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Old Apr 12, 2003, 7:44 PM   #1
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Default S45 - RAW or JPEG

I took the plunge yesterday and ordered my first digicam, the S45. I plan to make 5x7 prints of a lot of the photos I take, at least on trips, and would like to know what format I should use. I assume RAW would be best, but that would cost a small fortune in CompactFlash cards. Does the recommendation change for the shots I would like to crop? BTW, am I better off with CF I or II cards? Many thanks for the help from an excited newbie.
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Old Apr 19, 2003, 3:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: S45 - RAW or JPEG

Originally Posted by Ann
I assume RAW would be best, but that would cost a small fortune in CompactFlash cards.
Hi Ann, and welcome to the wonderful world of digital.

May I first commend you on your choice of camera. I've got one too

When I first got my camera (2 months ago) I too was in two minds whether to shoot RAW or JPEG. Just couldn't make up my mind. Did my fair share of experimenting and reading through umpteen threads in this and other forums. My conclusion was to shoot RAW every time. It is a definite bonus to be able to shoot Canon RAW with our S45 and it does not make sense to throw away all the advantages this can provide.

Keep in mind that when shooting in-camera JPEG, you are at the outset losing the ability to control the parameters later, when processing the images on your computer. You can change white balance, colour saturation, exposure, contrast, just to name a few.
Admittedly, you can also do this to a JPEG image, but you will be breaking one of the cardinal rules of digital: "Never mess with a JPEG."

Just think; everytime a JPEG is saved, the image is degraded and some of the detail is lost forever. That is why it is called a "lossy" format. On the other hand, you can do as many saves as you like to a lossless format like TIFF. In fact, it is recommended to save your in-camera JPEGs to a lossless format before you begin tinkering with your image. At least, in this way you will only lose what the camera has thrown away in the process of converting the RAW file to JPEG using its on-board processor. Which I might add is a lot less capable than the processor in your PC.

And may I point out that you don't need the latest version of Photoshop to do this. I use Photoshop Elements 2.0, which is a lite version of PS, plus Chris Breeze's excellent BreezeBrowser for the initial conversion to 8-bit TIFF. Just remember to save your original RAW file somewhere safe on your hard disk so that you can start all over if you so desire.

I promise, you will soon get used to the workflow which takes you from your RAW to the final JPEG for web use. If your main requirement is printing, you don't even have to go all the way to JPEG, you can print your converted and doctored TIFFs.

The only reason I can think of for capturing in-camera JPEGs is, as you hinted, to save space on your CF card. Memory is still quite expensive, I agree, but unfortunately there is no practical substitute.

Expect to squeeze roughly 30 RAW shots into a 128MB card from your 4-million pixel CCD. This is the minimum size card I would consider. If you can s-t-r-e-t-c-h your budget to a 1GB card, now that would be much better! I seem to have gathered that this would make more sense than getting 2x512MB cards. Don't really know why, except maybe it would work out cheaper?

To make all the above quite simple:-

RAW = unprocessed film
LOSSLESS (TIFF / JPEG 2000 / PNG) = the negative
JPEG = the print

Hope this helps, and feel free to re-post with your queries.

But please note that I was a newbie like you only a few months ago, and I stand corrected.

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Old Apr 19, 2003, 3:26 PM   #3
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Default L/Fine for cropping 5x7s???

Thanks, Ian, for the detailed explanation. Unfortunately, on a 4-week trip without a laptop, shooting RAW would limit me to under 200 shots with my 3 256MB CF cards. So my choice is shooting JPEG at either L/Superfine or L/Fine, since from all my reading it seems that keeping more pixels and changing the compression ratio is the way to go. A lot of people say that L/Fine will give me "fine" 5x7s. I wonder, though, if I will be able to crop as well as with the L/Superfine. I'd love some input on this, and would like to thank in advance all the people here who help out us newbies!
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Old Apr 19, 2003, 4:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: L/Fine for cropping 5x7s???

Hey, no problem. Glad to be of help.

I haven't experimented too much with the various JPEG combinations of the S45, but by my reckoning you should get significantly more shots using M1/Superfine than L/Fine. And you probably won't see much difference, if any, in your 5x7s whether you crop or not. On the other hand, logic tells me that you should get marginally higher quality if you use all of your 4 megapixels, i.e L/Fine.

Just remember that printer resolution is measured in dots per inch which is very different from the pixels per inch when specifying screen resolution. Therefore, I figure that the more pixels you have to work with before re-sizing for printing, the better. IMHO.

Hope you come back with some super shots!

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Old Apr 19, 2003, 4:15 PM   #5
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The reason most people suggest to get 2 512MB cards is for protection. If one of the cards get corrupted, you don't loose all your pictures. Last I checked, the larger cards (in some brands) were slower but less than 2x the price. So it isn't money but protection that drives it. (And I've read a few too many stories of people loosing the entire contents of a CF card to want to risk it.)


You can always switch between RAW and JPG as you want. The wonders of digital! When you think the shot will be tough to get right, take it as raw (and then you can convert it to TIFF in many different ways and see which comes out best.)

The reason I'll be shooting RAW when I get my 10D is because then there are fewer things to set on the camera. So many settings are bypassed with raw (like Igas said in a previous post) that I can concentrate on getting the rest of the things right. Focus, Apeture, shutter speed, composition and angle. It means I'll get less shots, but I hope I'll be a better photographer because of it. Once I get better, then I'll consider switching to JPG and deal with the other adjustments.

If you are going to use JPG, I would set it to the least compession possible. The pictures matter, make them the best they can be.
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