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RAW vs JPEGs

 
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sonyalpha



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 916
Location: Middle England

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: RAW vs JPEGs Reply with quote

To be more professional in my approach to macro photography in particular I recently switched to shooting in RAW mode:

I do realise that there is a loss of quality the more a JPEG is processed:

I have found that all of my RAW shots so far haven't looked on sharp or as bright as my previous JPEGs : and... even after post-proven's not as good:

The fact that you need to keep at least three versions of each shot -RAW-TIFF. and JPEG:

Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?

what if I save my out of the camera shots as TIFFS?

Sonyalpha
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Mitch640



Joined: 15 Aug 2010
Posts: 2137

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While new to microscopy, I'm not new to photography. I always shoot RAW, and only keep the original RAW files. When converting for web or print, [I use Photoshop CS3], I convert to a tiff, after doing any needed corrections in CS3 - ACR. In ACR, I only adjust lighting, WB or Temperature, and brightness. Export as a tiff, then open the tiff in CS3. I usually do some Levels adjustments and some special sharpening techniques I use, after any cropping or resizing. Do those adjustments to the tiff in 16 bit mode, convert to 8 bit as the last thing, then save as a jpg.

Do a Save As, not a Save for web, and the EXIF data will be retained, which is very useful to others viewing your files. Some people here post images with EXIF intact, and you can view that by downloading a free EXIF viewer and installing it in your browser. Then you can right click an image and view the EXIF data. All the camera settings are in there to learn from.

Unfortunately, stacking seems to strip the EXIF data. Maybe Rik could fix that? Smile

My primary reason for shooting only RAW is, I can edit the file, which is saved as the camera saw it. No in camera setting for jpg are saved in the RAW files. Canon cameras do use the jpg settings you have entered to show your preview images on the rear screen, but those settings are not saved in the RAW files.

Once I am done creating a jpg, I move it to my server then delete the tiff and jpg. Four or five years of saved files will teach you to delete any dupes and not save useless junk, like jpg's or tiff's, that you can re-create at any time from the original RAW. And probably learned more tricks in post processing since you took the original anyway. Wink

I should add, if your originally shot RAW files are not coming out as sharp as the camera shot jpg's, then it is your editing technique, not the RAW files. Meaning no disrespect, but the RAW can't be worse than the jpg, since they both start from the same sensor, it's just that the camera does things to the jpg before you even see it to make it look better. Wink
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elf



Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Posts: 1319

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:13 pm    Post subject: Re: RAW vs JPEGs Reply with quote

sonyalpha wrote:
To be more professional in my approach to macro photography in particular I recently switched to shooting in RAW mode:

I do realise that there is a loss of quality the more a JPEG is processed:

I have found that all of my RAW shots so far haven't looked on sharp or as bright as my previous JPEGs : and... even after post-proven's not as good:

The fact that you need to keep at least three versions of each shot -RAW-TIFF. and JPEG:

Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?

what if I save my out of the camera shots as TIFFS?

Sonyalpha


What is your workflow?

If I view an image at 200% the RAW conversion will have more detail than the jpeg. Whether or not this detail will show in a print is a whole other discussion Smile
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AndrewC



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
Posts: 1436
Location: Belgium

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I've been "doing digital" for a fair few years now. I used to be an "only RAW" (or in my case NEF) sort of person but to be honest when I'm shooting stacks, typically of 100-300 images, I don't think it is worth the effort. For single shots of landscapes etc and when I'm shooting HDR I still stick to RAW but everything else is just full size high quality jpg. The capability of the in-situ image processors in most modern cameras is way better than in former times.

I can't see the point of saving out of camera Tiffs Smile
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Last edited by AndrewC on Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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AndrewC



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
Posts: 1436
Location: Belgium

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mitch640 wrote:
...

Do a Save As, not a Save for web, and the EXIF data will be retained, which is very useful to others viewing your files. ...


Do you really find it useful ? In the macro world there is probably a lot more to be gained from talking about lighting techniques and anyway a lot (maybe most ?) of macro setups use manual lenses which don't record aperture or bellows length or whatever.

