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Thread: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

  1. #1

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    Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    First off, can I ask all who respond to speak slowly and use little words!!

    I'm shooting with a T2i and have PS7 on my one computer and use the Canon photo editor and Fast Stone Editor on my other PC.

    I've always shot in JPEG, but only because I really don't understand RAW.

    Sorry if this is a rehash of old posts, but I wanted to follow one through my own words.

    Thanks.

    The newbie!

  2. #2
    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    I will give you my understanding as a fairly new RAW shooter. RAW means that your camera is not using any of the built-in functions on your camera -- when you shoot JPEG, your camera is making adjustments to white balance and so on. RAW gives you the unadulterated, unchanged in any way, capture, so it gives you the most information you could get out of the picture, and then you can make whatever adjustments you want in Lightroom or Camera RAW. It's also a "loss-less" format, which means you can make adjustments to it without degrading the pixels in the picture (I think that's what that means).

    How'm I doing, experts? Please correct my misunderstandings!
    Last edited by mythlady; 17th November 2010 at 02:58 PM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Hi Mike,

    Welcome to CiC - it's great to have you with us.

    JPEG is like buying a ready-make cream-filled sponge from the corner dairy in that it's prepared to someone elses recipe, whereas RAW is like buying the ingredients and making it yourself in that YOU then get to decide how you like it made.

    Personally, I NEVER EVER shoot anything but RAW because shooting JPG throws a LOT of information away and unfortunately, it's information that's sometimes needed.

    The downside is there is a slightly steeper learning curve, but it's no biggie - and regardless, we're here to help

  4. #4
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Truthfully, I hesitated to respond to this request - because it has caused some of the most nasty exchanges on forums I have ever seen.

    There are good reasons to use JPEG and good reasons to use RAW. I'll try to summarize and hopefully won't offend anyone.

    1) Your camera captures RAW information, and then depending on what you have the camera set up to do, it will either convert the RAW file to a JPEG, or it won't, and you'll have RAW files.

    2) When the camera converts the captured information to a JPEG, it makes some predetermined decisions (some of which you can select). Some of these decisions reduce the amount of information in the file. That's why JPEG file are always smaller than RAW files.

    3) Being smaller, one might conclude that there is less information in a JPEG file than a RAW file - I believe that would be correct.

    4) I have several pretty good books written by knowledgeable photographers, and they agree that if one wants to maximize the information the camera has captured, then RAW will provide this.

    5) The advantage of JPEG is that no or very little post processing will be required - and there are instances where this outweighs the advantage of larger more workable files. I met a photographer that was shooting images at a BMX competition - he shot hundreds of images every day. In order to be able to sell images to the competitors, he had to have them edited and printed and posted at his booth. If he'd shot RAW, he would never have had the time, and consequently wouldn't have sold any images.

    6) Conversely the advantage of RAW is that considerably more adjustments can be made in processing (and they are required). For the photographer like me that shoots dozens of images compared to hundreds or thousands, processing a few RAW files isn't a problem.

    I'm not going to recommend which course to take, and suggest you do an experiment: Shoot some RAW images and compare what can be adjusted in DPP (Canon software) with can be done with JPEG images.

    I use Lightroom, and I find that JPEG files don't allow me nearly the adjustment that RAW files do.

    Glenn

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    I understand that some, if not all, newspaper photographers shoot JPEG as this is what the photo editors want to speed up the procedure from shot to printed newspaper.

    I've had my 40D for close to 2 years and it's never shot a JPEG.

  6. #6
    Sam Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Hi Mike,

    Your camera will shoot both formats at the same time. I suggest you shoot with both formats and see which is better for you. I personally shoot raw so I can have more information when I post process.

  7. #7

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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Same here, I always save in RAW, but if I think I'll need an image fast (display shortly after the event, urgent mailing etc.) I'll save as both (it's the same shot btw, the choice of Raw and/or jpeg is a matter of in-camera post-processing).

    One thing to note here, is that saving in both formats takes up about 30-40% more space on the memory card (for me), so 25% less images per card.

    And, you'll need a bit of practice to get the best results from RAW, my first attempts were nothing to write home about (let alone post here

  8. #8

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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    To anybody new to this, I'd recommend shooting both at the same time.

    My reason for this is, using my D90, the JPG straight from the camera is better than I get from doing a quick (15-20 minutes) post-process of the RAW file. If I get to see the JPG, I have a better understanding of what is hiding in the RAW file.

