Olympus OM-D EM-1: Finding RAW not worth the trouble so far?

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jfoley
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Olympus OM-D EM-1: Finding RAW not worth the trouble so far?
8 months ago

Dear Folks,

I know, I know. There are hundreds of threads out there about the whole JPEG vs. RAW debate. And I don't want to start another one of those.

But, gosh, I am shooting JPEG + RAW on my new Olympus OM-D EM-1, and I just find that the OOC JPEGS (perhaps with some minor edits) are outstanding 99% of the time, and I have yet to "beat" them with messing with my RAW files so far.

Here's what I do: I shoot JPEG + RAW, with the following JPEG settings (large / superfine; warm off; gradation normal; natural picture mode; noise reduction low). I import both the JPEG and RAW files into Aperture, with updated OM-D EM-1 Apple RAW converter (from last week), and I do some slight edits to both: minor adjustments to white balance, some minor tweaking of shadows / highlights, and of course some minor cropping if needed. But not much.

For the shots I'm taking so far, the JPEGs edit just as well as the RAW files, probably because I am not doing minor tweaking of the exposure. (Yes, yes, I know that RAW has a theoretical advantage here, but a smart JPEG is going to use a non-linear scaling of values across the RGB space -- even only using 8 bits -- that it can do pretty damn well.) And, despite what a lot of people say, you *can* edit exposure, white balance, sharpness, noise reduction, etc. in a JPEG. You just won't have as much latitude or finesse in making these changes.

Now for a photo that is *really* over- or under-exposed, RAW will have the clear advantage, of course. But, fortunately, it's kind of hard to take a photo like that in the OM-D, with the excellent WYSIWYG viewfinder, and excellent controls. You have to work at it to take a crummy exposure in one of these advanced mirrorless cameras

This is quite different than my experience with my Canon DSLR, where my RAW files were generally better after some minor editing. Why? I'm not sure, but I think two things are different: the Olympus JPEG engine is amazing (or maybe it just suits my particular style?) and the fantastic EVF makes it so much easier to really see what you're capturing in the camera. No more guessing or chimping.

Anyway, that's what I've been finding. I don't have any preconceptions about JPEG vs. RAW (or, if I did, I was probably biased towards just shooting RAW because "everyone knows that it's always better"). But, to my eye, the Oly JPEGs I'm getting OOC are amazingly good, and with some minor tweaks in Aperture, I'm done.

Does this make sense to other folks here? I'll probably keep shooting JPEG+RAW for now, but right now I'm deleting almost all of the RAW files...

Any thoughts from the collective wisdom out there? I'm still a newbie, and very eager to learn more from all of you.

Thanks!

Jon

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