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  1. #1
    Sony A350 Owner, way amature photo hobby
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    RAW - pros /cons

    Ok... I am pretty new to DSLR, I have been doing some reading on RAW and I must add I am also new to editting (I am taking a photoshop course in a few weeks)...

    what are the pros and cons of shooting in RAW format. Is it basically for editting purposes that you would want to shoot in RAW verses JPG?

  2. #2
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Editing is part of it, but also by keeping your raw files, the image never deteriorates by editing or saving. All the information is always there in the raw file whereas jpegs deteriorate if you save them too many times. Actually every time but you may not notice until after saving several times. This can be avoided by saving it with a different title each time.
    Very seldom that I shoot jpeg anymore.
    The disadvantage are that it adds editing time and they take up much more space.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Try this copy a JPG file, open and save the file many times. Then compare the original with the copy side by side. You will see a lose of details and colors.

    This will not happen with TIFF, BMP, or GIF files and they do not use lossy compression. The advantage of RAW is 1) 12 to 18 bits per color, JPG is only 8 bit per color. 2) loss less compression 3) white balance, gama, and other adjustments are applied during work flow not in the camera (post processing).

    Depending on your camera you may be able to select JPG+RAW, but the saving speed will be slower than just JPG
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  4. #4
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Quote Originally Posted by freygr
    Try this copy a JPG file, open and save the file many times. Then compare the original with the copy side by side. You will see a lose of details and colors.
    That's not a good argument against shooting JPG. Because you can shoot JPG files and then make a master TIFF file and no degradation will happen after that. There's no reason to do multiple resaves of a JPG image. The real benefit of shooting RAW is that there's more data in the RAW file, so it has more ultimate image quality potential - if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Some photographers - like newspaper photographers - need to turn stuff around really fast. A lot of those guys use JPEG because the speed is more important to them than any bit of quality they might give up.

    We have a great article about why you should shoot RAW:

    Why Shoot RAW?

    I recommend everyone read it. It covers all of the issues very well. If you have any comments, please post them in the comments section of the article as that will make it a richer resource for future readers.
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  5. #5
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    After reading the article Photo John posted consider this:

    With the current software on the market for RAW processing a photographer can duplicate the in-camera JPEG image anytime they want. The options are not limited to that as they are if the only photo file that comes from the camera is a JPEG.

    Each generation of image processing software is getting significantly better and older files can be revisited for new, better, and expanded effects a capabilities if all the information is retained!

    Just a few quick reasons to shoot at least RAW. Most DSLR's are offering some variation of JPEG+RAW which can be a quick solution until you are comfortable with RAW processing.

    There are many forum members here at PR who can step you through or demonstrate what can be accomplised with RAW image processing.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Medley's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Quote Originally Posted by nneuhaus101
    what are the pros and cons of shooting in RAW format. Is it basically for editting purposes that you would want to shoot in RAW verses JPG?
    For the most part- yes, it is about the editing. That's my opinion anyway. But there's a bit more to it than that.

    The biggest advantage of Raw is that it will render an image in 16 bit mode. Your camera is capable of capture 12 bits/ channel. That means it can record 4096 different shades in each of the red, green, and blue channels. A Jpeg is rendered in 8 bit mode. That means it can only display 256 shades in each color channel. So, if you shoot in Jpeg mode, a lot of information that the camera captured is discarded before the image ever comes out of your camera.

    BUT, HERE'S THE THING: your monitor can only display 256 different shades, most printers can only print 256 different shades, and even the highly trained human eye can only see about 200 different shades. So what good is all that extra information?

    The answer is editing. First of all, 4096 shades gives you the ability to create nuances in contrast that are more subtle, and indeed more realistic. You'll eventually have to convert the image to 8 bits to display properly on your monitor, and you'll likely lose some of those nuances. But if you go about it correctly, you can maintain a bit of the localized contrast between pixels, and end up with an 8 bit image that still looks more realistic than the same scene would if shot as a Jpeg.

    But the sheer amount of information in a Raw image also gives you a lot more editing room. Many edits made in Photoshop discard information. Those edits that affect the image as a whole, such as Levels and Curves, tend to discard the most information.

    Remember when I said that Jpegs Capture 256 shades, and the eye can discern 200 shades? You don't have a lot of editing room before the eye can actually begin to SEE the image starting to break down and become pixelated.

    But with Raw, you start with 4096 levels. You can do a of editing before you break the image down to where the eye can tell.

    The downside to Raw is that the image will have to be edited before it can be printed. Some photography situations call for images to be printed on site. That precludes the use of Raw. Raw (as a general rule) is better quality, but in this instance, Jpeg's faster.

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  7. #7
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    My turn:

    RAW is the final step of the picture-taking process. It allows you to go back and replay the conversion of the image coming from the sensor into a usable image, with different parameters from those chosen by the camera or the user at time of taking(exposure, contrast, curves, light balance, etc.). The goal is to get the best possible image out of the camera. This process is within the scope of the camera manufacturer and I only use RAW processing software provided by the manufacturer.

    If I'm satisfied with the RAW image then I make a JPG directly from it. JPG is my end product and my photo library is exclusively JPG.

    If I want to manipulate the image (combine two images, smooth skin, remove wrinkles, clone out detail, etc.etc.) then I produce a TIFF image from the corrected RAW image. I use photo editing software to work on the TIFF image (Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop..). When I'm satisfied with the result I produce a JPG for my photo library.

