Beginner Raw/JPEG

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#1
I realise this is a subject that has been spoken about and debating endlessly, but as I want to get more serious about the Photography I do, I was hoping you guys could give me the best of both worlds and let me know which you think is better, and obviously why. I always shoot in JPEG but want to know if I should venture out and try shooting in Raw.

Thanks!
 
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Craig
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#2
No offence, but if you already know that this is 'debated endlessly' then you must have already done some research and/or some googling and understand the differences and pros and cons.

A million questions if you want a proper answer but here are a few:

What subjects are you shooting?
What do you intend to do with the photos?
Do you have the budget for the software required for raw proccessing? Do you have a computer capable of running it? Are you willing to spend the time learning the software?
 
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HappyDays
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#3
No offence, but if you already know that this is 'debated endlessly' then you must have already done some research and/or some googling and understand the differences and pros and cons.

A million questions if you want a proper answer but here are a few:

What subjects are you shooting?
What do you intend to do with the photos?
Do you have the budget for the software required for raw proccessing? Do you have a computer capable of running it? Are you willing to spend the time learning the software?
I haven't done any research into it but I have seen it's hard not to see the debate all over social media. I was just looking for a basic opinion from people about which they prefer and why to see if it would suit my style of Photography.
 
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#4
Well my opinion is why wouldn’t I shoot raw if I have the opportunity to. It gives me more flexibility in post processing but I quite enjoy the editing, I have a good computer to run the software and plenty of hard drive space. It also is useful for the type of photography I do which is mostly landscapes.

What do you shoot?

You could always try it out and download a trial version of some suitable software?
 
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#5
Raw is better, end of. A jpeg is a compressed, lossy file which contains nothing like the full amount of data captured by your sensor. A raw file gives you everything the camera captured when you pushed the button. The downside is that a raw file must be processed on a computer to get the best from it. By default a raw file will be dull and lifeless compared to a Jpeg, which has already been processed when it is saved.

The only reason to shoot jpeg is for speed. A lot of news and sports photographers will shoot jpeg as they have to upload their files immediately, with no time for processing.

See here for a before and after raw processing post I did the other day: https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/threads/lightroom-before-after-editing.691319/#post-8363416
 
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droj
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#6
It relates to how much control you want to have over your images. If you're content to let the camera processing defaults stay in charge, or you have some logistical reason such as having (maybe lots of) images that you need to upload somewhere quickly, then it's jpg time.

If you want to manage your output in detail for the best individual results, then it's time for raw.

To me the issue's pretty simple.

I was typing this just as Richard was posting to say the same things.
 
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HappyDays
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#7
Well my opinion is why wouldn’t I shoot raw if I have the opportunity to. It gives me more flexibility in post processing but I quite enjoy the editing, I have a good computer to run the software and plenty of hard drive space. It also is useful for the type of photography I do which is mostly landscapes.

What do you shoot?

You could always try it out and download a trial version of some suitable software?
I do a lot of landscapes but I also do Horse Events and Motorsport. It may have to be something I try in the future as I don't have the money to spend on a really decent editing software. Maybe I'll download a trial version after I've done some experimental Raw images. Thanks :)
 
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#8
You don't need to decide this in advance. Just shoot RAW+JPEG, then you can use both, try them out, compare them. I've been doing that for more than ten years, and still haven't decided which one is best. Sometimes it turns out that my jpeg with a little processing is fine, sometimes I need the extra scope of RAW. I decide that when I'm processing the images. Sometimes I change my mind years later and reprocess it. File storage is cheap these days. Just shoot RAW+JPEG and like me, you may find it convenient never ever to have to make your mind up about which is best.
 
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#9
I do a lot of landscapes but I also do Horse Events and Motorsport. It may have to be something I try in the future as I don't have the money to spend on a really decent editing software. Maybe I'll download a trial version after I've done some experimental Raw images. Thanks :)
Lightroom is £9.98 a month or £75-£90 for a year's subscription.
 
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#10
If you can produce sharp noise free images all the time then shoot RAW if you wish but in the end the final photo you end up with is always JPEG.

I've shot both and there may be occasions when RAW is the preferred choice - especially if you're a professional photographer - but it is noteworthy that many pro 'togs now shoot almost exclusively in JPEGS (Getty at the last Olympics).

And new programs now make the difference even less important.

The only question you need to ask is "when I look at the finished result in JPEG can I tell if it was shot in RAW or JPEG?"

Mostly you can't.

Or you could shoot in both RAW and JPEG if your camera allows it.

