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Thread: RAW vs JPEG

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    RAW vs JPEG

    This is a never-ending argument that I strongly suspect will never be solved. Aficionados of JPEG will continue to shoot in JPEG no matter what evidence is produced that RAW can be better for many uses. I say many because the author of the blog I will refer to recognizes that many family snapshots do not need or require the quality we get from RAW. However personally, I tend to shoot EVERYTHING in RAW because I like a consistent workflow. It is easier for me to process my images with one workflow than to shift back and forth. I guess that is a result of being 75 years old...

    John Watts is the owner of Watts Digital Imaging in San Diego which is a custom printing firm. He has been doing custom printing since the analog days of film and is a member of the photo contest judging panel for both the San Diego County and the Orange County, California Fairs. John gives monthly presentations in Photoshop in San Diego. I have attended many of his presentations; for which John charges only enough to pay for the rent of the space he uses in Balboa Park Photo Center. I am quite impressed with his skills and have learned quite a bit from his instruction. John is also a nice and helpful guy and will go out of his way to help any of us or to answer our questions via email...

    Anyway, so much for John's resume, here is a link to his blog, specifically on his comments regarding RAW vs. JPEG...

    http://blog.main.wattsdigital.com/?p=1789

    There is also a lot more information available from John on his Internet sites...

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    A well written and presented summation of the situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    This is a never-ending argument that I strongly suspect will never be solved.
    At least we know that this is absolutely true.

    It's horses for courses. As the blog author states, he's not going to shoot RAW for snapshots of his grandkids. In the professional arena, we know that a lot of photojournalists shoot JPEG so that editors can put their images straight in to publication either in print or online.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I have attended many of his presentations; for which John charges only enough to pay for the rent of the space he uses in Balboa Park Photo Center.
    And with nothing whatsoever to do with the subject, mere mention of Balboa Park brings back such wonderful memories of my one and only time in San Diego to attend a wedding in September 2002. A long time ago.

  3. #3
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Yes, we have had some vehement (and often not very productive) arguments about raw vs. jpeg on this site too, although one of the most dogmatic proponents of one format seems to have disappeared some months ago.

    I've always found the vehemence of this debate sort of puzzling. On the technical side, the issues are clear. 8-bit is not 14-bit, lossy isn't lossless. Not much point in arguing. The real question is: given the unarguable technical differences, what is best for your given uses? I can see what some people who have to produce thousands of images at one event prefer the convenience of jpeg to the additional information in raw. Fine. I don't shoot thousands of images at one event, and I prefer to preserve the information, as I never know when I will need it. To each her or his own.

    I'm not sure if that is what horses for courses means. I don't hear it much on this side of the pond.

    I do disagree with one thing in the blog: "Also, if your Camera has the option of shooting “RAW” + JPG”, then you should do so". I don't think any absolute rule makes sense. This one makes no sense for me. I did shoot raw + jpeg for about two weeks after I started shooting raw, perhaps 7 years ago. After a few weeks, I realized I was simply wasting time, as I ended up deleting all of the jpegs so as not to waste space. This too is just a matter of what works for you.

  4. #4
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Good link, Richard, especially for those as yet undecided as to which is "better". Obviously, John is an Adobe guy.

    For me, a consistent workflow is not possible - because I own Sigma cameras but also use SWMBO's Panasonic LX7.

    Therefore, for the Sigmas, I tend to shoot EVERYTHING in RAW. But, for the LX7, I tend to shoot EVERYTHING in JPEG.

    Quite hard to cope with, me being also 75 years old . . .

  5. #5
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quite a few times I had my camera set to jpeg fine, someone else was using the camera; and I forgot to reset. Wasn't the end of the world, but wished I had checked the camera prior to using.

  6. #6
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    First of all anyone who writes an article and suggest that RAW = 16-bit, loses my respect right off the bat. My understanding is even the high end medium format cameras that output 16-bit data are actually 14-bit and the other 2 bits are packed with "0" values.

    1. The images we post on the internet usually 8-bit jpegs. Depending on the amount of compression we throw into the equation will determine the quality of the image, more than anything else.

    2. The majority of the computer screens out there are only capable of displaying 8-bit colour, although some of the higher end ones do 10-bit colour.

