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Old Feb 25, 2007, 4:32 PM   #1
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As most of you regulars to this site know, I've been doing some extensive testing with my new E330 that's now been with me non-stop for just over a week, from high ISO tests to shooting JPEG and how goodthat can look.

Yesterday I made a trip to the Dallas Arboretum to test theEX25 macro tube with my 50-200 Zuiko. Some of those results are alreadyposted on this site. I also decided this trip I was going to shoot RAW+JPEG and compare the results from the camera processing to what I could obtain through Adobe Camera RAW.I spentabout 3 1/2 hours shooting, about half ofthat time of which was spent in a sandstorm that blew in while I was there,causing me toblow through (literally) a couple of packs of kleenex tissues due to severealergy problems (today I am staying INDOORS).

Once home I downloaded everything (136 images, 68 RAW and 68 SHQ JPEG's)to my computer and I moved all the JPEGS to another folder so I would not be tempted to look at them while processing the RAW files. I made all the usual changes as far as light levels, shadows, contrast, etc, and then added sharpening via the Smart Sharpen filter.

As I finished the RAW files I then opened the processed RAW JPEG and compared each to the SHQ JPEGimage processed in-camera to see what the camera was doing compared to my results with Adobe Camera RAW. The results were suprising- in most every case I liked the SHQ JPEG better. If Ken Rockwell ever sees this, I know he'll respond with an "I told you so!"

Here aretwo examples of what I was starting to see...

RAW processed JPEG:



SHQ in-cameraJPEG:



RAW Processed JPEG:



SHQ in-camera JPEG:



As I looked at the differences I started going back to the RAW files, opening them up in ACR and experimenting with different controls and adjustments, trying to see what it would take to copy what the in-camera processor was achieving as far as the vibrant colors and found I have been a little too conservative in applying the contrast and shadow sliders. I also have done very little work in the"CALIBRATE" tab of the Adobe Camera RAW processing screen where you can adjust the hue and saturation in each Red, Green and Blue channel.

I have learned more about processing RAW files in this exercise than several hours of reading books on the subject and trial and error using just a RAW file with no other "Guide" as to what might make a certain file look better or not.

I alsofound, as I have always thought,not all is roses (literally) with in-cameraJPEG processing. One image I took was a closeup of a red rose. Using the macro tube and shot wide open at f3.5 and 200mm, the depth of field was very narrow, making for a lot of softness in the rose as I shot it in a profile view, not straight on. The JPEG out of the camera was not so good, with lots of blocked up shadow detail. I tried my best to work the file using various Photoshop controls, from the highlight/shadows, to levels, to contrast, etc. Here's the best I could get the JPEG file to look:



Now, this really doesn't look THAT bad, but there are obvious differences between this file and one below that I processed from the RAW file as far as edge detail and just the overall look that is better in the processed RAW file, here:



The edge detail in the RAW processed file justlooks smoother to me. What do you think? The contrast was also built-up in the JPEG file due to the extra processing I had to do to bring out the detail amoung the various petals in the flower. I wish I had saved the original, untouched SHQJPG for you to see. It looked nothing like the final image I posted here.

I think from what I've learnedin this exercise,I am going to start shooting RAW+JPEG even more. It won't be kind on my CF cards,I know. To me, if you are going to shoot the combined route with the possibility of using just the JPEG, it makes no sense to use anything worse than SHQ for the best possible result. The difference in card capacity is big. I can get 302 RAW files on a 4 GB Sandisk card I keep loaded all the time, or 683 SHQ JPEG files. Once I set the capture to RAW+SHQ JPEG the image capacity drops all the way to 210, on a 4 gig card!

Where I will save on space in the end is my hard drives. From now on, if I like the look of the SHQ file, the RAW file is going into the trash can. Of the 68 images I shot yesterday, just this one file of the red rose was "better" with the processed RAW file. Having bothtypes of filesavailable gave me the ability to see a finished product and work on a file using different tools within a program where I, up to now, haveobviously not beenutilizing all the tools to the best possible result.

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Old Feb 25, 2007, 6:36 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing Greg. What you've done is what I (and I suppose a lot of other guys) have wanted to do and compare for a long time.

Everyone says "You have to process RAW to get the best photos" but is that true? Now we know it's a matter of how good you are at working with your RAW program. I have PSCS2 and wanted to sit down this winter and try and learn a little about it but I don't have the time for a 4 year degree and a doctorate that you 'must' need to run it properly.

I have been having fun and printing up photos taken in SHQ jpeg that with a bit of light control and a touch of sharpening look (To me) to be comparable to anything in the top 90% I've seen on these boards.

Now I do see some wonderful photos in Outdoor Photographer and Nat. Geo photographer magazines that are outstanding and make me feel small because that's the genre I aspire to. But with time constraints (Yes I have to earn a living.) I also have a mortgage wife and kids so the lens' are kept to ones I can reasonably afford. Much like most of us here.

