Friday, July 04, 2014

Jpeg+RAW

I have been taking and saving both Jpeg and RAW on both my DSLRs for some time. There are a couple downsides to this, and a few issues to bear in mind.

1. They take up a about 50% more space than RAW alone or about 4 times more space than just jpeg alone. So you probably need a larger SD card and certainly more storage space.

2. They take longer to write to the card, It takes longer to write both files to the SD card, so you should consider a faster SD card. It does take a little time for your camera to “develop” the jpeg rendering but this is usually quicker than the extra time it take to write the RAW file, so if you want maximum Blust speed best to just use jpeg format.

Another aspect that doesn’t seem to get much press is the an unprocessed RAW file is generally flat and boring in comparison to the equivalent jpeg, the truth is the raw file has more potential, so I need to add another downside

3. Most raw file will be boring and flat until post processing has been undertaken to achieve its full potential. You will have to spend extra time nursing it through that process!

Side by side comparison of jpg and RAW as loaded into lightoom.

I think this remains dull and boringness has been essentially hidden issue because most of the package Part of Edit/Preferences/General dialogue  in Lightrooms only show one version. For example lightroom will only show the raw version (unless you check the “treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” box under Edit/Preferences/General dialogue). So you will not see the jpeg version, except for a short period as the file is being imported in lightroom when it uses the jpeg preview imageembedded in the raw file, but once loaded it will use an “average” rendering of the raw file (aka that flat and boring look). There is nothing particularly wrong with the exposure of this image of the beach at Venus Bay but it doesn’t feeling of a clear winter’s day. Different packages will have different ways to do this rendering of the raw files but one approach seldom suits all and the power of raw is really in selectively changing and tweaking the many processing options anyway. Most packages however do have an Autofix or AutoEnhance feature and many will offer plug-ins and presets to automate the processing of your Raw files into something special.

image

I’ll let you into a secret, I didn’t spend ages post processing this image I just selected the OnOne’s Endless Summer 7 preset and eased back on a couple of sliders.especially the vignette. It has lifted the blue, whitened the  surf and added contrast & clarity, and I could have done that myself too but…

S

o the moral of the story is, if you only use your camera to take snapshots and photos to post on-line, perhaps saving your photos in raw format is overkill (and potentially unexciting) and you will do better setting your camera to take the style of jpeg you like. Whereas if you have good RAW photo processing software like lightroom, camera raw/photoshop, aftershot pro, aperture, rawtherapee etc. and you can put in the time, you will be able to get better results from the raw files.If you are ok with the extra storage required (and possibly have faster SD cards) and have the discipline to handle both format why not save both?

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