• Stormtrack's forum runs on Xenforo forum software, which will be undergoing a major update the evening of Wednesday, Feb 28th. The site may be down for a period while that update takes place.

RAW - the pros and cons

seems that raw saves better quality pics so they say -
.....but if you are trying to quickly view or send or post to a discussion is it the format to use?
.....and if I nail a great shot am I really gonna see the difference on a 8.5' by 11" copy?

just seems to add a lot more fussing as Im using adobe 98 and canon 6.0 software

thanks
the lazy/amatuer photographer
 
I just switched from jpg to RAW this year... The ability to adjust exposure, white balance, etc, makes it easier to "digitally develop". If you want to quickly post pics, however, it may be worth it to do a RAW+JPG option (it's available on the Canon dSLRs, not sure about Nikons), since that allows you to quickly post a jpg w/o having to do much in the way of adjustment, but it also allows you to go back and use the RAW to obtain the best possible picture (at least, given the framing, etc, of the original shot).
 
seems that raw saves better quality pics so they say -
.....but if you are trying to quickly view or send or post to a discussion is it the format to use?
.....and if I nail a great shot am I really gonna see the difference on a 8.5' by 11" copy?

just seems to add a lot more fussing as Im using adobe 98 and canon 6.0 software

thanks
the lazy/amatuer photographer
[/b]

Do you do much post processing of your photos? If not, then shoot JPEG. You'll never make use of any of what RAW is good for. If, though, you do post-process your photos at all with photoshop, RAW is much, much better than JPEG.

You can always convert a RAW to a JPEG fairly easily using Photoshop or the software that comes with the camera.
 
Do you do much post processing of your photos? If not, then shoot JPEG. You'll never make use of any of what RAW is good for. If, though, you do post-process your photos at all with photoshop, RAW is much, much better than JPEG.

You can always convert a RAW to a JPEG fairly easily using Photoshop or the software that comes with the camera.
[/b]

I think one of the biggest cons to RAW and one of few, is file size. If you shoot a lot of pictures in RAW, storage will so become a problem.
 
I think one of the biggest cons to RAW and one of few, is file size. If you shoot a lot of pictures in RAW, storage will so become a problem.
[/b]

yes file size - Ive heard of that issue too....

.......so will the quality of say burning a cd photo and showing it later say on a hi def tv screen (50") through my dvd player look different in raw than jpeg?

thats probably the only thing that would come up post op or maybe a 11" by 14" print (will that look different?)

thanks
 
Most "HDTVs" (very few folks have true/full HD tv sets, with someting like 1900x1200 resolution) are in the 1024x768 range, so that's less than 1 megapixel. If you have a 6-7 megapixel image, you'll only be using <20% of the available data. In terms of viewing quality, JPG will probably actually look better, since most cameras apply some automatic post-processing (sharpening, contrast enhancement, saturation increase, etc) in-camera when you save to jpg, while RAW is, literally, raw data, which rarely looks very good w/o any enhancements. JPG artifacts shouldn't be an issue if you view it on an HDTV...

If you print 11x14, that's a much different deal. There is MUCH more info in an 8x10 or larger printed image compared to a TV image. Regardless, you'll still need to do some post-processing. In the end, you'll probably save it to jpg, but you have more freedom when post-processing RAW compared to jpg. I guess you could save to TIFF (converted from RAW), which will avoid compression artifacts. However, TIFFs are very large compared to JPGs.
 
There’s an interesting read on Ken Rockwell’s site about this very issue. Many don’t care for his opinions, but I think it just comes down to how you plan on using the photo.

Ken Rockwell
 
Thanks for clarying all that RAW stuff. People have told me to shoot in RAW and I never really fully understood why.

I don't do a lot of adjusting... I just do a little bit of contrast/brightness touchups, but nothing too dramatic. It's not like I sell stock photos either, they're more or less just for my website for others to view.
 
Number one reason to use RAW: White balance. IF you want the ability to make your pictures look like real life, it's worth it for this reason alone.

Who needs a grey card these days? I just dial in or play with the color temp in teh conversion software and I'm good to go.

Aaron
 
ok so I maybe dont want to get a white card and balance all day long - Im gonna shoot with my circular polarizing filter, right ?- seems to increase/decrease the white and kills the glare
also makes the blue sky bluer -
MEANING I can reshoot the shot after I view it if I dont like the contrast, not really needing adobe to "fix" anything - unless I want to print it later poster size does that matter then?

wrong? anyone? (trying to avoid all the complexeties of RAW which is the topic)

just found out that you probably WON'T see the improved quality from a raw image UNTIL you print it to a poster size of 11 by 14 or greater - other wise if its gonna be moved around on line or posted on a web site ya dont have to worry - UNLESS you want to make calculated changes to it...anyone?
 
IMHO: RAW format is fine. If you want to keep a photo for later printing, if you are really looking at a final product that you'll be looking at through a loupe, or if you're just plain techy.

Personally, I very rarely use RAW. I generally shoot in Fine JPEG. White Balance isn't that much of a factor and yes, I still use a gray card. I also use various white, warm and cool cards too. I shoot portraits and a few modeling photos on the side. Again, unless the photo is going to be blown up or actually needs very fine detail, I'll shoot in fine jpg mode and still be able to do any clean up work and minor adjusting and not have any appreciable detail loss.

