Old 03-05-2009, 09:59 PM   #1
Michael Link
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Hello, I was wondering why it is better to shoot RAW? I have been but I mean they look great in DPP, when I sharpen them and do all them, but they seem to blur up when converted to JPG. Any ideas? Thanks Mike
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Old 03-06-2009, 02:46 AM   #2
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There are two questions/issues here.

advantages of raw: two come to mind. First, with raw there is minimal processing done of the image in camera, leaving you with maximum control. If the camera creates a jpg it necesarily does some things in camera which may not be what you want. The process is controllable to some extent by the various setting you use for sharpening, contrast, etc. in camera.

Second, raw generally gives you a bit more dynamic range, useful for a) more dynamic range!, and b) recovery from an exposure error where you are a bit over or underexposed and the in-camera jpg would show blown out areas or loss of detail in the dark.

blur up: happy to help, but you have to first go into more detail as to the steps you take in DPP and the settings you choose. (I'm not DPP knowledgeable myself, maybe someone else will chime in.)
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Old 03-06-2009, 03:26 AM   #3
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My guess is the dynamic range is the big advantage of RAW. I shoot RAW plus JPG fine and can usually get good results in Photoshop from either format if the initial image is properly exposed. But if you have a poorly exposed image, I believe RAW will give you more flexibility in trying to fix it.

A couple of weeks ago I shot this image:

Image © John West
PhotoID: 273109
Photograph © John West


The original was VERY dark, to the point that I almost deleted it. But I decided to make a test case out of it, and using the RAW converter I lightened up the "exposure" the maximum allowed. I then converted it to a TIFF in Photoshop and lightened it up some more. Only then did it start to look good. While I did not try to fix the JPG version, I am very doubtful that it would have survived the amount of lightening I did without major artifacts or other negative effects developing. But since I did not try to adjust the JPG version, that is only an opinion on my part.

Clearly the camera software does a fair amount of processing of the JPG images, because out of the camera they usually look better than the RAW images. More contrast and better color saturation. But it is exactly that processing that probably reduces the dynamic range.

Having said all that I need to caveat it by saying I am not a technician, so maybe I am dead wrong. But that's sure how it seems to me just looking at the results.

You mention pix being blury when you convert to JPG. That is normal, converting formats seems to result in some loss of sharpness. It is normal practice to do a bit of resharpening after converting.
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Old 03-07-2009, 04:59 AM   #4
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Thanks you guys, nice shot John. Mike
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:13 PM   #5
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The trick is to convert to 8 bit TIFF as the intermediate step, and sharpen up along the way.

Nick Benson and "Ween" have excellent workflow steps to use. I did not post them in this message because I learned from them and did not want to seem like I figured it out myself. Look back and do a search and you will find them.

John and JRMDC are dead on with their comments. I personally just shoot RAW and process myself, saving more space on the card and the hard drive.
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Old 03-07-2009, 06:54 PM   #6
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I had to do some searching, but I eventually found what I posted. Here's an updated version since I've added/changed a thing or two since I first posted:

- Convert the RAW (.CR2 file) to DNG (from the free Adobe converter). Why? Because Adobe won't support the 40D in CS2.
- Open the DNG file in Adobe Camera RAW
- Be sure I set the color space to sRGB (the default is Adobe RGB) and change the depth to 16 bits per channel.
- Then I'll go to the Detail tab and bring the Color Noise Reduction slider from its default value of 25 down to zero.
- Then I'll go to the Curve tab and change Tone Curve to Linear (the default on mine is Medium Contrast).
- Then I go back to the Adjust tab and get rid of all the Auto-adjusted values (not once have I seen the Auto option come anywhere close to getting the image right). I'll set the Contrast to +10 and the Shadows to 7. I leave Saturation at 0 and then I'll tinker with Brightness and Exposure to get the image properly exposed. Very rarely will I adjust White Balance as it's usually pretty close, and besides, the first step I do after messing with the RAW file is getting rid of color cast anyway (see link below on how do to this).
- The last thing I do with the RAW image is to go to the Calibrate tab. I will increase the saturation values for the reds, greens, and blues. Typically red will be +7-20, green will be +7-20, and blue usually comes out to be +20-30.
- Then I save as a TIF and open in CS2 to finish processing (color cast removal, leveling, messing with the sky, sharpening, resizing, sharpen again, convert to 8-bit, save as JPG).

The color cast removal technique I use on the TIF in CS2 can be found here:
http://www.creativepro.com/article/a...otoshop-levels
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Old 03-08-2009, 03:12 AM   #7
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The trick is to convert to 8 bit TIFF as the intermediate step, and sharpen up along the way.


If you have a computer that has plenty of RAM, a good processor, and you have plenty of space to store photos, go ahead and convert to 16 bit TIFFs, you would be amazed by how much color detail you can lose if you do a small amount of editing on 8 bit images.

