Sony JPG engine. Thumbs up or down?

Started Apr 22, 2012 | Discussions
NPPhoto
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Yorugua, you are comaring apples and oranges...
In reply to yorugua, Apr 23, 2012

You cannot compare a CaNikon jpg file to a Sony jog file from the A65/77. There are no CaNikons currently (APS-C) offering 24MP.

If you downsize the 24MP to the Canikon size then the A65 picture will appear as sharp or even sharper in some cases.
A 24MP picture will magnify everything including very minimal camera shake.
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yorugua
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Re: Yorugua, you are comaring apples and oranges...
In reply to NPPhoto, Apr 23, 2012

NPPhoto wrote:

You cannot compare a CaNikon jpg file to a Sony jog file from the A65/77. There are no CaNikons currently (APS-C) offering 24MP.

If you downsize the 24MP to the Canikon size then the A65 picture will appear as sharp or even sharper in some cases.
A 24MP picture will magnify everything including very minimal camera shake.
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Nick P

I'm comparing pictures. And we shot using a trypod.

Again, this seems very clear :

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta77/page18.asp

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta65/14

Again, to me, there's good room for improvements here.

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yorugua
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Re: Yorugua, you are comaring apples and oranges...
In reply to NPPhoto, Apr 23, 2012

NPPhoto wrote:

I take everything DPR, DXO, et al do with a big grain of salt. But since you shared something by DPR, check this out.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studiocompare.asp#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=sony_slta65&masterSample=dsc02913&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=sony_slta65&slot0Sample=dsc02913&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=canon_eos7d&slot1Sample=canon7d_nrstand_iso1600&slot2Camera=nikon_d7000&slot2Sample=nikond7000_nrn_iso%201600&slot3Camera=sony_slta57&slot3Sample=dsc00310&x=-0.49632502506169074&y=0.123266580159536&extraCameraCount=0

The A65 shows superiror sharpness and detail at ISO 1600 when compared to the 7D or the D7000.

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Nick P

Thanks, and that's interesting. In fact, a Canon 7D was one of the ones we compared with in our little tests, and when taking pictures of textures such as fabrics, it had an edge, which went away by using RAW-> JPEG.

Again, the review I quoted is A77 or A65 againts its own JPEG engine, not a different camera. That's why, again, I think there's definitely good room for improvements. I want my 10MB jpeg files out of my A65 more often!

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Torch
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Re: Sony JPG engine. Thumbs up or down?
In reply to NPPhoto, Apr 24, 2012

A jpg that makes using a better Sony lens in A77 or SLT worth the effort. No editing required just camera tweaks. M4/3 already there.
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Tony Hall
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BIG thumbs up for Sony jpegs, Oly second best
In reply to NPPhoto, Apr 24, 2012

I've had at least 25 digital cameras including Sony R1, Nikon D700, Canon 5D II, Canon 7D, T2i, s90, G11, Oly E-P1 and E-5. My last few cameras were Sony A55 and A580. Now I'm shooting exclusively with a 5N.

I always shoot raw+jpeg when the camera allows it because there's no reason not to if you have the hard drive for it.

With all that said, I prefer Sony's jpegs to all of the previous mentioned cameras from various manufacturers. I'll make a quick laundry list of what I can remember of my opinions about some of them.

D700 - lacking contrast and pop, very flat looking, no tweaking of color settings helped, unnatural and unpleasing skin tones in general. I think I remember skin tones being a bit too yellowish and lips looking a bit too purple.

Canon's - All about the same. I don't find Canon's jpegs objectionable, but I do see what people say about the plasticky looking skin. At low ISOs, I got some nice sharp jpegs, but they seem to get real soft at higher ISOs. I found the skin tones more pleasant than Nikon by far.

Panasonic LX5 - found skin tones cold and with a bit too much red I think.

Olympus E-P1 and E-5 - Basically about the same sort of jpegs. They are very contrasty and punchy and saturated. Olympus jpegs look great out of the camera, but I found that skin tones had an extra touch of magenta that I tended to want to correct.

Sony's jpegs aren't necessarily perfect, but they are by far the most pleasing overall to my eye. Skin tones look fantastic. Pics have some punch, but have dynamic range. The jpegs are SHARP and retain detail at higher ISOs. Skin tones and other colors tend to match what I see with my eye.

