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Dropping RAW and going Jpeg

Discussion in 'The Olympus Outlet' started by Ardy, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. Storker

    Storker ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    Being an old geezer who grew up with real film, I like to compare the raw files to negatives and the JPEGs to paper prints. In the old days, the DR of negative film was much larger than the DR of the paper copy. If your image had a limited DR, most of the information was transferred to the print, but if the subject had a large DR, you had to make choices in the darkroom as to what information to keep and what information to discard. You could also compare JPEG recording to shooting slide film, which was quite unforgiving about just 0.5-1EV error in exposure or minor misses in color balance, except the DR of a good slide film is better than a JPEG file. So while the slide film shooters had washed-out shots, we neg shooters could manipulate the image in the printing process to optimize an image that wasn't perfectly exposed. Ansel Adams was one of the great masters when it came to choosing the right film, the right exposure and the right development to capture as much data as possible on the film, and then using all that information to produce stunning prints. Read his trilogy "The camera", "The negative" and "The print" to learn about his 'workflow'. It's a worthwhile read, even in today's digital era.

    Since I've spent quite a few hours in the darkroom, I actually enjoy the process that converts a "flat" negative (raw file) to a print (JPEG) worthy of framing (displaying). I still enjoy that process, even though my workflow is digital these days. I fully respect that others don't see it that way. However, if you can't recover at least 1EV of blown highlights and/or shadows from a raw file, you're probably shooting with a very old camera or with a low-end compact. Or you're using the wrong tools (programs).

    I'm humble enough to both realize and admit that my skillz aren't good enough to produce the perfect picture SOOC. Besides, I deliberately choose not to spend all of my situational awareness on nailing the perfect shot with perfect exposure when I'm diving. I reserve quite a bit of that situational awareness for my buddy obligations and my own safety. And because of that, I appreciate not having to worry about WB since I set it in post, not having to worry about +/- 0.5-1EV error in exposure since I have a bit of latitude in adjusting exposure, shadows and highlights, and not having to worry about perfect composition since I can crop at leisure at my computer with a lot more situational awareness to spare because I don't have to watch my buoyancy, keep track of my buddy, and avoid bottom contact.
    boletus1973 and bmorescuba like this.
  2. WetLens

    WetLens REEF Volunteer

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: North Carolina
    If you only use your original as a base and save your results to a different filename, there is never any degradation. Yes, the file is compressed, but today's JPEG algorithms that come with the cameras are so good that it is hard to tell the difference - if anyone really can tell the difference.

    I never save a JPEG after it has been processed. If I need a different size or want to experiment with different processing, I go back to the original. I will concede that here is the one advantage that I see to RAW - processing does not change the original file. Any alterations made are stored in a separate file, so you can go back to it multiple times. But again, for the few times I do this and the simplicity to my JPEG processing routine, it is not all that big of a deal - to me.

    To each their own. I'm just trying to put forward a case for JPEG to balance out all the "MUST SHOOT RAW" photogs out there.
  3. Shasta_man

    Shasta_man Loggerhead Turtle

    <<RAW files always come out flat>>

    That's either wrong or inaccurately stated. RAW files capture the information from the scene. The settings in your RAW editor define how that information is used and displayed by default. It can be set to "flat" or to some other default. It doesn't have to be "flat". It's also easy in most RAW editors to auto configure each image, though sometimes that can make different choices from what you would. However, that's coupled with the advantage of RAW of going back to make any changes you want, no matter how radical or little to get the image you want.

    There are many advantages to RAW that outweigh the cost of shooting RAW. A few are image information is recorded in much higher levels of detail (bits per pixel) which gives you a lot of control in your RAW editor (much of that info is thrown away by your JPEG save), you can easily adjust white balance which I do a lot when shooting under incandescent or flourescent lighting, and non-destructive editing so you can do different edits to the same files and save them to separate JPEGs without changing an original file or saving over the original RAW. Saving to that JPEG format throws a lot of information away to get to that filesize which is why some of your editing options are limited afterwards or at least not as simple to do. Perhaps that time you saved in not shooting RAW is now spent in understanding how to edit your JPEG to get back what you wanted to shoot.

    Could you always be a super photog? Sure! However, one of the reasons why we have the superduper cameras we have now is because we can't all be that and at times it can easily get in the way of capturing the shot before it is gone. I could switch white balance modes and exposure mode. etc to capture the scene correctly but the subject could be gone by that point, at which point I have to switch all that stuff back so I am ready to shoot the next shot. I've saved quite a few shots from black or something else by having the ability to edit my RAW image and get it back. From the overexposed blah looking image or much worse like completely black to a good image. Were they due to my failure at setting the camera? Sure. But I was focused on what those features were meant to enable me to focus on: getting the shot. what did it cost me? A little more download time (so what, I start download then come back) and then with click click click, I can have a whole set of JPEGs too.

    Could you shoot in JPEG all the time and get decent and even great images? Sure. However, sometimes you'll miss something fiddling with the camera settings or screw up the image due to incorrect camera settings you left set from last nights shooting and forgot when your kid started running around the room with the pumpkin on her head before it fell off after only a lap. You could easily forgo RAW but there are advantages that can't be easily dismissed.