    I always shoot RAW + JPG - the JPG out of the camera is an immediate security copy which I discard when I've finished the RAW processing. I always keep RAW, TIFF and Paint Shop Pro/Photoshop files but not in the photo library.
    Charles

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  8. #8
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais
    My turn:

    RAW is the final step of the picture-taking process. It allows you to go back and replay the conversion of the image coming from the sensor into a usable image, with different parameters from those chosen by the camera or the user at time of taking(exposure, contrast, curves, light balance, etc.). The goal is to get the best possible image out of the camera. This process is within the scope of the camera manufacturer and I only use RAW processing software provided by the manufacturer.

    If I'm satisfied with the RAW image then I make a JPG directly from it. JPG is my end product and my photo library is exclusively JPG.

    If I want to manipulate the image (combine two images, smooth skin, remove wrinkles, clone out detail, etc.etc.) then I produce a TIFF image from the corrected RAW image. I use photo editing software to work on the TIFF image (Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop..). When I'm satisfied with the result I produce a JPG for my photo library.

    I always shoot RAW + JPG - the JPG out of the camera is an immediate security copy which I discard when I've finished the RAW processing. I always keep RAW, TIFF and Paint Shop Pro/Photoshop files but not in the photo library.
    I like your work flow, I think I`m going to adopt it, I guess it covers all the angles, the only thing that "hurts" is shooting RAW+JPEG, specially for trips where I take a good bunch of pics. I guess I have to invest in a good CF card next. Now I`m using a 2 and a 4mb XD set of cards and I barely make it shooting only JPGE`s.

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  9. #9
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRob
    I like your work flow, I think I`m going to adopt it, I guess it covers all the angles, the only thing that "hurts" is shooting RAW+JPEG, specially for trips where I take a good bunch of pics. I guess I have to invest in a good CF card next. Now I`m using a 2 and a 4mb XD set of cards and I barely make it shooting only JPGE`s.
    I hope you mean that you're using 2 and 4 GB cards, not MB.. Shooting RAW+JPG the JPG files don't take very much space because I use Basic quality. Remember the JPG is only a backup, it will be replaced by a normal-quality JPG generated from the RAW file.

    I have a 4GB card in the D200 which is good for a model shoot (250-300 pictures). In the D300 I have a 8GB card which is good for a day-long event (about 450 pictures). And for holidays with the D60 I have set of cheap 16GB SDHC cards. Each one is good for a week of shooting (1100 pictures). Every night I plug the camera into an ARCHOS external drive and make a copy of the JPG's. I know this means that I have multiple copies of the files as days go by but they don't take much space.
    Charles

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  10. #10
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais
    I hope you mean that you're using 2 and 4 GB cards, not MB.. Shooting RAW+JPG the JPG files don't take very much space because I use Basic quality. Remember the JPG is only a backup, it will be replaced by a normal-quality JPG generated from the RAW file.

    I have a 4GB card in the D200 which is good for a model shoot (250-300 pictures). In the D300 I have a 8GB card which is good for a day-long event (about 450 pictures). And for holidays with the D60 I have set of cheap 16GB SDHC cards. Each one is good for a week of shooting (1100 pictures). Every night I plug the camera into an ARCHOS external drive and make a copy of the JPG's. I know this means that I have multiple copies of the files as days go by but they don't take much space.
    :mad2: LOL yeah! Gbs not Mbs LOL sorry
    The thing is that I shoot several times the same scene or subject, each with different tweaks in the camera settings (still learning the sweet spots of my cam I guess) so I end up with maybe 4 or 5 pics of the same thing. I guess I will have to do the camera setup shooting JPEGs and then take the time to pick the best setting on site and then shoot the "final" RAW from that particular scene or subject. Or buy a big CF card and shoot RAW all the time without remorse.

    Canon XSi
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    1. "A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words."Ansel Adams
    2. "Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art."Ansel Adams

  11. #11
    Dyslexics of the world Untie! Nicci's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    I just wanted to thank you all for this information. It has been interesting and very informative reading (and much more fun than my school work).

    /N

  12. #12
    Active Amateur havana_joe's Avatar
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    Re: RAW - pros /cons

    I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate and throw in some reasons for using JPEG. Full discloser, I do not shoot in RAW, because I don’t have good editing software for RAW, only what came with my D40. I have nothing against RAW, I am just offering another view!

    JPEG is a universal format. RAW is proprietary. You can display JPEG on any computer, anywhere, as well as iPods, cell phones, DVD players, video game systems, TVs, etc. I’ve taken pictures at parties and BBQs, and had the host ask if I could copy the files onto his computer right then and there. If taken in RAW, I could not have done this.

    RAW requires editing and saving. JPEG is ready to go as soon as you download the file. I am not a pro, so admittedly my pictures don’t need to be perfect. If I WAS a pro, I’d use RAW, since I am trying to turn out the best product possible.

    You can’t edit a JPEG as much as you can work with a RAW file, but you CAN edit JPEGs. Editing software is pretty good these days. Unless your JPEG is really off, you can probably make all the corrections you need.

    JPEG files are smaller. This means faster writing, faster uploading, less space, etc. Space is cheap these days, so this is a minor point.

    Maybe when I become a better photographer I’ll have more use for RAW, but as a hobbyist I don’t see the need right now. If I were a pro- no question, RAW all the way, it DOES give you the best pictures possible.
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