Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)

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rungabic
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Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
4 months ago

Before I go to the trouble of posting samples, I wanted to see if anyone else has noticed this issue.

I shoot in RAW only, and just in the past couple of weeks that I've had my E-M1, I've had more than a handful of incidents where apparently the JPEG that's embedded in the RAW file has looked like absolute hell (i.e., areas of splotchy compression artifacts), whereas the RAW file itself was pristine.

Initially, I freaked out when I pulled up a picture on the computer and saw hideous splotchy artifacts on a person's face and hair, with the rest of the scene looking just fine. When I realized that my viewer was set to display the RAW embedded JPEG for speed reasons, I switched it to show the actual RAW file, and lo and behold, the image was just perfect.

Later, I experienced the same issue when shooting a busy scene of palm fronds, and when I chimped the picture on the camera, it looked like absolute garbage, even at relatively low magnification. Putting two and two together, it occurred to me again that I might be seeing a case of a poor embedded JPEG, so I had the idea to switch the camera to RAW+JPEG (large, superfine). I then shot basically the same picture, chimped it, and found that it looked great. I changed the camera back to RAW-only, shot it again, chimped it, and it looked like garbage.

So my assumption is that if you just shoot RAW, then the camera uses the embedded JPEG for display/chimping purposes, bu if you shoot RAW+JPEG, then it's that separate JPEG that gets displayed on the camera, rather than the JPEG embedded in the RAW file.

Furthermore, when I used Photo Mechanic to extract the embedded JPEG from a RAW-only file, I discovered that the embedded JPEG is significantly lower resolution (3200 x 2400) than the RAW file. Furthermore, for all I know it could also be heavily compressed (JPEG Basic maybe?)...I'm not sure how to check that.

The bottom line is that I'm coming to the E-M1 after 7 years of shooting RAW on Nikon DSLRs, where the embedded JPEGs in RAW files were full-resolution and were certainly adequately compressed -- they never failed me for looking great, with zero artifacts. But with the E-M1, although most of the time they look OK, I've had more than a handful of instances in only a couple of weeks, where the embedded JPEGs were flat-out, critically terrible -- complete abominations.

In practice, I can work around this in post, if I'm willing to sacrifice browsing/loading speed, by setting my software to display the original RAW files at all times, rather than showing the embedded JPEGs. Not great, but I'll do it if I have to.

However, in the field, this poses a very serious problem if you need to chimp a shot to check critical focus, because you might well end up trying to view an embedded JPEG that is absolutely unusable for any purpose, despite the fact that the RAW file itself is fine. And ultimately, you simply won't be able to check that shot in-camera. To me, whether this is a "bug" or not, this seems like a major failing that deserves high-priority correction by Olympus.

Can anyone comment on or verify this?

Olympus E-M1
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Big Ga
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

rungabic wrote:

The bottom line is that I'm coming to the E-M1 after 7 years of shooting RAW on Nikon DSLRs, where the embedded JPEGs in RAW files were full-resolution and were certainly adequately compressed -- they never failed me for looking great, with zero artifacts. But with the E-M1,

...

Can anyone comment on or verify this?

Welcome to Olympus.

There have been issues with the embedded JPGS since I can't remember.....

Try loading in a large directory of ORF images in faststone compared to a NEFs. The only good thing is that you can at least have time to make a (very stewed) cup of tea 

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rungabic
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to Big Ga, 4 months ago

Big Ga wrote:

rungabic wrote:

The bottom line is that I'm coming to the E-M1 after 7 years of shooting RAW on Nikon DSLRs, where the embedded JPEGs in RAW files were full-resolution and were certainly adequately compressed -- they never failed me for looking great, with zero artifacts. But with the E-M1,

...

Can anyone comment on or verify this?

Welcome to Olympus.

There have been issues with the embedded JPGS since I can't remember.....

