Questions for RAW shooters...

Started Dec 10, 2003 | Discussions thread
Michael Thomas Mitchell Forum Pro • Posts: 11,389
Re: Questions for RAW shooters...

This topic has really been discussed quite thoroughly around here, Tom, but in case the search engine is down, I'll be glad to give a basic answer.

First, you are correct about probably seeing little difference in image quality.
A very nice JPG will look quite comparable to a raw conversion.

The trick is getting that "really nice" JPG in the first place. If you're getting great exposures and satisfactory WB, then by all means stick with JPG. Many of us are not quite so fortunate. For those such as us, raw format captures will offer unequal flexibility in post production, allowing for dramatic changes in exposure, white balance, and sharpening. But again, if these are not issues for you, then you'll be happier with JPG captures.

I've been using digital SLR cameras since 1999 (the original Nikon D1). Because memory was so expensive (128MB, for instance, was about $500), JPG was really the only practical solution. In addition, conversion tools were limited and expensive.

Today, with memory so cheap and with such capable tools at our disposal, I simply don't even ever consider shooting JPG. As I look back on all of the images I've ever captured, I consider this: there's more than a few JPG captures that were less than ideal in which I wish I had a raw capture instead; AND, there's not a single raw capture in which I wished I had simply made a JPG in the first place.

Ultimately, it's your preference, of course.

Best of luck

M

TomJ wrote:

Just wanting to see if I can get a better understanding of the
reasons why some 10D users are such big proponents of shooting RAW.
In my (admittedly limited) experience shooting RAW with the 10D and
with the Oly E-20 before it, I see very little actual benefit to
shootingn RAW as oppesed to Fine/JPEGs.

I'm not wanting to start anything here, but please educate me. I
understand all the theoretical reasons why RAW is supposed to be
better (limited exposure correction, white balance changes), but in
my own real life experience, I seem to keep coming back to the fact
that any real gains in image quality seem to be marginal at best.

Recently I have been using Photoshop CS to convert the 10D's RAW
files and after doing some side by side shots of the same subjects
using RAW and then Fine/JPEG I conclude that if I have gotten the
exposure and white balance down when shooting in JPEG, there is not
anything noticeably different (ie superior) about the RAW captures.
In fact, just the opposite.

By that I mean when I zoom in on an image, say of a person's face,
to maybe 300-400% to do some retouching of fine facial lines or
whatever, I can see what appear to be the same kind of "patchwork"
artifacts that one would normally expect to see in a JPEG file
that's been resaved multiple times and is beginning to show it. On
the other hand, with my Fine JPEG images I see much less of that
even when zoomed in to the same magnification. So it's easier to
use the healing brush tool on most shots because the JPEG file
itself seems to be "cleaner" if that makes sense. This goes against
all conventional wisdom on the subject, so I wonder if I'm doing
something wrong, or if others have noticed anything like what I am
describing. Is the Canon RAW really as lossless as it's touted to
be?

The bottom line being when viewed on screen at lesser
magnifications and in the resulting prints from either type of
capture they both look equally good even when printed to 24"x30" on
my Epson 7600 printer. I do not seem to be realizing any
quantifiable benefit to shooting RAW.

And in the occasional times when I do wish to alter the white
balance with a JPEG file (for instance to warm up a portrait shot
in the shade) I find that a simple adjustment of the Red and Blue
channel in Curves does the trick with no apparent ill effects to
the resultling file. They still print up beautifully.

Anyone care to shed some light as to why you prefer shooting RAW,
or how you see real benefits besides the theoretical?

I'm all for shoooting RAW, I just am curious what others have seen
to convince them to use it over Fine/JPEG. I'm still on the fence
myself.

Thanks,

TomJ

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