    3. If you print you are looking at a few 100,000 colour shades. Depending on the specific printer, estimated numbers I've seen run from less than 400,000 at the lower end to 700,000 at the higher end.

    4. Anyone who is doing monochrome (B&W) is throwing away 2/3 of when they map to grayscale.

    5. Unless I do something really extreme in post processing, I don't see the artifacts everyone keeps writing about.

    I'm willing to bet no one knows whether or not the images I post to this site started out as jpegs or RAW data.
    Last edited by Manfred M; 8th June 2015 at 05:17 PM. Reason: typos

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I do disagree with one thing in the blog: "Also, if your Camera has the option of shooting “RAW” + JPG”, then you should do so". I don't think any absolute rule makes sense. This one makes no sense for me...
    Agree there are no absolute rules that work for everyone. And before I got a smartphone, I felt that way about RAW+JPEG. Now I'm on RAW+JPEG all the time with my X100T and my GX7. Because whenever I need to play with something on the phone RAW files just won't cut it--either on transfer time over wi-fi or usability. Most phone apps don't grok RAW (since the built-in cameras don't offer it)--they do grok JPEG. Chances are, however, that the same photo I want to make a quick Instax print of, or to text to a friend in the heat of the moment, I would also prefer to take my time, process, and make a nice 8"x10" print of when I get home, so I also want the RAW file. And the JPEG's a nice reminder of which shots, for example, I may have used the Classic Chrome or B&W presets on (because all that gets wiped out when the RAW is brought into Lr).

    For me, the only idiocy with RAW+JPEG is that frickin' Lightroom doesn't give me a simple option to only import/copy the RAWs but not the JPEGs, or to apply the camera calibration I used in camera on the JPEG to the RAW. [If there is a way and I've simply missed it, someone tell me!]
    Last edited by inkista; 7th June 2015 at 08:38 PM.

  8. #8
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post

    For me, the only idiocy with RAW+JPEG is that frickin' Lightroom doesn't give me a simple option to only import/copy the RAWs but not the JPEGs, or to apply the camera calibration I used in camera on the JPEG to the RAW. [If there is a way and I've simply missed it, someone tell me!]
    If I am reading your post correctly, LR does give you the option of importing only your RAW files. In LR, go to Edit, then Preferences, then under the General tab there is a box you can uncheck if you only want your RAW files imported.
    These directions are for a person having Windows. In other system maybe different. Hope this is of some assistance.


    Bruce

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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Raw files are not RAW files, they are raw files. JPEG files are not jpeg files, they are JPEG files.

    With regard to the subject under discussion here, I agree with Manfred, post #6.

    Cheers.
    Philip

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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    I always shoot RAW + JPEG with my various cameras. Storage is inexpensive. Even if I don't intend using the RAWs they will always be there just in case. It is remarkable how good JPEG can be. For ordinary presentation (Internet/monitor) and up to medium size prints it's perfectly adequate and a real time-saver by avoiding the developing steps in workflow. When I want to really show off with large prints or full-screen monitor images RAW (NEF in my case) is visibly superior. You can extract significantly more highlight/shadow detail and obtain better colours, all providing you have a calibrated, properly configured colour managed environment.

    So, for me, it's all situational. JPEGS for convenience and smaller presentations, RAW/NEF for the big stuff or more difficult images where high dynamic range may be blocking out detail in the JPEG version.

    Best wishes,
    g.

  11. #11
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital View Post
    If I am reading your post correctly, LR does give you the option of importing only your RAW files. In LR, go to Edit, then Preferences, then under the General tab there is a box you can uncheck if you only want your RAW files imported.
    These directions are for a person having Windows. In other system maybe different. Hope this is of some assistance....
    Bruce, thanks. I'm on OSX. This is what the General preferences tab looks like for me:

    general.png

    The Treat jpeg files next to raw files as separate photos checkbox option simply controls whether the JPEGs are hidden or shown in the Library window. If I uncheck it, the JPEGs are still imported along with the RAW files, they just don't show up in the Lr interface. If I check it, then at least I can see them to manually delete/import them, but I have to individually select my RAW files, which basically means checking every alternate images on every import, because you can't get the import window to list by type. You can do it in the OS, obviously, but not through the LR import UI.