I generally don't use a loupe to examine my photos. I generally print large photos and look more st what I will see at "normal veiwing distance". Not what I'm going to see when I get up really close under 10X magnification.

By doing some minor manipulation to color balances, I can get pretty close to the actual White Balance as I already have that set in the camera. If I have shot something that needs to be RAW, but I did it in Jpg. The loss difference in converting to TIF isn't that major that I can get away with it.

My opinion goes to say, RAW is fine if you need to make micro-millimeter adjustments, needs the capability to enlarge something larger than 16X20, or are just plain wanting that extra step in post processing. Of course the theory goes, if you have your settings correct to begin with, you won't need post processing (Old School thoughts).

But we all know that we have to post process just a little bit, eh?

Just take a look at what you're really planning to do with the photos. That will help you decide more than anything else.
 
I'd say as far as artifacting goes, yes JPEG from a camera is compressed and does suffer from it, but RAW in most cases isn't lightyears ahead JPEG at 100% in most instances. However, as others have said, RAW is mainly used and has benefits for manipulating exposure (though there are limits) and white balance. Other perks from RAW being uncompressed is the available wider color gamut which also can help when your final output is a print.

Also, as mentioned before, the RAW format's main negative is the size of the file. In my case, a RAW image from my camera (5D) on average will be 12-13 megabytes per image, where as the JPEG of the same photo may be 4 or 5 MB.

In my experience, typically I will shoot either/or, or both depending on my subject. You tend to learn when RAW will help the appearance of your final product.

Some people would never shoot JPEG only, and some don't mess with RAW. I tend to always want the highest quality I can get, but the capacity issues with RAW and the extra processing strain on my CPU in workflow makes me only shoot RAW part time (my shooting habits result in a lot of pictures, you may only take a few photos rather than many). If I had an 12 gig CF card, and the latest dual core CPU with 8 gigs of ram and terabytes of storage at my disposal, I probably would exlcusively choose raw just because.
 
If you know traditional film photography, you know the technique of "bracketing" your shots (shooting 1/2 stop under, 1 stop under, 1-1/2 stops under, 1/2 stop over, 1 stop over, 1-1/2 stops over). This is especially useful in tricky lighting situations or when you want to capture detail in areas that would normally be "blown-out" or (conversely) underexposed. In a nutshell, that is what RAW does for you, only it saves all of that digital information in one shot. Shooting as JPEG "throws away" all those extra data bits and gives you one (compromised) exposure.

So you can see why the file size of RAW is larger. It contains the data of several bracketed shots. As has been brought out above, a RAW image will probably not look better than the "compromise" JPEG image UNLESS you do post-processing on it. Even then, the improvements will depend more on your post-processing abilities and techniques, but the improvements can be stunning. Done well, post-processing can bring out detail that the eye (with it's dynamic aperture) could discern but could not be captured by the limited exposure range of film. This gets into a controversial area in which the line between "enhancement" and "fabrication" can become blurred, depending on the philosophy of the post-processor.

A Google search of "post-processing" and RAW (and perhaps your camera brand) should lead to some useful articles demonstrating techniques, workflows, and before/after images. Here are just a few that you may find informative:
Post-processing Outdoor Digital Photographs
A Digital Workflow Primer
Quick and Dirty Image Post-Processing Technique
The RAW File Format

You can use "lazy" techniques to convert your RAW images to JPEG (using for example the Adobe Camera RAW plug-in for Photoshop). This basically does the same thing that your camera would do if shooting in JPEG (pick and choose data from the RAW image to create a compromise JPEG, throwing away the other data). The benefits to this are, that you can simply creating a COPY of the RAW image and saving it as a JPEG - meaning that the RAW data is not discarded. Therefore, if you find you have an exceptional image and would like to spend more time on it to bring out details in post-processing you have that option. You give away that option when you shoot JPEG because you let the camera throw away all of that data before it even writes the image to the card.

Regarding RAW:
.....but if you are trying to quickly view or send or post to a discussion is it the format to use?

[/b]

No. The modern web browser displays only JPEG, GIF or PNG image formats. You would need to convert a RAW image (probably to JPEG) to post to a web server/discussion board. This does not mean that one should not shoot RAW, however (YMMV)

Darren Addy
Kearney, NE
 
It has been addressed on other threads, but I have found that Pixmantec RawShooter is very quick and intuitive for converting raw images. You have the option to save in TIFF or JPEG, and the sliders make adjusting the white balance, color sat, and other characteristics really easy. I typically export to TIFF if I want to crop in Photoshop, but straight to JPEG if I just want to throw it on my website.

I used to not think RAW was useful at all, and it was just a pain to have to deal with too, but now I am a total convert and would never go back.
 
I used to shoot Jpegs, now I shoot RAW. I have found with good software, I can actually get images to my clients faster with RAW than with Jpegs. Most RAW software will have all of the image controls for curves, contrast, sat, cropping, resizing, noise reduction placed within reach, as opposed to being buried in menus within the Gorilla that is photoshop. (don't get me wrong, I love photoshop!)

Try RAW plus Pixmantic Rawshooter, or Bibble Pro and you will be a convert. The new Bibble has Noise Ninja built in, and allows you to organize your work easily. Rawshooter is an ease to use. Rawshooter Essentials is free. Try it, you'll like it!
 
Back
Top