Myths on RAW vs. JPEG

Started Mar 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
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d_chiesa
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Myths on RAW vs. JPEG
Mar 12, 2012

Hi all,

recently, i read more and more on the convenience and even superiority of shooting JPEG.

So much so, that i started to think it is promoted somehow by the industry, to convince us to move 'on the cloud' using pads or phones to do so.

Leaving paranoia on the side, though, i just wondered if there might be some truth to it: one of the arguments usually is that, since the camera maker knows better than third party software developers the filtration used and spectral response of the sensor, then they are able to achieve superior results with processing. Moreover, another argument, they spend much R&D on the imaging processing pipeline and that money shows, again, in superior results of the in-camera processing.

So i spent a few hours (a couple, really) during the weekend to investigate that on my G3; i did it some time ago on my Dslr's and it was no contest; but, yet another argument, newer cameras are sooo much better at processing...

I snapped a few pictures with a wide range of colors, and included a checker chart, shooting RAW + JPEG in order to be able to compare results on the same shot's basis.

I had calibrated the G3 with the checker before, and that made a HUGE difference in the quality and fidelity of color in Lightroom, much more so than my previous Dslr's.

With the JPEG on one side, i just messed with lightroom's controls on the RAW for a while, until i achieved as close a result as possible to the JPEG. Basically i had to change the curve, blacks, fill light and contrast from Adobe's presets; also, sharpening and NR were different than Adobe's.

At that point, i had a very close preset for RAW's to the JPEG preset i used in-camera. There were a few shifts in some colors and the shadow response that i also had to change in order to better mimic the camera's preset; but those were not an improvement on the calibrated RAW color response, more like casts that i would remove should i get them normally... About those color shifts: yet another argument is that camera makers use those to make the colors more 'pleasing, instead that more 'true': at least in this case, and i know Panasonic is known for inferior Jpegs, they were just annoying color casts, definitely not more pleasing than a more correct representation.

Overall though, the results achieved with Lightroom, as close as i could mimic the camera's processing, were better: sharper with the same noise (viewed at 300%) or same sharpness with less noise; i could not get the same sharpness with the same noise

One last point made in favor of Jpegs, usually, is that you save time; i can't really figure out where or when i would save said time. This is my workflow:

After the shoot, insert the card in PC's reader; lightroom automatically opens on the import window, with the last preset used; usually just confirm import, one click so far. After import (not really slower for RAW, i tried), throw away duds (same for both), keywording (same for both formats, and the most time consuming task) and whatever else (also same for both). Post processing, if needed, would be needed for both, and more time consuming for Jpeg, in order to deal with the smaller data's limitations. Obviously, you had to spend a little time prior, to make yourself one or a few presets for the RAW that you liked, not just stick with lightroom's presets and then edit every damn picture (most of the time in the same vein: increase contrast and / or saturation / vibrance).

I won't even go into the 'saving space' argument, since it is really silly; unless, of course, you'll be trying to push cloud storage on me
My 2 cents.

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