With that said, I currently do not do that because my computer only has 256mb of RAM, as soon as I upgrade my computer and have plenty of storage space to spare, I will start doing this. Im just not looking forward to my file sizes of 150mb or so doubling.
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Old 03-08-2009, 05:42 PM   #8
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Shooting raw comes in really handy when you're a dumbass like me and forget you are on manual metering.
The unfixable jpg and fixed raw are attached.
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:25 PM   #9
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Stellar example!
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:53 PM   #10
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Shooting raw comes in really handy when you're a dumbass like me and forget you are on manual metering.
The unfixable jpg and fixed raw are attached.
Aha!!! Finally, an example worthy of putting me in my place on this subject!

I'll still pass and take my mistake as a lesson.

HAHAHAHA!
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Old 03-08-2009, 10:20 PM   #11
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Well, seeing this thread about the advantages of RAW, what do all of you think of RAW in a superzoom? More advantages, or less? With my new camera, I now have the ability, and plan to start using it regularly once I get more used to the output...

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Old 03-09-2009, 12:26 AM   #12
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Aha!!! Finally, an example worthy of putting me in my place on this subject!

I'll still pass and take my mistake as a lesson.

HAHAHAHA!
Quit bein a Stooge and start experimenting with RAW Andrew.

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Old 03-09-2009, 02:58 AM   #13
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Quit bein a Stooge and start experimenting with RAW Andrew.

Kinda reminds me of the thought process I went through before converting from film to digital.
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:35 AM   #14
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Aha!!! Finally, an example worthy of putting me in my place on this subject!

I'll still pass and take my mistake as a lesson.

HAHAHAHA!

I kinda feel this way too. I suppose that some day, I'll have the time and the inclination to do all of the tinkering that the RAW crowd does. Til then, I'll take my lumps with LF JPEGs. If I shoot them properly in the first place, there's very little difference in the image quality for most practical purposes....and I have lots more space on my memory cards and my hard drive than the RAW guys do.

Seriously, AB has an important point. Shooting JPEGs forces the photographer to become a good judge of exposures and to do a thorough job of planning shots. Speaking for myself as a relative newcomer to the hobby, I think the "lumps" that AB speaks of are a necessary part of getting better at this. You quickly learn that there is a penalty for not getting it right.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:26 AM   #15
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Well, seeing this thread about the advantages of RAW, what do all of you think of RAW in a superzoom? More advantages, or less? With my new camera, I now have the ability, and plan to start using it regularly once I get more used to the output...

~Carl Becker
I used to shoot RAW with my Fuji S9500. I don't know your superzoom camera and its strengths and weaknesses, but shooting RAW with the Fuji gave all the advantages on exposures and subsequent image tweaking as RAW on a DSLR. The disadvantage was that I got only one shot at anything - transfer of a RAW image to the storage card took around 8 seconds and I couldn't shoot again until that had completed.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:16 AM   #16
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Seriously, AB has an important point. Shooting JPEGs forces the photographer to become a good judge of exposures and to do a thorough job of planning shots. Speaking for myself as a relative newcomer to the hobby, I think the "lumps" that AB speaks of are a necessary part of getting better at this. You quickly learn that there is a penalty for not getting it right.
Hmmm..... looks like somebody is really grasping for straws here. Thats like saying we shouldn't use all these fancy medical technologies and medicines because it allows people to have unhealthy life styles

Seriously though, its extremely hard (aka, just short of impossible) to make a serious case why NOT to shoot RAW, on the same level as why shoot a Point and Shoot over SLR. If you are serious about your photography and not shooting RAW format, you're (excuse the pun) shooting yourself in the foot. Even on here the only really arguments JPEG shooters have are "I'm too lazy to change." Maybe the only argument that has any legs is "I don't have enough hard drive space or a fast enough computer," but with technology so dirt cheap today even that is pushing it.

I have met only one 'professional' photographer who shoots only JPEG and that was on school yearbook shots where he knew the biggest print would be 8x10. His reasoning was he was too lazy to convert them later and no parent would notice anyway.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:50 PM   #17
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Seriously though, its extremely hard (aka, just short of impossible) to make a serious case why NOT to shoot RAW, on the same level as why shoot a Point and Shoot over SLR. If you are serious about your photography and not shooting RAW format, you're (excuse the pun) shooting yourself in the foot. Even on here the only really arguments JPEG shooters have are "I'm too lazy to change." Maybe the only argument that has any legs is "I don't have enough hard drive space or a fast enough computer," but with technology so dirt cheap today even that is pushing it.
Not arguing that it isn't a great goal to learn to process RAW images or that there aren't some major plusses to doing that. Just that for some folks, balancing a photography habit with lots of other responsibilities is a challenge. I would suggest that time is more often the issue than dollars or laziness. I also think that few of us can argue with the success that some JPEG shooters have had here or contend that they're not serious about their photography. When I see one of their images grab an SCA or a PCA, I probably have even more respect for their effort, because I know they're working without a safety net.
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:47 PM   #18
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If you plop down the money for a dSLR, the lens system, and invest the time, shooting JPG over RAW is like racing at Daytona with a restrictor plate. Why limit the potential (and in the case of photography, you can't use the safety argument like they do in racing)?
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Old 03-09-2009, 03:23 PM   #19
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If you plop down the money for a dSLR, the lens system, and invest the time, shooting JPG over RAW is like racing at Daytona with a restrictor plate. Why limit the potential (and in the case of photography, you can't use the safety argument like they do in racing)?
Hi Chris,