    Storker likes this.
  4. Storker

    Storker ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    I believe you're shooting at strawmen here. I haven't seen any "MUST SHOOT RAW" posts. However, I've seen a few posts describing some advantages of raw shooting and debunking the myth that shooting raw has to be much more labor-intensive than shooting JPEG.
  5. James R

    James R PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Austin, TX USA
    At the end of the day, people should shoot how they want. I couldn't care less...not my images to worry about.
  6. Storker

    Storker ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over

    They should, though, have enough information to make an informed decision.
  7. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I am just starting into what I consider to be higher end digital photography. After having had numerous point and shoots and playing with the images (jpegs) in photoshop.
    Now own a digital slr and put it into an Ikelite housing. Shot my first UW photos with it in the pool last week. Results were better than expected. Amazed at the amount of detail in an 18 mp photo as compared to the 4-8 mp I am used to.'

    Right now I have the rig set to save photos in fine jpeg and raw. I'm used to working with jpeg. RAW is a whole new animal for me. Luckily a friend of ours is shooting semi professionally now and is going to show me some things about working with RAW images around Christmas time.

    I know what I can do with jpegs in the software. If RAW gives me more control I can see some situations where that'll be useful and fun since I enjoy playing. the image below was shot off hand from a kayak. it was about 30 feet up in a tree from about 25 yds. 70-300 zoom. Still playing with the settings this was on a medium image quality.
    . I said go away!4.jpg
  8. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    Bullshark wrote a great post about RAW three years ago;

    [h=2]RAW and JPEG: The truth is out there[/h]
    The signal to noise ratio in another thread has plumetted to zero. The following are facts, not opinions.


    • The cells of a camera sensor cannot detect color; only shades of gray from black to white.
    • Each cell of the sensor converts brightness or luminance to an electrical voltage on a fixed scale.
    • Through physical or electronic means the camera imposes red, green, and blue filters in front of individual cells.
    • By this means individual cells measure the intensity of red green and blue light creating a mosaic of individual red, blue and green cell values, and (usually) not in equal proportions.
    • This mosaic comprises the image data in a RAW file.
    • The RAW image data is supplemented with information needed to interpret it, such as sensor size and optical characteristics.
    • Thumbnails and other useful information such as exposure data are also included in the RAW file.
    • Any viewable pixel image (tiff,png,jpg or other) is far far removed and many times different from RAW data.

    In order to produce a viewable image of any sort, the RAW data must be de-mosaiced using a highly developed mathematical schema that is highly adjustable. The process is far from simplistic since the cells, though very small, are physically separate from their neighbors. If you have a common box grater, you can visualize the problems of the process by laying it on its side. Viewed from directly over head, you see one thing. If you move your head around the zenith you see things differently, some things become more distinct some less so. There are subtle changes in contrast and relative size. This is problem is compounded by the sensor being flat and light striking it obliquely. Your eye is round, not flat, so the image light is automatically scaled and sheared to proportion. Since the image sensor is flat this has to be done algorithmically.

    There simply isnt anything like a single pixel with red green and blue color values in the sensor. It must be synthesized. In order to produce an image as jpg would see it, the de-mosaicing process has to interpret the point of view of the individual cells to simulate the effect of each cell being in the same place. There are many ways to accomplish this, and different methods will enhance or suppress some characteristics in the image at the expense of others. Super-duper scientific cameras employ microscanning, where the sensor is moved around so that each cell actually does experience the same light level at the same location as its neighbor.

    In many P&S cameras this is taken a step further. Using still more sophisticated mathematics the processor simulates more cells than there actually are on the sensor and predicts what each of those cells would have seen had they actually been there. Modern computational science and semiconductor magic have made this cheap and fast enough that many low end cameras have extraordinary pixel counts. The results are quite good, usually right up until you compare to an image that actually has that many cells.

    In addition there are many qualitative filters that are applied to convert the RAW into an image; "White Balance" is just one of them. The following represent just some of the filters that must/will be applied in the translation from RAW to image (jpg or otherwise):


    • Dynamic Range
    • Exposure
    • Contrast
    • Brightness
    • Sharpness
    • Saturation
    • Hue
    • Luminance
    • Chrominance
    • Clarity
    • Vibrance
    • Tint
    • Noise
    • Moire
    • Black level
    • and of course, White balance

    These "filters" are really just stages in the transition from Raw to pixel image with adjustable inputs. Many modern P&S cameras have a "Scene" position on the program dial. In selecting scenes, the camera is using preset combinations of these with specific inputs along with mechanical aspects of the composition to produce pleasant automatic exposures.

    These filters all must be applied and choices made about their relative values (sometimes under menu control) to make any image out of the RAW data. All of these information channels have been permanently and irrevocably altered in every format except RAW. Once the die is cast in JPG (or other pixel format) the original relationships are gone forever. Even though many of these can be re-applied later, their use is not as effective nor is control of their interaction as finely-grained as it is in the RAW circumstance. The order of application can be significant. You can't sharpen something that isn't there anymore because something else has subdued it.


