RAW for beginners

Started Jun 17, 2013 | Questions thread
artlmntl Senior Member • Posts: 1,804
Re: Yes!

Gary Eickmeier wrote:

I think you dipped back a little too basic and missed my question. I was asking is this gain strictly applied to the processed JPG file, or is it also applied to the RAW image that is recorded? In other words, you could apply gain in camera to make the exposure correct, or you could apply it in the RAW processor. On the White Balance, you could manipulate the color values in camera or in the RAW processor, which would make it unnecessary to white balance in the field.

I am thinking that gain and color correction are applied in camera, but noise and sharpening are not. The whole theory of the superiority of RAW rests on what is the difference in how these things are handled. If you have a great camera like the a77 and a lousy RAW program, maybe the camera's JPGs would be better than your processed RAW. Maybe RAW requires a certain amount of skill before it becomes all that superior to JPG. If you have a cheap DSLR but a great RAW program, maybe RAW would be superior. So far I haven't seen a big difference.

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Gary Eickmeier

I did? I'm sorry. You're talking about exposure compensation, aren't you? I've been leaving that at 0, but I'm doing some tests. It seems to be an in-camera manipulation of the gamma curve, and it is applied to both the RAW file and the jpg. So, you open the RAW and your exposure says 0, but if you shot it at, say, exposure comp +2, that is factored into your histogram and your displayed image.

That's really interesting. Under-exposing is still bad. It darkens the image and correcting it brings out extra noise. Over-exposing *might* be a cheap way to stay at lower iso in some conditions. It's not the best way, because you're still stretching a somewhat narrowed dynamic range over a wider area. It probably increases the tendency to color banding and I can see that it amplifies lens vignetting. But you can adjust for that or crop into the image. It might be better than making that jump from iso 800 to 1600 or from 1600 to 3200. That will require more tests to see. Always something new to think about.

Gain and color correction are applied to the RAW in-camera. Yes, I think you're right. At least WB is part of the RAW picture. I did not test for other factors, but there is no reason to doubt it. Noise and sharpening are not. Agree. And it does take some skill to get your RAW processing where you want it. But the RAW also usually has a greater dynamic range than your in-camera JPG.

I think a bad RAW processor mangles everything, and there are some bad processors out there. IMO, DxO is very nice, but I still like ACR/elements the best. I expect LightRoom is also very good, but I'm not into Adobe's file organizers. I just don't want that on my computer.

I have an old S6000FD, and it's been very good to me. I found, even there, the RAWs were superior because I could do more to make them the way I wanted. I used an old Fuji-specific program called S7Raw to process the RAF files, and the results were quite satisfactory! It won't help with newer cameras, though. It hasn't been updated in years. Now, I would just run it through PSE 11.

Maybe it's time to start one of those RAW vs JPG showdown threads, encourage folks to bring comparisons. But maybe not today. No time to fiddle with it. For the near future.

Thanks, Hunter

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