1. Reminder: Please user our affiliate links to get to your favorite stores for holiday shopping!

Wonders of RAW

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Jazzer, May 29, 2013.

  1. Jazzer

    Jazzer TalkEmount Veteran

    344
    Nov 6, 2012
    New York
    Larry
    I am a relative novice and have often read the various arguments about shooting jpeg vs. RAW. To be honest, I was not convinced of the benefit of RAW. Most of the time the JPEGs look just fine to me and it is so much simpler. Well, I was looking back tonight at some of my images and found one that I kind of liked, but I only had a second to take it (those little critters are fast :)) and the image was way overexposed and blown out. I had shot it using RAW and JPEG so I decided to see what I might be able to do. Below is the original JPEG file followed by the RAW, which I quickly processed. It's still not great, but I was amazed at the amount of detail I was able to get back.

    Note that I did this with iPhoto, which is all I have at the moment, so perhaps I could get better results with a good editor (and if I knew what I was doing :) ). I tried to edit the JPEG file also, but most of the information was just gone. I still think shooting JPEG is great for snap shots, etc, but I think I will be shooting RAW or JPG + RAW in the future in any situation where it matters.

    DSC00562(1).

    DSC00562.
     
  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Welcome to the club. RAW + JPG is a good way to go. If the jpgs are good you don't need to bother with the RAW files. I never take my own good advice though- I always just shoot RAW. If I need a quicky snap I just use my phone. ;)
     
  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Yeah, I almost never shoot jpeg anymore. I just HATE those "if only" regrets.
     
  4. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    339
    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill
    For me the move to raw was only effective when I had a real workflow. For me that was using Lightroom. But, from what I understand Aperture, Capture One or DxO Optics Pro can all provide that.

    In any case, you're right: Raw files have so much more "room." Once you get used to that, it's difficult to go back.
     
  5. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    I used to shoot in Raw+Jpeg. I kept fiddling with Lightroom sliders until I found a preset that is close to the jpeg files consistently. So now when I import the Raw file into Lightroom, that preset is added and the Raw file looks like the jpeg. No need to shoot both anymore. I can zero out the Raw file if I want to start from scratch but I rarely do.
     
  6. Electric Shepherd

    Electric Shepherd TalkEmount Regular

    103
    May 12, 2012
    Leicestershire, U.K.
    Ben
    I've been a nearly 100% raw shooter since I first got the chance to do so. So much latitude for WB adjustment without any adverse effect and being able to coax more dynamic range out of the highlights is always a plus.
     
  7. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    If you think the highlight & shadow recovery is impressive with iPhoto, wait till you try Lightroom! :)
     
  8. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    I was an avid JPeg shooter - that was until I discovered the benefits of shooting RAW (and processing in LightRoom)!!!
    I feel like my photos have improved a lot after that (after PP offcourse in combination of how my Jpegs looked)

    Now there's no turning back for me - I actually still opt for Jpeg+Raw but in the end the Jpegs just sit in a folder without giving them much attention :D

    ...and +1 - you should try LightRoom ;)
     
  9. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Started to shoot RAW 6 months after I got my first "real" camera. RAW is the best tool for a serious beginner, really - it helps to minimize the impact from errors. I actually started using JPGs for processing more often as I learned my ways and was getting better out of camera shots, but was still shooting RAW+JPG.

    I would not dream of using the JPGs out of Nex, though. Definitely not the ones out of my F3. The Sony noise reduction is atrocious and destroys fine detail even when set to "low".
     
  10. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    I slowly start to get the feeling that I can't participate in such discussions ... You know, when you only shoot about 10 different images (not multiple focus / exposure versions of the same subject) on a full day photo tour and only develop one or two of those while taking many hours for every development, saving some seconds by shooting JPEG isn't worth a penny. But anyways, once you get your workflow clean, shooting RAW shouldn't cost much more time than shooting JPEG.
     
  11. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo TalkEmount Veteran

    484
    Mar 25, 2013
    Raw is the only way for me, as you will retain all the visual information in the file. Then you can choose later how you want the scene to look. It's also easy to correct camera mistakes after the shot.

    With a jpeg you get locked into the choices you make (or don't make) in that split second when you take the photo.

    Many camera jpegs also look flatter and duller than RAW images that have been processed and compressed to jpeg in a good image processing program.
     
  12. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    My daughter has a school project and needs to go and photograph some wild flowers (with help of her obedient servant, of course :biggrin:)

    We were in a hurry so we just stopped by the nearby nature preserve and did a quick 10-minute "marathon" running from one flower to another. Needless to say a few of the shots came out not as good as anticipated. Also, it was raining in the morning, the leaves were still wet, so bowing down to get close and personal to the flowers was not my idea of fun.