I've discussed this with many folks over the years but personally I've never been very interested in ISO speeds, shutter and lens settings etc. I prefer to browse pixel information rather than details of your camera Smile
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Mitch640



Joined: 15 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's probably been years since you were a newbie with a camera then. Wink

All that stuff is what newbies need to know to get off the home plate. EXIF takes a little less than 1K of space in the file itself, so there is really no reason not to include it. I still look at it occasionally, which is how I know some people at this forum, leave it in their images. Even now, knowing what ISO a person used, the shutter speed, even what camera, is very useful to me, being the new guy. So the answer is, yes, I still find it useful. Smile
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Issaquah, WA USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sort of like Andrew. Typically everything is shot in raw+jpg. But for most large stacks I'll generally use the jpgs, and the raw files are saved as "insurance". If there is some "issue" with the jpgs, and the shot deserves the effort and attention, I'll work from the raw files.

But raw files are nearly always used for non-stacked images.

I think what should be remembered is that a typical DSLR has a very large range of settings that determine how the camera processes the "raw" data to produce and save the jpg image. (And after doing so, much of the "info" the sensor received is discarded unless a raw file is saved). My experience is that if these settings are properly made for the photo situation there is often no need to go to the raw file for most uses. In a "controlled" environment such as on a microscope, or a desktop macro set-up, these settings can be established much more effectively than is the case for "outdoor" scenes where there is typically a huge variation in imaging parameters from one shot to another.
(And I refuse to poke buttons and set different "settings" to accommodate these variations when I'm outside taking pictures. Wink. Especially since working with a raw file gives me much more control. )
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Will Milne



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
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Location: Manitoba Canada

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HI

I work with raw only being a nikon fellow that means .nef and Capture NX. Why Capture NX? Because of all the raw converters I tried with .nef files NX gave the best results.

My casual walk around Raw point and shoot camera is a Sony DSC-R1 - brilliant camera - 10.3 mp APS-C CMOS sensor. wish they would make the same cam with interchangable lenses but that is another issue. Only converter I can get satisfying converted raw files out of that cam is Silkypix, other converter output from the sony raw R1 files is less than enjoyable.

My own take is that matching up raw converters with different manufacturers raw input files is more of an issue than we often think in terms of quality of output. Maybe some do either canon/nikon/sony better than others.

Given that using Raw as a starting point is a bigger investment in workflow time than jpeg or tiff for that matter it makes some sense to look at the first step ie- the conversion workflow.

Might just be me but- I have struggled with Zerene noise and other issues until I adjusted my raw processing and had pretty much given up on it and gone back to accepting HF issues as the lesser of two evils. I had been converting to tiffs for the stacks with sharpening and other adjustments on each file done in the raw converter. I tried simply WB adjustment and no sharpening or other adjustments and tiff output for the stacks and now find Zerene output virtually noiseless and far more predicable and preferable.

Will
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Craig Gerard



Joined: 01 May 2010
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will,

I had the same experience with stacks and noise. Isolated it, to some extent, to the pre-sharpening in RAW workflow software. I 'disable' sharpening when exporting batches from the RAW processing software when the images are to be stacked.

There is some more information at link below:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10567

Craig
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PaulFurman



Joined: 24 Oct 2009
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Location: SF, CA, USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raw for stills and hand held stacks, JPEG for table top stacks. I keep the camera settings on rather low contrast low saturation settings, originally for the purpose of better showing histograms on the LCD but it works well for stacking too. For table top, I set a custom white balance by sliding some white paper in over the subject.

The primary advantage of raw is being able to pull shadows up & recover highlights. I've not seem any perceptible difference in more than 8 bit or TIF, even when doing the most extreme exposure corrections. Big difference with raw though. For normal exposures if everything is done right, JPEG is fine. In an idea world, I would use raw for stacks too but it just becomes unwieldy.
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DaveW



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1702
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I have found that all of my RAW shots so far haven't looked as sharp or as bright as my previous JPEGs : and... even after post-processing not as good:

The fact that you need to keep at least three versions of each shot -RAW-TIFF. and JPEG"


Of course they do not initially look as good since they were not preprocessed in camera. It is up to you to do all the twiddling that the camera did in post processing. Raw Converters and post processing software usually provides default settings so the image is reasonably viewable (though even these can be turned off), but these are usually minimalist so you can increase them to suit yourself.

If you are not getting as good or better results than the JPEG's then it is your processing because the camera starts with the same RAW data before it processes it to a JPEG, and that is done by a processor far less powerful than you have in your computer to run your far more complex post processing software.

It is really just a case of keeping on until you master post processing. Sharpening is supposedly always best done just before you save your image as a JPEG or for the Web, though some do some slight sharpening on RAW conversion, but I have never found the need to though probably that is because most RAW Converters do some default sharpening unless it is switched off.

