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Old Jan 1, 2006, 6:25 AM   #1
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I have been shooting in JPG. The other day I saw a very good photo shot in raw format. I have never used this facility though I have it on my camera. What are the advantages of shooting in Raw. Can I shoot in Raw only. Please educate me. Kind regards.
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 10:16 AM   #2
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You do realize that using RAW won't make most of your images better. It can help turn some images that you would otherwise have thrown out into something you consider acceptable. But it won't magically make your image "very good".

First off, what is RAW?
Shooting in RAW mode means that the file you camera produces is the "raw" data taken directly off the sensor. No camera-based post processing is done (no sharpening, no contrast,... nothing but f-stop, shutter, ISO, focal length & focus effect the image.)

There are several benefits from this, and a few downsides. (note if you don't understand anything in here, feel free to ask.)

Benefits:
- A camera create JPG image has only 8-bits worth of data per pixel. Most RAW files have 12 or 14-bits of data per pixel. So you are loosing data when you save to JPG. I prefer not to loose that subtle detail. Yes, it is subtle, but it is there and I want it!
- The white balance is not set when you take the image. You can change it on your computer. This is great as fixing an incorrect white balance is not easy in some images. And an incorrect white balance can make an image look very wrong.
- You have some leway is shifting the exposure (leveraging that extra data) and that allows you to lighten or darken the image slightly without the downsides of doing it with a brightness control in your editor. You can't do tons (around 1-stop or so) but it can make the image that much better. And it doesn't make the noise very noticable, which adjusting brightness in your editor can do.

Downsides:
- You can't "edit" a RAW file. You have to convert it before you edit it. You have two choices. Run a photo editor that can convert the RAW file when it opens it (like PhotoShop, but there are others.) Or you can run the software that comes with your camera and it will convert the RAW file to either a JPG or TIFF and store it on your hard disk. Then you load that file into an editor. This is slower than working on JPGs, and it bothers some people.
- They are usually quite large. Some cameras have RAW files that are 13+ MB in size. This makes your life harder when you have to back up your images.

Personally, I shoot in RAW because the ability to fix whitebalance and that slight exposure adjustments are worth it.

But I did a test one day. I took the same image and converted it to JPG and tried to make it good. Then I did the same but instead started as a RAW. I couldn't make the JPG based image as good, so I switched to raw. I wrote up what I did and posted the images here. Someone else (a very good photographer) downloaded my JPG based image and using techniques and tools he knew made it as good as my RAW based image. So RAW isn't a magic bullet. It is good, and it can make come things easier. But if you know what you're doing you can do the same thing, most of the time, just using JPG. Not everything, RAW does actually add some benefits that you can do with JPG. But in most cases you can, it just isn't necessarily easier.

Eric
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 11:04 AM   #3
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eric s wrote:
Quote:
Downsides:
- You can't "edit" a RAW file. You have to convert it before you edit it. You have two choices. Run a photo editor that can convert the RAW file when it opens it (like PhotoShop, but there are others.) Or you can run the software that comes with your camera and it will convert the RAW file to either a JPG or TIFF and store it on your hard disk. Then you load that file into an editor. This is slower than working on JPGs, and it bothers some people.-
Not entirely true anymore--depending on how you define "editing.". Silkypix, for example, provides features that allow many of the editing tasks to be performed within the RAW converter itself, including cropping, distortion correction, curves, and so on, not to mention sharpening and noise reduction.

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Old Jan 1, 2006, 11:32 AM   #4
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As to whether you can shoot raw only, it depends on what camera you use. My camera (Panasonic FZ30) always makes both a jpg version of the picture when you use raw - it's nice to see what the camera made of a scene. Other cameras do not.

I think that raw vs. jpg partly depends on how your camera converts the data when it creates a jpg file. The Panasonic shifted the purple color of a flower to more of a blue, while the raw version rendered the color correctly. Not all cameras do that and some cameras have jpg versions just about as good as the raw one. I personally shoot almost all of my photos in raw, later look at both versions on the computerand decide which I want to keep.
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 11:55 AM   #5
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Eric thanks for educating me so thoroughly. Thanks particularly for taking your time and patience to respond to my question.

