Is it better for me to shoot JPEG as opposed to RAW if I dont do any PP?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
Oilman
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The old Film method WAS to post process
In reply to 007peter, 11 months ago

Read Ansel Adam's book "The Negative". His processing techniques (i.e. ten zone system) are still being taught in college level photgraphy courses. All of the great film photographers were completely and totally anal about their processing.

Everyone tries to get it right the first time. Certainly Ansel Addams did! That is good photography. But no camera made today is as good as your eye. That was true in film days and it is true today. Here are two photographs of my backyard. I shot them when I first got into digital photography to test whether shooting RAW was worth it. I have not shot a JPG  using a DSLR since then.

The first shot is a JPG straight out of the camera. Note that the greenery is underexposed and the sky is blown out. I did not do anything wrong. The shot was perfectly exposed for the entire scene.The dynamic range was simply too great for the camera to see everything that I saw

This next shot was taken immedaitely after the first. I took a single RAW image and made two copies. On one copy, I correctly adjusted the exposure for the sky. On the second  I correctly adjusted the exposure for the ground. I then blended these two copies into a single image. Now both the sky and ground  are correctly exposed

I did not fix a screw-up. I did not do anything wrong on the first image. But it does not represent what I saw. The dynamic range of this image was simply too great for the camera to handle. The second image does represent what I saw. Your camera has a dynamic range of around 6.5 stops, However, your eye has a dynamic range of well over 20 stops. It is also attached to a supercomputer, your brain, that automatically adjusts "f stop" by expanding and contracting your iris.

Yes RAW can fix mistakes but that is not why I use it. I use it because I want the best photos I can get. That means worrying about exposure, WB etc before I push the button. But it also means processing to get around the limitations of the camera and accurately capturing what I actually saw.

And just as the darkroom was a part of photography for those of us "of a certain age", the computer is today.  In the film era, you could elect to have the local drugstore process your photos. Today you can ask your camera to do the same thing. But in both cases, the result is inferior, no matter how good a photographer you are. I understand that many would be satisifed with the first image. That's OK. But there is a clear difference between the two and the first image is not good enough for me.

I recomend Ron Bigelow's excellent essays on RAW for anyone that wants to pursue this matter further.

http://ronbigelow.com/articles/articles.htm

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DSHAPK
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Re: The old Film method WAS to post process
In reply to Oilman, 11 months ago

you make a good point,if you are ansel Adams you are going to be exercising artistic vision most of us do not have. I used to send my film to Kodak, there was no post processing except to push the Asa to 400. Sometimes they corrected the white balance. But that's it. No dodge or burn.

Everybody has their own story and vision of the methods used in photography. one size does not fit all. Hopefully people reading these threads get a balanced view so they too know how to optimize their cameras usage.

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maadfw
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Re: The old Film method WAS to post process
In reply to DSHAPK, 11 months ago

I agree that if the JPEG mode works for you, then there is no need for you to shoot RAW. The main reason I am shooting raw is it enables me to focus on few important parameters such as Shutter speed, Aperture, focus and ISO.  Everything else, (Picture Style, WB, EC, etc)  I set it to Auto and correct it later.   I delete the raw files once they are processed and retaining them only for important 3-star or higher rated pictures.

-maadfw

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Trevor Carpenter
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Re: The old Film method WAS to post process
In reply to Oilman, 11 months ago

I did not fix a screw-up. I did not do anything wrong on the first image. But it does not represent what I saw.

Excellent demo, only did you really mean what you saw or what you would have liked to have seen.

I have a camera that does quite well at taking what I saw but not so good at taking what I remember I saw

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Oilman
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What I saw..
In reply to Trevor Carpenter, 11 months ago

I have never "seen" a blown out sky.  However, I have photographed several. When I "see" a bright sunset in the mountains the surounding scenery is not dark and lacking detail. But that is what the camera sees. If I  look out the window on a bright sunny day, the walls surrounding the window are white. But if I take a picture of that view the walls are black

Someday cameras may be able to see as well as a human can. But not today.

That being said, it is hard to take landscape shots that convey the scale and majesty of what you see. But with proper instruction and attention to detail you can get pretty  darn close. Here is an example. And yes this photo was extensively processed. But this is indeed what I saw and remember

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Oilman
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Well put
In reply to DSHAPK, 11 months ago

I like to exercise my "artistic vision". Others are more than happy with what comes out of the camera. You perfectly expressed a key goal of this forum - to provide different viewpoints such that beginning photographers can learn and decide for themselves how they want to pursue this hobby.

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marike6
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8-bit vs 12 or 14-bit...
In reply to Smiller4128, 11 months ago

The real question is are you comfortable archiving your images as compressed 8-bit JPEGs?

