Still Trying to Convince Myself on RAW

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Photos thread
DotCom Editor Veteran Member • Posts: 7,021
Throwing away half the data

Gary Eickmeier wrote:

Opened up the JPG image, AMAZED at the smoothness and perfection of the image. At 1600 there is not much difference, would say no problem whatsoever up to 1600.

The JPGs look better out of the camera because they have been processed. Not by you, but by your camera. And the decisions the camera made about contrast, sharpening, noise reduction, etc. were the opinions of the camera manufacturer. It's all taken out of your hands.

RAW is not processed, because, well, as others have pointed out, RAW is raw. YOU have to cook raw meat, and you have to do the post-processing and make the decisions about contrast, sharpening, noise reduction, etc. yourself.

But it's much worse than that. JPG, by definition, is an 8-bit format, meaning there are 256 shades each (that's 2^8) of red, green, and blue. Multiply the three, 256 x 256 x 256 and you get a total of 16.7 million possible color combinations. But, when you post-process a RAW image in a 16-bit workflow, you now have 65,536 shades (2^16) each of red, green, and blue. Do the math again: 65,536 x 65,536 x 65,536 -- a total of 281 TRILLION possible color combinations. Ah, now, you start to understand the difference. With 8-bit JPG, you've thrown away most of the data captured by your camera's sensor!

So, to post-process, it's generally recommended to work in 16 bits and in the ProPhoto RGB color space. Why PPRGB? Easy: ProPhoto RGB is the ONLY color space big enough to encompass all the colors your camera is able to record. And today's printers are capable of making colors that are well beyond the limits of the wholly obsolete and inadequate sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces.

I could go on for hours. And frequently have...

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