I went through a bunch of cameras in a rather short amount of time before I happened to pick up an A55 and the rest is history. To me, the Sony jpegs are like the best of Nikon, Canon, and Olympus.

I would have no problem with Oly jpegs though. I do have fond memories of the jpegs the E-P1 and E-5 produced, but sometimes they were a little too punchy/contrasty. And there was something about the skin tones that I wasn't completely satisfied with, especially a reddish tint I think.

Anyways, I think Sony jpegs have the best skin tones. I think Nikon had the worst, followed by Panasonic. Canon's are OK, but there's the plasticky skin thing and softness. Oly is second best in my book, but if you include the cool effects you can do, maybe they deserve to tie Sony.

Like I said though, I always shoot raw+jpeg. Jpegs are great for quick sharing lots of pics and looking through your memories, but when you want a special image to look it's best, only with raw can you get everything perfectly idea (to how you think it should look).

jpegs are just "one size fits all" settings. This is like buying a stereo because "it has the best preset EQ setting". The processing of a pic really depends on the lighting and contrast of the scene and the subject. The camera cannot intelligently make that judgement. I can only run it through it's default settings and hope you find it acceptable.

Sony and Oly are really good at jpegs, but neither is as good as manual processing if you know what you're doing.

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tbcass
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You'd better read the DPR reviews again
In reply to yorugua, Apr 24, 2012

yorugua wrote:

No I don't need RAW today, but better JPEGs would do. Again, I have people with cameras with less MP than the A65, but they still get better detail. That's important, even more so if you need to crop a portion of your image,but an any rate, if you want to use the 24MP camera you got, and at least, the FINE JPEG engine mode on the A65 should give me more details from a picture on a sunny day than a comparable 18MP/16MP camera.

I have an A55 and my A65 absolutely has more detail than my 16mp A55 at iso settings below 1600. Also according to DPR the A65 resolves more detail than the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000.

In fact, and if you go to http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta65/14 , those are JPEGs. The out of camera engine can use some tweaking, and that's not the first time I hear that on a A65/77 review.

Actually you should look at the resolution charts in the links below.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta65/13
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos60D/12

Look carefully and you will see that at iso100 there is almost no difference in resolution between JPG and RAW. Here is what DPR says about the A65 and Canon 60D concerning resolution.

A65; The A65's 24MP pixel count pays off in good levels of detail and 'some' details resolved up to very high frequencies. In terms of resolution the A65 is one of the currently better APS-C DSLRs, something we'd expect from a camera with such a high pixel count.

The red Nyquist line in these images represents the limit of our chart's resolution and the (theoretical) limit of the A65's sensor's resolution, but neither the A65's JPEG nor raw output contains much meaningful detail beyond 3600 lp/ph.

60D; The Canon 60D's JPEG engine does a pretty good job of representing the captured data, clearly showing distinct lines up to around 2500 l/ph but with very few artefacts beyond that point. Processing with Adobe Camera Raw and then applying a little sharpening reveals finer detail up to nearer 2700 l/ph but with false color artefacts appearing around the frequency that the JPEG engine cuts out. It's about the performance you'd expect to see from an 18MP camera.

So the A65 can resolve up to 3600 l/ph while the 60D can resolve up to 2700 l/ph so your statement that the JPGs from the A65 are no sharper than the JPGs from other cameras with 16mp and 18mp sensors in good light is blatantly false. The charts show that the A65 out resolves the 60D by a significant amount.

As far as getting more resolution from RAW files, this is true of all cameras. Besides the paragraph above read the following.

7D; What we've seen above on the test charts of course also works on real life shots. Some careful sharpening in the RAW conversion will generate visibly more detail than can be seen in the JPG image. The difference is not enormous though and you'll have to zoom in quite a bit in order to spot it.

A65; Converting your raw files will get a small extra amount of detail but you pay for it with moiré patterning. However, in real-life images this is much less of an issue than it might appear from our test-chart. As always, if detail resolution is your priority, raw files provide a much better starting point than JPEGs (and you can get a lot more out of them than we've managed here, using our standard sharpening settings).

