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Shooting in RAW

mrfmilomrfmilo Posts: 2,728
edited May 2011 in The hub
This might be on for yeehaa and the like..

What are the advantages of shooting in RAW? Are the results worth the editing time compared to JPG?

Is there any free software out there for editing and converting them to JPEG?

Cheers :) (Nikon D60 btw)

Posts

  • chedabobchedabob Posts: 1,133
    Nikon cameras come with a converter I think.

    Advantages are you can change the white balance in post if you get it wrong, there's no incamera processing so you can fiddle with stuff how you like, and there's a marginal improvement in quality (Lossy vs. Raw storage)

    Downsides are it takes a bit more work to get top notch images, and most cameras won't let you shoot as fast and for as long when in RAW compared to Jpeg. Oh, and the images are absolutely massive.

    There's probably more to it than that though.

    If I'm using a mates DSLR I shoot in RAW, but not really for any particular reason. If you want faster shooting and shorter processing, shoot JPEG.
  • 77ric77ric Posts: 601
    chedabob is pretty much spot on, the analogy I use when talking to people about shooting in RAW Vs JPG is to think of a RAW file as the digital equivalent of a film camera negative (just not with the whole reversed colours thing) and a JPG being the processed print.

    The scope of image editing that you can perform on a RAW image is much larger, due to the increased information over JPG. for example most image editing software will let you adjust the exposure of a RAW image by up to 2 stops in either direction and the file will still look good. JPG is a lossy compression file, which will introduce artefacts that will be exaggerated with to much editing.

    Personally I always shot in raw and that allows me to do some funky editing with regard to the exposure, saturation, colours , etc., while maintaining image quality.

    for example the following image would look piss poor if shot in JPG and then edited.

    5497351467_9323748976_z.jpg
    Amongst Winter's Debris, Spring's New Life by rcaw, on Flickr

    The editing carried out on that image was a lot of de-saturation then a little of that brushed out and the the saturation of the shoot increased a tiny bit.

    and the original shot
    5736427589_4ffcc79810_z.jpg
    2011-03-02 at 15-02-30 by rcaw, on Flickr


    And just to mess with ya, I archive all my images after editing into a lossless TIFF format.
    Fancy a brew?
  • sheepsteethsheepsteeth Posts: 17,418 Webster
    iget the impresion that shooting in raw is a good ida if you can do a better job of processing your images than the camera can when it produces a jpeg.

    my camera is considered to have a great jpeg engine so for the most part, i shoot in jpeg and make a few tweaks to the final product to make it match what i want
  • 77ric77ric Posts: 601
    it, really depends on what you do, if you want to do a lot of post processing, or unusual post processing then shoot in RAW.

    if on the other hand you just want to focus on taking good pics in camera, then yeah JPG is probably the best option.

    most cameras that are capable of shooting in raw are also capable of shooting jpg at the same time, so you could feasibly shoot both and leave your options open.

    shooting RAW will mean that you wont be able to use the cameras scene settings.
    Fancy a brew?
  • TuckerUKTuckerUK Posts: 398
    RAW is the way to go in my opinion.

    I’ve finally settled on the following workflow which I’ve now been using for a few years:

    I always shoot in RAW.
    Images are transferred to PC HDD via card reader, images are wiped from the card at the same time (I’ve never lost images this way and I’ve been using it since 2006).
    I get Capture NX to batch process all RAW files by resizing them to 800 pixels high and converting to a Jpeg.
    These ‘quick jpegs’ are then used on forums etc.

    I also look at the quick Jpegs to see whether any of my shots are worthy of posting on my PBase account, or perhaps making into prints. If so, I open the RAW nef file in capture NX, adjust white balance and exposure compensation, and then ‘Open with…’ which I’ve set to open as a tiff (no loss of info) in Photoshop CS2. I can then play with the file to my heart's content.

    Colour management wise, I shoot in AdobeRGB, and both CaptureNX and Photoshop CS2 are set to the larger ProPhotoRGB colourspace.

