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Old 04-01-2010, 19:47   #1 (permalink)
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Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Good evening,
Please don't shout at me as I think this may be an eternal question, similar to Star Wars vs Star Trek, but for an absolute beginner who's still getting used to the ins and outs of DSLR photography would you recommend shooting in RAW or JPG?
I've tried googling it but I think I've ended up more confused than anything else.
Sorry,
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Old 04-01-2010, 20:07   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

I think that my own experience with this is pretty typical.

I initially used jpgs as I was aware that the processing of RAWs required another processing step, and as I was still learning about editing with a computer I was very wary of making my life more complicated. I also wanted the convenience of seeing thumbnails of my images in folders, and I also knew that Windows would not show RAW files.

I downloaded RawShooter (excellent free software) to try to get to grips with it, but due to the lack of my knowledge, I found it hard going. So I stuck with jpgs and tried to understand what RAW was all about. I started to shoot RAW+jpg to get the best of both worlds then found a free microsoft programme that would display the RAW thumbnails. I started to experiment with the RAW files and gradually it started to make sense.

One day I set the camera to RAW only and have never gone back to jpgs from that day.

To put it simply, using RAW files means you have to do a two stage process. The first step is to use a RAW converter to make lossless tweaks to your images which always retain your original file untouched. Second stage is to send the images to an editing programme for final finishing. The more advanced RAW software can do some editing and printing too, almost making an editing programme redundant. Almost.

The biggest advantage with RAW is that you can change the exposure, white balance and other things too much better than by using an editing programme. The results are better and once you are used to it there is nothing to it.
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Old 04-01-2010, 21:13   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

I agree with the above once you take the plunge and start shooting RAW files you will wonder why you did,nt do it sooner
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Old 04-01-2010, 22:55   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

As the guys above say Noel, RAW all day long.
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Old 04-01-2010, 23:20   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Raw Much easier to sort out the mistakes that happened when you took the photo (or to manipulate the image if you like to put it that way.) At the expense of bigger files and longer download times and longer processing times.
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Old 05-01-2010, 13:20   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Raw here to as above.
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Old 05-01-2010, 17:52   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Since you ask the question RAW. I use Raw Therapee (free software) its got a browser and is well featured, but is slow and used to crash until I changed one driver. Just don't go for the cop out of both RAW and jpg, it will just take a lot of disk space and delay your start.
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Old 05-01-2010, 18:07   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Just to put the other side of the argument (who, me? ) I use JPEG on all my cameras. It uses less space, doesn't tie you to particular software, makes after-processing easier and quicker.

Works for me.
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Old 05-01-2010, 19:16   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

For myself, with my first DSLR, I set it to Raw+JPEG initially but after a month, I realised that I had never even looked at the JPEG files and just processed the Raw so from then on I only captured and processed Raw. However, I had years of digital experience before that from scanning film and a scientific background so was happy about the challenge of using Raw.

It is impossible for me to say what is right for you but things to consider:

a. Make sure that you are comfortable is using your camera to capture and process JPEG files because you will not want to add another step until you are on top of this.
b. Consider whether you will benefit from using Raw and only do so if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for you.

Raw files contain a larger dynamic range (lightest to darkest part of scene) which means that you can take photographs of scenes that JPEG would struggle with. Raw files do allow significant correction of exposure errors (while it is easy to argue you should get it right, even an error of 1/2 stop could spoil a JPEG limited image and accuracy of 1/2 stop in exposure is quite good).

Raw files are much larger than JPEG in size and thus storage space (not a problem for most people but can be for some). The camera will usually take more JPEG shots in burst mode (may be important for sport). There is an extra stage of processing for Raw and, if you are not prepared to exploit this and use the additional tonal range and information in the Raw file to improve the image, then you may as well stick to JPEG.

