Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Started Oct 22, 2012 | Discussions
Steerpike Forum Member • Posts: 95
Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

I've just started using RAW on my Lumix LX5. When I open the RAW file with Adobe Camera Raw 6.2, the initial image displayed is not as good as the jpg that is also created (contrast is too great). I know I can tweak the heck out of the image in ACR, but what I was hoping for was figuring out what ACR settings would mimic the JPG image.  Is there a simple answer to that?

Putting this another way, this is my understanding of how raw / jpg works. You take the picture and the first version of the image, with LOTS of information, is stored as the RAW file. The camera then does it's best job of adjusting the image for things like white balance, etc, and creates the jpg version.   I guess the adjustments made by the camera are not retained along with the raw file so you'll never actually know quite how the camera arrived at the jpg result?
The reason I am asking is, there are a few images I'm working with where, try as I might, I can't get the image to look as good as the initial jpg image.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 19,315
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Steerpike wrote:

I've just started using RAW on my Lumix LX5. When I open the RAW file with Adobe Camera Raw 6.2, the initial image displayed is not as good as the jpg that is also created (contrast is too great). I know I can tweak the heck out of the image in ACR, but what I was hoping for was figuring out what ACR settings would mimic the JPG image.  Is there a simple answer to that?

Putting this another way, this is my understanding of how raw / jpg works. You take the picture and the first version of the image, with LOTS of information, is stored as the RAW file. The camera then does it's best job of adjusting the image for things like white balance, etc, and creates the jpg version.   I guess the adjustments made by the camera are not retained along with the raw file so you'll never actually know quite how the camera arrived at the jpg result?
The reason I am asking is, there are a few images I'm working with where, try as I might, I can't get the image to look as good as the initial jpg image.

So, why fool around with the "raw"?

You are trying to second-guess Panasonic's world-class engineers, who have designed the Jpeg "engine" to produce an optimal image, given ALL of the camera's quirks.

A Jpeg image is the result - a Jpeg image that can be easily manipulated more in various Post Processing routines, should you want to. There is really nothing special about "raw" converters, all "PP" software can do these things. Should you want to.

Just consider: ANY lens has inherent distortions ("Barrel" & "Pincushion" being the biggest) and in zoom lenses, these distortions vary as the lens zooms (and as it focuses). An FZ 200, for instance, has over 20 'steps' of zoom each with different degrees of distortion, and your Jpeg 'engine' knows exactly which step it's on and adjusts accordingly, and it does the same thing with other factors such as white balance, all in 'real time' so you have a very well corrected image Straight Out Of Camera.

Sure, the "raw" record has "LOTS of information" and you may want to keep all that information for some reason, but in 99% of cases, the Panasonic Jpeg is the image you actually need.

-Erik

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rkhndjr Forum Pro • Posts: 13,082
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

RAW will not have the content as JPEG, as you know I guess. JPEG images generally are fine for most people, myself included. Save yourself a lot of trouble and use JPEG with that camera  and be happy.

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Fugl Forum Member • Posts: 86
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5
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rkhndjr Forum Pro • Posts: 13,082
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

.dpreview.com/forums/post/50114017

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Gary R. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,196
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

I agree with the consensus of the comments given (so far) by others....why bother?

There is a lot of peer pressure to shoot raw for readers of online forums, where to be regarded as anything more than a beginner, you must shoot raw.  Comparisons of raw vs. jpg generally consist of a shot the user has adjusted to their own needs via the raw converter, compared to an out of camera jpg which the user has done nothing to.

There is nothing wrong with adjusting a jpg photo...consider it a finishing touch, to get it just the way you want it to look.  Yet that is almost universally ignored when anyone compares a raw and a jpg photo.

To top it off, the LX5 and many others let you adjust the sharpening and noise reduction of your default jpg photos, which makes it even easier to get the results you want from your jpg.

The raw file does have more bit depth, hence more data to spread around if there is an exposure issue such as a photo with all the data in a small part of the histogram.  Even at that, you may not see any real difference between the adjusted jpg and the adjusted raw, but most of our photos (hopefully) are not in that category anyway.  We're just adding more work and filling up space by usng raw when there's really no bottom-line benefit. (and in many cases, settling for limitations that compacts often suffer when shooting raw).

My GH2 has a feature which I consider as the best possible implementation of raw...you can assign one of the function buttons to give you a "one shot" raw + jpg photo, so if you see a particularly difficult situation, you punch the button and get your single raw shot., without commiting to filling up your card with unwanted raw shots if you forget to reset it.  I've used this a few times, but in real life have never needed the raw shot I got as a result.

In your first efforts with raw, you've found the 'truth' of the whole matter.  You can practice more with a raw converter and perhaps find it easier to match the camera's jpg after a while, but the question still remains.  Why?

The answer might well be: "So I fit in better with camera forums where they all shoot raw, and am accepted as being one of them".