    • JPEG is lossy. It is almost never a perfect reproduction of the input. It is an estimate.
    • Any JPEG file, including the first recorded image on your camera is an estimate of the image sensor data.
    • Any format other that RAW is greatly and repeatedly interpreted and far removed from the image sensor data.
    • Thousands of quantitative and qualitative interpretations have been applied making any image far-removed from the RAW file.

    Every photographic circumstance is a unique combination of light, shadow, subject and color. Though engineers strive to post process the RAW data in useful ways, it not just improbable, but impossible for them to pre-determine the optimal interpretation for every possible photograph. The existence of "Scene" modes on cameras bears testimony to that; in spades.

    While many default interpretations of RAW data are quite acceptable, none are optimal. That is, any photo that is recorded in a non-RAW format could be improved upon by developing from the RAW data.

    In the past RAW was objectionable because of costs both in camera response and especially data storage. I recently purchased a 32 GB Class 10 SDHC for $32.00. Newer cameras have faster and faster processors. Case Closed.

    In the past, RAW was objectionable because of high costs to process both in time/effort. Today, even a lowly netbook has a multi-core, multi Gigahertz processor and gigabytes of RAM. Programs such as Adobe Lightroom offer your cameras post-processing characteristics on import by default. That is, Lightroom's interpretation of your RAW data is very close to, if not exactly the same as your camera would have it. With that as a starting point and untainted RAW data as a basis, the full potential of any photograph may be realized. Case Closed.

    Someone exclaimed that anyone using photoshop or anything else to process their raw photo was not a phtographer, but a post processing image engineer. Guilty as charged. Better me than some little squad of pencil-neck geeks that not only never saw the image I captured; they've never even been underwater, let alone examined or processed thousands of images captured in every imaginable condition there. Like it or not, your RAW data is post-processed by a bunch of generalized assumptions pre-programmed into the camera, or by you. Case Closed.

    Someone else claimed that there is nothing gained from RAW since there will be data loss when you export it anyway. As can already be seen, it will be quite a different source in the first place, and that person clearly forgot that the image can be exported in many formats that are not lossy such as TIF or PNG.

    Someone else believed that JPG is much better today than in the past. That would be a "No". JPG algorithms have improved. They are more efficient, smaller and faster. But lossy is lossy and the quality setting still tops out at 90 or so. JPEG is lossy by design; that's how it saves space. The preservation of original images in modern software is a by-product of super fast computers today that can apply all the editing transformations to your image every time you look at it. You can edit the image multiple times because it is always starting with the original, converting it to a lossless format for display (e.g. BMP), applying all your prior editing commands and then applying new ones. JPEG is storage format only and is converted to something else for display and editing. JPG is still lossy, even the first cut. Repeated saves to a new generations will still turn into a puddle of blurred mud. The conversion from RAW has made assumptions and altered the data of the image in many unrecoverable ways.

    Some people object to RAW because they can't browse them on their computers. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and others offer codecs that will make that possible. Just download and install them and you can browsr the same as any other image. Case Closed.

    Going forward, the RAW data can always be re-interpreted to enhance or supress original undisturbed data channels while the JPG (or other) pixel image cannot. It is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    Going forward, RAW data can be reinterpreted by newly enhanced or invented interpretations with all available data channels intact while the pre-processed pixel image (jpg) cannot.

    If you just want snap shots JPG is fine. If they look fine to you, that's A-OK, too. Don't think for even a minute that they haven't been post-processed. Even if you like the outcome, a better quality outcome could be acheived starting from RAW, because you were there.

    If you want your best pictures to be the finest images they can be, you need RAW and need to learn to use it. Case closed.​
    boletus1973, JohnN, Storker and 3 others like this.
  9. Allison Finch

    Allison Finch Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    I stopped shooting RAW a while ago. If the shot isn't fairly presentable, right out of the camera, I have little use for it. To try to salvage bad work using technology, only serves to continue the sloppy work, IMO. I like the challenge of doing it right, the first time. Fine Jpeg makes life SO much easier.
    WetLens, giffenk and KCrofoot like this.
  10. KCrofoot

    KCrofoot Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tomball, Texas, United States
    I have been shooting underwater for about 5 years now and about 3 years ago I started producing pictures that I thought were worthwhile. I have read a lot of the post here and I have experimented with lightroom and other editing software.

    I use a touchscreen windows pc that comes with a picture editing software aptly called "Photos." Maybe my eye is not as good as others but I can't ever get any noticeable difference between the 30 second edit in photos vs. the raw edits in lightroom.

    In photos I can perform 80% of the functionality I can do in lightroom in 20% of the time, and I don't have to pay adobe monthly. I do shoot both Raw and Jpeg with the thought that I might go back to lightroom and do something that I couldn't get in photos, but I never do. This is a hobby to enjoy and the reality is that I am happy with the Jpeg edits I can do quickly.
    WetLens and deeper thoughts like this.

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