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03-07-2014, 12:21 AM   #1
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I'm in shock! ~ Image quality RAW vs. Jpeg

Ok, I know that taking photos in RAW is a must when you want to get serious about photography (which I do), but I have to admit something I am afraid too.

I find that photos on my K-50 with my 10-55 kit lens take photos that have way nicer colors as Jpeg than in RAW. Has anyone else experienced this at all? It makes me want to take photos in Jpeg mode, but I WANT to take RAW.

If someone knows why colors "seem" better in Jpeg, than in RAW, please help me understand it. I am one photo and have the camera store it as both, so settings & speed are identical.

Thanks for any help.

...Bert

03-07-2014, 12:35 AM   #2
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JPG colors usually get more pop by adding contrast in the tone curve, increasing saturation, clarity and setting black/white points.
Do the same in your RAW-converter of choice and get the same (or better) colors!
03-07-2014, 12:43 AM   #3
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Your RAW photos are unprocessed images. They are essentially what your cameras sees. The JPEGs are processed by the camera to look they way you think they should. If you edited the RAW photos and converted them to JPEG (which you have to do anyways to use them) they would look similiar or better than the JPEGs your camera produces. Manipulating RAW photos doesn't degrade the image. Each time you manipulate and re-save your JPEGs they slightly degrade each time. That's why it's better to work with RAW. Your camera actually takes a RAW image, proceeses it (white balance, color, saturation, noise reduction, etc) and converts it to JPEG. That's why on some cameras you can keep the RAW file of the last image you took even though you are shooting in JPEG (the original RAW file that was processed to JPEG is still in the cameras buffer).
03-07-2014, 12:50 AM - 15 Likes   #4
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Bert, if you bought some flour, eggs, butter and sugar then stuffed it all in your mouth would it be the same experience as eating a pre baked sponge cake?
No.
RAW means you are the cook.

03-07-2014, 01:39 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Raw requires a pretty big effort on your part to get the colors right and all that. Starting with a good default profile in your raw converter is important.

I usually shoot raw+ these days and if there's nothing wrong with the jpeg, I don't use the raw file and just work with what came out of the camera. But if fine tuning or big changes are needed, only raw will let you get the job done.

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03-07-2014, 02:59 AM   #6
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Good to know what someone more experienced does, Adam. I have been shooting RAW+ but I have always been a bit uncertain about whether processing the RAW would give me something better than the jpeg. I will have a bit more confidence in my judgement now.
03-07-2014, 04:06 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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Do an experiment.

Shoot RAW+, and try *hard* to processes each RAW to look better than the accompanying JPEG. As you go, you will learn more and more about your PP software, and greatly streamline your workflow.

If, after a while, you are convinced the camera still does a better job, stop shooting RAW.
03-07-2014, 05:13 AM   #8
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the "you must take photos in raw" dogma comes from the beginnings of digital photography, where the Jpeg engines were not well developed, nowadays things have changed. Basically do what works for you, if you like shooting raw, go ahead, if you like shooting jpeg, go ahead too and don't look around to what others say

03-07-2014, 05:53 AM   #9
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Except RAW came later....
03-07-2014, 06:12 AM - 1 Like   #10
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If you are happy with the JPEG results... use that!
If you know how to use the available light and your camera has a good JPEG engine... all the better . I know a few persons that you would consider "pro" that do mostly JPEG and get very good results.

RAW is NOT a must (no matter who tells you that)... but is a very good way to get the most out of an image and will give you control over a lot of things.
But with that there is a learning curve attached to it... and software needs...
03-07-2014, 06:33 AM   #11
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If you like the jpeg output but still want to try raw, shoot raw+ for a few weeks. Take 7 or 8 of these photos that you liked, preferably featuring a range of shooting conditions. Spend a couple of hours fiddling with the raw settings until you can come up with one batch of settings that makes all of these raw images close to the jpeg versions. Make these settings a preset that your raw converter applies to every incoming image as a baseline instead of the default baseline which is typically pretty flat for most raw converters.

Viola! Your raws should now be close to something you're happy with on import, but you still have the raw power if you want to spend more time adjusting individual images that you feel are worth it.

As time goes on, you may find you want to adjust this baseline preset, or get more complicated and add more presets for different lighting conditions, subject matter, or whatever else.
03-07-2014, 08:29 AM   #12
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I think Sandy, in her post above, provides you with sound advice. Give it some time learning how the RAW profile responds to changes.

Keep in mind that the camera is outputting a "Bright" image by default, and the RAW is closer to the more-muted reality of the shot. I prefer "Neutral" as the processing end result which is far less likely to result in an oversaturated, detail-destroying red channel (a common Pentax failing).

It isn't just a matter of how well you use the RAW file, you will learn that very difficult shooting conditions such as low light, or working against bright light (a favorite kind of shooting for me) becomes far more enticing working from a RAW file. For instance, this RAW+ (Jpeg) shot from the camera would not have been salvageable without working from the RAW version. It also helps if you work from a high quality conversion program such as Lightroom (which is a bargain now), or Capture One. You can trial them for free
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03-07-2014, 08:36 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve.Ledger Quote
Bert, if you bought some flour, eggs, butter and sugar then stuffed it all in your mouth would it be the same experience as eating a pre baked sponge cake?
No.
RAW means you are the cook.
Perfect explanation!
03-07-2014, 08:38 AM   #14
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There is really no particular reason to shoot RAW if you are satisfied with jpegs. There are certain places where shooting RAW will help, if you are good at post processing. The biggest place where I find this to be the case is in landscape photos that have wide dynamic range. The jpegs just don't have as much leeway with regard to bringing up shadows after the fact. The other thing is I think noise reduction outside of the camera can be better than in camera.

It does take time and effort to learn post processing and a lot folks hate it. RAW files, by definition, need work -- sharpening and other adjustments and that takes time. I like doing it, but it isn't for everyone. It isn't a problem for 95 percent of photos just to stick with out of camera jpegs.
03-07-2014, 09:31 AM   #15
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If changes to the original shot are minimal, i find 4star jpegs to be quite excellent. They are dependent on the custom image though, so e.g. to go from Bright look to Muted would be simpler starting from raw as i see it. The jpeg in Pentax-land is very good.

---------- Post added 03-07-14 at 08:34 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Steve.Ledger Quote
Bert, if you bought some flour, eggs, butter and sugar then stuffed it all in your mouth would it be the same experience as eating a pre baked sponge cake?
No.
Wish i had eaten breakfast before reading this it will stick going down now!
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