Try loading in a large directory of ORF images in faststone compared to a NEFs. The only good thing is that you can at least have time to make a (very stewed) cup of tea

Thanks for responding -- so I guess you're saying my assessment is on-target? Then why hasn't there been an outcry over this? A lot of people chimp on the camera (for better or worse), and it's a pretty critical flaw if even a few shots out of a hundred have embedded JPEGs that are absolutely unusable.

As for the slow loading you mentioned, I'm glad you confirmed that. I just came from a D800, where I could browse large directories with EASE. But now with this "lowly" 16MP Olympus, I was shocked at how my computer slows to a crawl -- I mean, like minutes to build a thumbnail directory -- and my computer is BLAZINGLY fast and overpowered, even for working with D800 RAW files.

Anyway, back to my original issue, I suppose the real workaround is to shoot RAW+JPEG, and then set my ingest software to ignore the JPEGs. That will allow me to chimp on-camera without fear of the disastrous embedded JPEGs. Since I have a large SD card in the camera, the space isn't generally a big concern. It's more that I don't like shooting RAW+JPEG on principle, and it's an annoying workaround.

I'd appreciate hearing any other confirmation or experiences with this...

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s_grins
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

Take your JEPG out from the bed and wake her up!

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LaMesa
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

I am not a RAW photographer. When experimenting with RAW during my Olympus SLR period, I made an interesting observation:

When taking pictures as RAW + JPEG, the Viewfinder image was terrible with the setting JPEG= fine, but absolutely o.k. with JPEG=standard or less.

The Viewfinder (LCD) was not able to display JPEG high resolution input. In this case it would pick the embedded JPEG, which principally is of a much lower quality. The same happened when shooting RAW only. Does a full resolution embedded JPEG make sense at all?

As a way out I would suggest to generally pick RAW + JPEG Standard quality. Thus you will get what you got from your Nikon. As a side effect you may find that the standard quality JPEGS are just excellent, hard to surpass with RAWs.

Good Luck, Herbert

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Art_P
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I come from the other side
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

I used to shoot jpeg only

But w the E-M5 I've taken to shooting RAW + jpeg due to blotchy shadows in some jpegs (night shots)

Yes, I've noticed the (over exposed, grainy, blotchy) thumbnails associated w the RAW files on my computer, but not on the camera, since I never shoot RAW only.

If you don't plan on ever using the jpegs, you can shoot RAW plus jpeg, but use a lower res to save space.

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rungabic
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to Art_P, 4 months ago

Alright, well I guess I'm going to have to change my shooting style to RAW+JPEG (of some variant), simply in order to avoid any possibility of chimping an unusable preview.

Then most likely, I'll ingest only the RAWs, format the card, and it'll be like the JPEGs were never there.

For the record, the embedded JPEGs in both the D300's and D800's RAW files were full-resolution and were obviously of adequate compression. They loaded fast and were artifact-free, ALWAYS.

WTF Olympus?!

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Brian Wadie
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

I shoot RAW + LSF jpg and have my LR5.3 set to separate the RAW and JPG files, maybe as a result of this I haven't yet experienced (or recognised) the issue you describe

I scan my jpgs in LR5 to decide quickly which ones to keep and the previews are good enough that I never have any problems doing so (not producing finished 15"x10" prints from the JPG if I just want a quick print for a family member)

LCD views of the embedded jpgs are getting positive reactions from both Nikon (D3 / 800 users) and Canon (5dmk2 / 1DX users) so I guess they can't see any problems either?

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G1Shooter
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Re: I come from the other side
In reply to Art_P, 4 months ago

Art_P wrote: If you don't plan on ever using the jpegs, you can shoot RAW plus jpeg, but use a lower res to save space.

If you don't ever plan on using the jpegs, why create the file in the camera at all? Just shoot RAW only, not RAW+jpeg?

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Brendan Delaney
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Re: I come from the other side
In reply to G1Shooter, 4 months ago

Same with Leica. Embedded jpegs are unusable

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brick33308
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

I don't see the point of shooting RAW and jpg combined. Why not just shoot RAW? Processing them is a snap and provides pretty good results that need little if any post process after then converting them to jpg.

