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09-06-2010, 07:10 PM   #1
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Why Raw?

I'm a newbie K-x user. Formerly shot film with an ME Super. While I currently have the K-x set to capture Jpeg+Raw, I'm trying to understand what Raw does for me? Is there any parallel in the 35mm film world? I know the images data sizes are much larger so there is obviously more content in a Raw image. If anyone can offer a list of reasons to shoot Raw, it would be helpful.

I'm hoping to shoot a UCI Pro Tour cycling race later this week and would like to decide on what capture settings I should be using for such a rapid pace subject.

thanks

09-06-2010, 07:12 PM   #2
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I've heard people compare it to the negative on film i believe it was.... no clue about that as I don't shoot film, never have.

Basically it gives you more headroom in editing...
09-06-2010, 07:21 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by gkamieneski Quote
I'm a newbie K-x user. Formerly shot film with an ME Super. While I currently have the K-x set to capture Jpeg+Raw, I'm trying to understand what Raw does for me? Is there any parallel in the 35mm film world? I know the images data sizes are much larger so there is obviously more content in a Raw image. If anyone can offer a list of reasons to shoot Raw, it would be helpful.

I'm hoping to shoot a UCI Pro Tour cycling race later this week and would like to decide on what capture settings I should be using for such a rapid pace subject.

thanks
If you aren't going to do any computer based post processing, there is no real reason to shoot RAW. Once your camera creates the JPG, the RAW file's useful life is finished in that case. However, being one that doesn't really care for the camera's processing of the files, I use RAW and convert for everything. JPG is a compressed format and while you can convert it to TIFF files, each edit and re-save of a JPG file degrades it's quality. At a screen resolution viewing, that may not matter much but working with the RAW file gives you the room to do a lot more in your processing. You have over 12 million pixels, let every one work for you.

09-06-2010, 08:20 PM   #4
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I'm moving this to the beginner's forum because it is a very common question among newcomers to digital photography. I also suggest you browse around for the *many* existing threads on this subject, as well as the many excellent web sites that explain things like. But the short answer is, RAW is what *all* cameras shoot internally before they convert to JPEG. Converting to JPEG (or any other non-RAW format) necessarily loses some information along the way. So if you're going to do do much editing to your images, you can sometimes get better result by going back to that original RAW image rather than working with the already converted JPEG.

09-06-2010, 09:45 PM   #5
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Digital imaging is all about data, the more data the better. Shooting RAW will provide you with the most data the camera can produce. This is not to say that you should rely on RAW to "fix" issues or cure bad technique - no way. What it does do is allow you to exploit developments in imaging processing due to software upgrades. The PRIME engines in Pentax cameras are not easily upgraded (hence the different PRIME versions on differing camera bodies). Just take a look at Lightroom v2 and Lightroom v3. With Lightroom v3.2 you can choose camera calibration between 2003 and 2010, which means that the algorithms used, can be changed as technology develops.

Shooting RAW gives you more options and provides the data for subtle methods of making changes if necessary. It is also very easy to start over - just hit reset and there you are.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
09-06-2010, 11:15 PM   #6
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Oh, it is pretty simple, IMO. JPG has 8 bits per channel per pixel. There are of course 3 channels (R, G and B). RAW has 12 bits per channel per pixel. So if you shoot RAW you take with you so much more information from the instant you tripped the shutter. Later on you can either discard this information and make use of it. However if you made a shot in JPG, camera did the discarding for you converting 12 bit RAW to 8 bit JPG and that extra information is gone forever.

Shooting RAW is about capturing more information.
09-06-2010, 11:46 PM   #7
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Simple film-related answer : RAW is the negative, JPG is the paper print...
Shooting JPG only is equivalent to throwing your negatives and keeping the prints...

For an example, LR3 just gave a new life to my 5 years old RAW files from my fuji bridge... JPEGs from the same period could not be improved much...
09-06-2010, 11:51 PM   #8
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I only used .jpg at first because that's what I was used to. But then I realized with raw, open it up in photoshop or wtvr program, and it's so much easier to fix a photo, or just make it look better than using the settings you have on the camera. I only shoot raw now. It's not all powerful, but it can help a bunch.