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ChipNC Junior Member • Posts: 30
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Jpeg is acceptable in many situations, but if the light is really "iffy" RAW has advantages that Jpeg doesn't.

I shot pictures Saturday in a difficult lighting situation with an LX3.  Bright blue sky, acrobats in the air on ropes, etc.  I shot RAW.  When I developed, I saved the original file as a "ZERO Change Jpeg"  I then saved it twice more, once at about a minus 1.8 exposure and once at a plus 1.8 exposure.  I then did an Exposure HDR...I look for realism, not that blown out etherial look.

Here's some of that work:  http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50110160   Not all of these are HDR composites, but all are from RAW files.

Rick880 Contributing Member • Posts: 504
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Steerpike wrote:

I've just started using RAW on my Lumix LX5. When I open the RAW file with Adobe Camera Raw 6.2, the initial image displayed is not as good as the jpg that is also created (contrast is too great). I know I can tweak the heck out of the image in ACR, but what I was hoping for was figuring out what ACR settings would mimic the JPG image.  Is there a simple answer to that?

Putting this another way, this is my understanding of how raw / jpg works. You take the picture and the first version of the image, with LOTS of information, is stored as the RAW file. The camera then does it's best job of adjusting the image for things like white balance, etc, and creates the jpg version.   I guess the adjustments made by the camera are not retained along with the raw file so you'll never actually know quite how the camera arrived at the jpg result?
The reason I am asking is, there are a few images I'm working with where, try as I might, I can't get the image to look as good as the initial jpg image.

The short answer is no. ACR has extra built-in camera settings for Canon and Nikon DSLRs with the attempt to get result similar to what the respective in-camera jpeg engine would render. I can't comment on how close these settings are because I don't use them. But these settings are Adobe's reverse engineering work and you can guess how close they can be. If you really want to get the "same" jpeg look result from RAW, your should use the RAW software provided by the camera manufacturer. Supposedly it should use the same algorithm (and presumably more processing accuracy because of more processing power in your PC or notebook) and knows exactly what to do with each parameter (not by reverse engineering).

OP Steerpike Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Thanks for all the comments.  Not what I expected, but reinforcing what I've personally felt for over 10 years - that it's not worth the trouble (size, time, etc) shooting raw.

The specific reason I am exploring this is that I was trying to fix problems with my Lumix G3, which has real problems with white balance (auto white balance on indoor shots does a terrible job with skin tones).  Raw offers a few advantages with that camera. With my LX5, I figured I'd start with an already 'perfect' (jpg) output, use the jpg as a 'reference to aspire to', and learn from the experience, adjusting the raw image to match the jpg output. Obviously no point in re-inventing the wheel, as it were, but learn from the process.

I noticed today that the LX7 is out; I will order that and not throw away the included CD for once!

ChrisJS Regular Member • Posts: 120
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

I would disagree with several of the comments here.  In my opinion RAW development has advantages over JPG in many photographic situations to achieve your desired result.  Certainly, Panasonic JPG is very good but I would still advise those who who have an interest in developing images, to learn the techniques involved, RAW is just another tool in the box!

Kind Regards
Chris

John Beavin
John Beavin Senior Member • Posts: 2,969
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

So lets all shoot jpeg and submit the results as raw, I am sure not one in a hundred would be able to disprove it. I think the manufactures do their best to cater for the general public, except in the higher range of professional cameras.  I often read of photographers sayng they shot 200 or so pictures, Do they shoot raw? if they do they must spend a lot of time processing, either that or they have a hell of a lot of rejects. I rest my case.

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Hythloday Senior Member • Posts: 2,010
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Steerpike wrote:

I've just started using RAW on my Lumix LX5. When I open the RAW file with Adobe Camera Raw 6.2, the initial image displayed is not as good as the jpg that is also created (contrast is too great). I know I can tweak the heck out of the image in ACR, but what I was hoping for was figuring out what ACR settings would mimic the JPG image.  Is there a simple answer to that?

No, there is no simple answer to that. If you use the supplied "raw converter", the answer is quite simple. The software is adapted to fit the camera. But in ACR you have to find your own way.

Your ideal shouldn't be to mimic JPG. You had better shoot JPG in that case. You should develop your own personal way of developing RAW images. When shooting in RAW and having your own personal way of developing, you will get the best out of RAW images.

OP Steerpike Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Hythloday wrote:

Steerpike wrote:

I've just started using RAW on my Lumix LX5. When I open the RAW file with Adobe Camera Raw 6.2, the initial image displayed is not as good as the jpg that is also created (contrast is too great). I know I can tweak the heck out of the image in ACR, but what I was hoping for was figuring out what ACR settings would mimic the JPG image.  Is there a simple answer to that?

No, there is no simple answer to that. If you use the supplied "raw converter", the answer is quite simple. The software is adapted to fit the camera. But in ACR you have to find your own way.

