Photo enthusiasts: Raw or JPEG?
Oct 26, 2010 at 4:53 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

khaos974

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Personally, I used to shoot JPEG, and switched to Raw later.
The poll mostly applies to owners of cameras with a reasonable sensor size (equal to or bigger than the 4/3 sensor in Olympus DSLRs, I guess)
 
To me, the analogy with audio would be:
 
  1. Raw: mixed nut unmastered recording
  2. TIFF: high def PCM (if 16 bit TIFF), standard 44/16 (if 8 bit TIFF)
  3. JPEG Fine:  320 kbps AAC, or with lower bitrates if you augment the compression.
 
To me processing the Raw fine is like an artist going to the mastering session and deciding exactly what they want, using in-camera JPEG is like giving a mastering engineer a list of criteria (sharpness, saturation...) and hope for the best.

PS: The way you currently shoot, ie if you shot JPEG for 10 years and switched to exclusively Raw 2 years ago, tick "only Raw". I forgot the option Raw+JPEG in the poll, I suppose that you could choose between the "mostly XXX" options depending on how often you directly process the Raw file or simply use the in-camera JPEG. I also forgot the TIFF option, but I suppose that very few people shoot TIFF, for the purpose of this poll, I consider TIFF to be more similar to JPEG than to Raw.
 
Oct 26, 2010 at 4:59 AM Post #2 of 15

Uncle Erik

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I've been shooting entirely in JPEG for a few years, but have considered RAW.
 
I might hold off until I make the move to a full-frame DSLR.  I've been shooting plenty with the D70s, though I've been itching to upgrade to a full-frame system.  I figure I could then go whole-hog, convert to RAW and start digging deeper into the technical side of things.
 
Then again, I have plenty of storage space and it wouldn't take that much effort to switch the Nikon over to RAW... something to think about once I get it back from its (much needed) CLA.
 
Oct 26, 2010 at 5:11 AM Post #3 of 15

khaos974

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Should you switch, I think that Lightroom has the best ergonomy, according to others, Aperture works really great, Capture One and BibblePro's ergonomy lag a bit behind, but all of those have a pretty great image quality. A bonus point for DxO and its optical correction modules.
 
Though switching makes sense only if you don't mind tweaking your files, if you aim is to get the exact same rendition as your camera does, sticking to JPEG is easier.
 
Hmm, what does CLA stand for?
 
Quote:
I've been shooting entirely in JPEG for a few years, but have considered RAW.
 
I might hold off until I make the move to a full-frame DSLR.  I've been shooting plenty with the D70s, though I've been itching to upgrade to a full-frame system.  I figure I could then go whole-hog, convert to RAW and start digging deeper into the technical side of things.
 
Then again, I have plenty of storage space and it wouldn't take that much effort to switch the Nikon over to RAW... something to think about once I get it back from its (much needed) CLA.

 
Oct 26, 2010 at 5:12 AM Post #4 of 15

XxATOLxX

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IMO, RAW makes more sense if you actually plan on printing/archiving whatever it is you're photographing, since printers have the ability to produce a larger color space.
 
 
Most of my shots are for the web, and 99.99999% of computers are on the SRGB color space so I see no good reason to go through the trouble of working with RAW and it's larger file sizes. Not to mention they get compressed to browser friendly sizes.
 
Oct 26, 2010 at 5:19 AM Post #5 of 15

khaos974

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I see your point shooting JPEG is largely enough for web use.
 
However you should know that Firefox is color space aware, I don't know if IE, Safari and Chrome are though.
Working is Raw is also extremely useful for bringing back shadow details with less noise and saving highlights where it fares much better than JPEG, this does not have much to do with colors.
 
Quote:
IMO, RAW makes more sense if you actually plan on printing/archiving whatever it is you're photographing, since printers have the ability to produce a larger color space.
 
 
Most of my shots are for the web, and 99.99999% of computers are on the SRGB color space so I see no good reason to go through the trouble of working with RAW and it's larger file sizes. Not to mention they get compressed to browser friendly sizes.

