Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Photos thread
realgeek Senior Member • Posts: 1,395
Re: Said more accurately ...

sybersitizen wrote:

realgeek wrote:

EVERYONE agrees you should get as much right in camera as possible.

No, everyone doesn't.

I quote BertIverson from page one of this thread: 'I shoot exclusively RAW but not because of noise or IQ superiority... I just got tired of chimping, DRO, HDR, exposure bracketing, spot, center, matrix metering, white balance etc. These can all be accomplished during PP when "time is NOT of the essence". All that is left, at shooting time, are compose and focus.'

I assure you he's not the only one out there who feels that way... and he probably wouldn't work in that manner if he shot JPGs.

Okay! Perhaps I should have said "almost everybody" or "anybody who is being honest ..."

There are plenty of problems that you CANNOT fix later; focus is a perfect example. No one should suggest that you need not worry about focus while shooting.

There are some issues that can be fixed freely later -- at least in RAW. White balance is the perfect example. I never bother with white balance any more because the fix is free later (unless the lighting is really difficult and I feel it's necessary to set a customary white balance). I simply set white balance to "auto" and fix later. Unless you're setting a customary white balance, what's the point of setting it in advance? I can do that losslessly in a split second later. And, after all, the labels Tungsten or Daylight are only approximations, anyway.

To the extent that someone means you needn't get focus right in camera, they're clearly wrong. To the extent someone says you need to get white balance right in camera, they're clearly wrong. But probably, they're talking about a gray area in between.

In BertIverson's case, it sounds like he's talking about exposure. To the extent that he's saying that, when things are happening fast, RAW allows him to get more shots without worrying about making sure exposure is absolutely perfect because he has some leeway in post processing, he is correct. And that freedom is something JPEG doesn't give you, so it is clearly an advantage for RAW. On the other hand, to the extent that he's suggesting that exposure doesn't matter at all, that would be wrong! But I don't think he is. Of course it matters! Even RAW files don't give you unlimited ability to post-process.

But I would add that shooting RAW can change what a "perfect exposure" means. Since you know you're going to post-process anyway, a smart strategy might be to "expose to the right" -- over-exposing by as much as possible while avoiding highlight clipping, and then dialing the exposure back in post-processing. The resulting image will have less noise because of a better signal-to-noise ratio. But it still makes sense to get the exposure as right as possible -- whatever that means -- in camera.

You make some fair points! However, I think they boil down to one (or two) additional positive(s): smaller files (with faster access).

By that same logic, I could boil down most of your earlier stated points to one short phrase like 'RAW allows more manipulation'. But I didn't propose such a shortcut because readers probably appreciate the more detailed list. I believe my list deserves the same courtesy, as it describes different benefits affecting different stages of the entire process.

That they are compatible with everything and understood by everybody is implicit in my convenience point -- the photos are "done" OOC.

Does that mean it shouldn't be acknowledged as an advantage? You didn't list possible loss of future file support as a disadvantage on the RAW side (and however likely or unlikely that is, such a likelihood is much stonger for RAW files than JPG files), so it seems fair to allow me to.

Let's leave both of our lists, which we have constructed with care, fully intact out of courtesy rather than try to whittle away at them. That way others can see the details involved.

I hear what you're saying. I realize that it is always possible to characterize various arguments as being part of the same argument or a different argument. But I want to point out that I don't think our lists are objectively comparable in terms of generality, because I don't want anyone to think, "Oh, they each make six or seven points; it must be an even argument." I don't think the argument is even at all! I realize that I won't convince you, and that's fine -- you're entitled to your opinion. I'm just responding so that everyone else can see that I understand what you are saying but disagree entirely. (On this meta-issue; not on the specific points that you raise.)

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