Not arguing that one should limit the potential....not at all. Just that dealing with the issues of shooting RAW is an evolution for someone (like me) who hasn't been doing this seriously for a long time and has other priorities in life to contend with. The first step is getting a decent camera and learning the basics of composition and exposure. The next step is learning what one can do with basic postprocessing software to add finishing touches to the resulting images. Both of these are things I'm still figuring out. At some point, I'm sure I'll reach the stage where it becomes important to me to determine what conversion programs I need to support the cameras I have and how many steps it will take to get a file from the camera onto photo paper or RP.

I'm also recognizing the fact that there are folks here who get great results without shooting RAW and when they do that, I know I'm not looking at a botched exposure that they "fixed in Photoshop".
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:04 PM   #20
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I'm also recognizing the fact that there are folks here who get great results without shooting RAW and when they do that, I know I'm not looking at a botched exposure that they "fixed in Photoshop".
Hi Kevin

While to some extent you can fix a badly exposed RAW image because RAW files contain enough data to vary the exposure by around an F stop over or under (more than that and you begin to run into noise issues), its not always possible.

Where RAW really wins out over JPG is when you need to adjust specific areas of a shot to bring out detail in the shadows or tone down highlights to reveal the detail they contain. In a JPG, these details are probably gone, destroyed by the compression algorithm, but in a RAW file, they are there, just waiting for some careful processing to make them visible.

I won't preach that RAW is the only way to go. As you say, plenty of people upload good JPG based pictures, but once you've tried shooting RAW, you won't go back.
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:40 PM   #21
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If you plop down the money for a dSLR, the lens system, and invest the time, shooting JPG over RAW is like racing at Daytona with a restrictor plate. Why limit the potential (and in the case of photography, you can't use the safety argument like they do in racing)?
Or driving a high performance sports car with an automatic transmission!
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Old 03-09-2009, 06:21 PM   #22
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I'm somewhat mystified that folks think shooting and processing RAW is all that complicated. I started shooting and processing RAW from the git go, not because I was smart, but simply because a few folks who are smarter than I am told me it was the way to go. The only difference is, at least for Photoshop, is that the RAW image first opens up in the RAW converter, and you then have click on "open" for it to open up in PS as a TIFF file. Initially I did absolutely nada with the RAW converter, so the post processing was exactly the same as I would do for any other file, other than that extra click.

Over time I started playing around with the RAW converter and seeing what it could do. But I still rarely use it, because the meters on digital cameras are so good most exposures don't need much tickering beyond what can easily be done in Photoshop. But the extra capability is there if you need it. In an earlier post I cited one shot where it came in real handy. And I do like to play with the the shadows and highlights (my favorite PS tool is the shadow/highlight tool) so there are probably some things I should be doing in RAW that I am now doing in TIFF.

Okay, it does produce bigger files. But at least so far I have not found that to be a problem given the size and relatively cheap price of today's memory cards.

All that being said, I see no problem shooting JPEG. Obviously you can get excellent results with JPEG, and usually you are better off using stuff you are familiar with. We do this for fun. I don't use Layers in PS because I have never gotten the hang of it. Maybe it's like driving the Daytona with a governor, but most of us are surrounded by far more technological capability than we want or need.
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Old 03-09-2009, 08:39 PM   #23
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Quit bein a Stooge and start experimenting with RAW Andrew.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:15 PM   #24
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Thanks to several people recommending I shoot RAW with my new camera I decided to shoot exclusively in RAW format now. I enjoy the control one has with the "digital negative". It's actually more enjoyable for me to edit RAW files than straight from the camera JPEGs. I'm still confused though at what exactly a JPEG straight from the camera is compared to a RAW file. What does the camera do to a JPEG that makes it different than a RAW file?
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:42 PM   #25
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I'm still confused though at what exactly a JPEG straight from the camera is compared to a RAW file. What does the camera do to a JPEG that makes it different than a RAW file?
Applies sharpening, levels, saturation, etc. Basically everything you might change in PP, according to preset templates, but which cannot be changed afterward.

Then compresses from 12-14 bit to 8 bit, throwing away all the "excess" data.

Kind of like baking a cake. RAW is all the materials that go into the cake, but you can still change the recipe. Once the camera "bakes the cake", i.e. does its JPEG thing to the data, you can't go back and change any of the ingredients or their amounts. Sort of.
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