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11-27-2006, 12:12 PM   #1
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Isn't a JPEG enough for most folks?

Been trying to get time to write this all day - so here goes.

I'll ask the actual pros to consider their answers before posting up - my post is NOT meant to be a shot at anyone's techniques or beliefs in what makes a good picture, just my own ramblings...

I read over and over folks debating the flaws of cameras, the limits of this software for editing images and the issues they have with a multitude of things.

It's safe to say nothing is perfect - no camera, lens or piece of software alone will make the perfect image.

Skill and creativity are paramount, IMO.

Now, my actual thoughts center around the whole JPEG v. RAW topic.

Specifically, with a 6. 8 or 10 mp camera, isn't the JPEG good enough?

Now, before you get into the whole, "Yeah, but you can edit the RAW images and make an average picture a real winner" etc. debates, let's look at this from an everyday person's perspective.

They don't have hours to edit images, they may not have the software and most likely don't have the knowledge of how to use the software.

They do have a good job and want a good camera to take shots with - so naturally, with the marketing teams on overdrive that more pixels are better, many will buy DSLRs to snap pics with. After all, a DSLR actually looks liek the cameras most of us cut our teeth on back in the day...so there's a familiarity with the shape, too.

OK, so we have legions of users happily snapping away, downloading, uploading and in general, just plain sharing all these JPEGS.

then come in those of us who are a bit more advanced, or even the pros making a living.

Sure, you can make an image a real knockout with post processing - but what if the person who hired you just wanted a good snap of their daughter with the family dog?

...or they just want a shot of the landscaping they just finished in their yard?

In some cases, I'll submit, given the equipment is good, and your skills are good, that using JPEGs and no mucking about in PP will work just fine. I mean, with a 10 mp image, cropping for alignment is a non-issue - there's plenty of data to work with.

Not sure if I'm asking a question here or starting a discussion, but I will say that I'm mostly a JPEG guy myself. I know how to edit RAW images, and have the gear for it, but I find the time is too much.

The real trick with editing RAW files, IMO, is to know what's actually possible and what's not. Any RAW image can be made better. But not every image is close enough to being good that editing the RAW file will make it a winner.

I guess my goal is this:

If you're a pro, or semi-pro, or even an advanced amateur, do you feel, when others view your good images, that the extra time you put into the post processing of the RAW image is appreciated?

If you're selling images, odes that extra time actually get paid for at the time of sale?


*My goal is not to start a RAW v. JPEG debate here.*

11-27-2006, 02:53 PM   #2
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Consider myself an advanced amature so will address it from that perspective.
Up front I will say that I don't have RAW capability and am looking forward to the K10D so I can have that possibility. That being said, there are a number of shots where I wish I could have had more ability to work with the light better. I do make modifications to pictures that I feel are worth the effort but I am working with jpg files in Photoshop. If/when I have RAW I will spend the extra effort to bring out the best of select photos but not all. I have enough knowledge and capability in Photoshop with jpgs to make some quick and clean enhancements to photos for someone that just wants a picture of their kid in soccer. If I am going to give someone a picture of their kid though, I will not just give them one right out of the camera, so I will spend a little time with it. On the other hand a high contrast more difficult but well composed landscape shot just begs for RAW capability and even though I have some good compositions, they are too far from great photos because I don't have the tools at hand. You know, I have a torque wrench in my garage. I don't use it all the time or even frequently but when I need it, that is the time I can use it to best advantage.
11-27-2006, 03:33 PM   #3
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Yes, I'll agree that a JPG is enough for most folks. Pentax cameras deliver excellent shots, have a very good metering system, and enough 'Modes' to turn out very good printable images.
I'm old school, spotmatic vintage. I do shoot raw and use it as my neg. If I process for more than 5-10 minutes, I consider it a shot that wasn't captured right in the 1st. place. Kinda like slide film.
Folks that like to post process, more power to them, software can do some incredible work for the artists vision.
All this being said, if your happy with your prints, that's all that matters.
11-28-2006, 06:48 PM   #4
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My perspective is that while the pros can use RAW to make amazing shots, RAW has helped me as well (and I most definitely am NOT a pro).

doggydude wrote: Now, before you get into the whole, "Yeah, but you can edit the RAW images and make an average picture a real winner" etc. debates, let's look at this from an everyday person's perspective.

It goes like this: I use RAW because I am NOT a pro and because I don't usually take perfectly exposed pictures. I find that RAW allows me to rescue an underexposed picture in ways that I just cannot with a JPG. Because JPGs are 8 bit (or something) and RAW is 12 bit (I think), there is more "brightness detail" in the RAW. If you have a shot where the entire histogram is in the left half, then with a 12 bit shot, you can stretch the histogram and still have decent dynamic range.

So for me RAW is like a safety net.

Does that make any sense? Other than that, yeah I still shoot JPG too, sometimes

11-29-2006, 05:53 AM   #5
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Actually makes perfect sense Greg. I hadn't thought of it that way.
11-29-2006, 07:19 AM   #6
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My perspective is of an amateur also. From day one back in the day, I've always done my own darkroom work. So, for me, it is a natural. The only times I sent film out to be processed were for vacation snap shots.

Someone on another forum likened shooting jpeg to shooting with a Polaroid in the film days. Well, I think that is pretty extreme. Jpeg IQ out of the cheapest digital P&S is a LOT better than any consumer Polaroid. My perspective is Jpegs are like shooting your Kodacolor and sending it out to your local drug store to be processed. For the vast majority of people out there, the resulting quality is more than adequate.

So my answer here is, if you are satisfied with jpeg, there is absolutely nothing wrong with shooting jpeg. If you are an old darkroom hound like me, RAW is the digital equivalent. Also, as Greg said, the additional adjustment latitude is certainly welcome, as I've been know to under expose an image or 2.
11-29-2006, 07:26 AM   #7
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JPEGs, good enough?