More important than which type to use is getting the correct exposure - that really makes a HUGE difference.

And don't forget that regardless that RAW fanatics quote the 16 bits of RAW, no DSLR actually produces a RAW file with 16 bits:

"EOS digital cameras capture images in 12-bit mode, which defines over 68 billion colour tones from each pixel. Only RAW gives you 12-bit colour files. These can be opened in the 16-bit mode of Photoshop, Digital Photo Professional and some other imaging applications. However, the file remains 12-bit - it simply opens in the 16-bit space.":
https://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/education/infobank/capturing_the_image/8_or_16_bit.do

And the 12 bits they mentioned (14 bits nowadays usually) does not apply to what the sensor can provide, it is the actual output from the D/A converter.

And DXO mark gives the Canon 1D X MKII a colour bit depth of only 24.1 bits - in other words 8 bits per channel - the same as JPEGs.

So the difference between the 2 types is less and less important.

https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/threads/noise-free-images-and-more.691603/
 
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#11
As above, no right or wrong answer, just choose for the scene/workload you doing, i use both on a weekly basis, if I'm shooting sports and all the light is nice and same, same ill use jpeg, i may flick to RAW if things change, same as everything, use both to your advantage.

As chris said, i usually shoot both JPEG+RAW then I have options if i find something that really takes my fancy but its a little off and can go with the RAW and save my bad workmanship. i usually save them in a different place, normally/70% of the time the JPEG is just fine, but just sometimes i need the RAw to pull out dark areas ect.
 
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#12
I do a lot of landscapes but I also do Horse Events and Motorsport. It may have to be something I try in the future as I don't have the money to spend on a really decent editing software. Maybe I'll download a trial version after I've done some experimental Raw images. Thanks :)
Always a few things to balance

do you need optimum quality?
do you need the images immediately?
how many images over what period of time

As a working event photographer I can set my camera to get great output and I need many many images immediately (horse events) so JPEG

If however I do a portrait session or wedding the RAW all the way and normally have the jpeg as a backup

Mike
 
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#13
I do a lot of landscapes but I also do Horse Events and Motorsport. It may have to be something I try in the future as I don't have the money to spend on a really decent editing software. Maybe I'll download a trial version after I've done some experimental Raw images. Thanks :)
As you have a Nikon, I'd suggest taking a look at the current version of Capture NX-D:

https://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/

It's a really capable raw converter that gives high quality results that are by default close to the in-camera jpegs, but with plenty of scope for adjustment. It's not as slick or as fast as some of its third party competitors, and it lacks the advanced image management can cataloguing features of programs like Lightroom, but it does a very good job of the actual conversions. Nikon also has an image browser and basic converter, ViewNX-i, which can be used in tandem with Capture:

https://nikonimglib.com/nvnxi/

But since Capture NX-D has much more control over raw conversion and includes its own browser, I don't use ViewNX-i very much. Both are free downloads, and only convert Nikon raw files.
 
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#14
Jpeg is nice and convenient for events if you're taking hundreds of photos and where the lighting isn't challenging. Raw is much better for things like landscape photography where you can make full use of the dynamic range captured, especially if you're shooting into the sun.
 

Nod

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#15
The only question you need to ask is "when I look at the finished result in JPEG can I tell if it was shot in RAW or JPEG?"

Mostly you can't.

Quoted for truth!

I shoot in JPEG all the time. I've tried farting about with raw files and can't improve on what the camera decides so spend the time I'd spend messing about with the raw files on other things.
Nothing I shoot is so critical that it's worth spending significant time trying to improve it.

HOWEVER, there are situations where there can be a definite advantage in shooting raw - I try to avoid them as much as possible!
 
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#16
I always shoot RAW+JPEG. I'll process the jpeg to see if jpeg tweaks will be good enough. Usually they are. If not I go back to the RAW. I reduce the number of times I need to go back to the RAW by increasing the latitude of adjustment of my jpegs. I do this by adjusting my in-camera jpegs to be low in contrast, low in sharpening, and low in saturation.

I used to find that an hour's shooting required an hour's post processing. Now that I have better post processing skills, and perhaps better skills at taking a higher proportion of keepers, I find that an hour's shooting will take me 2-3 hours of post processing.
 
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#17
A Digital camera doesn't take a photograph. It records a huge data-table of numbers, for brightness levels across a scene... a 'computer' then takes that data-table and lights up pixels on an electric screen, 'Painting-By-Numbers' a representation 'sort' of like what you saw through the camera.