    The only add-ons I’ve found useful in Photoshop are The Lights Right sharpening scripts, Neat Image, and PT Lens.

    I’m by no means one of the better photographers out there, fairly safe to say my equipment isn’t my limiting factor!

    Hope that helps.

    My PBase gallery:
    http://www.pbase.com/tuckeruk
    "Coming through..."
  • t0pc4tt0pc4t Posts: 978
    I think it comes down to where you do your processing.

    I do mine off the camera so I want the image as unadulterated as possible so I shoot in RAW and then process in Adobe lightroom.

    Best thing to do is to take an image in RAW and then switch to JPG and see which one is easier for you to process.

    My mate does all kinds of photography and pretty much never bothers with RAW
    Whether you're a king or a little street sweeper, sooner or later you'll dance with the reaper.

    Cube Curve 2009
    Giant Anthem X4

    FCN=6
  • mrfmilomrfmilo Posts: 2,728
    Cheers everyone, will try RAW for abit and see how i like it. Thanks again
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I think some people over process images. Sure if that is what they want, and they can look great in an art way - the whole art/photography discussion I guess.
  • andrewjosephandrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    mrfmilo, just be aware that RAW files can look pretty poor straight from the camera, especially compared with an in camera, sharpened, boosted and tweaked jpeg.

    I also use lightroom, and the amount of 'fiddling' you can do to a RAW file is huge compared to a jpeg.

    The other thing I like about lightroom, is that it is non destructive to the RAW files (and jpeg). You can do extreme editing and it the original is untouched. you then either print from lightroom or save the image in the format you wish. As long as you don't save over the original, you can have as many variants of the original as you want.
    --
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Oh dear. BR forums strike again. "I don't really know what I'm talking about, so I'll take a wild stab at it" :lol:
    Ahem, anyway...


    RAW files are a bit bigger. Typically, the JPGs from my camera are around 8megs, and the RAW files are around 12-13.
    The main advantage is RAW files contain more dynamic range than the JPG. They also contain more dynamic range than can be displayed on screen.
    For example here's an overexposed shot taken in JPG and RAW simultaneously...

    jpg_standard.jpg

    Notice how the sky is obliterated. But all is not lost, we can bring down the brightness in JPG, right?
    Well, not quite.
    Here's what happens when you try to do it with a JPG...
    jpg_darkened.jpg
    See? All the detail in the really bright areas are lost forever.
    But with the RAW file, we can actually achieve this...
    RAW_darkened.jpg
    Almost all of the "clipped" detail was still in the RAW file, and could be restored after shooting by just turning the exposure down in the RAW converter.

    Basically, the RAW file contains the entire range, from dark to light that the camera's sensor can make sense of (which is still not as much as our eyes), whereas a JPG image only contains a limited portion of it.. kinda like this, if it helps you imagine it...
    limited-range.jpg

    When converting from RAW into a normal image file, you have control over how the extra range is dealt with. You can do all sorts of things from either ignoring it if the shot is fine as is, or compress the range so that it all fits in the final rendered image.

    RAW files also describe each primary colour in greater detail than a JPG.
    In JPGs, each colour is described by only 8 bits, giving 256 discreet steps from zero to full for each of Red Green and Blue.
    In a RAW file, it is common these days to have 16 bits per colour channel, giving much smoother gradients, as it allows 65,536 steps from zero to full intensity for EACH colour.

    This colour gradient can be preserved by converting the RAW file into a Tif, instead of a JPG, and if truth be told, that's actually what Photoshop and the like does when you're "editing RAW".
    Once the adobe cameraRAW step is over, you are no longer working on the actual RAW file, but a rendered TIF bitmap of it.

    There is absolutely NO reason for the raw file to look worse than a JPG "until you've edited it", if you've shot something well, you've shot something well - Well, with some caveats.
    Some older RAW converters might not fully understand the information in files from newer cameras, so the exposure etc may be a bit off (or in a worst case scenario may not open them at all).
    My Sony RAW files will appear darker in Photoshop CS4 than they do in CS5, for example. But they look fine in Sony's own RAW processing software.

