Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Photos thread
tom Senior Member • Posts: 2,724
Re: Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW

Gary Eickmeier wrote:

This isn't a feel good question, it is a technical question. I am not seeking approval or permission to shoot either way, just trying to figure out whether it is possible to outprocess the camera and how to do it.

As for RAW being like a camera negative, well not completely. The RAW image still has the ISO amplification in it, and I believe still has the white balance that you put into the settings.

The raw image has been amplified by the ISO, but white balance has not been applied. The white balance you had set is tagged with the image (as are all your jpg setting), but the image values in the raw file have not been changed. When you open the raw image in PP software that knows the Sony settings (like the Sony processing software), it will apply the tags to the data as its default. Some software (like LR 3 that I use) only recognizes the white balance setting and doesn't apply the other tags. In both cases the tags are applied non-destructively unlike the jpg setting in the camera that changes the data.

That way you can adjust the raw settings in the pp software and keep the original.

When I looked at the first 2 shots you posted, and hit the magnify button, I agree there is a a lot of noise in the raw image. But the jpg image showed a lot of significant artifacts on the children's faces. Noise in the raw file you can modify and reduce, but you would have a very hard time getting rid of the artifacts in the jpg. (assuming that you are going to crop or enlarge so the individual faces are more obvious.)

As others have said, if you intend to do little or no post processing there is no reason to shoot raw, except as insurance for a very important shot that you would pp to save. In LR there is a lot of over/under exposed image you can recover smoothly (due in part to the greater number of bits/pixel in the raw compared with the 8 bits in the jpg, but it also seems that the jpg image from my camera has discarded the upper and lower tails of the data.)

I shoot raw + jpg all the time, and usually pp the raws.  As Sony has added more "jpg only" features, I am tempted to use jpg only, but still prefer raw + jpg.

If I'm not in the mood to pp, most jpegs are good enough (very good), but there are always those where they need some help. The other thing is that I find I can highlight different aspects of a shot (landscape / flowers / close-ups) by how I process the raw which I find useful (2 or more different prints for 1 exposure).

Why should I have to attempt to duplicate the camera's noise processing manually before printing?

Simply because there are different methods of noise reduction, and some work better than others for certain situations and as you would want.  I may agree or disagree with how the camera has applied the preset combination of sharpness and noise reduction.  Then I am limited in how I can modify what has already been done.   When I use noise reduction, I adjust a number of factors looking for the best combinations of smoothness, without adding artifacts or degrading sharpness.  In some cases I will locally smooth an area before applying more general noise reduction.


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