The File 'Format', be it the common J-peg, or the ubiquitous 'RAW' or any of the many many others, like Tiff, or PSD, are all just different conventions for recording and reading the data file.... some have advantages over others, BUT....... Bottom line is that with any digital camera, its painting-by-numbers. The 'lore' that says 'Shoot RAW!! It's not Lossy! Its everything the camera captures!" IS... well, hugely inflated lore, really... and like the lore, the files made in RAW also tend to be hugely inflated, too.... however.

Back to fundamentals; you point camera at scene, to take picture. That scene is that scene, and it matters not one bit, what camera you use, or what format you save the paint-by-numbers file, that scene is that scene, and no amount of digital diddling will make my ex-missus look like Kate Moss..... what's in front of the camera is in front of the camera, end of.

Next up. You take picture with a certain camera, with a certain shutter-speed, with a certain lens at a certain aperture. The shutter-speed influences the amount of motion blur you capture or avoid. The Lens, determines the field of view, and the aperture the Depth of Field. Again, if I take a photo of one of my kids darting about, what I get is what I get. I cannot, fudge the sums after the event, to get a wide angle photo from a telephoto lens, I cant diddle them to remove movement streaking, or change the focus. There is only a very limited amount that you might actually do with the 'Paint-By-Numbers' data-set... and mostly that is limited to merely changing the brightness and contrast of the colours within the picture, and even that, between pretty small limits.

So... file formats.... JPG is a 'standard', and it is pretty useful and convenient, and where most folk start. It IS 'lossy', but that need not be a bad thing.... the algorithm that records that digital data set, only records what 'it' thinks is actually important, and disguards 'some' data pretty much at source. In turning that data-set into a picture, by PBN, another algorithm probably discounts a bit more... but you get a picture, and the 'file' to make that picture isn't over-inflated with lots and lots of extra numbers and data 'just in case', so it can be quite compact.

Just as an idea, the same picture, the same 'pixel' dimensions, say 2,ooo by 3,ooo or 6 Mega Pixels, saved in JPG format, might be around 2 Mega-bytes, file--size, (note the units), where the same photo saved in RAW, still with the same 6 Mega Pixels to display would have a file size of typically 8 Mega-bytes. About 4x the file-size.... and it can be worse that that-Jim, if you edit a RAW file, the program you edit it in, doesn't 'save' the results of what you do to the image file, it saves the original image file, plus a list of instructions to do to that data-set what you told the program to do; so the file gets even bigger, where as, if you edited in J-peg, the program would only save the new, diddled data-set, and the resultant file would likely be smaller or at least no bigger in memory 'bytes'.

So J-peg IS 'lossy', but its like peeling the spuds and keeping the peelings 'just in case'... you chuck the peelings away, cos you aint never going to put the spud back-together.... Oh-Kay, if you kept the peelings you 'could', but? Would you ever really want to? Like I said, a 'Lossy' format need not be a bad thing, cos you don't have to store or manage an overly large file to keep hold of the 'peelings'. A-N-D... if you are a little diligent to start with, you 'back-up' original files, before you start messing with them anyway, and only mess with a copy. So... even if you do peel the spud, and decide, "Err, no, actually I don't want to make chips, roasters would be so much better"... you just don't start trying to re-assemble the spud, putting the chips back together and wrapping them back in the peelings.... you just chuck it all away, and go get another 'copy' of your 'master' and start peeling that...

Hmmm... so your 2Mb picture file... now you have doubled that up, and taken up 4Mb of hard-drive space to make a 'master-copy' of the original file, 'just in case'... it's still half the file-size of an 8Meg 'Raw' to do the same thing.... a-n-d, you can keep the 'master' on a completely different hard drive 'safe' whilst you work on the copy, a-n-d, when you are working on the copy, the computer isn't having to load 8Mb of numbers into its processor or shuffle 8Mb of date twixt hard storage and processor... so it TENDS to give whatever you are using to edit or even just view, your picture a lot less work to do, so it can do it quicker and easier.

Add to that.... JPG is a 'standard'. If you have a photo, straight out of camera, in JPG format, you can view it or share it, quickly and easily. The device you are using, likely has the algorithm in it already to be able to open that data-file, and Paint-By-Numbers, and give you something to look at. If you have a RAW or NEF or TIFF or PSD format file... probably not.... and before you can even look at the PBN picture, some bit of proprietary software that likely isn't on every and any computator you come across, has to look at it, do its PBN thing on it, and actually create a JPG for any-one to look at or mess with.

