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12-06-2012, 09:52 PM   #1
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RAW vs JPG Ė I canít see a difference.

Ok, Iíve had a go at taking a RAW image and playing with it in software, people say itís clearer, more detail, better colour, more ability to edit.

But to be honest, after trying it, I canít see a single bit of difference that makes it worth the effort.
The editing tools are exactly the same, the only difference being that the RAW file starts off with certain bits at a preset level (ie: JPG black slider starts at 0, RAW the same slider starts at 5)

The only benefit I could see was that it was easier to save some things like clouds that were blown out, but the difference between JPG and RAW seemed minimal to me. Every other adjustment was exactly the same as JPG with the same results as JPG.


I want to like RAW, I really do, and Iíve seen some rather good results from it in magazines (especially with B&W conversions and being able to replicate coloured filters like in the film daysÖÖ. When I tried I couldnít get anything outside of what I can with JPG though, any tips there? Thatís a big one I want to learn to do)

Anyway, what am I doing wrong?
Am I missing something? is the software missing something? Are people exaggerating the difference between RAW and JPG?

Iíve been using an *istDS to take the pictures, and the software is Cyberlink Photodirector (I think?)

12-06-2012, 09:59 PM   #2
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Shoot 1-1.5 stop underexposed and bring both back to normal exposure and you'll see the difference in the color, tonality, and noise.

I think sharpness too - shooting jpeg gives you a lot less leeway in sharpening.

If you shoot things properly exposed, then there isn't much benefit in RAW. But I like to shoot a bit underexposed to keep highlights, and sometimes I don't get much of a choice in setting exposure when the shot pops up while I'm walking from light to shadow or vice versa.
12-06-2012, 10:04 PM   #3
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There are additional processing options for raw not available for jpgs in Elements.

As JinDesu implied, you will see the difference when bad shots are processed.

I like the idea of a "negative" file I can not overwrite.
12-06-2012, 10:06 PM   #4
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It looks the same because it essentially is the same, most software imports the setting that the camera was going to use anyway to give you an easy starting point.

With RAW you have more data to start with, on the *istDS you have a 12 bit image with RAW, all JPGs are 8 bit. If the detail you wanted to enhance was in some of those bits that were removed when it was converted to JPG, they are lost forever. You're also compressing it twice, once in the camera and once after editing, with each compression you are losing more data,

12-06-2012, 10:09 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
Shoot 1-1.5 stop underexposed and bring both back to normal exposure and you'll see the difference in the color, tonality, and noise.
I'll give this a go, I've been shooting correct exposures straight from the camera (I also shoot film, but don't develop myself... so it's a habit)

Is the difference hugely dramatic? or more subtle though? maybe I'm expecting a large difference between RAW/JPG, when it's actually much more subtle? (ie: maybe it's my expectation that's too high?)


QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
There are additional processing options for raw not available for jpgs in Elements.
What sort of adjustments are they? any examples so I know what I'm looking for (not using photoshop, but I can see if my software has an equivalent)


QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
I like the idea of a "negative" file I can not overwrite.
What does this mean, that a RAW file can't be overwritten?
12-06-2012, 10:12 PM   #6
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It may depend on camera - I'll do a few shots tomorrow with my k-x to demonstrate. I know that RAW, I can go to ISO 3200 without worry. With jpeg, I have to make sure I correctly expose at even ISO 1600.

Things that are easy to do with RAW - white balance (this is huge), filter application (Pentax Digital Utility gives you this), lens correction.

RAW can't be edited. You make the changes based on your program, and you save the jpeg. Therefore, you have a file that never gets touched. But if you use Lightroom, it's sort of a moot point.
12-06-2012, 10:13 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hks_kansei Quote
What does this mean, that a RAW file can't be overwritten?
Any change made when processing a RAW file is not applied directly to the file, the settings are stored in another file, in the case of Darktable that I use it is an .xmp file that is just text.
12-06-2012, 10:13 PM   #8
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RAW files contain much more color information per pixel (12 or 14 bits vs 8 bits), so you're going to have a wider dynamic range and better tolerance as far as over/underexposure goes.

If you expose perfectly, though, you probably won't see a difference in the final product if you save both files as JPEGs.

The difference is definitely not exaggerated, though, because the RAW image will always be better than or the same as the JPEG image in the worst case. What I do is I recover shadows/highlights in ACR and then perform traditional editing through photoshop. Will post some examples in a moment!


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12-06-2012, 10:14 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Any change made when processing a RAW file is not applied directly to the file, the settings are stored in another file, in the case of Darktable that I use it is an .xmp file that is just text.
Yeah, I love the .xml feature too. I once opened 30 RAWs and then photoshop bugged out and crashed, but luckily when I re-opened them, all the settings were there as I had left them

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12-06-2012, 10:24 PM   #10
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These are from a photo underexposed by about 1.3 stops.

Original crop:
Name:  orig.jpg
Views: 1181
Size:  120.2 KB

Processed jpeg:
Name:  jpeg.jpg
Views: 1214
Size:  163.8 KB

Processed raw:
Name:  raw.jpg
Views: 1141
Size:  173.5 KB

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12-06-2012, 10:25 PM   #11
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Your RAW tagged image is the jpeg =p
12-06-2012, 10:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by hks_kansei Quote
What does this mean, that a RAW file can't be overwritten?
When using RAW think of your RAW file as a film negative and the resulting jpeg as the same as a print. You can go back and reprocess the RAW any number of times to get a different look. Just like you can print out a negative and get a different result. Nothing you do to the RAW file actually changes any of the bits. When you edit a RAW you are just compiling a script of changes you want made when you actually export to a jpeg.

In many cases if you are exposing correctly there will be little or no difference in the result. The big difference is the ability to improve a less than perfect exposure because the RAW retains all of the bits that are tossed out when you make a jpeg. If you shoot jpeg in camera those bits are tossed as the image is 'cooked' and saved by the camera so you never have the opportunity to use them.

The camera always shoots in RAW. If you have it set to jpeg, the camera is creating the jpeg according to the script in the camera from the RAW it took. By saving the RAW you then have the opportunity to do on the computer what the camera did in a few milli-seconds. This might take hours on the computer and end up no better than what the camera did. Or it might be vastly better, it depends on the image.

Both RAW and jpeg have their place, if you are satisfied with the jpeg quality out of the camera, great, don't lose any sleep over it.
12-07-2012, 01:04 AM   #13
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I'm afraid I have similar experiences as hks_kansei . I can see the potential but for me (at the moment anyway) after trying after a few outings the hassle out weighs the benefit. The larger files are much slower to handle (especially once they make it to my file server) and I spend more time PP than I like. Maybe I'm just not a strong post process person (sometimes I tweak sharpness, contrast and maybe a crop but not much else).

I imagine that if the photos from a shoot are more critical (photographing an event etc) then RAW makes a lot of sense (given that you can recover marginal photos etc).

Then again, maybe my photography needs to mature more, so that I am shooting less photos and doing more PP.
12-07-2012, 01:18 AM   #14
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As an example of a 'before/after' effect from RAWs, here's a shot thats one of my favorites I've managed.

Before, as the original RAW shot looked straight OOC.



And after - no way I could of pulled this shot off without the extra RAW data.

12-07-2012, 01:27 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Wow Sagitta, thats a nice shot. I actually like the original better - looks more natural to me.
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