I Will Not Shot in RAW

Started May 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Re: RAW is not Future Proof...
In reply to Marco Nero, May 21, 2013

Marco Nero wrote:

JJ Rodin wrote:

This is a fundamental answer for ALL the raw vs jpeg questions:

With 'raw' you will have the entire sensor data to use if not NOW, then in the future!

Think of the future, not just now!!

Ah, I'm not soiling for a JPEG Vs RAW argument but I'd like to raise a few observations for those interested in the (apparently ongoing) JPEG Vs RAW debate.

To quote another website: "Having so many different versions of raw files out on the market today could doom the file type(s) to obsolescence. Unfortunately, this could also mean the loss of millions of photographs, as standards and manufacturers change, and most of these varieties of raw files can no longer be read by the machines and applications of the near-future. It is possible that the camera and photo industry will one day soon come to an agreement on a standard raw file format, and have that standard established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). There also exists the possibility that Adobe’s .DNG format can play a role in becoming the common format for raw files."

Many point out that UNLESS you open and convert all your RAW files NOW, you may find someday that you will never be able to open them again because RAW is not "Future Proof".

Any camera with RAW support by Adobe still has RAW support.  There is zero reason to believe any version of raw file will be dropped, and should it be dropped conversion to DNG or even TIFF is extremely simple.  People who didn't convert their D30 files back 13 years ago still have the same support.  Once a file has been supported there is no motivation to drop support....it's there in the algorithm and it's cheaper to keep it for fifty years than remove it.  Maybe in a hundred years support will dwindle, but I'd bet there will always be a program that will translate RAWs of any type into a modern format before it becomes impossible to view them.  Remember, JPEG was designed specifically for a time period when memory was extremely expensive.  The fact that it is an open format is a nice benefit, but it was designed to get rid of data that wasn't being used at that very moment.

Ten years ago I would argue that RAW would be the superior file for capturing certain types of images but not now.

What we are trying to do is capture what we can see with our eyes... using a digital camera.  Our eyes have more Dynamic Range than any camera available today although

And while JPEG is great at showing us enough to make our senses happy for the moment, it does not contain all of the original levels that would make further alterations equally pleasing to the eye.  The highlight headroom and ability to make white balance and other changes without worry of posterization or clipping is a very important and meaningful property of RAW.

With cameras producing accurate JPEG images that closely resemble what we see, there's no need to worry about "what might be lost" if you choose not to photograph in RAW.  If your JPEG is missing information, you'll know about it because your images will be lacking in some way visually.  If you can't tell, then you won't miss anything shooting in JPEG.

Until you want to edit.  Then you'll notice very quickly.  The amount of breathing room is noticeable and much more comfortable.  Getting the sharpening and white balance just the way you want it can even be a matter of taste that changes in time.  Having a perfectly preserved raw piece of prime meat means you don't have to worry in the future when your tastes have changed from cooking it medium to having piece or rare meat.  You can have both.

Technically speaking, a RAW image is simply a filetype and is NOT a photograph or even an Image file.  The scary thing about RAW is that each camera manufacturer has its own propriety native RAW File and camera software from one manufacturer will often not be able to read RAW files from another camera brand.  In the past Adobe and other software companies have elected to completely discontinue access and service to some of the now defunct types of RAW files.  It has happened before so we know it may happen again.  How many times do we see threads by people here complaining that their version of Photoshop or Lightroom doesn't support the RAW files from their new camera?  Eventually, these companies will allow you to access your camera's RAW files but you need to wait for RAW pluggins and conversion software to become available first.

And what's scary about JPEG is it was designed during a time when the prime concern was taking an image and compressing it to the point that it could still display the image within the realm of human perception exactly as it was encoded upon capture.  Levels within the original data could still be used and extracted for a visually noticeable change in shadows, highlight, gamma curve, tone curve, or even white balance and without any worry about working within a set of levels that had already been thinned out, a.k.a. deleted forever.

JPEG and TIF, on the other hand, are considered to be "universal" image formats. Sure, JPEG is a lossy file that is compressed... but most people saving a RAW file to work on it later will use PSD (Photoshop Document) or TIF (Tagged Image Format) to store their "works in progress" for archiving processes.

There are over 254 types of RAW image format files in existence with many of them being subset formats of the same type.  RAW may even be abandoned some day and there's ample evident to support this hypothesis.  So be careful in the format you choose to save, use or capture your images in.

Where?  What RAW files have lost support?  Who has hinted at removing support?  Nobody.  Windows had updated codecs to view all RAW file types that they can get.  The only RAW files not supported are those held by companies that refuse to share, which are few and far between.  Those are typically medium format users and they have their own issues to deal with.  That is an extremely small subset of the market and I'm sure they will convert to TIFF to have a universal format.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with capturing or storing your photographs as RAW files.  But it would be prudent to edit every single picture and convert them all into TIFs if you are trying to archive your photography.  Plenty of photographers believe they need to shoot RAW but don't know how to make the most of converting their files.  Even less people have the correctly calibrated professional monitors or the eye and professional skills to manipulate their images correctly in the first place.  On such people, shooting in RAW is almost certainly a waste of time.

Nothing wrong?  But it's uncooked?  We didn't have the master chef Digic cook it for us!  It won't work for much longer!  It's too big!  We can't even see all the data it contains at this very instant despite being able to extract it later!  People who can't edit today or afford a great monitor and calibrating hardware today might in a few years.  How wonderful it would be to know they'll have files that will take advantage of their newly found wealth!  Professional skills are not required to edit RAW no more than it is required to edit JPEG, although RAW is much more forgiving in those processes.  A RAW converter can pump out the camera-quality JPEG in an instant and further manipulation can easily improve upon those results with a little practice and a little education.

Today's JPEG Engines from the modern Canon digital cameras make the most of the RAW information before converting the image into a JPEG image file. All that Dynamic Range and subtle detail hidden in shadows and highlights is carefully extracted and introduced into the final image.  The modern camera's Image Processor is much more capable than the collective skills of the vast majority of budding photography enthusiasts out there.

Not the subtle detail hidden in the many, many levels deleted by the JPEG encoder.  14-bit versus 8-bit is a significant and quantifiable difference in the levels the file can hold.  And those budding photographers don't need you to tell them how untalened they currently are nor how hopeless it is that they might one day be decent at post processing an image.  You have so little faith in yourself that you need to project that on them?  Or is it you have such a strong sense of superiority that you finding it unnecessary means everyone else should also?

Enjoy your photography, no matter what format you shoot in.

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Regards,
Marco Nero.
www.pbase.com/nero_design

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