Raw file, whats the point?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by Neocane, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Neocane

    Neocane TPF Noob!

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    I've already googled it and come up with nothing more than a myriad of opinions. I would like to hear it from you guys who actually have real world experience and not merely an opinion. What, if any, is the real and tangible advantage of shooting in "raw" format vs jpeg. I seem to get fairly decent results with jpeg files when processed in CS4 and LR2.

    I apologize if this topic has been covered already, and probably has, but I'm a complete noob regarding digital photography and have found so far that TPF is a wealth of experienced information. I really appreciate any helpfull answers you guys can spare the time to give.

    Furthermore, if RAW truly is the more exacting way to go, could you point me in the direction of a good tutorial regarding the "correct" way to process a RAW file, or is the software that came with my camera (Canon T1i) more than sufficient for the task?

    Thanks again folks! :mrgreen:
     
  2. williambarry

    williambarry TPF Noob!

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    JPEG loses quality over time. You start seeing artifacts appearing in images. RAW files are a loss less file format, so they stay pristine over time.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    JPEGs don't necessarily loose quality over time. But JPEG is a compression format, and each time you save a a JPEG file, it is compressed to save file size and thus can loose quality at each saving.
     
  5. mdtusz

    mdtusz TPF Noob!

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    WHAT'S THE POINT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Clearly you have some reading to do. In a short answer, RAW is a record of what every pixel saw when you took the shot. JPEG's are the image created by those pixels. By shooting RAW, you have the ability to adjust the image without losing any of the ratios between colours (ie. whitebalance, exposure, saturation etc) and can adjust sharpness etc. much more effectively.

    It's like wet vs dry concrete. It's a lot easier to form the wet stuff, then let it dry when you need to print put it on the web, or "sculpt" it (photoshop).
     
  6. ajkramer87

    ajkramer87 TPF Noob!

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    Which is why when I edit a jpeg I make a copy of the original and edit that one. This way I don't lose quality in the original.
     
  7. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    the amount of tweaking is unlimited with RAW as you have control over the whole process. Control being the important word here. With jpeg, the camera maker has desided what they feel you want and apply the information to the file. Yes you can go into the parameters and make some changes but they are gobal in nature.

    As and example just in the area of white balance, very little can be done to correct, in RAW an easy fix.
     
  8. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    For me it's a safety net, plain and simple. :)
     
  9. Big McLargeHuge

    Big McLargeHuge TPF Noob!

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    That wasn't really the point Mike was trying to make. Each time you click 'Save' after editing a jpg, the file loses information/quality. It has nothing to do with whether or not there is a backup copy. Assuming the edited jpg is the one you want to use (post online, print, etc), you want to minimize lost information. With RAW you can make as many edits as you want, then export to jpg for whatever purpose you wish, and the file has only been compressed once.
     
  10. Neocane

    Neocane TPF Noob!

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    One word bro, decaf! lol! :lmao:

    Seriously though, thanks for the reply's guys. Apparently I need to rethink using RAW as a medium for my more serious endevours. But first I need to learn to process them correctly. Thanks for the link Big Mike. :thumbup:
     
  11. Hamtastic

    Hamtastic TPF Noob!

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    All digital cameras shoot raw all the time.

    If you have your camera set to jpeg, or it doesn't offer access to the raw file at all, you are processing the raw file with in-camera software.

    If you set the camera to raw it saves the raw file so you can process it with out-of-camera software. There are many out-of-camera processing software choices that make the manufacturer provided software look pretty lame. They almost always offer more precision and options.

    Your camera is a dumb computer. Properly trained your brain can run circles around it when it comes to assessing what human beings find aesthetically pleasing. Heck, your camera is so stupid it can't even tell you what the subject of the photo is. Different subject matter often has different processing requirements (for instance lots of sharp detail in a landscape is often appealing, while folks may not want that look with their portraits).

    Raw vs jpeg is processing software choice. That's it. You either let the camera do it, or you do it yourself. It's like 1 hour development and prints vs working in the darkroom. One hour works fine a lot of the time, and the service is fast and cheap, but with training most folks could probably do better in the darkroom. On the other hand that takes a lot more time. Some people think it's worth it, others don't.

    EDIT: Another way of thinking about it.

    Raw is like exposed but undeveloped print film. For the experienced darkroom geek there are a lot of control options in the development and printing stages.

    Jpeg is more like developed slides. What comes out of the camera is pretty much what you are stuck with. Sure things can be tweaked, but it's like going back and redoing stuff. And some of the original exposure data is gone forever. Is that data important? Maybe, maybe not. If it turns out to be important, well, too bad, your camera tossed it.

    Back in the film days some folks liked working in the darkroom with print film. Others liked slides. If raw were actually better in every situation for every photographer pro cameras wouldn't even have a jpeg option.

    I shoot raw all the time. Why? Because Canon's in-camera processing software sucks (particularly sharpening and noise reduction) compared to my brain + Adobe. ;) Also before digital I was a darkroom geek. I like fooling with it. I think that in the future we will be able to upload our choice of processing software into our DSLRs. When I can install my favorite Adobe Camera Raw presets in my DSLR I might start shooting jpegs some of the time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  12. Hamtastic

    Hamtastic TPF Noob!

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    I like Adobe Camera Raw/Lightroom better than Canon DPP, but DPP is an okay place to start learning.

    Canon Digital Learning Center - Digital Photo Professional v 3.2

    Always look to the manufacturer. They want you to succeed so you'll get hooked and buy a lot of stuff. :)
     

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