A well known professional photographer once said that, if you always used controlled light (e.g. studio) and lighting set up is ideal then a JPEG image should be just good enough but the real world is not that perfect so you need Raw. It really does come down to how good does your output need to be? If you require A3 prints for International Exhibitions then you need to use Raw and exploit to the full. If you were taking shots of your local football match for a newspaper then JPEG would be the best bet.
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Old 05-01-2010, 19:53   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

i started using JPGs as thats all i knew, RAW is an entirely different dimension to photography as the processing is a steep learning curve and its done without a camera in site, i think as you travel on your photographic journey you will wany more from your own abilities and expect more from your shots thanJPG can ultimately give you, at least that is what i have found............ RAW all the way but as a beginner you may well want to become comfortable with your camera and the controls etc before embarking on another learning experience. so if thats the case stick with JPG for now and move onto raw at a later date?
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Old 05-01-2010, 21:32   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

My first dSLR only shot RAW so I've never used anything else but I advise people to start on JPG and progress when they feel ready. Nothing worse than getting submerged in technicalities before there's really any need - a step at a time and at your own pace
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Old 05-01-2010, 21:37   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

If you like your pictures you take with jpeg, I say keep using it. Want to get more involved, use RAW.
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Old 05-01-2010, 22:54   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Shoot in both - memory is cheap these days so the notion of using up too much doesn't come into play. You don't have to do anything with the raw files right now but if, at some future point, you do decide raw is the way to go you'll have all those files available to go back and work on.

Also, don't underestimate Picasa, Google's free image editor. This can work on both raw and jpeg files. I found it a great, user friendly way to get started in image editing.
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Old 05-01-2010, 23:17   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

I use jpegs..... but raw is better, I get the results that I want, if I could find a really good raw converter then I would change, at the mo my desk top goes bananas everytime I use a raw converter, so I am a bit limited to my desktop and its many moods.....
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:10   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

memory may be cheaper than it was but its not "cheap" if you dont have the funds to buy it. I keep hearing this and it has to be remembererd that there are a wide variety of budgets so whats cheap to one person may not be to another.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:27   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

RAW file handling is done as part of the main OS on Mac's. So it becomes almost a non issue.

You can see RAW files in the main directory views, using iPhoto or in Photoshop.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:36   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Disagree Fiona. If your budget can stretch to 300-400 for a DSLR it can stretch to 50 for a 500GB external drive. Apart from being able to keep your RAW files for future use if you go that route you also get backup for your main memory on the computer. That's priceless.
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Old 06-01-2010, 20:37   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Quote:
Originally Posted by olli View Post
Disagree Fiona. If your budget can stretch to 300-400 for a DSLR it can stretch to 50 for a 500GB external drive. Apart from being able to keep your RAW files for future use if you go that route you also get backup for your main memory on the computer. That's priceless.
but what about when your 500 becomes full............. there are numerous reasons why u may have had money to buy the camera in my case it was my OH's gramps who died and left him a little bit of money and he spent it on me. that doesnt mean i have an odd £50 every so often to buy a new hard drive when my other ones get full!... not when u have a 12 year old to keep in clothes as well!
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Old 06-01-2010, 23:34   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Are we missing the point here?

JPGs are based on the sRGB colour space that is only 8 bits per colour.
8 bits gives a maximum of 256 levels. It can be argued that the human eye can only discern about 60-70 shades of any individual colour (about 100-120 for different greys on a B&W photo).
Theoretically this gives about 4 stops leeway but in practice that's about 2 stops. Therefore shooting JPGs means you need to get it more or less right or you've crocked the photo. Post processing can be a problem since any colour filtering or balancing can leave gaps in the colour 'spread' that can lead to posterisation.

RAWs are usually based on the adobe 1998 colour space (or they are after conversion) that is 16 bits per colour. This allows the raw conversion programs to preserve the levels / bits available from the camera, typically 12 or 14 bits.
12 bits give 1024 possible levels and 14 bits give 4096 possible levels per colour. This gives us a lot of leeway to apply colour balancing and filtering and even adjust for imperfect exposure.

In general it's possible to chose between RAWs or JPGs dependent on what's being photographed. For wedding photography where there’s likely to be a high dynamic range (white dress and a dark suite) or trying to take competition photos shooting RAWs may be a good idea, however if you’re machine-gunning at a sports event JPGs might be a good idea.

I think storage is a side issue. It’s possible now days to store 4.5Gb of photos on a single layer DVD and 8-9Gb on a dual layer DVD, and DVDs are easy to catalogue, store and are really cheap these days. Anyone who doesn’t backup their photo raw or jpgs gets everything they deserve.