    Here's a typical photo that had what appeared as blown highlights on flower petals, needed to be heavily cropped, and at first sight there wasn't any details on the flower petals, and it appeared to be somewhat out of focus (in Raw preview).

    DSC03985ORIG.

    I almost gave up without trying to salvage this photo, but I only had one shot of this particular flower, so I decided to give it a try. This is what I got after whooping 2 minutes in LR:

    DSC03985ex.

    I don't think I could get this amount of detail from the original Jpeg. Especially with Sony's heavy handed noise reduction. RAW all the way !
     
  13. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo TalkEmount Veteran

    484
    Mar 25, 2013
    That is indeed a good salvage!
     
  14. bmg123

    bmg123 TalkEmount Veteran

    310
    Jan 15, 2013
    England, UK
    Huh. I should probably try RAW at some point. Stayed away from it mainly because it uses so much more space, but the results seem worth it.
     
  15. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    Great example Amamba.
     
  16. Jazzer

    Jazzer TalkEmount Veteran

    344
    Nov 6, 2012
    New York
    Larry
    Impressive results. I guess I really should give Lightroom a try (or at least something other than iPhoto :))
     
  17. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    There's nothing wrong with Aperture for Mac. It will do almost everything Lightroom does except for lens correction and a few things in the new beta. The things shown in this thread you can do just as simply in Aperture. I think it's cheaper and these days Adobe is scaring the crap out of photographers with it's new policies and it would probably be much easier for you to transition from iPhoto to Aperture. They are both excellent and not everybody thinks Lightroom is better, especially with the UI and organization of files.

    Aperture vs Lightroom is a site that tends to favour Aperture. It's an interesting read.

    By the way, I'm not trying to steer you one way or another. I use Lightroom right now. When I started with photography last year I downloaded the demo of Lightroom and couldn't get a grip on it. I found Aperture more intuitive to use and I stayed with that. When the new Lightroom 5 beta came out, I gave it another go and I had no problems understanding because by then I had learned a lot from Aperture.

    You being used to iPhoto you might seriously want to give Aperture a think.
     
  18. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I tried, so far, Ufraw, DPP (Canon Raw editor that only works with their format), RawTherapee, Sony's Image converter, Corel Aftershot Pro, and Lightroom.

    I get the best results with LR, and it's the easiest to use. It's greatest strengths are the ability to pull details, awesome noise reduction, the more or less predictable white balance, and adjustment brushes for localized edits (so 99% of time, there's no need to use a pixel editor afterwards). Aftershot has great set of tools that in some ways are more useful than LR, it's a great idea, but not the implementation - their white balance tool is not as accurate, their noise reduction and sharpness tools don't produce as good results. Pulling detail in things like blown skies is harder. RawTherapee is supposed to be excellent but it's even more resource heavy than LR, kills my machine, plus it doesn't have local edit tools so the photos need to be post edited in Gimp. Ufraw is simple, light, and well integrated with Gimp but it's not as feature full, and doesn't produce great results without much work. DPP produced absolutely excellent output but it only works with Canon raw files. Sony's software seems OK but lacks local edits and when I tried it the output was kind of noisy.

    The bottom line is , I tried all kinds of raw editors, except Aperture, and LR produces the best results with least effort, and more or less eliminates the need for using a pixel editor afterwards. It has some issues - mainly with heavy resource use - but it is definitely worth a try. I read it's on sale now for $49.
     
  19. Jazzer

    Jazzer TalkEmount Veteran

    344
    Nov 6, 2012
    New York
    Larry
    I think I will do just that. I was actually pretty impressed the results using just iPhoto (see my comparison pics at beginning of thread) and that was with a fraction of the control Aperture (or Lightroom) would provide, I imagine. I'm waiting for WWDC to see if perhaps Apple will surprise us with an Aperture update (unlikely, but worth a shot). In the meantime, I'm going to demo Lightroom. Just looking at the videos on You tube, Aperture has a more familiar feel, but I suspect I could get used to either.
     
  20. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I've used both Lightroom and Aperture now, having switched to Aperture for the reason Colin mentioned. And while both can be learned to some degree with the "what does this button do?" method, I was able to get so much more out of each of them by diving into some very good instruction books. In the case of Lightroom it was Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book, the Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening, and for Aperture, Apple Pro Training Series: Aperture 3 by Dion Scoppettuolo. Both are available as digital books, and both will give you a comprehensive understanding of the programs.