Been running this over in my head too! The current KnnnD series does do a great job with the conversion in camera, so that makes the choice considerably harder. In fact it's actually much more difficult; Pentax has given us solid responsive traditional controls and several interesting creative tools with the K10D.

White Balance bracketing and Black and White and Sepia filters are regular inclusions, but extended bracketing is altogether new. Now if you want to explore alternate contrasts you can bracket to get it in camera; similarly with saturation and sharpness.

The main reason to Photoshop an image is this very exploration: can I get it sharper, with a bigger contrast or richer color punch? Now I can get that info 'at the scene'.

It's not a substitute for actual editing of the image, but clearly the temptation will be to use these tools to 'poke around a bit' and see if one can get something useful straight from the camera.
11-29-2006, 06:49 PM   #8
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No pro here either

I don't have raw yet but will use it for the following reasons

If I know that the photo is going to be a tough exposure, I am going to hit that very convenient raw button on the k10 to have more exposure room for future editing

If the shot is a very important shot like a wedding shot, I want to have the digital negative as a raw file. you see with a raw editor like photoshop cs2, you can easily change the color temperature in the photo, which in turn changes the mood of a shot. in wedding photography, a nice warm tone can make or break the mood of the shot

I agree with you though, most people, including a lot of pros, still use jpg but at the highest quality (lowest compression).
A thing to remember: with .jpg, every time you manipulate it, save it, reopen and manipulate it again, the quality gets worse.
so if you like to print the picture right from the camera without too much adjustments, then .jpg is more then good enough

what I do right now is this:
right out of the camera, I load the photo (on my case until I get a DSLR it is a jpg) into photoshop and without touching it, I automatically save it as either a .tiff or .psd image.
this becomes the digital negative, in case I want to ever need it again.
this stays in a separate part of the hard drive and is eventually burned on a disk for further use someday.
I then do the editing, the either save it to .jpg if I am posting to the web, or .tiff for printing.

this uses more hard drive space, but once you change something and want to go back, you can't unless you have that digital negative backup.

cheers

11-30-2006, 07:11 AM   #9
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I'll put it that way: I was sold on RAW the day I discovered I could virtually eliminate all CA of my Oly C5050 (predecessor to my Ds) using RAW and some very simply post processing in ACR. But for me that was only the starting point - I soon discovered the other joys of RAW like tolerance of slight under- and overexposure (the saftey net already mentioned here) and especially of "WB after the fact". There are situations I simply cannot imagine determining any "correct" WB at the scene, e.g. like in this shot with multiple light source of different color temperature (please follow the link, too large to post here - it's a pano):

Mont Cenis - interior at night photo

With RAW I can sit in the comfort of my study with a calibrated monitor in front and just adjust WB to my liking (since there is no *correct* WB for a scene like that).

Apart from that I find the RAW workflow (I use PS CS2 with ACR) very intuitive, easy to follow and not more time consuming as with JPGs. I really do worry sometimes overwriting original JPGs if I'm in a hurry post processing them (from my Fuji F11) - with RAW there is no danger doing that :-)

I find the advantages of RAW that compelling that a few weeks ago I bought myself a Fuji F810 (capable of RAW capture - the pano linked above was done with it) to supplement my F11. The F11 is better in low light, and slightly smaller - but the F810 has become my "tag along" cam because of RAW. I just like the output of the pics better.

Phil
12-01-2006, 10:13 AM   #10
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That is a very, very nice pano. Thanks for sharing,

Heinrich
12-04-2006, 03:51 PM   #11
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I shot Raw exclusively on the D70 because the results were so much sharper. I always tried to get white balance etc right at time of exposure but raw gave me a bit of latitude.

With the K100 I haven't made up my mind. Detail wise there is less difference between raw and jpeg with it and I am experimenting with turning down contrast on jpegs to increase dynamic range.

What I will probably do is shoot a combination of jpeg (for normal shooting) and Raw for tricky situations.
12-04-2006, 05:18 PM   #12
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I primarily use RAW because:
- I can adjust white balance easily; what the camera was set to doesn't matter
- Hot pixels get mapped out automatically (Photoshop CS2)
- I can recover detail in otherwise washed-out highlights
- I will always have the original .PEF or .DNG file available and can re-process. It cannot accidentally be overwritten
12-05-2006, 03:11 AM   #13
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I shoot RAW for the same reasons Ole gave. JPEG are great if you don't Post Process. It depends on how much work you want to do after a shoot and what you were shooting I guess.

Good Shooting.
Cheers: David
01-22-2007, 11:03 PM   #14
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I used to shoot jpg only because I didn't want to use Photoshop or have a "workflow" :-)

Decided to try RAW and Pentax Photo Laboratory after getting not so great results sometimes with jpgs. The software is crap but I only want the basics. I might adjust the shadow or highlight detail, or rarely pull the curve for a gamma-type correction, and fix horizons - and then save it. I rarely spend more than 30 seconds on an image - sometimes no correction at all. However, it is nice to be able to change the WB or other camera settings such as contrast - even bright vs natural - as the image dictates. Occasionally I'll save it a few ways then make a decision which is best side-by-side. I've even salvaged some images that would be trash if a jpg.

I also went to -2 on contrast and +2 on sharpness in the camera, which helped even before using RAW.

The output is just better quality, I think.
01-22-2007, 11:13 PM   #15
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Its a choice, for me I think it is worth the extra time involved, though with Bibble (which I keep pimping, lol) I really find the workflow rather easy.. When I used to use Pentax Lab and ACR I didn't find it worth my time as it just took me far too long..
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