550D Raw seems softer than JPG?

Started Apr 25, 2010 | Discussions thread
MOD Osiris30 Senior Member • Posts: 2,804
Re: 550D Raw seems softer than JPG?

RAW is handy for a bunch of things. First of all, your out of camera jpeg is sharpened by default. Doing the same to the raw will yield basically the same image. But with a RAW file if you have blown highlights, blocked shadows you can sometimes pull them back.

Your camera's sensor operates in a 14bit color space. JPEG is 8 bits. Now, there is endless debate as to how much of that 14 bits is actually used to hold meaningful data (I estimate my 450 fills around 10-12 bits of data with 'useful' data) at base ISO.

If you shoot raw you have all this data available (12 bits is 16 times the data of 8 bits). If you want to pull up anything in the tone curve during the conversion you can. With JPEG you're left with the color space mapping the camera decided on.

If you really want to see the benefit of raw try a good raw converter. The newest lightroom is supposed to be good, and I've personally had very good results with capture one (although the support of the 550 isn't quite right yet from what I've read). Bible 5 and DXO are also both supposed to be pretty good. Of these, at least c1 and bible are available as 30 day trials. I would suggest you burn a few minutes on the download and just take a look.

I personally shoot raw for everything, but then I shoot alot of 'for public' material, so I will always end up spending some time in post (you never go straight to print from camera if you want a good picture). If I was shooting just for me or family snaps, I would probably just use JPEG.


EDIT: A shot to show you the difference between raw converters (I shot this to show why I wish DPR would stop using ACR in their reviews for noise comparisons.. both are 0 NR, you can see the noise profile is totally different between the two software packages even though both are doing "no" NR).

paradox7 wrote:

Thankyou Bobcat, that really helps, as does the link..

In my extremely limited tests (by disabling the RAW noise reduction), I have found that the RAW is 'ever-so-slightly' more pleasing before any processing. Not anywhere near enough to justify the extra storage and conversion though.

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