POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

Started May 1, 2014 | Polls
Stevie Boy Blue Contributing Member • Posts: 989
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
6

Not sure of the purpose for this thread but, for what it’s worth, I see RAW as a complete waste of time.

I often see the efforts of RAW advocators on this forum and must admit to being less than impressed with the results they’ve attempted to achieve by spending extra processing time on a PC compared to the split second it takes for the likes of a Panasonic FZ to spit out a beautifully rendered Jpeg, especially where in-camera picture adjustments have been primed to optimum before the event.

Furthermore, as a keen wildlife snapper, the 5 FPS burst mode available on the likes of the FZ150/200 is an invaluable asset. Shooting in the Jpeg only format means I don’t have to wait for the buffer to catch-up, which is something I’d almost certainly have to do if attempting a running sequence of shots in the RAW format.

I’ve said it many times already, but in my experience there’s no better Jpeg producing machine than the FZ150 when it comes to this type of camera. And on the rare occasions that the 150 doesn’t quite spit out the quality I expect from it straight OOC, a brief few moments spent in Photoshop 7 (the old pro version), usually does the trick. Fact is, the be all and end all of post processing does not start and finish with the RAW format. In my experience Jpegs lend themselves very well to after shot tweaking on the PC; it’s just that most of the time no further adjustments are required to out of camera examples shot in the finest setting.

So, whilst I appreciate that RAW users have the time and like to play around with their images, I’ve never felt that my own tendency to shoot only in the Jpeg format leaves me handicapped in any way. On the contrary, I’m still left gobsmacked by the quality and clarity of some of the Jpegs my FZ’s churn out in extra quick time; despite that I still feel the FZ200’s noisier than the superior 150 straight OOC.

And if there’s any doubt in the minds of anyone reading this that Jpegs aren’t up to scratch compared to RAW, check out the many FZ examples displayed from the likes of Donald B, Gary S, Cat150 and Ysal to name but a few of the better superzoom photographers we have here in the Panasonic Forum. As far as I’m aware, all four of those guys generally, if not always shoot Jpegs with FZ machines.

So, except for who really needs RAW, need I say more?

Happy snapping and regards

Stevie Boy

ysal
ysal Veteran Member • Posts: 8,757
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

You are too kind Stevie, made me blush (seriously).  And yes I do only shoot in JPG but I must say I see other RAW processed images here that are far superior than mine (myssvictoria comes to mind).

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gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 3,639
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

I shot JPEG only for about five years but then started using RAW a couple of years ago. That was with a G3, so any examples from that wouldn't really be a a good comparison in the context of small sensor cameras, and I haven't done any JPEG vs RAW comparisons with my more recently acquired FZ200. However, last year I prepared some examples for a photography group I'm in, using a Canon SX240, which has a small sensor like the FZ200. (You can't capture RAW with the SX240 out of the box btw - you have to use the unofficial CHDK utility.)

Here is a SX240 JPEG image imported into Lightroom. (I believe I set up the Saturation -19 setting as a standard import parameter for the SX240. I think this was the only change made to these examples on import to Lightroom.)

The red shows areas that Lightroom believes are blown.

Here is a before and after showing the effect of pulling down the highlights in Lightroom. No detail has been recovered from the red areas.

I used JPEG + RAW for this capture. Here is a before and after showing how the RAW version looked on import to Lightroom (with no red areas - those areas don't appear to be blown), and after pulling down the highlights. Some more detail has been recovered in those areas.

Here is the JPEG version of a RAW + JPEG pair of a geranium. On import there are some significant blown areas, and they remain featureless after the highlights are pulled down.

Here is the RAW before and after. The same areas look pretty featureless in the RAW import, although Lightroom doesn't mark up much as being actually blown. Pulling down the highlights recovers some texture in those areas.

I believe RAW images contain non-trivial amounts of additional information which I find it useful to exploit, for both highlights and shadows.

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.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 6,192
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
1

I find Auto WB on most of my cameras rarely copes with the low energy light bulbs I have in my house and makes everything look horrible and usually manually setting tungsten or custom setting fixes the problem. Then I have forgotten to reset it. Raw is just a good insurance policy that there is no error in the camera set up without risking the auto modes.

Possibly RAW is pointless in your situation but not in mine. Probably I am just careless in setting up cameras but RAW is more forgiving of such carelessness.

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Greynerd wrote:

RAW does protect you from white balance errors from my experience. If you take a picture outdoors in Tungsten WB in a jpeg by accident you are pretty stuffed. For shadow details and highlights jpeg's are much more recoverable than the RAW crowd would have you believe. So if I am taking a really important picture I use RAW as a precaution.

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Tom Axford wrote:

So far, only 3 people never use raw. I'm surprised there aren't more than that!

I never use 'raw' - it's pointless.

,wow,

I am moved to wonder why one would be using "Tungsten WB" and thus wind up inadvertently using it outdoors. But of course, one's mileage may vary

I always use Auto WB and ever only have WB problems when several different light sources clash - but even then, it often makes a nice effect.