    It's worth bearing in mind, as 77ric says, that generic RAW converters will not pay any attention to whatever "scene" setings you had the camera set to. So if you had it set to black and white, for example, or maximum saturation, you will find that it will open as a normally saturated, colour image in almost all RAW software. The only exception being white balance - this is ALWAYS preserved.

    Of course, you can also use the manufacturer's own RAW converter. These are usually a little clunker, and FAR slower than the likes of photoshop, but they can keep whatever "scene" settings you had set on the camera. These settings are fully reversible - the RAW file will simply contain what settings you used, which the converter software then duplicates. If you don't like it you can go back to default.

    The post processing editing advantage that many speak of doesn't actually come from RAW, it comes from the greater bit depth mentioned earlier. The problem is that JPGs are always, always only 8 bits per channel, and that lack of granularity can show up as grain, or banding when doing heavy post processing.
    But you'd have to go a long way for it to become an issue.

    Was there anything else you'd like to know?
  • I don't need to repeat all the benefits of RAW here as others have done in better detail, suffice to say I use it all the time regardless of circumstance. The biggest benefit to me is that I like high contrast images so being able to adjust exposure without much loss in quality is great. Also, when moving around between indoors/outdoors and needing to shoot quickly, I can get on with it and fix the white balance later.

    I'm sure you know about Photoshop, but I would also recommend Nikon's ViewNX software (free download off its website) for batch processing of RAW files. I use it like I would Windows Explorer and for large conversion batches, which you can't really do in Photoshop easily, and you get all the basic parameters to play with - exposure, brightness, white balance, contrast etc. I use it to get images closer to what I want quickly before loading them in Photoshop sometimes.

    Another thing to be aware of, Google Picasa will do RAW files, but is absolute carp and doesn't display them properly - they always look terrible so don't bother with it.

    Hope that helps
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I use it like I would Windows Explorer and for large conversion batches, which you can't really do in Photoshop easily
    Sorry if I seem condescending, I'm just not sure if you realise this, but I've met a ton of folks who don't.

    Adobe cameraRAW can do batch jobs quite beautifully, and elegantly.
    Load all the shots into ACR, select them all in the column down the left, and you can now either hit "save image" at the bottom of the image column to save them all as any format, or you can even even synchronise edits and settings between all photos.
    Dead handy when I've been shooting a series of shots in similar conditions - I can set the white balance, for example, on all the images at the same time, then export them all as JPGs.
  • I still use my film SLR!
  • I use it like I would Windows Explorer and for large conversion batches, which you can't really do in Photoshop easily
    Sorry if I seem condescending, I'm just not sure if you realise this, but I've met a ton of folks who don't.

    Well, I can be lazy when it comes to computers. Some things with Photoshop I'm very good with but I haven't really explored the whole thing - I find it all too easy to rely on PS so try to not use post-processing too much. I don't use ACR nor did I really know about it, it sounds very useful - funny the things you learn on a bike forum.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    77ric wrote:
    for example the following image would look wee-wee poor if shot in JPG and then edited.
    There's no reason for that at all.
    Here's a similar kind of thing done with your original picture of the shoot. (I hope you don't mind me using it to demonstrate, I'll take it down if you'd prefer - and I realise I should have asked permission first, sorry :oops: )
    shoot.jpg
    There are ways of increasing saturation that will work with any image format, and you have to take it to some pretty epic lengths before you'll hit problems because of it being a jpg.
  • 77ric77ric Posts: 601
    yeehaamcgee very well explained sir.


    102783.jpg

    for you sir and your stellar efforts.
    Fancy a brew?
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Haha, thanks, 77ric, I may not be a particularly great photographer, but I AM a geek, I tend to try and learn, in great detail as much as I can about, well, anything I do :oops: :lol:
  • 77ric77ric Posts: 601
    mcgee, your welcome to play around with the images, especially considering it furthers the thread as an example of your information.
    Fancy a brew?
  • mrfmilomrfmilo Posts: 2,728
    Yeehaa, most comprehensive guide on the web? :wink::D Thanks muchly :)
  • andrewjosephandrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    I don't pretend to know all there is to know about raw files, photography etc.

