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Old Monday 13th February 2006, 20:37   #1
surfgeod70
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more RAW vs JPEG

or actually, mostly jpg. my question is - is jpg really that "lossy" when you use the lowest compression??? my paint shop pro 6 allows compression adjustment, and i always use the lowest compression/higest quality - interesting that PS CS doesnt seem to have that feature....

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Old Monday 13th February 2006, 20:47   #2
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I've not long moved to DSLR and to date I'm quite happy with JPEG. RAW seems to be a whole lot more work and I'm unsure of the benefits as well - though one day I'll give it a go.

One phrase I've come across a few times is 'Life's too sort to mess around with RAW'!
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Old Monday 13th February 2006, 21:51   #3
rezMole
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Biggest advantage with RAW is that if you have the wrong settings, you can change them AFTER taking the photo. I accidently had my camera set to indoor white balance, so the pics i took on a trip out were all blue! Because they were RAW though, i just open them as "daylight, cloudy" and they are perfect. You can also set exposure compensation AFTER the photo is taken.

They are better if you end up doing a very heavy crop too.

I never use JPEGs now unless they are just snapshots for family etc. who won't be able to open NEF files
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Old Monday 13th February 2006, 21:55   #4
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I only use Raw is the subject is difficult (eg. a black and white bird ) but I use the mode Raw plus JPEG. I often use the JPEG version in preference to fiddling in Raw and have trouble seeing any difference for publishing on the web. I do save the Raw image in case I ever want to print it.Neil.
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Old Monday 13th February 2006, 22:23   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfgeod70
or actually, mostly jpg. my question is - is jpg really that "lossy" when you use the lowest compression??? my paint shop pro 6 allows compression adjustment, and i always use the lowest compression/higest quality - interesting that PS CS doesnt seem to have that feature....

dcg
Depends on what you feel is "that lossy". Everytime you save a jpg you will add more compression artifacts. If you are printing 4x6's from full size files, you'll have to save a file numerous times before you'd notice degradation at this print size. If you print larger than 8x10, it can become noticeable after only a few "saves".

I don't understand why you would say PS CS doesn't allow you to choose compression. In the Save As dialog box you will find a "quality" slider. Move it to the far right for highest quality (12). Normal 800x600 web images can be saved at quality 10 or 11 with no noticeable issues. If you are concerned with loss due to compression, save your images as PSD or TIF files.

RAW files are lossless, even though compression is usually used. The lossless part is a minor benefit of using RAW. The greater advantages are the additional latitude it allows during conversion. RAW files are 12 bit files versus 8 bit for TIF and JPG. You can recover lost highlight and shadow detail during RAW conversion. With a JPG or TIF, these bits are lost and you cannot recover detail. Also, the higher bit depth provides 4096 levels per color channel versus 256 levels from an 8 bit JPG. This helps reduce the susceptability to posterization and allows further flexability when choosing a color space or during post processing.

RAW also allows one to adjust white balance after the shot without destroying any bits unnecessarily. One can also apply Exposure Compensation post shoot (shadow highlight detail recovery) and RAW files usually provide greater dynamic range than JPGs, depending on how the camera handles conversion to JPG format.

Bottomline. RAW files contain more information and achieve better compression than JPGs or TIFs.

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Old Tuesday 14th February 2006, 00:43   #6
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JPEG files can be used directly from the camera.

You can print them
You can have them printed
You can upload them to the web
You can share them via email

JPEGs take up perhaps 20% as much space as RAW on your memory cards. That means you can take 5x as many photos without having to buy a new CF card. Being smaller, they download to a computer faster. Following downloading, with JPEGS no hours need be spent in front of a computer adjusting the white balance - adding sharpening - saving to a format that others can use. Assigning a proper color space. It is all done for you by the camera with JPEG!

Yes, RAW does offer some advantages ... but there is no free lunch!

BTW ... if you are doing a lot of editing to a JPEG photo there are 2 ways of avoiding image degradation due to JPEG compression. First one is to do all your editing in one session - then save. Second one is to convert to TIFF as your first step - perform the editing (saving and restarting as needed) then (when finished) reconvert to JPEG. No compression loses and no need to use RAW.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2006, 11:40   #7
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I now use RAW for all my bird photography as I have found that it has reduced the incidence of blown-out highlights to practically zero. Yes, there is now another step involved in converting the RAW files to TIFF, but it generally only takes a few seconds for each shot. The processing from that point on is not that much different to that which I used on JPEGs - the same steps, but probably with different values.

I attempt to produce the best photos I can with the equipment I've got and can't see the point of accepting lesser quality just so I can save a few seconds.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2006, 13:48   #8
Keith Reeder
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A well-taken jpeg without much compression will be pretty much indistinguishable, quality-wise, from the result of taking the shot in RAW and mucking about - the information lost in the initial in-camera conversion to jpeg would be effectively invisible to our eyes if it was there.

It might not look the same as the finished RAW image - WB, EV, dynamic range are all more controllable in RAW, and so (I feel) you have more creative options that way.

