The RAW vs JPEG debate

Started Nov 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Alfred Molon Senior Member • Posts: 1,133
The RAW vs JPEG debate

Following my post regarding the JPEG engine of the A65, I'm amazed by the level of feedback this has generated. This seems to be a religious issue here, with people divided into two camps.

I would like to clarify a couple of things.

First of all I routinely shoot RAW+JPEG. That means that for every shot I have the RAW available, unless it's an HDR and the camera generates no RAW.

In the past I used to convert all RAWs and throw away the JPEGs. I was using the JPEGs in order to be able to see the images (my image browser was unable to display RAWs or was too slow).

I have moved away from blindly converting all RAWs and dumping all JPEGs because I realised that the camera JPEG output is not that bad after all, actually very often surprisingly good. Sometimes I found myself scratching my head, when comparing my RAW conversion output with the camera JPEG and realising that the camera JPEG was better.

In addition, in an effort to reduce the time spent processing the images I have tried to set up the camera in such a way, that it would generate excellent JPEGs which would require no further processing.

I replaced the B+W slimline polariser filter, which always generated vignetting with the CZ16-80, with the Sony polariser filter. Surprise, surprise the vignetting has disappeared, i.e. the camera is able to calculate it away.

Then I took care of finding optimal JPEG camera settings. And when I shoot I take care of having the camera set up with the right WB (most of the time it's auto WB, sometimes some other WB setting).

The result is that there is a good percentage of out-of-camera JPEGs which do not require any further processing. It's only 10-30% of all images which require RAW processing.

With this approach I have minimised the time spent on processing the images and at the same time improved the quality.

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-- Alfred

Sony SLT-A65
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