Your ideal shouldn't be to mimic JPG. You had better shoot JPG in that case. You should develop your own personal way of developing RAW images. When shooting in RAW and having your own personal way of developing, you will get the best out of RAW images.


As I mentioned in another post, it's obviously not very productive to spend time making the raw image look like the jpg image, but as a tool for learning how to use the controls in ACR, it would seem a reasonable first step as an exercise.  I have two 'sample' images; one is already 'perfect' in terms of the jpg version, and the default output from ACR has blown highlights so I was going to see if I could adjust the ACR settings to match the jpg - as an exercise in learning. The second image (jpg) has blown highlights and dark shadows, so I was hoping to improve matters using the raw file, but I still can't really get it better than the jpg.  I'm an experienced photoshop user so I'm familiar with the general concepts, but now I'm starting from scratch with the adjustments in ACR.

So I was just hoping for a 'shortcut' to find out 'how' the camera itself arrived at the jpg, so I could better understand how it worked. I will start looking at the lumix-supplied raw converter tool.

rkhndjr Forum Pro • Posts: 13,082
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Gary R. wrote:

I agree with the consensus of the comments given (so far) by others....why bother?

There is a lot of peer pressure to shoot raw for readers of online forums, where to be regarded as anything more than a beginner, you must shoot raw.  Comparisons of raw vs. jpg generally consist of a shot the user has adjusted to their own needs via the raw converter, compared to an out of camera jpg which the user has done nothing to.

There is nothing wrong with adjusting a jpg photo...consider it a finishing touch, to get it just the way you want it to look.  Yet that is almost universally ignored when anyone compares a raw and a jpg photo.

To top it off, the LX5 and many others let you adjust the sharpening and noise reduction of your default jpg photos, which makes it even easier to get the results you want from your jpg.

The raw file does have more bit depth, hence more data to spread around if there is an exposure issue such as a photo with all the data in a small part of the histogram.  Even at that, you may not see any real difference between the adjusted jpg and the adjusted raw, but most of our photos (hopefully) are not in that category anyway.  We're just adding more work and filling up space by usng raw when there's really no bottom-line benefit. (and in many cases, settling for limitations that compacts often suffer when shooting raw).

My GH2 has a feature which I consider as the best possible implementation of raw...you can assign one of the function buttons to give you a "one shot" raw + jpg photo, so if you see a particularly difficult situation, you punch the button and get your single raw shot., without commiting to filling up your card with unwanted raw shots if you forget to reset it.  I've used this a few times, but in real life have never needed the raw shot I got as a result.

In your first efforts with raw, you've found the 'truth' of the whole matter.  You can practice more with a raw converter and perhaps find it easier to match the camera's jpg after a while, but the question still remains.  Why?

The answer might well be: "So I fit in better with camera forums where they all shoot raw, and am accepted as being one of them".

Hah! The most sensible RAW reply yet...and so true...

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Hythloday Senior Member • Posts: 2,010
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

Steerpike wrote:

So I was just hoping for a 'shortcut' to find out 'how' the camera itself arrived at the jpg, so I could better understand how it worked. I will start looking at the lumix-supplied raw converter tool.

I also have a Pentax K200D. In Silkypix there is no colour cast. But in ACR there is some greenish colour cast. It is not useful for me to see how Silkypix solves this problem. I do know that if I set tint to +5, the colour cast will be gone.

You have to find your own settings in ACR. For me Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: Maximum Performance: Unleash the hidden performance of Elements by Mark Galer was very useful.

Gary R. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,196
Re: Matching RAW to JPG from LX5

If you use Photoshop, and most likely the other Adobe editors, you can have it open jpg files with Camera Raw, the same as if it were a raw file.  This gives you the easy interface that I suspect is why many think raw can be adjusted and jpg can't.  White balance is easy to tweak, as well as most everything else, and using gradient layers to apply adjustments to parts of an image.  Also checking it's "auto" adjustment results which you can accept or reject.  And, if you prefer to handle it with the normal Photoshop adjustments, it just takes a click of the 'open' button (plus it saves your last adjustment to the photo, in case you decide to tweak it or change it).

Whether you use raw or jpg is just a matter of choosing what you feel works best for you and gives you the best results while causing the least impact or grief.  It is a tool, as someone said, but tools are to be used when they're needed by the individual doing the work, not dictated as a 'must do if you wanna be any good' item.

Someone may not know what an aperture, f-stop, ISO, depth of field, all those letters on the mode dial, or a good composition is, but they darn sure better use raw if they ever expect to be any good...8^)

I see someone has gone through this thread and marked all of the "you don't really need to use raw unless you want to" posts with a minus vote; pretty childish, but unfortunately not surprising, as there seems to be a lot of emotion/religion about using raw with many in these and other forums, and those who question its importance are regarded as rebels, I suppose.

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