If you generally get it right or thereabouts and don't feel the urge to dabble, then there's no strong argument against jpeg (personal preference - either way - is not a strong argument).

I don't really find using RAW more time consuming than processing jpegs, and I love the extra latitude and flexibility that RAW allows in processing: but if you're happy with jpeg, use jpeg.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2006, 18:43   #9
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I personally shoot RAW all the time and once in the swing of processing the files I do not notice a great deal of difference in the time involved in processing the RAWs to that of processing .jpegs

Without doubt RAW produces far superior end results, but that is only with appropriate software and well/properly calibrated computer equipment.

jpegs are faster to work with, and for most people will produce better than adequate results, I do know some people who shoot RAW but would be better off shooting jpeg because they do not understand the processing enough to get the best from their images, (although at a later date they can go back and reprocess them when their skills have improved)

The issue of loss of data with jpegs is really not a worry if you preserve the original shot image (ideally burn all to disc once transfered to PC) and ONLY WORK ON COPIES of it for processing and converting to other formats
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 07:40   #10
Keith Reeder
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Now there's a conundrum, Nigel...

How do we improve our RAW skills if we shouldn't bother using it because we haven't got the skills?

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 11:12   #11
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I think you know what I mean Keith, sadly (for them) there are some who just won't get to grips with it, and despite a good deal of instruction, do not have the ability to grasp the complexeties and would get better results by letting the camera do the work for them.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 11:34   #12
Keith Reeder
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Oh I do know what you mean, Nigel - I just thought it was funny!



I make no secret of the fact that I'm (if you will!) a "RAW" beginner at all this, but in my experience of using RAW (playing with DCRaw initially, then moving on to Nikon Capture) it doesn't seem that complicated or time consuming.

This is just fun for me though, and I'm under no time constraints to get a result (and I also accept I'm not that good, of course - but happy enough for nine months in), and I enjoy mucking about.

But I certainly understand the appeal of good jpegs straight out of the camera.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 11:35   #13
paul goode
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Recurvirostra
I now use RAW for all my bird photography as I have found that it has reduced the incidence of blown-out highlights to practically zero.
Now I am baffled. If the original exposure was messed up enough to blow the highlights how can post processing a RAW file recover them? I would have thought than when that detail has gone its gone. If RAW has this ability I'll order a raft of memory cards and switch over today.

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 11:42   #14
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Originally Posted by Keith Reeder
But I certainly understand the appeal of good jpegs straight out of the camera.
Hi Keith,

now I'm totally baffled. From the 20d I've never had a good jpeg straight out of the camera and to be honest assumed I never would from the blurb I've read on the internet about sharpening. The 20d's files to me are very soft out of the camera but come to life in photoshop which is how I thought it was meant to be.

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 11:56   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul goode
Now I am baffled. If the original exposure was messed up enough to blow the highlights how can post processing a RAW file recover them? I would have thought than when that detail has gone its gone. If RAW has this ability I'll order a raft of memory cards and switch over today.

Regards

Paul
Because JPGs are processed and RAW is everything the camera's chip recorded.

That's not to say that overexposed frames are always recoverable, but you can recover more highlights and shadows from RAW than you can from JPG.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 12:26   #16
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Hi Paul,

re: "baffled",

My understanding is the same as yours, that if highlights are really shot, the detail information just isn't there and nothing can recover it.

But for those pics where it's touch and go, RAW does give you a far better chance of saving the picture, or at least making a better "bad job" of it than jpeg might allow.

However, I think John means that because RAW captures far more information in the first place, it's more likely that there will be something in the "blown" highlights that can be recovered.

I've also found that I bin fewer pictures because of blown highlights by using RAW, but I still get 'em sometimes - and I've also got no doubt that a better photographer (or PPer) than me would be able to get good jpeg results from scenes that would beat me.

Re: "totally baffled",

likewise with my D70, any picture - jpeg or RAW - needs PP sharpening, and I also had the impression that for most of us that's the norm.

But "good" also involves white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation, composure etc. and I was talking about the (errrr...) "Big Picture", assuming that there'd still be a bit of post processing involved.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 13:12   #17
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Thanks for the replies. If the blown highlight problem is reduced then that is a good reason to investigate RAW further. I have never been bothered by the PP workflow of RAW because I am happy to use it in other aspects of photography and the workflow of post processing my crummy JPEGS is LONG!
For wildbird photography however the smaller buffer, reduced frame rate and no of images on a memory card concerned me. Can anyone recommend a good supplier of cheap 1Gb CF cards?

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 13:24   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul goode
Hi Keith,

now I'm totally baffled. From the 20d I've never had a good jpeg straight out of the camera and to be honest assumed I never would from the blurb I've read on the internet about sharpening. The 20d's files to me are very soft out of the camera but come to life in photoshop which is how I thought it was meant to be.

Regards

Paul
Since photographic scenes are different, manual sharpening in PhotoShop can usually do a better job than in-camera sharpening. But the Canon 20D does offer in-camera sharpening. And you can adjust the levels of how much sharpening you want your camera to apply. While you're at it, you can have it adjust contrast, saturation and color tone. You can setup and save various combinations of these settings and apply them to different shooting situations.

