Do we need uncompressed RAW for the higher end cameras?

Started Dec 23, 2013 | Polls thread
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Kiril Karaatanasov Senior Member • Posts: 2,038
Do we need uncompressed RAW for the higher end cameras?

I am very happy with my A7 and NEX-7 and A700 before this. A700 had option of compress and uncompressed RAW. A700 had smaller dynamic range compared to the newer cameras but it seems the RAW file was more capable.

I recently read this thread

...and also conversed with friends using Canon. Turns out highlight recovery from Canon is much more potent than Sony's. Guess why? Sony are encoding the magnificent 14 bit per pixel signal from A7 into  puny 8bits!!! Using some sort of exponential resampling that keeps a lot of detail in the shadow and then skips values in the highlights - this is similar to gamma correction. However when you are in post and try to recover detail form the highlights despite the incredible sensor Sony put in our camera we get mediocre results!!! Simply the highlights lack textures and details that are probably well captures by your sensor....

So my poll is about returning the uncompressed RAW option from A700 back. It would be nice to discuss if this is needed. No NEX or other Sony mirror-less had it. Even A99 does not have uncompressed RAW.  In fact I am super happy with Sony's compression - it saves me lots of card and disk space. I used to have Nikon and RAW files from them are humungous in comparison. I have not seen reviewer complaining of Sony's Raw compression so far. Truth be told this is something one would rarely if ever see in practice.

On the other hand Sony are aspiring company. They want to stretch into higher niche with NEX-7, NEX-6, A7 and A7r...should uncompressed RAW be part of their strategy? Should they at  try to par Nikon and Canon in the quest for top IQ? At some point it is all about fine detail and uncompressed RAW may be the small thing that tips the balance.

How do you feel about the lack of uncompressed RAW? Did you have situations where you felt limited in highlight recovery? Do you believe you might have seen artefacts in your images coming out of Raw compression?

 Kiril Karaatanasov's gear list:Kiril Karaatanasov's gear list
Sony Alpha 7 II Sony a6300
Yes, I cannot live without uncompressed RAW
18.0% 16  votes
Yes, uncompressed RAW will come handy when quality is paramount
49.4% 44  votes
Not sure...
7.9% 7  votes
No, there are more important things to worry about in A7, A7r, NEX-6/7
24.7% 22  votes
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Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha 7R Sony Alpha a99 Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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