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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Raw and jpeg...which one is better to do to keep quality but as a JPEG? shoot with JPEG OR shoot with RAW ...
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:25   #1 (permalink)
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Smile Raw and jpeg

which one is better to do to keep quality but as a JPEG? shoot with JPEG OR shoot with RAW and then convert to JPEG later, i mean either way it ends up being a JPEG so am i wasting my time converting photos to JPEG, what's the difference with the two ? qualitywise which is better? what do you Pro Photographers do ?
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:47   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

If you shoot RAW and then convert to JPEG without any adjustments, there will probably be no difference - although that does depend very much on what conversion software you use.

If you shoot JPEG, the sensor data (which is what a RAW file really is) is converted by software within the camera. Manufacturers' own RAW conversion software usually replicates the in-camera conversion algorithms, so you end up with something very similar if not identical.

The huge advantage of shooting RAW is if you want to carry out any post-processing - especially tonal and exposure adjustment, shadow boost, highlight recovery, contrast enhancement, etc.

The main reason for this is that a RAW file is usually either 12-bit or 14-bit, whereas a JPEG is 8-bit. In practice, this means that a JPEG has only 256 shades of each colour (red, green and blue) whereas a RAW file has 4096 levels or more.

So... if you stretch the tones in an 8-bit image (shadow boost, for example), there may not be sufficient intermediate tones to fill the gaps, resulting in posterisation or 'blocking' of the image. Instead of seeing a gradual change of tone, you may get bands of the same colour. A RAW file has many more tonal bands to start with, so stretching or manipulating them is far less likely to produce unwanted effects.

Added to that is the fact that JPEG files are not only compressed but 'lossy' - some of the data is thrown away. It is possible to make too much of that, since the losses are small with a high quality JPEG, but even so you will preserve the best quality by using the RAW file and then converting to whatever format you wish. If you save as JPEG in the camera, you can't go back to the original RAW data.

Hope that helps!
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:47   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

shoot RAW, you get so much more data in the file and it will be much better quality. The main thing with RAW is that you can change everything after. For example white balance, exposure etc
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:48   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

There was a discussion fairly recently on 'what format do most members shoot?', and most shoot RAW. The advantages are that you can convert to jpeg or tiff for working copies, but also retain the original file untouched and as shot. You can print straight from RAW, but usually the image needs some tweaking as RAW files are often a bit flat straight out of the camera. For this you need RAW converter software.

If you shoot and save in jpeg you will be able to get good results, and Silkstone has said that printing from a high quality jpeg gave results that were visually identical to tiff. But there is no doubt that if a jpeg is opened and saved there is a small drop in quality. Over a period this will eventually impact on the image. So for long term storage jpeg is not the best format. Tiff is a lossless format that will not deteriorate and is the favoured format for master copies that do not take up too much space.

Most people shy away from shooting RAW because they normally need a two stage process and the thumbnails will not display in your folders, however by using something like Faststone Viewer (which is a free download) you can not only view the files (RAW, jpeg and tiff) but also do some editing tasks, print and convert to jpeg too.
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Old 09-10-2008, 13:20   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

If you use Vista premium the thumbnails show up. I'm not sure if this is something that lightroom added during the install
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Old 09-10-2008, 14:19   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

There has been some previous discussion of RAW thumbnails too. XP doesn't support RAW thumbnail display for newer cameras, although there is an add-on for older ones. Vista should be able to display most RAW thumbnails. I'm not sure about Mac, but Linux can display thumbnails of all RAW files.
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Old 09-10-2008, 14:51   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

Is it true though that lightroom uses a non destructive format, if i'm correct this means that you can adjust the Jpeg how many times you like, so shooting in Raw or Jpeg makes no differance in PP
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Old 09-10-2008, 15:59   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

bain, it does make a difference because your camera processes the JPG's inside the camera. So anything thats added in there cannot be adjusted properly.

With RAW its exactly that, a raw file with no addition or tweaks done at all. Its alot more flexible to work with than a Jpeg and has alot more detailed information within the file than a Jpeg
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Old 09-10-2008, 16:02   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

Do you need to keep the Raw file and the adjusted Tiff?
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Old 09-10-2008, 16:53   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loddonjohn View Post
Do you need to keep the Raw file and the adjusted Tiff?
That will depend on how you work. Some will keep the RAW as the original master and save a tiff as a file that can be kept with any edits from the RAW as a working copy, then use the tiff for any further work such as cropping or mono conversion etc that can then be saved as a separate tiff or jpeg as the 'final' result. I say 'final' because you might then want to re-work the picture, so the first tiff would be the one to go back to.
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Old 09-10-2008, 17:06   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

A s the others have said shooting in Raw will give you the most flexibility over post processing the pictures but at the expense of very much larger file sizes. My Canon 40d give me jpgs at just under 4 MB but if I shoot raw each file is over 12 MB. So the storage capacity in terms of the number of files of your memory cards or hard dive is very much reduced.

For what I want from my system I use the highest quality jpgs almost exclusively and only switch to raw in exceptional circumstances. I only print on A4 paper although of course I do crop some images so the effective size of that section is larger. When I have compared the final print from jpg or raw I do not see much if any difference.

As usual with this kind of question the only way to fully resolve it is to try it yourself. It really depands on what your needs are. You do not list your camera gear but for my 40d I can save one image in both jpg and raw format. Why not try that and see how much difference there is after processing and printing.

I did that and decided, based on the results, that jpg is OK for most of my requirements,
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Old 09-10-2008, 22:26   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

In the day of film (now RAW) process (Tiff) final print (jpeg) Storage file RAW with original data file. I also only store all RAW onto an external hard drive. Burning these onto DVD does not guarantee they will always be retrievable. I started in the beginning doing it this way and lost a lot of good photos. This is just the easy way for me.
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Old 09-10-2008, 22:40   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

I have only just started using raw,but as AQ says I will use it on special occasions
and JPeg fine and large most of the time...
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Old 09-10-2008, 22:51   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

RAW is a lot easier if you use a RAW converter that also doubles as an image editor whilst leaving the original RAW file intact. That means you don't (usually) need an intermediate TIFF stage and second-stage processing - 16-bit TIFFs are huge - and you can just save as a very quality JPEG from the RAW converter/editor when you've finished all editing.

It may be that you don't need to save as anything at all, except for resized images for the web etc. If a RAW converter allows you to view, do slideshows, print, etc, why do you need to convert?

That was the original paradigm of Lightroom - hence Export was almost an afterthought - although LR was (and is) still missing some tools to achieve this goal. Other converters come closer to being an all-in-one solution (again, just my opinion), so again the question is whether you really need to export/convert at all.
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Old 10-10-2008, 03:07   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

I used to shoot jpeg all the time and found that the results were stunning (im old school and get the exposure right in the first place) but then tried raw and have not looked back. I even shoot raw when im doing stuff for newspapers and convert. the few extra minutes it takes to convert are really worth it. If you are going to be shooting stuff that is going onto library sites as well I would reccomend it. it really is like having a digital negative that you can then do what you want with. Just my 2pence worth. Im a convert
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Old 10-10-2008, 07:06   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

RAW -> TIFF -> JPG

The only JPGs I have are the reduced size ones you see on the web
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Old 10-10-2008, 07:29   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Raw and jpeg

thanks alot guys! been very helpful and alota infos i gotta absorb from all your helpful advice, really appreciate it cheers!
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