Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Photos thread
Gary Eickmeier
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Re: Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW
In reply to Atgard, Jun 30, 2013

Atgard wrote:

When you shoot in JPG, the white balance you chose (or that the camera selected in Auto) is "baked in" to the shot. You can try to adjust it from there, but it's like making a copy of a copy, and any missing data is lost forevermore.

In RAW, the white balance chosen in camera is NOT yet "baked in." You will see it pre-set as an option, but you are free to adjust it any way you like, and it will affect the RAW data, not an already-once-processed JPG.

One example: I handed the camera to someone and they accidentally hit the WB button and shot at 2500K. The file was totally washed out in blue. Luckily, I was in RAW + JPG. The JPG was unsalvageable. You could try to adjust it more yellow, but you were basically turning a blue image yellow, NOT undoing all the blue. But in RAW, it is a very simple process to set the WB however you want, meaning it makes zero difference how it was originally set when shot in camera. The shot was completely saved, exactly as if the WB was shot right in the first place.

RAW processing is a difficult skill to master (I know I am not there yet), but even at my level I see noticeable improvements by taking the time to individually process RAW files. Fixing white balance, boosting shadows or reducing blown-out highlights to recover detail, and setting just the right mix of sharpening or noise reduction based on the look you want. (Are you shooting a textured rock or a soft portrait? The camera doesn't know.)

If JPG were as good as RAW, no one would bother with the extra time, effort, and hard drive space to bother with RAW. The question is whether that time is worth it to you.

If you could post the RAW file, I'm sure some of the wizards here could come up with something that blows the JPG away, just to show you what is possible.

OK, the majority opinion is that WB is completely correctable in RAW. I am just thinking of an RGB histogram and having one of the colors not recoverable in post. I must try shooting a grey card with the full gamut of WB settings and see if it is correctable.

I know there are shots in JPG that cannot be white balanced in post if you screw them up. If RAW can overcome that, then that alone makes it worth it.

But I must get a lot more skilled in RAW processing than I am, which is why I bought this book. He goes through every setting in ACR and Lightroom and tells us what they do and how to go about it. It has been really bothering me the juggling act between noise reduction and sharpening. Push noise reduction up and get less sharp images. Push sharpening up some more and get more noise. Soon you have overdone both of them and you hav to start over again. Then I read some text that says to do sharpening only after all Photoshop corrections have been made.

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Gary Eickmeier

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