    But I do know that many cameras have settings to adjust contrast, sharpness and saturation for jpegs. The image you see on the back of the camera may be based on these settings. If you are shooting in jpeg your image may be similar to the camera thumbnail. If you are shooting in RAW, it won't be, so comparing the back of camera image with the unaltered RAW file may leave you unimpressed.

    Now, unless you have your RAW files converted to similar contrast, saturation and sharpness settings (difficult to do as the camera may not give you values), before you view them, you may be disappointed with the end result.

    As several people have said, consider RAW files in the same way as a film negative, you would not show the negative as your finished product, you blow it up, crop it, adjust contrast, saturation etc. until you were happy with the end result. The RAW file is the start of your post processing.
    --
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Like I said, andrewjoseph, if you use the camera maker's raw converter, it should carry those camera settings across.
  • andrewjosephandrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    Like I said, andrewjoseph, if you use the camera maker's raw converter, it should carry those camera settings across.

    Yes, but it does nothing with the info.

    from http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/u-raw-files.shtml

    "Saving the Raw file
    If you are saving raw files the camera creates a header file which contains all of the camera settings, including (depending on the camera) sharpening level, contrast and saturation settings, colour temperature / white balance, and so on. The image is not changed by these settings, they are simply tagged onto the raw image data."

    I can see the info of what the camera was set at, but it is not applied to the RAW file.

    Pentax own raw converter is pretty censored , I do it all in lightroom, and it does not use the camera settings. It gives me what the sensor captured, without any enhancements or changes.
    --
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Don't know about Pentax, never used them. Canon and Sony (and Nikon, I believe) raw software apply the settings from.the camera. Adobe does not. In fact, none of the feneric raw converters will. And, most generic converters are based on DCraw.
    But anyway, I still maintain that the manufacturer's software will (or should) do it. Otherwise there'd be no point in having those options available when the camera is set to shoot raw.
  • Arkady001Arkady001 Posts: 201
    Don't know about Pentax, never used them. Canon and Sony (and Nikon, I believe) raw software apply the settings from.the camera. Adobe does not. In fact, none of the feneric raw converters will. And, most generic converters are based on DCraw.
    But anyway, I still maintain that the manufacturer's software will (or should) do it. Otherwise there'd be no point in having those options available when the camera is set to shoot raw.

    Yep - you can flip between RAW defaults and the settings applied in-camera when you open in ACR - if like me you apply minimal in-camera processing, it means you do it all in post, but there are times when you might need to work a bit faster, but still want those RAW files to come back to at a later date to play around with.
    You can save a camera-preset to do just that.

    The only times I shoot JPEG-Fine are at Events, where I control all the light, backgrounds, subjects etc and print on the spot. For everything else it's RAW.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    OP - I'm pretty sure your D60 (my D200 will anyway) will allow you to save both JPEG and RAW simultaneously meaning you have nothing to loose by trying.

    Also depending on what version of Photoshop you have you shouldn't need any other software.
  • t0pc4tt0pc4t Posts: 978
    top guide yeehaa!
    Whether you're a king or a little street sweeper, sooner or later you'll dance with the reaper.

    Cube Curve 2009
    Giant Anthem X4

    FCN=6
  • KaiseKaise Posts: 2,498
    my camera is considered to have a great jpeg engine so for the most part, i shoot in jpeg and make a few tweaks to the final product to make it match what i want

    i'm with you sheeps, but i still try and use raw to get a better finish for photos i do for clients, sometimes the PEN's jpeg processing can enhanc e colours a little too much
  • coxy17coxy17 Posts: 401
    raw gives you a grater range of colour and there are free convertsrers out there but one should have come with your camera.

    ive used this on and its works fine
    http://www.stepok.net/eng/raw_importer.htm
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