09-06-2010, 11:56 PM   #9
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I use Photoshop CS5 and with a RAW file compared to a JPEG, there are many more options for modifying a RAW over a JPEG. My opinion, I do not see a purpose in shooting JPEG (unless you do not have the option or do not plan on post processing). I try to get the best possible picture I can with the camera but this is not always easy and I will make mistakes, and for those pictures you cannot re-take, I can almost always fix those as long as I have them in RAW.
09-07-2010, 01:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by gkamieneski Quote
I'm a newbie K-x user. Formerly shot film with an ME Super. While I currently have the K-x set to capture Jpeg+Raw, I'm trying to understand what Raw does for me? Is there any parallel in the 35mm film world?
RAW - it's your negative.
JPEG - developed picture on paper (think of Polaroid instant camera).
09-07-2010, 05:03 AM   #11
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To answer the OP's original question.

There is no direct analogy between digital formats and film

The closest is that shooting jpeg is like taking your photos to wallmart for processing as opposed to having your own darkroom. By this I include the chemical processing not just the printing. But it is not that good a comparison.

The real difference with jpeg is you pick the processing to be done to the image before you shoot, including white balance contrast sharpness and saturation, as opposed to after As a result if you make a mistake it is harder to fix than with raw

In simple terms that is is. Forget what you hear about loss of data etc. The bottom line is a higher dependence on getting it right first time
09-07-2010, 09:35 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
To answer the OP's original question.

There is no direct analogy between digital formats and film

The closest is that shooting jpeg is like taking your photos to wallmart for processing as opposed to having your own darkroom. By this I include the chemical processing not just the printing. But it is not that good a comparison.
True, and same with the RAW=negative, JPEG=print comparison. It's *sort of* valid, but it's misleading, in that either way, it implies that if all you have is a JPEG, you can't do much editing. You *can* do just as much with a JPEG as with RAW - but depending on what you do, you *might* notice a difference in quality.

QuoteQuote:
In simple terms that is is. Forget what you hear about loss of data etc. The bottom line is a higher dependence on getting it right first time
I would just like to clarify that there *is* a loss of data (from 12 bits to 8), but it was probably a mistake to focus on that, as what I failed to make clear is that no monitor or printer anyone here is likely to own can actually make direct use of that extra data in the RAW file. It's still going to be converted to 8 bits for display or printing.

However, the extra data is still useful when you are editing your image. As another sort of decent but not perfect analogy, think of it as doing math calculations (!) using several decimal places and only rounding off at the end, versus trying to do those same calculations where you're rounding off at every step.
09-07-2010, 12:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I would just like to clarify that there *is* a loss of data (from 12 bits to 8), but it was probably a mistake to focus on that, as what I failed to make clear is that no monitor or printer anyone here is likely to own can actually make direct use of that extra data in the RAW file. It's still going to be converted to 8 bits for display or printing.

However, the extra data is still useful when you are editing your image. As another sort of decent but not perfect analogy, think of it as doing math calculations (!) using several decimal places and only rounding off at the end, versus trying to do those same calculations where you're rounding off at every step.
While no monitor can make use of that extra data, the image itself can. The difference is especially noticeable in areas with subtle gradients. It's even more apparent with black and white gradients. You get about 3 times the number of tone gradations in an image. Work with it in 16 bit mode and you have a lot of headroom to prevent banding.

With a decent printer the output is measurably better.
09-07-2010, 03:54 PM   #14
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Marc

Only one question, when multiplying rounded numbers you need to donthis several times to get a noticeable error . That much pp needs to be considered as extreme

Otherwise I agree with your assessment
09-07-2010, 08:56 PM   #15
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The negative analogy works for me in one important facet: you can always go back to the original negative and have it printed some other way to get a better/different result. Same with a raw file. I am just now revisiting raw files taken in 2007 and am amazed at how much better raw processing has become in the interim. A jpeg is a one time result.

Jack
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