Now read the following which in addition to confirming that RAW files displaying more detail than JPGs is normal it shows that Nikon is better than Canon in this regard. Also note that the Sony 16mp sensor in the D7000 resolves more detail than the Canon 18mp sensor. Still when all is said and done the A65 can resolve significantly more detail than either the 16mp D7000 or 18mp 60D.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond7000/13

There is a clear difference in detail resolution between the D7000's JPEG and RAW output. Whereas in the JPEG files, the D7000 cannot accurately describe the 9 lines on our test chart much beyond 2600LPH (roughly), the RAW file still shows all nine lines distinctly at 2600LPH, and they only begin to merge at around 2800LPH. This is still some way off the Nyquist limit (equal to the number of vertical pixels in the D7000's output - i.e. 3264LPH) but impressive nonetheless.

Also worthy of note is the fact that even beyond Nyquist, some line detail is still visible in the D7000's RAW file. Of course this isn't 'accurate', (and represents merely how good the camera's demosaicing algorithms are at 'guessing' what lies beyond Nyquist) but it enhances the impression of fine detail. At the same point on our chart the JPEG file shows only a monotone gray mush. Comparing results from the D7000 against those from the Canon EOS 550D (which also boasts an 18MP sensor), there isn't a great deal between them in terms of absolute resolution. The Canon's JPEG files are slightly higher in contrast, which makes detail (at default settings) look slightly sharper, but this is the only significant difference.

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Prognathous
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In reply to NPPhoto, Apr 24, 2012

Way too much NR.

Prog.
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TrojMacReady
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Good and bad.
In reply to NPPhoto, Apr 24, 2012

A break down in points

Colour profiles :

Quite good

Contrast curves :

Quit good, nice DR, nice rolloff in highlights, no extra clipping of blacks (hello Canon)

Distortion control :

Quite good but still needs more lens profiles

Sharpening :

Mediocre in general. Nice small and midsized contrast detail, enough or even too much edge sharpening, but especially too large of a radius means lack of finest details and sharpening halos around edges and more artifacts in general.

Noise reduction :

Mediocre to bad in general. Needs more user control (options). Chroma noise reduction seems quite balanced, a tad too high at the highest ISO's (loss of colours). Luminance NR too aggressive in general, which in combination with the large sharpening radius means relatively high loss of low contrast detail, altough edge detail seems to be preserved better than average. Blotchy patterns in shadows. Needs refining with a more grainy noise remaining, rather than the more digital looking artifacts as witnessed now.

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CoolGuyJoe
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Re: Good and bad.
In reply to TrojMacReady, Apr 24, 2012

I agree. but I most of the time shoot RAW so I get the most control of the photo I can.

TrojMacReady wrote:

A break down in points

Colour profiles :

Quite good

Contrast curves :

Quit good, nice DR, nice rolloff in highlights, no extra clipping of blacks (hello Canon)

Distortion control :

Quite good but still needs more lens profiles

Sharpening :

Mediocre in general. Nice small and midsized contrast detail, enough or even too much edge sharpening, but especially too large of a radius means lack of finest details and sharpening halos around edges and more artifacts in general.

Noise reduction :

Mediocre to bad in general. Needs more user control (options). Chroma noise reduction seems quite balanced, a tad too high at the highest ISO's (loss of colours). Luminance NR too aggressive in general, which in combination with the large sharpening radius means relatively high loss of low contrast detail, altough edge detail seems to be preserved better than average. Blotchy patterns in shadows. Needs refining with a more grainy noise remaining, rather than the more digital looking artifacts as witnessed now.

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tbcass
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Re: You'd better read the DPR reviews again
In reply to tbcass, Apr 24, 2012

I would like to add one thing. Above iso800 Sony could defininitly improve the JPG engine by allowing more user control over NR but 90% of my shooting is at iso800 and below.
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bwigg
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Re: Thumbs down
In reply to Prognathous, Apr 24, 2012

Prognathous wrote:

Way too much NR.

I agree, I experimented with ACR last night and was amazed at how much better the results are at 1600 vs the JPEGS from the camera.

Now in Sony's defense this is viewing them at 100%. Looking at them less then a 100% you don't really notice the oil painting effect as much.

I think Sony needs to give us a little less aggressive NR choices in the menus. It shouldn't take much more than simple firmware change to do this.