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Old 06-01-2010, 23:48   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Allowing for a generous 20MB per RAW/JPG file it's going to take 25,000 images to fill your 500GB. What happens when it's full? You either buy another one or you give up taking pictures.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:40   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Must admit that before I bought any extras (lenses, filters, tripods, bags, spare batteries, laptops, PCs, etc) I'd make sure that I kept the shots I took! I'd feel a right plonker having invested in some pretty good gear for it all to come to nowt because I lost my pics!
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Old 07-01-2010, 20:06   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Thanks all, blimey I had a feeling it might have been a can of worms... I'll let you know how I get on - I'm going to play with RAW at the moment. I've got the Canon RAW reader and converter to play with, I guess it's a learning curve - but I'm happy with that.
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Old 07-01-2010, 21:20   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

The question was 'For a beginner....' I say shoot JPG for the learning curve, switch to RAW when you find JPG limiting. Any beginner has enough to learn. Treat RAW like equipment and move on when you think you are held back by what you are using. Stop me if I'm boring you....
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Old 09-01-2010, 17:37   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Why not shoot RAW and JPG, then at least you give yourself the chance to keep it easy if you find it to hard postprocessing the RAW files. That is how I've done it, now I only shoot RAW. I wouldn't want to do it any other way. But I've gone through the deep end.
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Old 09-01-2010, 18:18   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Just to clarify!

RAW files don't have a colourspace. You don't even need to export them to another format if your RAW editor does everything you need. JPEGs can be in sRGB or Adobe RGB, but are always 8-bit. That doesn't matter until you start altering tonal balance when you may get posterisation with 8-bit images. Most RAW converters use an internal colourspace such as ProPhoto which has a much wider gamut than sRGB or Adobe RGB, but this is all behind the scenes and you don't need to worry about it!

If you use a RAW converter such as DCRAW or UFRAW and the GIMP for editing, there is no extra cost involved as these are free! A converted hi-res, low-compression JPEG may be as large as the original RAW file, so to save disk space you can use an all-in-one converter/editor and only export when necessary - say, for the web - and those files will be small.
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Old 09-01-2010, 18:34   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Thanks again, plenty of food for thought.
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Old 09-01-2010, 20:33   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

I use both. If I'm out shooting sports, then it's jpeg. Most of the shots if sold are going to be a maximum of A4 and don't need much post production. If there is likely to be a big name racing, when I know they are due to come past, I might flick to RAW just in case I need a bigger file.
For anything else, landscape, still life and portraits I only shoot RAW.
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Old 10-01-2010, 00:26   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Quote:
Originally Posted by silkstone View Post
Just to clarify!

RAW files don't have a colourspace. You don't even need to export them to another format if your RAW editor does everything you need. JPEGs can be in sRGB or Adobe RGB, but are always 8-bit. That doesn't matter until you start altering tonal balance when you may get posterisation with 8-bit images. Most RAW converters use an internal colourspace such as ProPhoto which has a much wider gamut than sRGB or Adobe RGB, but this is all behind the scenes and you don't need to worry about it!

If you use a RAW converter such as DCRAW or UFRAW and the GIMP for editing, there is no extra cost involved as these are free! A converted hi-res, low-compression JPEG may be as large as the original RAW file, so to save disk space you can use an all-in-one converter/editor and only export when necessary - say, for the web - and those files will be small.
Point taken JPGs can be either sRGB or adobe RGB, but I have to try hard to force my Camera to produce JPGs in adobe RGB so I don't bother.

GIMP is a great editing tool but currently at version 2.6.7 it only really supports 8 bit per channel but there's hope that version 2.8.* will support 16 bits and higher. I'm sure it will attract a lot more photographers then. As you say value for money is excellent
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:29   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

I would suggest Picasa as a starting tool for a beginner. Its allows you to browse the RAW files and easily convert them in a batch operation. It also has some basic editing features. It is free, and works with all operating systems (I've never tried it in Linux though).
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Old 07-02-2010, 20:43   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Another daft question, for a beginner would you recommend RAW or JPG?

Hi Dabhand, you say you found a Microsoft program to show raw thumbnails, could you please tell me which program.

Thank You
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