So, JPG has an awful lot going for it..... and you REALLY need to think hard whether any other format is 'really' going to do very much for you, to move away from it... and more, where there 'may' be an advantage to Raw format files... do you REALLY need a Raw format to get them, where you could do something else, like backing up your original image files.

Advantages of Raw file formats? Babies and Bathwater...

Well, if you haven't already gathered I am not really a 'Raw' 'fan'. There really aren't all that many advantages, and certainly not so many you cant get other, oft easier ways. And as has been alluded to, no the 'Pros' don't universally all shoot Raw, so if you have any aspirations to be a 'good' photographer, you should too.... particularly for Sports and Journalism, the 'Pros' most often shoot JPG, simply because it IS fast, it Is easy, it is 'Standard' and the small extra diddle-ability you 'may' have in a Raw format, probably isn't going to even be used, let alone exploited.

So, what advantages do you get with a Raw format, and more pertinently what advantage might you really want or make of them?

As said, you cant change what you pointed the camera at when you pressed the button; you cant change the lens that was on the front, you cant change what you were focused on, or the shutter-speed you used. AL you can do in ANY post-processing, is diddle the numbers and change the brightness and contrast... do you need or want to?

And since you could do that to a Jpg format picture, anyway, how far into the margins do you need to be or want to go, before the opportunities a Raw format may offer, actually become 'advantages' not 'drawbacks'.

Get it 'Clean-in-Camera' first off before you press the button; and you really don't HAVE to do much post-processing, at all, so whatever advantages Raw formats might have over Jpg, can be pretty redundant before you begin.... and in that, there is far more potential to become a better photographer, and get better images, than you will ever have trying to find some-sort of unicorn in alternative file-formats.

If I shoot NEF (Nikion-Extended-Format, their version of Raw, and essentially a Jpg with an extra data-table to say how they turned the PBN data-set into a 'picture')... in 'Windows' the files come up as an icon in the explorer-window, not a 'thumb-nail' to give me an idea what that picture was of. So to even just 'see' the picture as taken, I have to open up the Nikon editing software to have a look. Then, to get a file I can up-load to a hosting site or forum, or whatever, I have to create a JPG format image, in the editing software, from that!! Even if I do NOTHING to the image. So straight off the top, there is an extra layer of 'faff' to go through, and "Oh while I have it open......" the faff begs MORE faff still, encouraging you to 'do something' to the image in post-process..... which, IF you worked Clean-In-Camera, you probably wouldn't need to anyway, and even if you didn't, is most often an exercise in turdpolishing... it aint gonna make my ex Kate Moss!!

So, where post-process CAN be 'helpful', is in doing things you cant do 'Clean-In-Camera'.

A-N-D we are into the realms of photo-montaging, merging different images, which at the base layer, are like cut and pasting your mate outside the council offices, into a back-ground of the Eiffel Tower.... but go up from there into however convoluted montages you wish, really.... B-U-T, in that world, montages tend to only really 'work' when they have been planned and the montage sections taken specifically to be montaged. Eg, you don't 'just' try cut and past your mate outside the council offices against a back-drop of the Eiful Tower, because the shadows and perspectives will never really marry up. To do it, half convincingly, you take the photo of your mate, not infront of the council offices, but infront of a blue-screen in a studio. You already have the back-ground shot of the Eiffel tower, and in the studio, you pose your mate to get matching lighting angles and shadows to whats there in the back-drop you want to C&P them into.... Which is but one example, and if you want to talk about HDR, or focus stacking or panorama stitching etc etc etc, its ALL variations on the same basic technique, and they nearly all depend on shooting your elements specifically TO post process, not serendipity lashing together whatever photo's you have 'scavenged'

Back to getting it Clean-In-Camera... A-N-D, if you are shooting specifically to post process... its EVEN more critical to get it right, first time, at point of capture and not 'hope' on some magic method of turdpolishing to get what you hoped for.

There are an awful lot of Raw format aficionado's, and they all support the 'Lore' that in some way it is 'better' and we all aught use it..... sorry to disagree, but, its simply NOT true. There 'may' be some reason to shoot RAW format, BUT, unless you know just exactly what they are, and where and when they may make a difference, which IS significantly in post-process, where you can far too easily get into a mire convincing yourself just how essential it is, and how huge a difference it makes to your photo's, loosing ever more sight of the wood for the trees as you wonder into that forest, it is just so often more of a hindrance than a help, and you REALLY would be better off spending your time and attention on the upfront diligence of getting it CinC to start with, not obsessing over minutia of possible post-process techniques and technologies! Because even if you DO get to exploit PP, it comes back to that, and shooting CinC to get what you want to PP!