A litle trivia I picked up from Nat Geo. For a photoshoot that results in a spread of 6 -12 photos in the magazine, the tog takes about 38 to 40 rolls of 36exp film. That's 1400 shots to choose from.
These are some of the bestphotographers with the best equipment you can aquire. Hard for the likes of me to compete.

So thanks again for showing the results of your tests. I'm sure after time your RAW prosessing will get where you want it but you've shown me, at least. That SHQ will do for me............... for now.


Here's a sunrise shot from China. Oly E500




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Old Feb 25, 2007, 8:04 PM   #3
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Beautiful shot, Scouse.
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Old Feb 25, 2007, 8:33 PM   #4
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Hi Greg

Great work in putting that together and you know I'd been thinking of shooting both RAW and SHQ Jpgs as well - I normally don;t make too many changes to the RAW files but I've been wanting to see how much extra you can squeeze out of the RAW to either match or surpass the in cam jpegs. Your high ISO tests with the E330 in my opinion did show that RAW was the way to go - just to get that extra bit of detail and less noise in a shot although the SHQ jpegs were pretty good as well. I think what we need is perhaps a good guide on working with RAW files.

Scouse thats a fab shot !

Cheers

HarjTT

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Old Feb 25, 2007, 9:57 PM   #5
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interestingly almost the reverse of what i expected
the RAWs look flatter and less saturated
Ive been using SHQ also, and found the files can take a beating if needs be

as for Ken Rockwell... he shoots real estate too
his views on RAW roughly coincide with that mission
as maligned and hated he seems to be
I dont mind some of the things he has to say, even if i dont always agree with him


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Old Feb 25, 2007, 10:35 PM   #6
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Yes, flatter and less saturated, due to the obvious shortcomings of the user inprocessing the files! But my aim is to get better, and it seems like shooting RAW+JPEG is going to bethe best teacher for me. There will be certain files (probably the majority) where the JPEG output is in all liklihood "good enough", and I say that for myself only. Everyone has to interpret information in their own way and make decisions that work for how they want to shoot and process on the backside.

There are also going to situations/lighting conditions, whereI willwant to be able to fall back on the RAW file. The key is to know whether you can see those situations and make the necessary changes as you are out there shooting, or do you just want to capture allfiles in a dual method and make that decision later. To do the latter, you obviously need to have access to enough card space, whether it's a one afternoon trip to the Arboretum or a two week trip out of the country. As Harjtt said, I definitely want to shoot RAW anytime I'm dealing with shooting above ISO 800. To be honest, it didn't even occur to me yesterday while I was shooting that red rose that I might "need" to shoot it in RAW capture to be able to get the best quality image. I looked at it on the LCD, butdon't remember thinking that it looked like it might be a difficult file to work with, and the RAW file was not a problem, but the JPEG definitely was.

Yes, Mr. Rockwell definitely never leaves you wondering what his feelings are about anything, does he! That said, I do have his site bookmarked and always enjoy reading what he has to say, if only for entertainment purposes.






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Old Feb 25, 2007, 11:25 PM   #7
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I can see that as a training method there is wisdom in your idea
it is something which eventually I will have to meet
I cant think of a better method

i particularly like this one from Ken, I see these guys all the time

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/7.htm

Riley
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Old Feb 26, 2007, 12:57 AM   #8
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hi Greg ,

first of all you are very wise in your approach

in photography, thank you for posting your pics and information!

it will help me quite a bit, since i am new to photography.

second i wish i was a member of this board last year, as

my family and i relocated to dallas because of hurricane katrina.

it would have been a privilage to meet you!



hi Rriley,

an interesting link!

very enlightening! thank you!
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Old Feb 26, 2007, 8:41 AM   #9
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What one must keep in mind is that Greg's exercise was not a comparison of "RAW versus jpeg" but a methodology to compare jpegs with the results he gets from his RAW converter of choice, namely , ACR. Every developer (human and software) is different, not to mention personal tastes in results, so it's unsafe to take Greg's results as the basis for a blanket judgment about the utility of shooting RAW. I currently shoot with the E-300 (E-1 on the way!) and I shoot 95% RAW only; only when shooting concerts or other high-ISO stuff (or for-hire stuff I do for my place of employment) do I fall back on Jpegs alone. White balance is a bit spotty with the E-300, and if I don't have time to do a proper custom WB setting, I much prefer having the flexibility of making that adjustment after the fact in Silkypix. I've done the same experiment as Greg, and think it's excellent as a testing methodology, but YMMV, especially when it comes down to different conversion software. I love the look that can be produced by Silky--it's close enough to in-camera jpegs (or Master/Studio) to be incestuous--but it leaves so much more control potential compared to jpegs that I would never go back.


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Old Feb 26, 2007, 10:22 AM   #10
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hi norm,

yes i understand, but since i am new,

i never really thought about using both modes.

i am not very good with photoshop, so maybe i can just

expirement with it in this way. i know it is not a cure all, and

everyone has different tastes. i posted some pics on another site,

and alot of people liked one of the pics that i thought was ok,

but not my favorite. so i'm doing what i enjoy and think is cool.

its just like my art work, my favorite customer is the one that says

"do what you want!!" normi do agree with you!
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