As to three lots of saving, I cannot see the point unless you print your images out regularly. You only really need the original RAW file plus the saved JPEG, so I never bother with Tiff. If you are confident the finished JPEG is all the processing you will ever do to the original RAW file you can even delete the RAW file and save only the finished JPEG on your computer.

Should I want to do a fresh image I import the original RAW image again and start from scratch. When finished I "Save For Web", which automatically converts it to a JPEG, but I suppose you could also use "Save As" to produce a JPEG?

I then save it to a folder and close the image in the processor which asks me if I want to save the changes. I click "No" and the Raw file remains unaltered, but my processed JPEG is in another folder.

I use all my images for the Web and digital projection though, so don't need to print them out. I gather Tiff is an advantage for prints though? But should I ever need a Tiff I could always make one from the original RAW image.

http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/guides/digital/jpeg_tiff_or_raw_4.html

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/marketing-sales/graphic-design/MAR_GRD/635887-55443963

Of course it depends on what your images will be used for long term how much trouble you go to saving them. It may be far less costly to just take some again if not that precious, plus have you ever thought how long you will need them saving? It is a fact, just like negatives, slides and prints in the past, when you die your relations or the house clearer will simply dump the CD's in the skip (dumpster) anyway and wipe them off your hard disks, so too much archival storage is hardly appropriate! Laughing

DaveW Very Happy
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pgk



Joined: 15 May 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are an immense amount of reasons for choosing RAW files over Jpegs. My own description of using a modern dSLR and shooting JPEGs is that its a bit like having a Ferrari (which I do not!) and driving it around at 30mph - perfectly possible, but pretty pointless.

As an example for either stacking or panoramas. Using camera originated JPEGs leaves you locked into all the parameters which the camera used when the files were created. If auto white balance was used then there can be colour variations in the files. By shooting RAW, all files can be adjusted by selecting them, adjusting one then applying the adjustment to all the files (using Photoshop for example). This can control blown highlights, overall contrast, colour balance, etc., etc.. Its even possible to adjust chroma slightly which can at times be very useful - I shoot underwater through a thick glass port and it is very helpful for me.

I've shot ONLY RAW files for over 6 years and with current software it is possible to go back and revisit early files and produce a better image than was possible when they were taken.

JPEGs are 8-bit files with more limited post processing possibilities, locked parameters and potential artifacts. If you are really serious about absolute image quality then they are to be avoided IMHO, and if you are spending time and money on high quality equipment its seems a waste not to carry the final step, in terms of files and software, through to the conclusion.
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Joaquim F.



Joined: 28 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I prefer the raw just because I gives a sharper image than the jpg, especially with the converters that seem to use all the colours pixels to generate the luminance channel not just the green one, apart from some experimental ones I believe the ACDSee Pro raw engine does that, compared with PS or the Nikon Capture I see a sharpest image to pixel level with no unsharp mask. (Apart from the blue halos of achromatic objectives also hate whites ones of Unsharp Mask) Hehe

Best regards

Joaquim
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sonyalpha



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very big thank you to all of you that took part in this discussion..........very informative.............I will persevere with RAW for the time being:

sonyalpha
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DaveW



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RAW converters are not always "neutral" in just presenting the unmodified camera data (also post processing software with JPEG's). The manufacturers usually have them set up "out of the box" with some default settings to produce a reasonably acceptable image for you to start on. Therefore RAW converter images will vary with their default settings, just as camera images will.

In theory the camera manufacturers RAW converter ought to be better than a universal one as it is geared to their camera make alone, but this is obviously not always true. Also one RAW converter may process Canon images better than Nikon and another Nikon better than Canon, so really it is the best converter for your make of camera, though most can be adjusted to your preferences, just as your camera can.

http://www.naturewindows.com/articles/article090203.html

These default settings can usually be switched off if you want the RAW file unmodified as it comes out of the camera. See the manual that came with the RAW converter or look in the "Help" menu.

http://fleetingglimpseimages.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/raw-converters-subtle-secret/

Personally I have no hang up with the default settings anyway as they are easily modified by just moving the sliders either way. However I use the link above to just point out that the initial image you may see in your RAW converter is not always unmodified as it came from the camera.

A good discussion of RAW conversion is that by Thom Hogan:-

http://www.bythom.com/qadraw.htm

DaveW
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