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Garry Schaefer
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to brick33308, 4 months ago

I believe the OP's point was that when chimping, the embedded jpeg was misleading and un-useable. Therefore the desire to have a useable jpeg for that purpose, but not for ultimate post-processing workflow uses.

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rungabic
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to Garry Schaefer, 4 months ago

I believe the OP's point was that when chimping, the embedded jpeg was misleading and un-useable. Therefore the desire to have a useable jpeg for that purpose, but not for ultimate post-processing workflow uses.

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Garry

EXACTLY!

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Phil Rose
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

rungabic wrote:

Before I go to the trouble of posting samples, I wanted to see if anyone else has noticed this issue.

I shoot in RAW only, and just in the past couple of weeks that I've had my E-M1, I've had more than a handful of incidents where apparently the JPEG that's embedded in the RAW file has looked like absolute hell (i.e., areas of splotchy compression artifacts), whereas the RAW file itself was pristine.

Initially, I freaked out when I pulled up a picture on the computer and saw hideous splotchy artifacts on a person's face and hair, with the rest of the scene looking just fine. When I realized that my viewer was set to display the RAW embedded JPEG for speed reasons, I switched it to show the actual RAW file, and lo and behold, the image was just perfect.

Later, I experienced the same issue when shooting a busy scene of palm fronds, and when I chimped the picture on the camera, it looked like absolute garbage, even at relatively low magnification. Putting two and two together, it occurred to me again that I might be seeing a case of a poor embedded JPEG, so I had the idea to switch the camera to RAW+JPEG (large, superfine). I then shot basically the same picture, chimped it, and found that it looked great. I changed the camera back to RAW-only, shot it again, chimped it, and it looked like garbage.

So my assumption is that if you just shoot RAW, then the camera uses the embedded JPEG for display/chimping purposes, bu if you shoot RAW+JPEG, then it's that separate JPEG that gets displayed on the camera, rather than the JPEG embedded in the RAW file.

Furthermore, when I used Photo Mechanic to extract the embedded JPEG from a RAW-only file, I discovered that the embedded JPEG is significantly lower resolution (3200 x 2400) than the RAW file. Furthermore, for all I know it could also be heavily compressed (JPEG Basic maybe?)...I'm not sure how to check that.

I use "Instant JPEF From RAW" (IJFR) by Michael Tapes, and found the largest ("native") size JPEG which that utility sees is, yes, that puny 3200x2400 pixels. Unfortunately there's no agreed-upon standard for this aspect of RAW, and similar low-res jpegs embedded in my Oly E-3 ORF files has irked me for years when using Eye-Fi with Shuttersnitch to help preview my shots. It still was better than previewing shots on the E-3 screen, but not as good as I'd like. As to the embedded JPEG compression Oly uses--I'd venture that it's fairly high. The E-M1 embedded JPEgs saved by IJFR seem to be well below 2 MB, but I don't know if any of that is due to IJFR doing some (further).

Phil

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Big Ga
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

rungabic wrote:

Thanks for responding -- so I guess you're saying my assessment is on-target? Then why hasn't there been an outcry over this?

Because you're now living in Oly land. Something like this is either a 'feature' (and you're too dumb to understand), or its operator error (i.e. you're just dumb and you're not sticking to only using Olympus JPGs which are just as good, or superior to shooting RAW), or ... er .. well you're just dumb because Oly can do no wrong, therefore its you and not the camera. Period.

A lot of people chimp on the camera (for better or worse), and it's a pretty critical flaw if even a few shots out of a hundred have embedded JPEGs that are absolutely unusable.

Well, I'm also thinking of (admittedly a small) group of people (pros? and I mean ... isn't the EM1 supposed to be a 'pro' camera?) who will have a need to extract and use the embedded JPG from a RAW file. I mean ... many software packages do actually give you this facility.