In the rare event that I want to change the results in the whole - or part of, an image, PSE's color controls do the job.

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Briansdad1
Briansdad1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,975
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

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.

Bill

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 6,192
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

Are you saying that if you take a RAW + JPEG exposed at completely the wrong colour temperature the JPEG colour can be recovered as much as a RAW file can?

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Spider1943 wrote:

Greynerd wrote:

RAW does protect you from white balance errors from my experience. If you take a picture outdoors in Tungsten WB in a jpeg by accident you are pretty stuffed. For shadow details and highlights jpeg's are much more recoverable than the RAW crowd would have you believe. So if I am taking a really important picture I use RAW as a precaution.

I can open any jpeg as a RAW image in PSE or PS and adjust it like an original RAW.

Precisely.

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Tom Axford wrote:

So far, only 3 people never use raw. I'm surprised there aren't more than that!

I never use 'raw' - it's pointless.

Although if you "expose for the highlights and develop ("PP") for the shadows", simple PSE controls are ALL you need.

I've read reams of arguement on this subject on this forum for years and have yet to see convincing evidence that raw is more than a "cool" sounding word, with even close to a propery exposed image not exposed for the midtones as iA mode would expose it - and rarely even then is there a significant advantage to justify waiting for the camera to load the image into the card.

But, please, do it the way it makes you feel comfortable.

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sherman_levine
sherman_levine Forum Pro • Posts: 10,803
Photo Ninja

Nick,

FWIW, Photo Ninja has the reputation for doing particularly well at extracting decent detail from badly overexposed raws.  We discussed it in some detail here

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3649040

and it's been discussed in other threads as well

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53410245

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3456594?page=2

PN lacks some of the automated distortion and CA correction which DXO and Adobe do well, but that a relatively small issue at higher zoom levels.

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Rodger1943
Rodger1943 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,411
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

Thanks for the topic Tom. I use the FZ200 and never shoot RAW, for two main reasons.

1. iPhoto doesn't recognise RAW and I use iPhoto a lot.

2. I shoot in bursts most of the time and RAW slows down (a lot) the recovery time for the camera before you can start using it again. Usually, with JPEG, I can start shooting again immmediately, even if the buffer hasn't cleared the first lot of image processing.

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gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 3,639
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
1

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.

Bill

OK.

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.

gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 3,639
Re: Photo Ninja

sherman_levine wrote:

Nick,

FWIW, Photo Ninja has the reputation for doing particularly well at extracting decent detail from badly overexposed raws. We discussed it in some detail here

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3649040

and it's been discussed in other threads as well

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53410245

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3456594?page=2

PN lacks some of the automated distortion and CA correction which DXO and Adobe do well, but that a relatively small issue at higher zoom levels.

Thanks Sherm. I remember that first thread, and trying the example for myself.

I have tried PN, albeit briefly, particularly because of the benefits it might give for my "bleaching" issue, but to be honest all I recall about that exercise was that I decided not to use it.

Choosing software is a complicated and time-consuming business, and obviously one needs a set of applications that work well enough together for one's purposes; there are so many trade-offs to consider with various combinations of applications. At the moment I'm struggling with hardware issues. I'm currently working on FZ200 vs G3 vs 70D with achromats (having sent back the 100L macro and MPE-65 - turns out I prefer using achromats, that was a big surprise for me.) So rethinking my software portfolio is something that is on the back burner at the moment. I'll take a look at those other threads though; thanks for the links.

Ianperegian
Ianperegian Veteran Member • Posts: 3,556
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

Rodger1943 wrote:

Thanks for the topic Tom. I use the FZ200 and never shoot RAW, for two main reasons.

1. iPhoto doesn't recognise RAW and I use iPhoto a lot.

Rodger, you might be interested in this article which describes how to use iPhoto with RAW: http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/how_enhance_raw_pictures_iphoto

Ian

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nicodimus22
nicodimus22 Senior Member • Posts: 2,744
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

gardenersassistant wrote:


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

The first week I had the FZ200, I shot RAW + JPEG, and compared the JPEGs with the processed RAWs. Saw a very similar difference in detail compared to this, and it is significant to me also. The petal on the right has a lot more fine texture visible, and the one on the left looks waxy and smooth.

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nicodimus22
nicodimus22 Senior Member • Posts: 2,744
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

I think I mis-stated something in my previous post, but it won't let me edit. What I meant to say was "I saw a similar amount of difference when comparing my images." The way I worded it, it sounded like I saw a greater difference, which was not the case.

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,930
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
1

Nick - your first illustration defines the problem:

"Expose for the (significant) highlights, develop ("PP") for the shadows"

It's just the old Zone System fo digital.

If the scene is exposed properly you would save yourself a lot of grief - "PP" time, and time between exposures.

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phototransformations
phototransformations Senior Member • Posts: 2,830
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

gardenersassistant wrote:

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.

Bill

OK.

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.