Honestly, the thing I like most about RAW is the setting of white balance. It really is nice if the setting was wrong when you were taking the shots.

Another benefit of RAW that people have not mentioned (but I am still not advocating using RAW) is color spaces. RAW contains the full color info that was captured by the camera sensor. And (depending on the subject) it can be much broader than the sRGB or aRGB color spaces. Using RAW allows you to set the color space that you want to use on a photo by photo basis. For those really great shots that you want to print on a nice ink-jet you can use a large gamut color space such as ProPhoto RGB.

What I see as a requirement of using RAW (or doing much editing at all of any format) is color management. You MUST being using a properly calibrated monitor if you expect proper results. You need to calibrate your monitor with a spyder every 1-6 months. Trying to set white balance, brightness or contrast on a un-calibrated monitor is a joke.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 13:47   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Compa
Trying to set white balance, brightness or contrast on a un-calibrated monitor is a joke.
Would that not apply to jpeg as well, Jim?

Regardless of file format, I'd have thought that the only way to get "true to life" colours would be to have a properly calibrated monitor.

Doh! Ignore this, Jim - you've said as much in your post.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 13:55   #20
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Originally Posted by paul goode
Can anyone recommend a good supplier of cheap 1Gb CF cards?

Regards

Paul.
Haven't used these: http://www.picstop.co.uk/ myself, so this isn't a recommendation but they do advertise regularly in 'Amateur Photographer' magazine and I haven't seen any letters of complaint about them. 1Gb Extreme 111 CF cards are 47.90 which is quite reasonable, although the Sandisks have all dropped in price recently so there could be better deals around
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 16:28   #21
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White balance is recoverable on Jpegs its just not as easy as on a RAW file and likely to add noise.

Having your monitor properly calibrated applies whatever file type you are processing.

Your camera processes an image to jpeg and discards other data that is not necessary to the image file according to the setting made on the camera, with RAW however all of that data is still in the image file, that is why you stand a better chance of correcting blown whites.

When there is a likelyhood of blowing whites I generally underexpose (- compensate) by 1/3rd or 2/3rds (sometimes more, Dippers being an example) of a stop and then dual process my image (make two conversions) to get best exposure on the highlights and shadows, these can then be combined using layers and some erasing or selected cutting to get the best 'across the image' appearance.

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 16:39   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul goode
. Can anyone recommend a good supplier of cheap 1Gb CF cards?

Regards

Paul.
7DayShopper are selling 2GB Sandisk for 56.49 & 4GB for 114 OK they are not the Extreme but I have both the older ones and the Extreme and can't see any difference in writing speed
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 16:44   #23
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7DayShopper are selling 2GB Sandisk for 56.49 & 4GB for 114 OK they are not the Extreme but I have both the older ones and the Extreme and can't see any difference in writing speed
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Davoom seem okay. I paid 73 including P&P for a 2GB 100x card. Leif
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 17:35   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul goode
Thanks for the replies. If the blown highlight problem is reduced then that is a good reason to investigate RAW further. I have never been bothered by the PP workflow of RAW because I am happy to use it in other aspects of photography and the workflow of post processing my crummy JPEGS is LONG!
For wildbird photography however the smaller buffer, reduced frame rate and no of images on a memory card concerned me. Can anyone recommend a good supplier of cheap 1Gb CF cards?

Regards

Paul.
Paul,
The blown highlight recovery and lost shadow detail recovery are the major benefits of using RAW. As mentioned, it is also easier to correct white balance issues using RAW. These are some of the advantages of working with a 12 bit per channel image versus an 8 bit per channel image (RAW vs JPG/TIF),

I have a little example posted, if you care to check it out. Here is a crop of a jpg right out of the camera. Here is the same cropped image after RAW conversion and adjustment.

Pretty remarkable recovery of blown highlights and the color correction was a breeze to do also.

Steve
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2006, 18:25   #25
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Originally Posted by SMC2002
Paul,
The blown highlight recovery and lost shadow detail recovery are the major benefits of using RAW. As mentioned, it is also easier to correct white balance issues using RAW. These are some of the advantages of working with a 12 bit per channel image versus an 8 bit per channel image (RAW vs JPG/TIF),

I have a little example posted, if you care to check it out. Here is a crop of a jpg right out of the camera. Here is the same cropped image after RAW conversion and adjustment.

Pretty remarkable recovery of blown highlights and the color correction was a breeze to do also.

Steve
Hi All,

Thanks for all the replies, guess I'll have to bite the bullet and stock up on memory because I feel that the main problem (well one of thousands) that I'm having is blown highlights particularly on birds such as willow and marsh tits. I've been underexposing by up to a stop and still getting problems

The 2 pictures you attached Steve certainly prove the point, notably the feather detail recovered in the birds cheek.

Nigel's technique also looks good, should keep me out of mischief for hours sorting that one!

Thanks for the help everyone, now all I need to do is to get my capture one software to recognise the 20d files.

Regards

Paul
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