When to use RAW vs JPEG on my trip?

cbarnard7

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Hi Everyone,

Sorry to beat a dead horse here (and to sound like such a rookie)-

I'm going on a week-long trip to some National Parks and although it is mostly based on the hikes and camping, I'm obviously going to take a lot of pictures (duh!). And, according to my past hikes around CO, I often take many, many photos (just to make sure I've gotten it right). Because I'm moving around a lot, I don't really have the time to sit, zoom in, and check every image for sharpness (and delete soft images). I'll be bringing a daypack that caters to photography, so I'll have about 12GB of memory cards and 3 batteries on me.

The question is (especially for those who do travel/on-the-fly photography)- when would you use either setting? I was thinking I would shoot most things in Jpeg (to save room) and move to RAW when I'm shooting my "best" pictures (pics I hope to print and heavily edit in LR5).

Or, should I just shoot everything in RAW and delete the "bad" ones while I'm in my tent at night to save space?

I eventually plan to print the best ones in a book (like a shutterfly-type) and edit/keep the others on an external HD.

Thanks in advance for your advice! :D
 

KmH

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On vacations I shot exclusively in Raw. Memory card are cheap.

JPEG offers so little editing headroom that I never used it for making personal photos I would likely later want to revisit and prep for printing.

Deleting images on the memory card while it is in the camera is not a good idea, because of the FAT (File Allocation Table).
Image file size is dependent to a large degree on image content. In other words a photo of a blank wall will be a somewhat smaller file than a shot made of the same wall but wilh a framed picture hanging on it.

If the FAT tries to use the memory card space freed up by deleting an image and the new image file is just a bit larger than the free space, you could wind up with a corrupted image file or a memory card that now has a FAT that is no longer accurate for any image on the card.
 
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Big Mike

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I agree with Keith. Shoot raw, especially because you will be on vacation...and likely in places that you may not get back to soon...or ever.

Memory cards are cheap...just buy more and don't worry about it.
 
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badrano

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I would get more memory. I have a 32Gb card and it can hold almost 900 RAW pics (I think it's around 890 something). With a 12Gb card, you might only have room for some 300 RAW pics.

Knowing me, I could easily burn through 300 pics on a week long vacation in scenic areas. I was on a week long Alaskan cruise last year and between the Point and Shoot and my film slr, I shot over 400 pics. Since the cruise, I finally went DLSR....carried too many rolls of film on the cruise :mrgreen:
 
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cbarnard7

cbarnard7

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Thanks for the advice! I only have an 8 and a 4 GB card at the moment (always sufficient for my day-hikes!) But, I'm thinking I should buy a 32GB card instead then.

On the subject of cards, do you believe it's better to have 1 or 2 big cards (32GB+) or several, smaller ones? I've heard the smaller are better in case you lose one- you don't lose everything. But, I also don't want to keep switching them out!

Maybe I can use the 32GB card for all my raw files and use an 8GB for video? I can't see myself taking all that much video, but you never know I guess.
 

Buckster

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I always shoot RAW, no matter what. I use 4 CF cards that total 52GB.

I used to also bring along a 60GB portable battery operated card reader/storage device I have, transfer the files to it, then put the CF card back in the camera and format it for fresh use again. Mine's pretty old, but still works great. I see those types of portable transfer/storage devices now hold 500GB for about $150, or even more data for more money.

These days, I just bring along my laptop and do such data transfers into that, then back up to small external 1TB drives. But then again, at my age (54), I don't sleep in tents much, preferring the conveniences of motels and hotels, where power is readily available.

In any case, I would advise more storage, whether that's more cards for the camera or portable storage device(s) to transfer to so that the card(s) can be reused.
 

Buckster

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On the subject of cards, do you believe it's better to have 1 or 2 big cards (32GB+) or several, smaller ones? I've heard the smaller are better in case you lose one- you don't lose everything. But, I also don't want to keep switching them out!
Several smaller ones, for the reason you cited. There's an old saying: Never put all your eggs in one basket.

Besides, really now - how hard is it to switch them out as they fill up? It's worth it.
 
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cbarnard7

cbarnard7

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Buck-

Off topic, but I read a little about your camera gear on your site. You have your own microscope!? Working as a histologist in a research lab, I can really appreciate that!:D Our pictures from the scope may vary from yours (unless you photograph cancer tissue!) but that is super cool!
 

Big Mike

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I'm torn on the 'eggs in the basket' issue. Yes, if you use several cards, you may prevent the problem of loosing all of your photos (had they been in on one card). But on the other hand, I'm much, much more likely to loose a card if I'm shuffling cards between the camera and a pocket or camera bag etc.

With one large card, it may never have to leave the camera while in the field. Much less chance of loosing it. And personally, I think that physically loosing or misplacing a card is a greater risk than having a card get corrupted to the point of loosing the images on it. (knock on wood).