To wit the short answer is it makes little or no odds! And JPG has an awful lot of advantages, you probably would get more from if you looked at them and appreciated them, and didn't just chuck the baby out with the bath-water 'Cos the Pos!"

So should you give RAW a try? Well... its about as open a question as asking whether you should try a fish-eye lens, or chocoloate-chilli sauce! Yeah.... you can.... but that alone don't mean you should, or that its a particularly great idea, less, that it will revolutionise your photography!!!
 

MartynK

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#18
There is lots of information/advice about JPEG v Raw online, and on these forums. Both are useful and neither is 'better' in all situations, so I suggest you read and experiment to find which works for you. Many cameras let you save in both formats simultaneously and this would be a good way to explore the subject. You'll come to your own conclusions.
 
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#19
I realise this is a subject that has been spoken about and debating endlessly, but as I want to get more serious about the Photography I do, I was hoping you guys could give me the best of both worlds and let me know which you think is better, and obviously why. I always shoot in JPEG but want to know if I should venture out and try shooting in Raw.

Thanks!

JPEG. You have to make sure you set up correct white balance, correct exposure levels, correct other settings, all have to be done first, then take a landscape photograph. When the photograph had been taken, the camera process and apply the settings then save as JPEG. When you go home and upload the image to computer, view it on a monitor, if you realise the colours look a bit off, maybe dull, maybe too much of a blue feeling, and you realised you used the wrong white balance, sorry it's too late now. Either you go back and try again or you use Lightroom and/or Photoshop (or any other software) to try to adjust the tone. But in doing so, you may make it a bit worst.

The analogy, it is like you went out and do a painting of a landscape but in a very overcast dark cloudy sky, then display the painting indoor with a proper daylight bulb, someone looks at your painting and says "The colours look dull! What did you do? Paint it while wearing dark sunglasses?!" So you try to use brighter colours and paint them on top of the original colours, but in doing so you make a mess of the painting.

RAW. You try to set up white balance, exposure levels, other light settings, but really, don't worry about it. It would be good idea to try to get correct settings first, but don't worry if you get it wrong, then you take the landscape photograph. The camera is not processing and applying the settings, it is kind of like the camera is making notes of the colours it see, the light levels it see, and memorise it. You go home and upload the photo, it looks okay, but you can in Lightroom and/or Photoshop (or any other software) to try to adjust the settings to make it look right. In doing so, the photo will be fine, it won't get worst.

The analogy, it is like you went out in the overcast dark skies (yet it is supposed to be spring), instead of doing a painting, you chose to do a sketch with a pencil. You wrote down in your notebook what colours is supposed to be there. You make notes like, there are buttercups and daisies, oh some bluebells, and the grass looks fresh, and there are new leaves on the trees. Maybe you pick a few buttercups and daisies and leaves. You went home and using a proper daylight bulb plus access to thousands of shades of paints, plus your samples (the few flowers and leaves you picked), you try start a painting based on your sketch and looking at your notes and samples to get the colour right.

However, here is the rub. JPEG is like a Polaroid, if you did make sure you get the camera's settings done correctly and the photograph looks fine, you can just upload to a computer and send it off right away, as email or whatever, thus is quicker. RAW is like a film and you need a darkroom, so you would need to upload to your software, and process the image first to make sure it looks fine, then you have to save it as a standard JPEG format, before you email it off or upload to social media. Don't forget that JPEG is a general universal format that can be opened and viewed by almost any software, while RAW depend on camera manufacturer's format, and thus needed to be opened by the software supplied by the camera maker, or in case of Adobe software, would depend on if said software can handle camera's own format.

So, best of both worlds? Well it would depend on the urgently of your work.

Those who need to take photos and have the photos published right away, like photojournalist, sport photography, etc., are likely to use JPEG. Take photo now, upload to laptop, send it off to the newsroom, where they will publish it online. No time for fancy RAW processing.

Those who have time to spare, take photo now, and publish it later, like doing landscape photography, still life, etc., could use RAW. Take photo, upload, process it, make sure it looks really great, save it as JPEG, then put it online.

But the best of both worlds, is that some cameras can let you use both formats at same time (not suitable for action photography as it slows down the camera), so you can always preview JPEG, send it off as email to friends, maybe put it on Twitter. Then at home, in your time, you process the RAW to make sure it is much better, and finally display the final image (RAW saved as JPEG) on flickr or whatever.
 
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