Raw versus JPG Side by side. no contest

Started Mar 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
jackdan Contributing Member • Posts: 896
Re: Raw versus JPG Side by side. no contest

Please know that what I say may be taken as being rude, but my intention is to be helpful and shed some light on this somewhat messy thread. I am not an expert by any means so this is just my opinion for what it is worth.

1. As others have pointed out you are comparing a processed RAW image with an unprocessed JPEG, so that alone pretty much kills any true comparison. Some have said what is the point of shooting JPEGs if they need to be processed and they do need to be processed. The point, which should be obvious, is in this very specific instance that the comparison is not valid if the JPEG is not processed, otherwise the comparison is more of comparing a processed photo with a partially processed photo.

2. Surely your camera has a variety of JPEG settings, which means it can produce a multitude of different JPEGs, only one of which you posted.

3. The advantage of RAW over the the JPEG in your comparison is twofold. First you should have been able to recover some the blown highlight in the RAW image, but you did not. Secondly, the WB would be easier to correct in the RAW, but WB can also be corrected in JPEGs most of the time and sometimes requires some knowledge of how to do it. The WB in your JPEG, of course, has not yet been corrected.

In general there is no advantage to RAW if the shot is properly exposed and has an accurate WB set, but yeah if you are going to process anyway it is hard to argue for JPEGs. A serious JPEG shooter will optimize the JPEG settings so they get the best JPEG they can, though. RAW mostly just gives you a larger effective dynamic range.

My opinion on comparing RAW vs JPEGs is that it can't be properly done, unless you are showing something specific like recovering a blown highlight. First you would have to minimize the JPEG processing of the camera in effect starting with a very crippled slightly processed quasi raw file and then process both the RAW and the JPEG and then what you are comparing is your processing skills with RAW and JPEG. Another approach is to spend a lot of time learning the optimum settings for JPEGs and compare that optimized, but not PP JPEG with a processed RAW. In that case the RAW will certainly look better, but it is a more informative comparison that simply using whatever default JPEG the camera spit out.

What words for me, because I don't like to spend much time in PP, is to shoot optimized JPEGs that can be quickly tweaked to their ultimate appearance in PP. If I encounter a problem with dynamic range, my camera has a one button option to save only that one image as a raw file. In general, much depends, of course, on how well a given camera processes JPEGs.

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