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Old Mar 1, 2009, 1:25 PM   #1
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While at the Fort Worth Zoo yesterday, I thought I'd try an experiment on some of the more colorful subjects and shoot RAW+JPEG to see how the two files would stand up against one another.

I left the shadow enhancement option (auto gradation) turned on to maximize the advantages of the in-camera JPEG engineand converted each RAW file to DNG so I could work those in ACR of Photoshop CS2.

As an aside, my new computer arrived earlier this week(!), so I look forward to upgrading Photoshop to CS4. I'llprobably make that $200 investmentaround mid-March. My old lap top was from August, 2003. Windows XP Pro, 1GB of RAM and a 1.95Ghz Celeron processor. This new Dell XPS Studio has the latest Intel Core i7, 2.67Ghzprocessor, running Windows Vista (64 bit, whichsounds likea good thing I guess! I have no idea in reality), 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive, and everything, including Photoshop, just flies now. It's amazing how well this thing works, andall my external hard drives and USB hubwere just plug and play. I've seen a lot of complaints about Vista and have even said myself I'd never own a Vista-run machine, but this one's worked extremely well right out of the box with absolutely no issues.

OK, back to what I was doing. I never went back while processing the RAW files in Photoshop to see how they compared to the JPEG's. I even separated the files into separate foldersso I wouldn't see the results until after finishing with all of them, andI did not go back and make any adjustments to the in-camera JPEG's...just loaded them straight from the camera into my computer and them to Smugmug.

Image #1, in-camera JPEG:



#1, RAW conversion:



I like the in-camera JPEG better.

Image #2, in-camera JPEG:



And the RAW conversion:



I think #2 shows a little bit of the shadow technology/auto gradation at work. It's obvious the camera has brightened the background. The colors are also bolder without being too much darker. I could have duplicated the JPEG by processing the RAW file twice, once to brighten the background, then use Layers to combine the two, but the JPEG sure was a lot easier! Again, so far RAW, for me, was a waste of extra work and bad use of the extra space on my hard drive.

Image #3, in-camera JPEG:



Then the RAW conversion:



Again, you can see the auto gradation at work on the nearest elephants forehead and the detail in the distant elephant. Some will prefer both, but I stilllike the in-camera JPEG better.

In the JPEG, there is an ever-so-slight amount of clipping starting to occur on the ground just to the right of the distant elephants' trunk. Using Photoshop, I was able to retrieve detail to the point the highlight clipping tool was showing no clipping at all, but the difference in the actual image was very little. You probably would not even think about it had I not mentioned it here.

I also tried this file in Olympus Studio, which pretty much duplicated the in-cam JPEG, butwas not able to retrieve the clipped detail like Photoshop. Studio is great for processing RAW files and tweeking the in-camera options, but for highlight retrieval it's not a useful tool. If you take the time to set a parameter or two correctly in-camera when you shoot JPEG, there's little Studiowill do to improve your files.

There were several other files where I posted both, but I won't post them here. If you are interested, there are here to view or download up to the full-sized images:

http://gmchappell.smugmug.com/galler...5_J3WVD#P-1-15

In several of the reptile images, the RAW files came out brighter, at the expense of a little extra noise, but for ISO 800 and viewing them at normal sizes, I am happy with either version.
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Old Mar 1, 2009, 2:01 PM   #2
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Great shots of the flamingos, Greg. (One of my favorite subjects.)

And congrats on your new computer. that sounds like a very nice machine; with good memory and storage also.

I have been running VISTA home premium on one of my laptops for over a year. I have 2 desktops and one other laptop running XP, and I much prefer Vista.It doeseverything better, looks better, and does not hang up like XP was often prone to do.I tend to use Vista exclusively. (I think a lot of the bad publicity was generated by Macusers.)

Anyway, your Raw - Jpeg results are similar to a conclusion I reached quite a while ago. I didn't feel that the trade-off in storage space vs image quality was worth it for 90% of the photos.


These are all in-camera jpeg. No PP.






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Old Mar 1, 2009, 2:53 PM   #3
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Hi Greg,

This is an interesting test and I do appreciate your posting your results. I much prefer the color, IQ, and details found in the JPEGs over the RAW conversions. Thedifferences in your first two Falmingo imagecomparisonsare quite dramatic.

Thanks,

Zig
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Old Mar 2, 2009, 1:24 AM   #4
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zig-123 wrote:
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Hi Greg,

This is an interesting test and I do appreciate your posting your results. I much prefer the color, IQ, and details found in the JPEGs over the RAW conversions. Thedifferences in your first two Falmingo imagecomparisonsare quite dramatic.

Thanks,

Zig
Yes, the differences were quite stark in a fewsamples. I thought the RAW files were looking good as I worked them, but after comparing them to their JPEG counterparts, it's obvious Iwas beingway too conservative and just need to work more on getting myparameters right in-camera, control the exposure and let the camera take care of the part of the process it does better than I do.
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Old Mar 2, 2009, 1:30 AM   #5
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Steven R wrote:
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Great shots of the flamingos, Greg. (One of my favorite subjects.)
Quote:
Those yesterday were more concerned with staying warm tham posing! It was a little cool and very windy.
Quote:
And congrats on your new computer. that sounds like a very nice machine; with good memory and storage also.

I have been running VISTA home premium on one of my laptops for over a year. I have 2 desktops and one other laptop running XP, and I much prefer Vista.It doeseverything better, looks better, and does not hang up like XP was often prone to do.I tend to use Vista exclusively. (I think a lot of the bad publicity was generated by Macusers.)
Quote:
I've been very impressed so far.
Quote:
Anyway, your Raw - Jpeg results are similar to a conclusion I reached quite a while ago. I didn't feel that the trade-off in storage space vs image quality was worth it for 90% of the photos.

I think I am going to start being very selective myself in shooting RAW, and when I do, shoot RAW+JPEG and only use the RAW fileif it really makes sense.

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Old Mar 2, 2009, 6:46 AM   #6
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Its really an exercise I should take up. Raw and Jpeg both and try to nail the exposure and white balance. It may force me to be better.

As it is now I'm flying by the seat of my pants way to much.

I don't think I could give up raw conversion. I'm not good enough to do that. Too many highlights that need a tweak here and white balance that is not quite right there.

Raw is a crutch. Raw is my crutch, and I aim to keep it.

Very interesting comparison and thanks.

Greg
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