Questions about raw, tiff, jpeg, and DNG

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Questions thread
Bruce Oudekerk
Bruce Oudekerk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,482
Most like to keep the RAW images...

Tom Axford wrote:

...But most photographers who shoot in RAW like to keep the RAW images as well in case they want to go back and reprocess them as that may give slightly better quality than processing a saved TIFF or JPEG..

I feel compelled to reinforce this statement as its too easy to pass over it, ignore it or dismiss it outright as not being important.  However it is the best advice anyone on these forums will receive this week.

The process of demosaicing a RAW image into a raster/bitmap is elusive at best.  Photography is about making esthetic decisions as much as it is about making technical decisions.  In both ways, this RAW conversion can, and almost invariably will, change over time.  There have been huge improvements made by Adobe in ACR since I got my Sony a850 just a few years ago and I have been forced to redo the conversion of some of my original shots, especially those taken above ISO 800 or so.  While I might be the exception, I am constantly rethinking how I want to present an image.  Admittedly much of this re-evaluation and re-editing can be done from a non-lossy 16 bit TIFF or PSD  (and not the RAW) but even then there is a fairly stiff learning curve just to get the RAW conversion done properly… to the point where the virgin image can be saved and then edited without re-conversion.

For these reasons, I would suggest NEVER getting rid of your RAW images. I don’t even get rid of the junk.  (OK, I’m a packrat and you need to really assess your own needs:)   As one’s skills improve its possible to salvage a previously unusable image using new learned tricks.  Examples are endless.  An image that is too noisy might now be recoverable in new found processing software.  Or an image that was too soft or even one that is blurred do to movement can be salvaged.  Or the lousy photo of the kids might have one head that is ideal and can be composited onto another version.  Or an under or over exposed bracket might be usable to increase pseudo-dynamic range and prevent blown out highlights or increase shadow detail.  These are just a few of the things that I have done as my leaning curve broadens and my arsenal of tools increases. And all of this presupposes one has the original RAW to process.


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