næstved, Denmark
    Raw? Nah :)  DSC_0346.JPG
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  10. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    (I have recycled this from an earlier discussion.)

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

    Many photographers are fully occupied with the opportunities they already have. They seem to be saying that if they have extra time, they want to spend it taking NEW pictures instead of sitting in front of their computers working with OLD ones. I have great respect for that argument.

    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.

    Also, 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.

    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.

    A family friend, for example, is an inveterate traveller and photographer. Her travel compact goes with her everywhere. She has a lovely eye, and is quite satisfied to capture moments in what can’t be described as anything other than Art. (Note the capital “A” in Art.)

    In my youth, I did my time in the darkroom. In those days (the early 60’s), the darkroom was the only avenue for photographic control and it was the only way to do photography on the cheap. I think that once you get a taste of that level of control, it’s hard to give it up. So, for me, shooting digital (and RAW) is that control -- on steroids.

    So, if 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 dynamic range 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, initially, 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 series of videos 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 Capture One.)

    So, Good Luck — with whatever path you choose.
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  11. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    This is going to be like a debate between those who prefer to drive manual transmissions vs. automatic transmissions. ;) 
    Or a heated discussion about the virtues of preparing your own organic meals from scratch vs. dining out or prepared meals.
    Each has benefits and trade offs. And more importantly, a level of commitment from the individual. That commitment is justified by their priorities.
    To stay on the food comparison, yes, all cameras take RAW data and cook the JPEGs via factory defaults. But not everyone is a good cook. Or willing to learn to cook. Just eat.
    So, one finds the brand and model that has the best chefs to their liking....some even gluten free! :D 

    Not everyone has the philosophy of investing the time and effort to develop the images from RAW, like as much they've invested in the camera in the first place. Many will not even come close to the capabilities of their camera system. Some will shoot in Program the whole time. Some will think for the amount they spent, the damn thing better produce perfect photos automatically. And some just want to show off their 'pro' DSLR when taking shots of their food in restaurants! :p 

    There is a reason to shoot in either RAW or JPEG for many. Won't bother to rehash it.
    I'm in the camp of shooting RAW+JPEG. If you're going to invest in a camera with such advanced specs, you should go the extra mile to utilize it fully. Some shots you only have one chance to get. And RAW returns the maximum available data to edit your shot. It is essentially your digital negative. JPEG is the finished product on the plate. You can't send it back to the chef once you realized it wasn't VEGAN and want the meat products removed and prepared with kitchen utensils that had not been in contact with meat.
    You can no more alter the JPEG than the food example. The JPEG will always be compromised. RAW allows you to start from scratch and cook it to order.

    I dedicate effort to 'pre-processing' a shot. Try my best to get it the way I want it. So, if the JPEG looks good, it's a litmus test of how well I did and whether the image is worth saving. One of the ways I use JPEGs.

    Even if you don't have a dedicated RAW editor, don't have the time to invest in learning one, or JPEGs suffice in meeting your needs, you should still be shooting RAW to have them available for a later date. They may become invaluable.
    I've saved hundreds of photos that I mistakenly left the exposure at -1.3 EV with Capture One recently. The results are superior to my efforts to save them by editing the JPEGs.
    It's simple math when it comes to the depth of flexibility of RAW files.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
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