POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

Started May 1, 2014 | Polls thread
gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 5,588
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

Briansdad1 wrote:

For my purposes there is an additional benefit of using RAW, to do with handling subtle detail and textures, even when nothing is blown. If anyone is interested I will add another flower example that I believe demonstrates this.

Yes, I'd be interested.



Here is a JPEG (on the left) and RAW pair as imported into Lightroom (images captured with the SX240)

Here is a 100% crop of an area of the images.

The JPEG version (on the left) has less noise, but the noise reduction has smoothed out some of the fine detail. How much noise is acceptable in a final image depends on various factors, including the size it is being viewed at, and personal taste. For my purposes (generally preparing images for viewing on screen at 1100 pixels high), I believe I can often retain more fine detail than in a JPEG version, by applying just enough noise reduction so my final size image looks acceptable to my eye (on my calibrated screen, in subdued lighting).

There are obviously judgement calls and personal preferences in all of this (what is "acceptable", what "looks good" etc), and once you start looking at pairs of processed images there are issues of whether the processing was applied fairly, in the sense of getting the best out of each image. But I believe I tried the best I could with each of the pair, and FWIW here is a comparison of the overall results.  To my eye, the large upright petal looks better, in terms of detail/texture/colour, but I did say this concerned subtle effects and I do understand that the difference may be negligible, irrelevant or even invisible, to some and perhaps many or most people.

There is a sense in which 100% versions of the final image are not relevant for me - I judge an image on how the image looks to me, not how it looks "under the surface". But in this case it might be interesting to see how the processed versions look at 100%.

Here is another example to do with highlights. (I'm not sure of the exact context here - I think it is the same image pair, and presumably it was a separate rework with just highlight adjustment.)

Here is a comparison showing JPEG (on the left) and RAW after highlights have been applied.

100% crop.

Whole image.

Again, for me, this amount of difference is significant, but for others it may not be.

One of the issues for me is that the processing I do on images - to increase local contrast for example - tends to accentuate any imperfections in the images such as noise and, in JPEG images, JPEG artefacts. I think the 100% crop of the JPEG version in the last example shows a residue from the removal of the coloured fringes (purple on the left edges, green on the right) that I can see around the buds/sepals in the RAW version. That is the sort of thing that could emerge into visibility as a halo from contrast-enhancing processing.

It seems to me (or at least, I strongly suspect) that RAW images respond more gracefully than JPEG images to the type and amount of manipulation I sometimes want to apply to my images and let me get more pleasing (to my eye) results. This may matter more to me than others because I quite often underexpose my images so as to avoid bleaching (typically petal) colours ("bleaching" being not fully blowing, but nonetheless turning to a very pale version of the hue that I at least can't recover); and of course strongly under-exposed images need strong manipulation, with noise obviously being a problem. I also tend to use rather high ISOs because I use natural light a lot and like deep dof, so I use very small apertures, often in fairly poor light; so a lot of my images are rather noisy.

One thing I quite often do (whether working with JPEG or RAW originals) is to apply chroma noise reduction as needed across the whole image (generally not needed for JPEG originals), and then apply luminance noise reduction only to background areas, where it is most visible, while letting me retain detail on the subject. I do this for both flower and invertebrate images, which is most of what I do.

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