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PhotoCycler
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Re: You'd better read the DPR reviews again
In reply to tbcass, Apr 24, 2012

tbcass wrote:

I have an A55 and my A65 absolutely has more detail than my 16mp A55 at iso settings below 1600. Also according to DPR the A65 resolves more detail than the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000.

I'm liking the A65. Its JPEG certainly does have a lot more detail than the Canon 60D. I might have to consider that vs. the A57, which looks like an improvement on the A55, but its JPEG engine may be more agressive with contrast/sharpening. The A65 may be just right, at least at lower ISOs along with the extra megapixels and having an AutoISO limit of 1600 vs the 3200 on the A57. I prefer the lower AutoISO limit since it can't be set like the A77 can.

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yorugua
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Re: You'd better read the DPR reviews again
In reply to tbcass, May 1, 2012

I humbly think that if Sony gets a chance to improve the JPEG engine, they should do it.

If there are persons out there that think that right now the engine works as it should, then that working mode should be saved for satisfying the installed base happy with the current product.

If some improvement can be made, then I'm ok for those to be an option for the persons "looking for more" on either the A65 and A77 can actually get more detail out of the JPEG without having to work with RAW.

Example, from the cameralabs review of the A77:

"Looking at the crops individually, The top one (for the A77) shows good detail in the chapel but it lacks the hard edges and contrast of the NEX-7 for example. This softer approach to processing is also evident in the lighthouse crop. The lens is resolving a high level of detail and the sensor is recording it, but the SLT-77's slightly less aggressive approach to processing provides a very natural looking result. The edge of the window frames in this crop are a little soft, but I'd be surpised if there wasn't scope to produce a crisper result from the RAW files, or by adjusting the in-camera sharpness and contrast, if that's what you prefer."

Then

"Which brings us to the final crop. Here again, the fine detail and edges are clearly picked out, but are not as punchy as they might be with more aggressive processing. But the detail is there with clear separation between the balcony rails and the scaffolding poles cleanly defined.

The Canon EOS 7D's 18 Megapixel sensor produces smaller images than the SLT-A77 hence the larger crop area. Let's first talk about the comparitive performance of the two lenses. The EF-S 15-85 IS USM is effectively the new kit lens for the 7D which is bundled with either this or the EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS. In my tests on the 7D with this lens, the biggest quality determinant was the edge-to edge performance with some quite noticeable softness and chromatic aberration at the edges of the frame. This is most clearly visible in crops one and three.

Comparing crops two and five with those from the Sony SLT-A77, aside from the white balance, the most obvious difference is the 7D's more agressive processing which produces more crisply defined edge detail and a punchier overall result. This is most apparent in the final crop from the centre of the frame. If you compare the window frames, balcony dividers and scaffold poles it's clear that the 7D is producing a crisper, punchier result with cleaner edges. As I said earlier though, this looks to be mainly down to different processing approaches and you could tweak the SLT-A77 results either in-camera or via the RAW file to achieve something similar. Check out the A77 RAW vs JPEG results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in the A77 Noise results."

I'd be more than happy with larger JPEGs with more detail.

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wyliec2
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Re: Sony JPG engine. Thumbs up or down?
In reply to NPPhoto, May 1, 2012

After nearly a month with an A65 I've taken to shooting mostly RAW + JPEG.

I am currently using a trial version of DxO (it has all of the lens profiles 18-250, 16-50 2.8 and 50 1.4 that I'm using).

In medium-good light shooting at the tele end (250) and using ISO 400 - ISO 1600 I find myself going back and forth - pics with mostly light colors I often prefer the Sony jpeg. If there are dark or shadow areas, DxO really cleans that up.

I haven't worked as much with low-light situations, I suspect that DxO might do better there.

I'm undecided on DxO versus Lightroom; Lightroom doesn't seem to have many of the A-mount lens profiles available....

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anagram4wander2
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Re: Sony JPG engine. Thumbs up or down?
In reply to wyliec2, May 1, 2012

Lightroom 4 rc2 seems to pull the 16-50 profile now.

wyliec2 wrote:

After nearly a month with an A65 I've taken to shooting mostly RAW + JPEG.

I am currently using a trial version of DxO (it has all of the lens profiles 18-250, 16-50 2.8 and 50 1.4 that I'm using).