  12. #12

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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    I think most readers here have already established their workflow, are pleased with it, and no amount of additional information is likely to change their mind. For the few who are still asking: Should I shoot raw or jpeg or both? The answer is very much like what I would reply to someone who asks: Should I upgrade my camera? I would ask in what way is their current camera failing to achieve their expectations? The same logic applies to image format. If ones current workflow, even sometimes, fails to produce images that meet their expectation, it is time to consider a change.

  13. #13
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    I started shooting JPEG with my Canon 10D and did that for a short while BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID TO SHOOT RAW. Then, I thought "WHAT THE HECK - Shoot RAW + JPEG. That lasted another couple of months until I realized that I was not touching the JPEGS and discontinued the double shooting.

    I will occasionally revert to RAW + JPEG if I am with my sister-in-law who wants the family shots that I took and only has the ability to work with JPEGS. I can download my CF cards and immediately copy the JPEGS to a flash drive or some other media and give it to her. No conversion to JPEG or editing involved.

    I really don't like to work this way because I don't like any one to have my unedited images. However, my wife and her sister figured this one out for me and... HAPPY WIFE - HAPPY LIFE

    BTW: John Watts charges five U.S. Dollars per session and has a selection of notes for the attendees and also has free bottled water. Can't beat the price and I get to meet some other people interested in photograohy...

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I'm not sure if that is what horses for courses means. I don't hear it much on this side of the pond.
    Apologies, Dan. Didn't appreciate that it was a phrase not used on your side. Basically, it's 'use whatever is right for the job'. If you need a racehorse, then use that. If you need a heavy horse to pull a trailer, use that.

  15. #15
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Apologies, Dan. Didn't appreciate that it was a phrase not used on your side. Basically, it's 'use whatever is right for the job'. If you need a racehorse, then use that. If you need a heavy horse to pull a trailer, use that.
    Donald,

    No apologies needed. In fact, I find it interesting to trade idioms. I just wasn't sure whether my post was simply repeating what you had said, in different words.

    Dan

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by MrB View Post
    Raw files are not RAW files, they are raw files. JPEG files are not jpeg files, they are JPEG files.

    With regard to the subject under discussion here, I agree with Manfred, post #6.

    Cheers.
    Philip
    ???? Actually JPEG is correct as it is an abbreviation for Joint Photographic Experts Group. But frankly, I really don't care and can (and do) go either way.
    Last edited by Manfred M; 8th June 2015 at 06:59 PM.

  17. #17
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by MrB View Post
    Raw files are not RAW files, they are raw files. JPEG files are not jpeg files, they are JPEG files.

    Philip
    I stand corrected, as I used lower case for both. "Raw" is not an acronym and just means "unprocessed," AFAIK, so there is no reason to capitalize it, even though people often do. JPEG is an acronym; it stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.

  18. #18
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by MrB View Post
    Raw files are not RAW files, they are raw files. JPEG files are not jpeg files, they are JPEG files.
    Pedant

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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    I use the term RAW because it stands out, and I use the term JPEG for the same reason. Please don't use caps for everything, because many of us won't read the post.

    The question cannot be answered in favour of either format because there is no one correct file type for all situations or uses.

    Choose the format that best suits your needs, but please don't tell me it's best.

    This isn't to say one is wrong for using one or the other format exclusively; many of us do, and that's our choice. But saying someone is wrong or implying that they are wrong for this approach, is in my opinion, misguided.

    And then there is Manfred's post which makes complete sense - and I can't tell what format he uses. And it doesn't matter to me.

    Glenn

  20. #20
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    Re: RAW vs JPEG

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    Choose the format that best suits your needs, but please don't tell me it's best.

    This isn't to say one is wrong for using one or the other format exclusively; many of us do, and that's our choice. But saying someone is wrong or implying that they are wrong for this approach, is in my opinion, misguided.

    And then there is Manfred's post which makes complete sense - and I can't tell what format he uses. And it doesn't matter to me.

    Glenn
    +1

    It disappoints me that some of the "real photographers only shoot in the raw" types often use expressions, such as "JPEGs are OK for snapshots", to suggest that those who shoot JPEGs cannot possibly be serious about their photography.

    As Manfred's intelligent post implies, what matters is the photograph as presented to the viewer. And, to quote another well-respected photographer, "There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs."

    Cheers.
    Philip

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