As for the slow loading you mentioned, I'm glad you confirmed that. I just came from a D800, where I could browse large directories with EASE. But now with this "lowly" 16MP Olympus, I was shocked at how my computer slows to a crawl -- I mean, like minutes to build a thumbnail directory -- and my computer is BLAZINGLY fast and overpowered, even for working with D800 RAW files.

Same here. It irks me to hell. And my computer is probably as fast or even faster than yours!!

At least the Panasonic MFT cameras load in to faststone really quickly ... but IIRC, they have really low res embedded JPGs

Anyway, back to my original issue, I suppose the real workaround is to shoot RAW+JPEG, and then set my ingest software to ignore the JPEGs. That will allow me to chimp on-camera without fear of the disastrous embedded JPEGs. Since I have a large SD card in the camera, the space isn't generally a big concern. It's more that I don't like shooting RAW+JPEG on principle, and it's an annoying workaround.

I'd appreciate hearing any other confirmation or experiences with this...

To be honest, I tend to shoot RAW only and resign myself to checking properly back at the computer. But sometimes I do want to look at things closely in the field, and yes, I do shoot RAW + JPG then, and I have photomechanic set to ingest and ignore all but RAW files.

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horsth
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

I shoot Raw only and have not the least trouble to evaluate my pictures by means of the embedded jpg's shown by FastStone-viewer. Don't understand your problem. Sorry.

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rungabic
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to Big Ga, 4 months ago

To be honest, I tend to shoot RAW only and resign myself to checking properly back at the computer. But sometimes I do want to look at things closely in the field, and yes, I do shoot RAW + JPG then, and I have photomechanic set to ingest and ignore all but RAW files.

Yes, this is exactly how I think I'm going to have to deal with this issue. The question is whether maybe I'll just continue shooting RAW only (and deal with the handful of un-chimpable shots in the field), in order to spare myself the hassle and slower card write times of shooting RAW+JPEG.

The side benefit of all of this might be if I learn to shoot better and chimp less.

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tgutgu
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In reply to rungabic, 4 months ago

If I load my ORF files onto my iPad 4, I can see very good images on the retina display, using either the photo app or iPhoto. I believe that the software displays the embedded JPEGs.

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rungabic
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to horsth, 4 months ago

horsth wrote:

I shoot Raw only and have not the least trouble to evaluate my pictures by means of the embedded jpg's shown by FastStone-viewer. Don't understand your problem. Sorry.

I'm not saying it happens all the time, but it's happened at least 10 times over the past few weeks (and possibly more than that, since I certainly don't chimp every shot).

And again, I don't care so much about the embedded JPEGs once I'm at the computer -- I'm talking about the ability to check focus on the back of the camera after taking the shot. If the embedded preview is bad, then you're screwed at that point, as far as checking in the field.

Ignore the bad focus (and the privacy black bars) -- here's a crop of one of the decoded RAW files that exhibited the problem:

E-M1 crop of decoded RAW output

Now here's a similar crop of the embedded JPEG from that RAW file. Take a look at the hair, mouth, chin, and ear. As bad as it looks here, I can assure you it looked even worse on the back of the camera, even with moderate magnification.

E-M1 crop of JPEG embedded in the RAW file

So, this is what I'm talking about. In 7 years of Nikon shooting, across hundreds of thousands of images, I never once encountered this issue, likely because Nikon embeds full resolution (and probably far less compressed) JPEGs in their RAW files.

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Big Ga
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Re: Lousy embedded JPEGs in RAW files from OM-D E-M1 (and possibly also E-M5?)
In reply to horsth, 4 months ago

horsth wrote:

I shoot Raw only and have not the least trouble to evaluate my pictures by means of the embedded jpg's shown by FastStone-viewer. Don't understand your problem. Sorry.

Ok, so when you look at the raw files in faststone, what is the megapixel value (mine say 7.68MP for the EM1 if I choose to use the embedded JPGs)

Also, what other cameras are you comparing to when you're evaluating how fast/slow the EM1 files get loaded in (thumbnail display) ?

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