In addition to giving you an uncompressed digital negative to archive, a RAW file which will give you the the ability to revisit a given image and do non-destructive edits to it, and export it to a JPEG whose parameters YOU set.

For me, in addition to giving up what I've talked about above, most camera makers JPEGs have kind of high sharpening, NR that is often too high for my taste, and gradients that are not nearly as nice as with RAW files, i.e. really drastic tone roll off from light to dark.  This is why I almost always shoot RAW.

In some cases, like if I don't have time or energy to post process a bunch of large RAW files, I'll shoot RAW + JPEG, and I'll use the JPEG if it looks good enough. But even that is rare.

But I suppose what format you shoot can depend on how important a photo shoot will be, what you plan to do with the image (will you archive them, or are they one-offs), and how happy (or unhappy) you are with the OOC JPEGs.  From memory, Canon JPEGs can be pretty nice at times, at least at normal viewing distance.  But to maximize IQ, you are really better shooting RAW or at least RAW + JPEG.  Then if you happen to shoot something special, or a really fantastic contest winner type capture, you will at least have the 14-bit uncompressed RAW for your archives.

Best of luck, Markus

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WilbaW
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to 007peter, 11 months ago

007peter wrote:

Call me traditional,

Okay, "you're traditional". 

but I prefer the FILM METHOD - get it right the the 1st time!

I bet you drive a manual car and regret the loss of the manual choke, right? 

You don't need RAW, you don't need photoshop.  Learn to use Custom White Balance, get it right the 1st time.  In the old days, people are more careful with their exposure/WB balance/ and composition.  Today, all we have is lazy shooter who fixed everything Photoshop.  Theser are not photographer, just software manipulator.

The obvious fault in your logic is the assumption that you can always know what "right" is going to be before you open the shutter. Unless my purpose is some kind of supposedly technically correct record shot, right is what feels good when I'm editing the image, and that will be different from one session to the next. I accept that you get a buzz out of your film method (a silly analogy since you can't change things like the WB and tone curve of film with the camera settings), but I also get a kick out of the artistic process of working the image.

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to WilbaW, 11 months ago

WilbaW wrote:

I bet you drive a manual car and regret the loss of the manual choke, right? 

Hey now, I love my manual car!  Of course there is a good argument for it, better gas mileage and better performance, not as much here.  I suppose if you "get it right" you have less PP work, but that doesn't really mean it has to be JPG.  I do like using Custom White Balance when I can though, at times getting white balance right after the fact is a real pain, it's much better to nail that aspect of things on site if you can.  Sometimes you can't, no time, in the film era the "method" would be to not get the shot, one of the benefits of digital.

You don't need RAW, you don't need photoshop.  Learn to use Custom White Balance, get it right the 1st time.  In the old days, people are more careful with their exposure/WB balance/ and composition.  Today, all we have is lazy shooter who fixed everything Photoshop.  Theser are not photographer, just software manipulator.

Some sour grapes here, but I can relate to an extent.  It's tough when you master something difficult only to have technology help make it not as difficult anymore.  Digital processing is here to stay, like it or not, and some aspects are best left to later decisions.  It seems silly to throw out 3 stops of DR from your camera because Photoshop offends you.  Generally everything will go better if you can get it as right as you can the first time, but even for shots I nail everything processing the RAW on the computer yields better results than the in camera jpg engine.

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WilbaW
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, 11 months ago

Keith Z Leonard wrote:

WilbaW wrote:

I bet you drive a manual car and regret the loss of the manual choke, right? 

Hey now, I love my manual car!  Of course there is a good argument for it, better gas mileage and better performance, not as much here.

Truth is, I think raw shooting is the manual option - if you want maximum performance and control, you have to shift your own gears...

I suppose if you "get it right" you have less PP work,

It might not be what you mean, but I get the sense from words like that (and what followed) that "right" means something like authentic, rather than how I want the image to look, which fits with the tired old idea that OOC is honourable and editing is lazy and cheating.

at times getting white balance right after the fact is a real pain

Yeah? Do you mean to get it authentic, or how you want it? Would you describe the pain for me so I can understand what that means?

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to WilbaW, 11 months ago

WilbaW wrote:

Keith Z Leonard wrote:

WilbaW wrote:

I bet you drive a manual car and regret the loss of the manual choke, right? 

Hey now, I love my manual car!  Of course there is a good argument for it, better gas mileage and better performance, not as much here.

Truth is, I think raw shooting is the manual option - if you want maximum performance and control, you have to shift your own gears...

