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Old Dec 26, 2012, 10:53 AM   #11
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Are you by chance familiar with audio quality and 16bit versus 24bit? It's a similar debate. I record audio at 24bit (which would be analogous to shooting RAW). When I'm done editing, the output is generally CD quality 16 bit, which is what I listen to personally, and this would probably be analogous to uncompressed 8bit TIF's. Most of the people who listen to my recordings probably are listening to MP3s which would be analogous to lossy JPG's, because they choose low file size over quality.

Like TCav mentioned, you can't see the difference on your computer screen because your monitor is limited to 8bit. 12bit RAW is 16 times better than that. 24bit RAW is 64 times better than your monitor. In my own opinion, that's crossed over the point of diminishing returns. If you can afford the disk space to keep the RAW images for years to come, it's possible that computers will be able to take advantage of them in the future. It seems likely "the average person" is going to run short of disk space and, as a matter of practical necessity, say "out with the old, in with the new" and dump their old RAW files to make space for new files. With 14bit taking up 4 times as much disk space as 12bit, that average person gets to that point much sooner. Personally, I'm content with 12bit, and I think "most people" should be. If you have a Full Frame camera, and expensive glass, and have a plan to use those 14bit RAW to their fullest extent, as zig describes, then it's worth it.

Remember 99.9% of the "image quality" comes from being able to get all the basics right... exposure, focus, etc. I'm still learning to get all that stuff right.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Last edited by SmokinJoe; Dec 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 11:09 AM   #12
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Thanks Joe for your "2 cents"...very enlightening for me to learn more about the technical details behind the art. My primary use is for on-screen viewing and publishing on www.airliners.net. Airliiners has some incredible stringent screening standards and I'm trying to overcome a recent string of rejections for noise and grain. Zig had suggested shooting in RAW...which is what led to this discussion thread.

TCAV and Zig--thanks for your input as well.

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Old Dec 30, 2012, 7:26 AM   #13
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Need to do a test to confirm it but I don't think the 14 bit files are that much bigger than the 12 bit files. Although 14 bits are able to hold a much larger range of values than 12 bits they are only 2 bits longer. The computer holds data in bytes which are 8 bits. Uncompressed they would both need 2 bytes 16 bits to contain the data, the leading bits are zero. Both are processed as 16 bit files in PS. Compressed it may be possible to hold 12 bits in 1.5 bytes and 14 bits would need 1.75 bytes.

Although the screen cannot display more than 8 bits the extra bits are worth having when processing. If you convert to 8 bit jpg or tiff at the end of the process you have more control if you alter the exposure or colour values as you have more bits to play with before you do the downsizing.

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Old Dec 30, 2012, 8:54 AM   #14
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You're right about the file sizes. I screwed up. Thanks for pointing out my error. I'll correct earlier posts.

But once you convert a RAW file to something else, you lose the benefit of 14 bit over 12 bit. The process of assigning the three color values to each pixel, for JPEG, TIFF, PNG, or whatever, means that whatever values are assigned, you're stuck with. To preserve the nuances that a 14 bit RAW file has that a 12 bit RAW file doesn't, you need to keep the RAW file as your starting point. (... with the possible exception of DNG and PSD files.)
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 12:05 PM   #15
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I agree that when you convert the files to something other than 16 bit you lose the extra data. It's while processing the RAW file in ACR and when you open it as 16 bit that you get any advantage. TIFF and PNG files can be 8 or 16 bit files so you can preserve the extra data in these formats if you choose.

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