    Straight from the camera, RAW files tend to look flat, lacking contrast and colour saturation. This is because the camera hasn't bothered to use the various sharpening, colour balancing, contrast enhancing, dynamic range compressing things that are needed to make the JPG. You get to do all that later in post-processing, at which point you can decide how much of each you want. If the camera did a good job of doing the JPG (as the D90 seems to do most of the time) then you can use the post-process to duplicate what the camera did for you.

    Where the RAW file is invaluable though, is when you had the colour balance (or something else) set wrong in the camera. You can process the RAW file later, using the correct settings. You also get a higher bit depth in the image, which translates into "you can do more tweaking of exposure and stuff later".

  9. #9

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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    WOW!!!!

    Thanks for all the replies and info.....I think????

    That is alot of info to digest, but I will most certainly give it a try. I didn't realize I could shoot both at the same time. I'll have to check my camera for that.

    Would it be safe to surmise then, that RAW format would be the best for editing, especially for those more important photos or even contests? JPEG would be fine for the basic photos sent by email or for selling(like ebay or craigslist).

    I guess I'll be getting bigger memory cards. I have 4gb and really didn't want to use better for fear of losing data, either by card damage or loss, but then again, that's another topic.

    One more question, does shooting in RAW limit any of the shooting options? Like manual, Tv, Av, portrait, night, etc?

    Thanks again and I'm very glad to have found CiC.

  10. #10
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Quote Originally Posted by mwrmt View Post
    Would it be safe to surmise then, that RAW format would be the best for editing, especially for those more important photos or even contests? JPEG would be fine for the basic photos sent by email or for selling(like ebay or craigslist).
    Part 1 - Absolutely. No brainer. Don't even think about. Shoot RAW.

    Part 2 - I suppose you could make JPEG do for the basics, but you'll still produce a far better image by shooting RAW in the first place and editing in PP software. And remember, if you do practice with pp software, you quickly establish your own workflow and get very quick at processing the vast majority of your photos. Colin's 30 second makeovers are the stuff of legend. The rest of us can turn around decent, run-of-the-mill stuff in 2/3 minutes. A lot of the RAW processing software out there allows you to bulk process. So, if you've taken a whole heap of photos in the same situations (same subject, same lighting etc), you can apply your PP work to one and then bulk process so that all of them are processed at one time to the same settings. Clever stuff! And easy.

    One more question, does shooting in RAW limit any of the shooting options? Like manual, Tv, Av, portrait, night, etc?
    Not at all

  11. #11

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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Donald,

    thanks huge sir. You make a very valid point about practice. May as well get used to shooting and editing RAW. I can do some JPEG editing(basic) pretty quick(read 3-4mins/pic). So I guess we'll just see what happens and continue to work with it.

    That being said and I have posted in the editing forum, but what is a good software editing program?

    Time to get shooting and editing.

  12. #12
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Quote Originally Posted by mwrmt View Post
    That being said and I have posted in the editing forum, but what is a good software editing program?
    Now, that's a question that could start world wars!

    99% of the photographic world uses Adobe products. I don't understand them all, as I do not use them. But there is Elements, Lightroom, CS something etc. As you go up the scale you have more and more features and you pay more and more money.

    The big plus point (in addition to any superiority in terms of ease of use that users claim for these products) is the fact that there is a huge pool of material to support learning. Lots and lots of books and stuff on the internet, as well as the help and advice of fellow-users on the likes of this site.

    But there are other options.

    I and a few other people on this site use an open source package called The GIMP. Just google it and you'll find information. There are some excellent tutorial sites for the GIMP on the internet, but the learning curve is steeper without the vast number of resources available for Adobe products.

    The other thing with the GIMP is that you need soemthing else at teh front end to process the RAW images before you can do additional post-processing work with The GIMP. I use a commercial package called DxO Optics Pro 6. But, again, there are open source packages available for downloading. Raw Therapee is amongst the more popular of these. UFRAW being another. Again, the support available for these open source products tends to be less than for commercial products. But if you can devote the time and effort to learning I would contend that these packages can offer as much and in some cases more than the more popular commercial products.

    So, it all comes down to time, money, desire, etc.