Yeah, I can see that, I'd say RAW though improves performance quite a lot easier than switching from automatic transmission to a manual one, but the analogy has merit.  Someone bad at driving stick won't gain much, won't save the brakes, won't know the power curve of the car and when best to shift for performance vs fuel savings, etc.  Shooting RAW is slightly different in that you can put it on auto later if you want.  You don't HAVE to do additional processing, just use DPP and you'll get pretty much what the camera would have produced, or better as the software is updated and the camera jpg engine really isn't.  (maybe the occasional firmware, but not the same regularity)

I suppose if you "get it right" you have less PP work,

It might not be what you mean, but I get the sense from words like that (and what followed) that "right" means something like authentic, rather than how I want the image to look, which fits with the tired old idea that OOC is honourable and editing is lazy and cheating.

Getting it right in this context is to have your main subject perfectly exposed and the image exposed such that highlights are not unnecessarily blown, that sort of thing.  Not sure what you really mean by "authentic".  There is PP work to do in order to preserve details in highlights, for instance, then there is instagram style PP or HDR where you are reworking a source image into something otherworldly to fit your vision.  (or in instagram's case often just clicking on things until you think your friends think you're cool )

You can't always "get it right" anyway and have to make choices knowing your camera and what you want from the image.  I just processed a shot from outside in the afternoon where I needed to push the shadows up 1.5 stops and pull down the highlights 1 stop, but I'd say the shot was "right" in camera in that I had the latitude to do that without blown highlights or too much shadow noise.

at times getting white balance right after the fact is a real pain

Yeah? Do you mean to get it authentic, or how you want it? Would you describe the pain for me so I can understand what that means?

White balance is objective, there is a "correct" white balance, you might not choose that, but there is a correct one.  It's much easier to adjust to what you want from the "correct" white balance anyway.  If you want your image slightly warm, you start at correct and bump it up.  White balance is of course the color temperature of the light sources such that when reflected off of an 18% grey card it yields an appropriately grey image.  At times there isn't 1 correct value for an image if it has mixed lighting (incandescent + strobe, for instance), and you have to make a stylistic choice.

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DSHAPK
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, 11 months ago

The 650d does a very good job white balance. I'm not a pro, who is getting paid thousands, my pictures can be off a little, that is not important. What is important is I recognize they are off and know how to fix them should I desire.

my tool of choice is dpp, and unless this is a very important photo or i want to excersize my artistic vision I do not post process.

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WilbaW
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, 11 months ago

Keith Z Leonard wrote:

Not sure what you really mean by "authentic".

Pretty much this...

there is a "correct" white balance...

IOW, the idea that if the meter is on zero and you've set the white balance "correctly" then you will/should get a true/factual/genuine representation of the scene out of the camera.

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DSHAPK
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to WilbaW, 11 months ago

Getting the wb right means the camera will take a consisent picture time and time again according to is programming, which may not be the way your eyes and brain interpreted the light waves. You then make the decision to post process.

i rarely post process.

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paparios
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to DSHAPK, 11 months ago

DSHAPK wrote:

Getting the wb right means the camera will take a consisent picture time and time again according to is programming, which may not be the way your eyes and brain interpreted the light waves. You then make the decision to post process.

i rarely post process.

Well, at the end it is a matter of personal choice. In my case, I only shoot in RAW. The 25000 RAW pictures I have shot since 2007 (350 Gb) are nicely stored in three identical $50 USB hard disks (500Gb) for safety. These are my "negatives".

There are more things that a simple PP can fix for you, beside WB. Noise, lens distortions, among other problems, are better corrected through PP.

Below is an example from today. First example is the JPG created diretly from LR, without any PP except slightly correcting the exposure. The next example is the same picture, processed with LR with my usual set of parameters.

Miguel

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DSHAPK
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to paparios, 11 months ago

The example you showed is a good one. Recovering detail in blown highlights at the expense of other areas of the picture. I would only use DPP in selected situations on selected pictures.

In the end, most people won't notice the details in the example you provided. Being critiqued on a forum such as this, or by a pro is one thing. Posting the photo on web or printing on a 4 x 6 is another. Most people won't notice the detail.

Unless the picture is going to be sold, hung in a gallery, or used for a specific purpose..raw is not worth the disc space or time; imo.

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paparios
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Re: Custom White Balance - Why Not "LEARN" to shoot right the 1st time?
In reply to DSHAPK, 11 months ago

DSHAPK wrote:

The example you showed is a good one. Recovering detail in blown highlights at the expense of other areas of the picture. I would only use DPP in selected situations on selected pictures.

In the end, most people won't notice the details in the example you provided. Being critiqued on a forum such as this, or by a pro is one thing. Posting the photo on web or printing on a 4 x 6 is another. Most people won't notice the detail.

Unless the picture is going to be sold, hung in a gallery, or used for a specific purpose..raw is not worth the disc space or time; imo.

Just a final word in this subject. Many times some photographers do use some PP to produce some results that they like (results that may be quite different from the actual shot taken ). Some examples follow. Note that I rarely use these tricks, but they show things that require PP.

Miguel

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