My camera 350 D can shot in JPG, RAW and RAW and JPG at the sametime. Perhaps because I am new to this aspect, but I hardly notice the differences. That is why I asked this question. I realised that the changes that I can make in RAW, I can equally make them in JPG, now whether there is a difference, I am yet to learn. I will keep a keen eye on the minute details.

Nevertheless, your response was very informative and helpful. More wiser now than I was before I read your response.

Also thanks to Norm and Mtngal for your educated comments. I have learnt that RAW format has huge files.

Kind regards.

Jaki.
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 2:50 PM   #6
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I believe that choosing whether to shoot in RAW or JPG comes down to what kind of compromise you want to make in convenience for what degree of quality? If you are shooting in mostly good lighting conditions, getting proper exposure and good white balance in most of your images, you're probably better off just shooting in JPG and bypassing all the post processing you'll have to do with your RAW images. Bracketing your photos will go much farther than adjusting the exposure on a RAW file as well, and that becomes more practical with JPGs that take up far less space on your memory card.

When RAW becomes useful is in conditions where you're less certain of getting a proper white balance and exposure on the spot, and you'd rather take the time later to fix it and not risk getting it wrong at the moment.

It helps that you have a decent SLR. Some cameras that take RAW like my Panasonic FZ30 don't get much out of the RAW format when it comes to fixing exposure because of excessive noise in the dark areas, though it's still better for correcting white balance than it is on a JPG.

Finally, and I don't know that this is a problem with other cameras as well, but if you use Adobe Photoshop to open your RAW files and you start seeing anomolies around your highlights, try using another program like UFRaw and see if there's a difference. If you want to know what I mean, see this post:
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=23
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 6:55 PM   #7
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If you shoot JPEG, you can just unload the photos and you have something usable.

However, the JPEGS you download are usually too large to email more than a few, too large to post to this forum, etc. etc.

So, chances are you end up cropping, resizing, file sizing, etc. etc. etc.

The best thing about RAW is your working with the best starting image your camera can deliver.

You can make lots of "non-destructive" edits and croppings, then "convert" the image to various sizes, file sizes etc. for different uses.

The only downside of RAW is that it really starts chewing up disk storage. I suspect I will eat about 40 gb's of disk storage next year shooting RAW.

In the end, RAW is probably only a little more effort than working with JPEGS.

However, every time you change and save a JPEG, image compression kicks in, which is a serious pain in the *ss.

I shoot only RAW with my DSLR. My Canon S80 point and shoot only delivers JPEGS.

- Terry
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 7:05 PM   #8
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Here is a perfect example of how I used RAW to my advantage:

I converted this image twice, once with the white parts of the neck and body correctly exposed and once where the overall duck was proper exposed. then I blended the image. Doing that with RAW is easy, but doing it with JPG is next to impossible. The results look REALL bad, I've tried it.

You might not be pushing the boundries of what your camera can properly expose, so you might not see the benefits of using RAW. If not, then just use JPG and be happy. They are smaller, load faster and are generally easier to use. For me, I wouldn't work in JPG again.

Eric
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 8:56 PM   #9
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As Terry and eric have mentioned, JPG is simpler to work with, and you can print straight from the camera or memory card. Nice to be able to plug your card into a photo kiosk and get prints straight out.

That said, I shoot nearly always in RAW mode. Mainly because I tend to go for scenes with more dramatic lighting, which pushes and exceeds the dynamic range of digital sensors. RAW gives me more latitude when converting, and lets me get a bit more resolution out of my camera. This isn't too apparent when downsized to post here, or for standard prints, but for 8x10 or larger, it shows up.

Bottom line is what you want to do with your camera, and what your time is worth to you.

brian
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Old Jan 1, 2006, 11:41 PM   #10
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I can almost hear Eric, Terry and Brian pursuading me to go the Raw way. I agree because like Hillary when he climbed Mt. Everest, he did not go for the easy part. We need to push the limits of what we can do with our shots. After all at the end of the day we want good products. If we can get there by way of the Raw format, why not! I have voted yes and will do my best. Only problems is that I am still learning to do pp, hard but getting there.

Eric thanks for that beautiful bird. You are real and practical man.

Thanks folk for making me wiser and more informed.

Kind regards.

Jaki.


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