 
Oct 26, 2010 at 2:49 PM Post #6 of 15

Exediron

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NEF + JPG. NEF files go onto a 16GB card, JPG onto an 8GB card. When I select photos for use, anything which I'm going to heavily compress anyway usually gets a JPG file. For the print or gallery quality photos, I take the NEF file and tweak it to satisfaction. I use Nikon Capture NX2 for all of my NEF needs, as it reads modern Nikon color and D-Lighting settings correctly. Lightroom does not; anyone who processes raw files from a modern Nikon in Lightroom is losing some of the utility of their camera in doing so. I used to shoot NEF only, but having to process 800-1000 raw files by the next today became too much of a drag.
 
I voted for 'mostly JPG, RAW for critical uses' because it fits the best. I actually shoot an equal number of each, I just use the JPGs more frequently. 
 
EDIT: Since the thread title technically says 'enthusiasts', when I'm just shooting images for my own interest and don't have to process them on any particular schedule I usually shoot NEF only.
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 1:56 PM Post #7 of 15

Omega

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It is all about workflow, not image quality.  RAW has clear advantages in accuracy/quality.  JPEG has clear advantages in file size and usability.  The optimum choice depends upon the situation.  I think the RAW vs. JPEG issue is often confused as an image quality debate, but the issue is convenience.
 
I use Lightroom, which isn't TOO painful for RAW processing.  Batch conversions take a while, but that's processing time, not my time so who cares?  I really like how RAW doesn't hard-code image modifications into the image data, but rather as an instruction set for post-processing...so (for example) when I want to print a B&W photo from digital, the original color information is saved as it was captured in-camera, and I can go back and make color prints without having to establish a convoluted image cataloging or naming system.  I also shoot Pentax, and some would argue that some of the Pentax bodies make softer JPEG vs. RAW images...definitely true to a pixel peeper, but I'm just not convinced that the difference is noticeable in a print or Flickr upload.  I "expose to the right" with RAW, to maximize dynamic range on a digital processor...this DOES make a noticeable difference in dark photos, but most people wouldn't care.  I have "saved" some pretty poor exposures that were shot in RAW because I can make severe changes in post-processing and the result is pleasing, where it would have been a poor result coming from JPEG. Eh.  So I shoot RAW a majority of the time.  95% of the photos I shoot in RAW could have been JPEG without any noticeable loss in quality...but how to predict which 5% needed to be in RAW?  Eh.
 
When I go on vacation or shoot more than 2GB a day, I tend to use JPEG.  Rarely do I think "I wish I had shot this in RAW, it would have been a better photo."
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 4:22 PM Post #8 of 15

dharma

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khaos 974 wrote: ..."However you should know that Firefox is color space aware, I don't know if IE, Safari and Chrome are though."...
 
Safari too (but still not my favorite browser), and others main browsers are going same road, sooner or later. Actually, little off topic but interesting subject is, how different browsers show 256-color web images. At least some time ago Safari was smoothest, have'nt controlled how those things are at this moment ...
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 4:40 PM Post #9 of 15

dharma

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I use Lightroom and then after that Photoshop too, yes its time consuming ... And Lightroom interface and workflow is completely different from Photoshop :frowning2: 
I would put those two progs into one...
 
By the way, newest (update is for free :wink: Lightroom is using different 'engine' and is producing better images than older Lightroom versions, (if high ISO is used during shots, which are typically producing images with high 'noise').
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 5:06 PM Post #10 of 15

Cron

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You are far more likely to retouch your photographs (even if only cropping) than you are going to edit CD rips - thus lossless is even more important in photography than in audio. Lossy -> lossy re-encoding is just as harmful in imaging than it's in audio.
 
RAW has the best compression ratio in lossless compression methods - even better than TIFF or PNG. This is because it doesn't have any interpolated data in it yet.
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 5:19 PM Post #11 of 15

c61746961

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RAW all the way, the batch utilities in programs like Lightroom make the "simple, quick workflow" argument moot, you can apply a preset to a group of photos you don't care too much about and go and finely adjust the keepers, then export to sRGB JPEGs for web use, all with a couple of clicks.
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 6:08 PM Post #12 of 15

dharma

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Hmm, looked around and discovered from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_management (nice basic overview about color management) and http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html (detailed information and there you can control is your current web browser 'ICC color managed'):