  13. #13
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Quote Originally Posted by mwrmt View Post
    Would it be safe to surmise then, that ~ JPEG would be fine for the basic photos sent by email or for selling(like ebay or craigslist).
    Yes,
    but I don't, once you've got used to RAW, it's habit forming

    Quote Originally Posted by mwrmt View Post
    One more question, does shooting in RAW limit any of the shooting options? Like manual, Tv, Av, portrait, night, etc?
    In general yes, but ...

    When you are using the Scene modes like "Portrait" and "Night", although the effects they have on aperture, iso and shutterspeed will still work, they won't affect things like sharpening, noise reduction, etc., unless you use the camera maufacturer's own software.

    That understands the data about those things that was saved along with the RAW image and applies the same effects to the RAW converter as the camera would have for the jpg.

    If you just use Adobe (ACR, Lightroom, Elements, Photoshop CS) or other third party RAW converters, they won't 'honour' those settings. However, that's unlikely to be a huge issue if you have a good RAW workflow.

    Cheers,

  14. #14

    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Donald,

    thanks huge sir.
    I thought posting a pic of yourself was unwise. The camera is very fattening and so is the wine and venison.

    I shoot RAW because I like to stretch the PP. And to be honest I am lazy at the capture end of things. I can see why journalists would use jpeg. Personally I would shoot raw, you cannot get back that lost information and lets face it, it really is a few seconds added to the PP. I wont drone on Donald and the others have done a cracking job with the pros and cons

    I think 'horizontally challenged' is the politically correct term rather than 'Huge'. Huge Donald does roll off the tongue better....Big Daddy maybe?

  15. #15

    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    r............................a.................... ..........w

  16. #16

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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Evening - Great question Mike !

    As another newbie some of you were kind enough to help me a few days ago with a similar question "Where do I start? Processing Help Needed !". The whole area seems very complex (almost overly so) but the responces above have certainly helped me to understand the basic difference btw RAW and JPeg.

    I ventured into the area of processing for the first time earlier this week and tried to manipulate a couple of JPEGS I had taken with my Canon DPP software. Certainly when changing the settings I could see the image being altered but the issue I'm still struggling with is what to change? I often can't see anything wrong with a picture (I know there is - I just don't know what to look for...). Any suggestions?

    Thanks all for your contributions - I'm learning alot just by reading!
    Jon

  17. #17
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Quote Originally Posted by jp01 View Post
    I'm still struggling with is what to change? I often can't see anything wrong with a picture (I know there is - I just don't know what to look for...). Any suggestions?
    Jon
    Now you're into the area of letting the artist in you get out.

    Instead of asking - 'What do I need to change?', the question you should be asking as you look at the RAW file is - 'What was the vision I had in my head when I pressed the shutter?' Is the picture that you're seeing on your screen really, really what you saw as you viewed the scene just before you pressed the shutter?

    If it is, then fine. No, or very little, PP to be done. If not, then the pp is part of creative process that, along with what you did when the camera was in your hand, will provide you with your image.

    That's why clicking the button is only part of the process. What did you see that made you want to press the button? What was the image that was in your head, not what did you see through the viewfinder? What you're going to do now is create that image that you saw in your mind, not just what you saw through the viewfinder.

    Pops puts this so very, very well when he distinguishes between photographs and pictures (Pops, can't find the quote in your posts. Please come back in with it here)

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    I thought posting a pic of yourself was unwise. The camera is very fattening
    Dear Moderator

    Can you please send me a copy of the formal complaints procedure and advise me of the process whereby I can propose the banishment of a former friend, consigning him to forever stalk the virtual corridors of POTN.

  19. #19

    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Dear Moderator

    Can you please send me a copy of the formal complaints procedure and advise me of the process whereby I can propose the banishment of a former friend, consigning him to forever stalk the virtual corridors of POTN.
    Pah! Forget it, mister. I tried that this evening at our local Morrissons supermarket when they couldna be arsed to open another till to take my money off me, and the Manager (?) took the softer option of standing there laughing at the customers queuing for ages. Fat lot of good it did me. Best to get Steve behind the bike sheds after school. That's what I should have done. (insert hate Morrissons smilie here)

  20. #20
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    Re: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

    In little words:

    JPG -> As it is!
    You can edit, but you will degrade the image. All decision on white balance, sharpening, etc, must be made before shooting. You start shooting later.
    You have to nail the exposure.

    RAW -> Possibility to make changes without degrading the image.
    All decision on white balance, sharpening, etc, can be made later in post process. You start shooting faster.
    You can recover the exposure to some extend.

    Cheers, Pedro

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