In medium-good light shooting at the tele end (250) and using ISO 400 - ISO 1600 I find myself going back and forth - pics with mostly light colors I often prefer the Sony jpeg. If there are dark or shadow areas, DxO really cleans that up.

I haven't worked as much with low-light situations, I suspect that DxO might do better there.

I'm undecided on DxO versus Lightroom; Lightroom doesn't seem to have many of the A-mount lens profiles available....

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MaxIso
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Re: Thumbs Up
In reply to Karl Scharf, May 1, 2012

Karl Scharf wrote:

Before digital photography became the norm, I used to shoot mostly slide film. Exposure accuracy was paramount with slide film to get the best results. It was quite challenging since the processed slide film was the final product.

Darkroom work, as was required to get the best results from negatives, never interested me, just as extensive digital post processing does not interest me now. The biggest advantage of shooting with negative film was that it had a wider tonal range and was more forgiving since more adjustments could be made in the printing process, as is the case now with RAW images.

Now I mostly shoot JPEG, and just like with slide film, if the exposure is accurate, and the lighting is good, the results can be just as good or in some cases better than an extensively manipulated RAW image. I guess it all depends what you like, I personally would rather spend time behind the camera taking images than time at the computer post processing.

The in camera JPEG images as produced by the Sony A77 are more than good enough for me, and enable me to utilize all the great features that are engineered into this fine camera.
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i totally agree , i dont like much PP. i take a raw pic, convert it, save it, done. the thing is, ive compared using the option on my a33 for Raw and jpeg simul shots, and with no PP other than conversion, the raw ALWAYS looks better. its not just DR, its less noise, and its sharper.

its like asking if u would rather have video taken at 10 or 20 bits. the absolutely only reason to pick 10 bits is due to file size. i have a cheap comp with half a TB of storage, raws are not a problem. when i shot jpeg, i did so bc i thought raw was beyond my knowledge of PP. now that i know how simple it is to convert, i never shoot jpeg.

i dont get this big push for jpeg lately. its like wanting to race a racecar and asking for less handling and horsepower.

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NPPhoto
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Re: Thumbs Up
In reply to MaxIso, May 1, 2012

I'm surprised you get less noise in RAW. I see more noise in RAW than jpg.

MaxIso wrote:

Karl Scharf wrote:

Before digital photography became the norm, I used to shoot mostly slide film. Exposure accuracy was paramount with slide film to get the best results. It was quite challenging since the processed slide film was the final product.

Darkroom work, as was required to get the best results from negatives, never interested me, just as extensive digital post processing does not interest me now. The biggest advantage of shooting with negative film was that it had a wider tonal range and was more forgiving since more adjustments could be made in the printing process, as is the case now with RAW images.

Now I mostly shoot JPEG, and just like with slide film, if the exposure is accurate, and the lighting is good, the results can be just as good or in some cases better than an extensively manipulated RAW image. I guess it all depends what you like, I personally would rather spend time behind the camera taking images than time at the computer post processing.

The in camera JPEG images as produced by the Sony A77 are more than good enough for me, and enable me to utilize all the great features that are engineered into this fine camera.
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i totally agree , i dont like much PP. i take a raw pic, convert it, save it, done. the thing is, ive compared using the option on my a33 for Raw and jpeg simul shots, and with no PP other than conversion, the raw ALWAYS looks better. its not just DR, its less noise, and its sharper.

its like asking if u would rather have video taken at 10 or 20 bits. the absolutely only reason to pick 10 bits is due to file size. i have a cheap comp with half a TB of storage, raws are not a problem. when i shot jpeg, i did so bc i thought raw was beyond my knowledge of PP. now that i know how simple it is to convert, i never shoot jpeg.

i dont get this big push for jpeg lately. its like wanting to race a racecar and asking for less handling and horsepower.

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Adrian Harris
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Thumbs down because...
In reply to NPPhoto, May 1, 2012

I shoot countryside landscape at low ISO and although I ,oove the colour rendition, contrast and levels, it is badly let down by what looks like oversharpening halo's around all high contrast edges.

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tbcass
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I prefer the less aggressive approach.
In reply to yorugua, May 1, 2012

I prefer the less aggressive processing they describe for the A77. In camera processing cannot be undone, especially sharpening which is destructive, but you can always add more to less aggressively processed jpg's.
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