SOOC quality, RAW vs JPEG, Post-Process vs no Post-Process

Started Jan 19, 2013 | Questions thread
iFLAME
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Re: SOOC quality, RAW vs JPEG, Post-Process vs no Post-Process
In reply to hft, Jan 21, 2013

Hi,

Your query is not odd at all as I myself have looked for the answer to that same question! And here is what I think. First of all, I totally agree with the others that post processing is not cheating, neither it's any kind of digital deception! Post processing an image and claiming that it was SOOC - now that would be more inline with the notion of cheating! I know people who would take different snaps of the blue sky, green field and a lone dead wood, then compose them in a single frame and call it digital art. And they'd be right to do so because it's about the idea of the whole thing; it's about the concept and not the 'objects on screen'! Is it fake? I don't think so. Is it photography? I don't think so either! But I'd fine as long as the digital artist provides with info on the SW he/she used and the photographer with EXIF values for learning purpose.

But these are extreme cases and if I understood properly, your dilemma is more about 'fixing' the photo and adding mild touch-ups in PP. But as other forum members have already stated, almost every camera applies some form graphical optimization through its JPEG processing algorithms by default. There are certain differences between each manufacturer's realization about what the final output should look like and what means to be taken to achieve it. But the thing is your straight out of camera image is not so straight after all!

It is also necessary for the on-board processing engine to complement the sensor in every way possible to produce the best result. No sensor is perfect and manufacturers tend to employ clever methods to offset any deficiency that the sensor might have! If you don't find the default set of standards to suite your requirements then you can always fiddle with in-camera settings, better even to take full control over everything from tonal range to shadow depth by shooting RAW! There is no cheating in that, otherwise experienced photographers won't recommend  doing so.

Do I post-process? Yes, sometimes out of sheer necessity as my camera is incapable of producing optimal result unless there is lots of light. In other instances I just tweak things in Photoshop because I like it (being the nerdy type and all)! But as my techniques are improving I'm having more keepers SOOC than before which is very exciting! It's the feeling you get inside when you nail the perfect exposure - that you can show it off even without slightest adjustment!

Also there is this great risk of over-processing that you should always beware of. when I first learnt about post-processing I used to go overboard with tools like sharpening, contrast/curves and saturation. The end results used to be quite punchy and colourful and all my friends liked those. But after reading some very useful forum posts here and some careful 1:1 comparison I realized what I was doing wrong! A high contrast level will cause loss of dynamic range and shadow detail, over-sharpening results in jagged edges and ugly halo while the extra saturation comes at the cost of lost detail in some colour channel! Right now I'm a minimalist when it comes to PP - better keep the detail than loose it in search of perceptual image quality. And this is where your GF3 which I believe is a M4/3 camera, will do much better than your P&S. A larger sensor should give much more headroom to work with and that too without risking the loss of IQ! Try lifting shadows with your P&S!

Anyway, I wish you luck regardless of whether you choose to post-process or not but rest assured it'd be by no way cheating if you decide to do so. I'm sure you'll enjoy your fine camera.

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