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RAW or camera produced Jpeg?

This is a discussion on RAW or camera produced Jpeg? within the Digital photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; In the camera club I belong to we have a wild life photographer who declares he never uses RAW. His ...

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    ericmark is offline Senior Member
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    Default RAW or camera produced Jpeg?

    In the camera club I belong to we have a wild life photographer who declares he never uses RAW. His images of butterfly's are stunning and far better than any I take. So this poses a question.

    Does the cameras conversion into Jpeg do a better job than one can do manually?

    Back in the days of film certain makes were know for they effect on the finished result specially with they colour rendering but I don't here talk of a Canon colour or a Nikon contrast as most higher range cameras are used in RAW so it really does not matter how the camera would handle it we take over. I nearly always seem to have to lift the colour temperature and setting like cloudy, tungsten or florescent are really pointless when taking in RAW. Or are they?

    Both my Pentax and my Nikon will produce Jpeg images from the RAW file post exposure so I see no point in the RAW+Jpeg option it just increases the memory used with each exposure and slows the camera down. However in view of this guys stunning photos I wonder if Adobe conversion is the way forward or if the cameras computer does a better job?

    Thoughts please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ericmark View Post
    In the camera club I belong to we have a wild life photographer who declares he never uses RAW. His images of butterfly's are stunning and far better than any I take. So this poses a question.

    Does the cameras conversion into Jpeg do a better job than one can do manually?

    Back in the days of film certain makes were know for they effect on the finished result specially with they colour rendering but I don't here talk of a Canon colour or a Nikon contrast as most higher range cameras are used in RAW so it really does not matter how the camera would handle it we take over. I nearly always seem to have to lift the colour temperature and setting like cloudy, tungsten or florescent are really pointless when taking in RAW. Or are they?

    Both my Pentax and my Nikon will produce Jpeg images from the RAW file post exposure so I see no point in the RAW+Jpeg option it just increases the memory used with each exposure and slows the camera down. However in view of this guys stunning photos I wonder if Adobe conversion is the way forward or if the cameras computer does a better job?

    Thoughts please.
    It is just you can do more in post processing with RAW than you can with jpeg. I use RAW + jpeg when I use my Eye-Fi card, because it will only transmit jpegs to my phone.

    I don't know about if it does a better processing then Lightroom, etc.
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    To me the argument seems to be: photographer A uses jpeg and takes really good photos. Therefore I should shoot in jpeg. The problem with the reasoning is that the reason the photos look great to you don't really have anything to do with the fact that they were shot in jpg. Framing, composition, subject, patience, lens acuity amongst many more variables are far higher up the priority list in terms of what is responsible for why the photo is likely appealing.

    I can say this. There is nothing you can do with a jpg (processed by the camera's internal software) that you can't do with a RAW. But there absolutely are things you can do with a RAW image that you cannot do with a jpeg. If you've ever missed exposure by a stop or two or had auto color balance leave you with a color cast, there is no question that addressing this in post via a RAW image will result in a superior image. Or if you're shooting a scene with a large dynamic range (e.g. you'd hope to preserve detail in the sky), it makes little sense to throw away that data by immediately relegating the image to only 8-bits.

    The short answer, though, is that in most applications the RAW vs. jpeg question is mostly moot. If you're close on exposure and color balance and not hoping to bring the shadows up or highlights down significantly, jpeg is just fine.
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    Christopher explains things quite well here but I still feel that my may be useful to add.

    I'm not sure what your Pentax or Nikon calls them but in my Canon I have settings for the JPEG processing called "Picture Style". Those settings let you adjust contrast, colour, and sharpness and it's those settings that get applied to every image when the camera converts the RAW image to JPEG. And, yes, you heard me right. Keep in mind that all digital cameras shoot in RAW. The processing is either done in the camera or in the digital darkroom but make no mistake, the original shot was taken in RAW format.

    Shooting in JPEG only means that you have pre-selected the level of sharpening, colour, and contrast and that you are letting the camera do the processing. Shooting in RAW means that you are telling the camera that you don't want the image processed in camera, but instead you will decide on the computer what the appropriate level of colour, contrast, and sharpening needs to be done for that image. Obviously, this gives you way more control and with modern software like Lightroom you can do it selectively within different parts of the image.

    Hope this helps!
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    I will admit with the D-SLR I always shoot RAW but I also carry a compact and that has to be Jpeg I am not given the option. I see both good and bad with the Jpeg only camera there is very little I need to do with most images it's simple what you see is what you get. But with the D-SLR one can spend ages trying to adjust the image and not always getting that adjustment right.

    With a project I looked at free software and with programs like Gimp you can't work with 16 bit so to be able to use RAW means multi Jpegs made from the RAW file which are then blended into one.

    It was during this exercise that I realised the cameras built in RAW to Jpeg does a pretty good job. I converted the same RAW file a few times one with exposure corrected to light side and other corrected to dark side then combined. With a photo with foreground and sky this worked but with a photo of a butterfly simply there was no need it was good enough with the standard non corrected RAW to Jpeg.

    What I did realise however was the in camera colour temperature seemed to be better than Adobe yes I can adjust with Adobe but only after I get home. In camera I can adjust at the scene so can compare to see if correct.

    When I am out taking photos I think of the song about gambling and not counting the money until finished. To play with the photo while at the venue one is missing opportunities I rarely review until I return.

    However in view of how good his photos are I wonder what I am missing and if using Jpeg he is able to do fine adjustments in camera at the time which I am missing with RAW. My camera has a host of settings for light types for example but only for the Jpeg version.

    I have laughed at the Idea of RAW + Jpeg as I can in camera at any time produce a Jpeg from the RAW but once home I have no way to compare the real colour to colour of my image.

    As to if simply taking a photo of a white card or taking at least one Jpeg and comparing is the way to go I don't know but I think I need to experiment and find a balance.

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    Already some good discussion above that I agree with but I will add my few random thoughts.

    I agree that RAW will give greater control (and I always shoot raw), however I do think that sometimes the benefit is overstated for a majority of shots.

    Recently my niece asked me to edit some JPG shots she took on holiday, and to be honest I was quite amazed at the latitude and flexibility I had to play with. I don't believe much data had been lost.

    Personally I like to start with the pixels captured and manipulate the way I want, but I also think the benefit is sometimes subtle. It is also very easy to over-process or over-sharpen and by having the camera do it, it can provide a more natural result or at least a starting point.

    The software that is shipped with Canon cameras enables you to process raw files using the equivalent of the camera jpeg presets (or "Picture Style" referred to above). This can be fun to see what the image would have been like if you had the camera process it instead of doing it yourself. I guess this is the equivalent of shooting Raw + jpg (except you can try differing picture styles)
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    Since starting this post one of the monthly mags has given away DxO Optics Pro 7 which I tried since it was free. I was rather impressed this software auto converts RAW images as the camera software would (well they claim better) and like with what it seems comes with the Canon and many other makes you can convert in the PC rather than in camera.

    As to RAW + Jpeg early days I had problems because of save time to SD card so I set to RAW only knowing I can produce Jpegs in camera at any time latter with both Pentax and Nikon. But it seems some cameras don't have that option.

    At the club photographers as split into beginners, intermediate and advanced to allow those on the lower end to have a chance of winning competitions. I am a beginner. In the beginners group there are many taking Jpeg only. But with intermediate and advanced there is just one member who admits he only uses Jpeg. However this member is rather special in another way. He is really big on wild life and I am sure there is not a single British butterfly he does not know. After talking to others I think it's down to what he takes which means RAW offers him little advantage over Jpeg.

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