..."Most web browsers ignore color profiles. Notable exceptions are Safari, starting with version 2.0, and Firefox starting with version 3.0. Although disabled by default in Firefox 3.0, users can enable ICC v2 and ICC v4 color management by using an add-on or setting the value "gfx.color_management.enabled" to "true" in Firefox 3's "about:config" file. Starting from Firefox 3.5 color management is enabled by default only for tagged images, although support is limited to ICC v2 profiles owing to a change in color management systems from 3.0."...

and more about browsers:
Chrome does'nt support color ICC profile and EXIF data. And so is with mighty Opera too?

but:
Next coming Internet Explorer 9 supports embedded ICC v2 or v4 color profiles

Whats happening in LINUX (and LINUX web browsers) world???
 
 
What we really need is calibration, image scanner needs that, printer needs that ... but at least my main monitor is calibrated with ICC profile correction.

And happily for everybody, new digital imaging programs contain somekind profile information (built in or plugins) about digital cameras and lenses!
__________________________
added later
 
OK! Everything above is little questionable, if looked from here (nice page, with some real world workaround hints)  http://gearoracle.com/guides/web-browser-color-management-guide/
 
..."Limitations:

Firefox uses a color management engine called qcms and it supports only ICC v2 profiles. If your monitor profile is ICC v4, you’re out of luck, although this is easy to circumvent, as most monitor calibration packages offer options to choose the ICC profile version.

Apple Safari
Safari supports both v2 and v4 ICC profiles. Unfortunately, it has no control over color on other page elements. Tagged images look right, but every other page element has over-saturated colors on a wide gamut LCD.

[new] Google Chrome
Chrome also supports both v2 and v4 ICC profiles, at least on the Mac platform. Like Safari, all untagged images and page graphics are considered to be on monitor RGB, leading to over-saturated colors on wide gamut displays. I could not make profiles work on Chrome for Windows, even by applying a command line switch.

Microsoft Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer 9, currently in beta testing, is the first version to support color management. Like webKit-based browsers, untagged images and page elements are assumed to be on the full monitor gamut. All other Internet Explorer versions aren’t color managed.

Opera
Opera doesn’t support color management at all. ICC profiles embedded in images are ignored and the whole page is rendered on the monitor colorspace."...
 
 
..." [size=x-small]Best practices and recommendations[/size]
 
 
[size=x-small]Assume sRGB for untagged files and unsupported formats like GIF. [/size]
 
[size=x-small]Work on a bigger color space, like AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB, but always convert to sRGB during export.[/size]
 
[size=x-small]Always tag your JPG images. Use a larger colorspace, like AdobeRGB, only if your site’s audience uses high end monitors. Examples are a high end advertising photography website or a client area on your website where you can have control of your users’ display configurations.[/size]
 
[size=x-small]PNG files are tagged by default on Photoshop, even though the program doesn’t allow us to select the “Embed color profile” option. If you don’t need any color profile tagging on your PNG files, try pngcrush to strip it from your files’ headers and make them a little smaller."...[/size]
 
Oct 27, 2010 at 10:52 PM Post #13 of 15

khaos974

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As far as retouching is concerned, you are certainly right, that's due to the fact that a photographer is in the position of the artist, while the audiophile is in the position of a spectator.
On the other hand, I've seen JPEGs re-saved 2-3 times and then printed at 8*10 without any kind of visible artifact.
 
Quote:
You are far more likely to retouch your photographs (even if only cropping) than you are going to edit CD rips - thus lossless is even more important in photography than in audio. Lossy -> lossy re-encoding is just as harmful in imaging than it's in audio.

 
Jan 6, 2011 at 1:45 PM Post #15 of 15

ArmAndHammer

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I shoot RAW majority of the time unless I am taking a picture of something that is going to be posted only on the web such as an item I am selling or to show someone an example of something. Otherwise it's RAW. My thought is, you never know when something you shot turns out to be something special. It might be as simple as going out in the back yard with the kids and my camera and shooting pictures while they play. 99% of the time I get some cute pics of them that I quickly crop, sharpen, and save to my hard drive. But now and then there is that shot that you want to print and share and it being in RAW format can make all the difference. I'm not much of a photographer as it is so I can use all the help I can get.
 

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