I've been mainly using a single 32GB card (the one linked above) and so far, I've never even come close to filling it on a single trip/shoot. (although, I'm sure I could with a longer or photocentric trip.)
 

Buckster

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Buck-

Off topic, but I read a little about your camera gear on your site. You have your own microscope!? Working as a histologist in a research lab, I can really appreciate that!:D Our pictures from the scope may vary from yours (unless you photograph cancer tissue!) but that is super cool!
Yeah, it's a lot of fun, though I haven't viewed or photographed any cancer tissue (which is kind of ironic, since I have NHL, diagnosed 13 years ago this coming October). :)

Here's a couple shots of the microscope I made: http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/general-gallery/306609-research.html

Here's a couple shots I made using the microscope: http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/macro-photography/283553-beyond-macro.html

I'm torn on the 'eggs in the basket' issue. Yes, if you use several cards, you may prevent the problem of loosing all of your photos (had they been in on one card). But on the other hand, I'm much, much more likely to loose a card if I'm shuffling cards between the camera and a pocket or camera bag etc.

With one large card, it may never have to leave the camera while in the field. Much less chance of loosing it. And personally, I think that physically loosing or misplacing a card is a greater risk than having a card get corrupted to the point of loosing the images on it. (knock on wood).
I use a Sandisk CF card wallet/keychain that I keep in my pocket. It holds the 3 CF cards I'm not using at the moment, while the 4th is in the camera. In 11 years of shooting digital, I haven't lost a card yet.

Similarly, in the 30+ years of film shooting, I never lost a roll of film, though I carried MANY and switched out MANY on my many field trips, and even had them stored in my bag and had to go in and out of it to deal with them.

Maybe I'm just lucky that way.

I guess what it comes down to is that I just trust my own competence more than I trust that an electronic storage device would never fail, but that's just me.
 
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Dao

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I will go with at least 16GB or 32GB nowadays. If you do not want to keep everything in one basket, they get few of the 16/32GB cards. You do not need to fill them up before you swap them. But it comes in handy if you need the extra space during vacations. Especially for those who want to shoot some videos as well as photos.

Bring a small notebook and dump the photos/video from the cards to it is what I will do unless I need to travel as light as possible.
 

hirejn

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Although I recommend shooting always RAW, in your situation you might be better with JPEG simply because 12GB is not a lot of storage, and deleting pictures takes up battery. The solution of switching to RAW for a few of the more serious attempts should work. For reference, the D300 battery lasts about 8 hours of regular use, sometimes less. So three batteries might not be enough for a week. If you invested in a couple of 16GB cards, it would make the decision to go RAW easier. I don't know the exact number but RAW is something like four times the size of a JPEG, so that's a big difference.

The only time I ever shoot JPEG is if a freelance client demands it, and it has happened. It doesn't bother me because I'm getting paid and my exposures are perfect, and those times the client does the processing. For my own jobs I shoot everything RAW for the development potential. When you master exposure, there's no need to bracket except for HDR.
 

hirejn

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Here's my theory on cards: I don't think there are any stats to show one method works better than another. You have about an equal chance of one large card having errors as one of two smaller cards having errors. The more cards you have, the more chances one will have errors. The difference is you risk losing half your shots vs. all of them. But there's no guarantee that if you have two cards both of them wont' have errors. I'd rather just pack as much as I can on one card before changing, and right now the 16GB is a sweet spot for me. Ideally, I would have a camera with two slots so I could shoot backups to one card, but I don't have that.
 

Big Mike

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I'm torn on the 'eggs in the basket' issue. Yes, if you use several cards, you may prevent the problem of loosing all of your photos (had they been in on one card). But on the other hand, I'm much, much more likely to loose a card if I'm shuffling cards between the camera and a pocket or camera bag etc.

With one large card, it may never have to leave the camera while in the field. Much less chance of loosing it. And personally, I think that physically loosing or misplacing a card is a greater risk than having a card get corrupted to the point of loosing the images on it. (knock on wood).
I use a Sandisk CF card wallet/keychain that I keep in my pocket. It holds the 3 CF cards I'm not using at the moment, while the 4th is in the camera. In 11 years of shooting digital, I haven't lost a card yet.

Similarly, in the 30+ years of film shooting, I never lost a roll of film, though I carried MANY and switched out MANY on my many field trips, and even had them stored in my bag and had to go in and out of it to deal with them.

Maybe I'm just lucky that way.

I guess what it comes down to is that I just trust my own competence more than I trust that an electronic storage device would never fail, but that's just me.

I don't think I've ever lost a card or a roll of film either...but since having kids (and generally getting old)...I seem to misplace something every other day. :lol:

Point well taken though. :)
 

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