RX100M3: Why I'm now shooting RAW only...

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2eyesee
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RX100M3: Why I'm now shooting RAW only...
3 months ago

I've been shooting RAW + JPEG for a few years now. While I seldom bother with the JPEG's as I like additional latitude for adjustments that RAW offers, I still like to set my camera so JPEG's are the best that they can be.

I own an RX100M3 now, and there has been discussion on this forum in a couple of other threads about the negative effect on image quality caused by High ISO Noise Reduction on this camera. This has been in response to the DPR review , and an article on Imaging Resource.

I actually first noticed this issue when testing an RX10. At first I didn't realise what it was, but through Google and some testing confirmed the artifacts I was witnessing were caused by High ISO Noise Reduction.

After what I experienced on the RX10, when I acquired my RX100M3 one of the first things I did was test High ISO Noise Reduction, and on the basis of this concluded it needed to be left off to avoid smudging detail. I conducted this test before Lightroom supported RX100M3 RAW files, and given the recent discussions about Sony's overly aggressive noise reduction, thought it was an opportune time to perform another test.

All I have done in this test is take 100% crops of straight out of camera JPEG's at the different High ISO Noise Reduction settings (Normal, Low, Off) and compare then with a RAW developed in Lightroom. I did no work on the RAW file - the only adjustments are my default Sharpening of 70 and Noise Reduction of 50 that I apply on import.

I did this test at ISO1600 to test the capabilities of the sensor, but even so I was surprised by just how much better the RAW looked compared to any of the JPEG's:

RX100M3 comparison at ISO1600: High ISO Noise Reduction Normal, Low, Off vs Lightroom with Sharpening 70, Noise Reduction 50.

The difference - at high ISO at least (1600 in this case) is striking.The RAW shows what the sensor is capable of, but even the JPEG with High ISO Noise Reduction Off loses a lot of detail in comparison. Based on this I can't see any point on shooting RAW + JPEG any more - it's RAW only for me from here on.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III
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