Thanks for posting this, Nick. It illustrates very well some of the benefits of RAW. They may be subtle and not significant to a lot of people, but I think they make the difference between a decent photograph and a very good one. The point you are making is similar to that being made in the recent article on calibrating cameras, here, which is convincing me I need to get a ColorChecker Passport.

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/6497352654/get-more-accurate-color-with-camera-calibration-

From that article: "The theory of 'Marginal Gains' states that if you make tiny improvements in all aspects of your performance, then these improvements will all add up and create a significant overall improvement. The theory of Marginal Gains can also help with your photographic workflow."

David

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phototransformations
phototransformations Senior Member • Posts: 2,830
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
3

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Nick - your first illustration defines the problem:

"Expose for the (significant) highlights, develop ("PP") for the shadows"

It's just the old Zone System fo digital.

If the scene is exposed properly you would save yourself a lot of grief - "PP" time, and time between exposures.

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Although exposing for those highlights would have saved that part of this flower JPEG from partially blown highlights, it would also have introduced more noise in the rest of the image. And even with noise reduction turned all the way down in the JPEG settings, the RAW files still have more fine detail in textured surfaces like the petals that no amount of exposure compensation at shot time can correct for.

If what you want to do is shoot JPEGs, then yes, exposing for the highlights and developing for the shadows is exactly what you want to do. If you shoot the same image in RAW, however, then you can afford to slightly overexpose the highlights, knowing you can recover then easily in the RAW file, resulting in a less noisy image with greater dynamic range. The PP effort to do that is about 10 seconds. No grief. And yes, as you point out, shooting JPEGs gives you faster shot-to-shot time, but only when you are shooting in burst mode. In those cases, that's significant and probably outweighs the other advantages of RAW. For static shots, however, it's not clear to me that shorter write times makes any difference.

It seems to me it's fine to shoot either one, the other, or both, just as it was fine to shoot slide film (which had similar limits to JPEGs) or negative film (which had more dynamic range and more latitude in the development process for correction and creative modification). Just different approaches to how to make a photograph.

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L Bradford Regular Member • Posts: 488
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
1

I never use RAW.

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cainn24 Senior Member • Posts: 4,892
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
5

Erik Ohlson wrote:

I've read reams of arguement on this subject on this forum for years and have yet to see convincing evidence that raw is more than a "cool" sounding word

This is just like the time you posted that thread about how sick to death you were of discussions about low-light performance and then proceeded to post a low-light high ISO image from one of your travelcams processed in neatimage (or whatever software it was) to shut everyone up.  Apparently, anyone who values a two-stop advantage is just being silly.

But I guess you didn't feel content to stop there.  Now, apparently, anyone who values an exposure safety net, or maximum control over degrees and types of sharpening and noise reduction, is just being silly too; trying to be "cool" instead of practical.

How exactly someone can spend a number of years on this earth, especially exposed to photography culture, and not develop a proper understanding of the concept of subjectivity, is beyond me.  I mean are you really telling us that the idea that people can have higher or lower standards than each other, and place different degrees of importance on different factors in the IQ equation, is incomprehensible to you?

Seriously Erik, I know for a fact that it isn't.  So what's this really all about?  A reaction to some perceived elitism?  Is it impossible now for people to be openly enthusiastic about a fast lens, or the superior results they're getting from some new and improved workflow, without provoking such reactions?

Brucies Heroes Regular Member • Posts: 279
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?

I shoot only raw to have maximum control and flexibility of the output.

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phototransformations
phototransformations Senior Member • Posts: 2,830
Re: POLL: How often do you shoot raw images?
2

cainn24 wrote:

Erik Ohlson wrote:

I've read reams of arguement on this subject on this forum for years and have yet to see convincing evidence that raw is more than a "cool" sounding word

This is just like the time you posted that thread about how sick to death you were of discussions about low-light performance and then proceeded to post a low-light high ISO image from one of your travelcams processed in neatimage (or whatever software it was) to shut everyone up. Apparently, anyone who values a two-stop advantage is just being silly.

But I guess you didn't feel content to stop there. Now, apparently, anyone who values an exposure safety net, or maximum control over degrees and types of sharpening and noise reduction, is just being silly too; trying to be "cool" instead of practical.

How exactly someone can spend a number of years on this earth, especially exposed to photography culture, and not develop a proper understanding of the concept of subjectivity, is beyond me. I mean are you really telling us that the idea that people can have higher or lower standards than each other, and place different degrees of importance on different factors in the IQ equation, is incomprehensible to you?

Seriously Erik, I know for a fact that it isn't. So what's this really all about? A reaction to some perceived elitism? Is it impossible now for people to be openly enthusiastic about a fast lens, or the superior results they're getting from some new and improved workflow, without provoking such reactions?

From what I've noticed in the last few months, we can apparently also add to the list of silly wastes of time: Photoshop actions, the Foveon sensor, protective filters, in-camera panoramas, tripods, any feature with "Auto" in the name except bracketing, and bringing anything but an "unadorned" camera to a photo shoot.

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