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01-06-2013, 01:16 PM   #1
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Reasons to use RAW over best quality JPEG

Just interested to know because RAW takes up so much space and I assume the compression on best quality JPEG is minimal so please list (and vice versa if relevant)

01-06-2013, 01:20 PM   #2
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The RAW file is 'lossless', which means that the data collated by the camera's sensor is stored in pure, unaltered form. JPEGs however, have had to be converted to a 'lossy' format in order for all programmes to be able to open the image. The disadvantage of JPEGs is the inability to recover approximately one extra stop of shadow and highlight detail each way, which is available for recovery on RAW by a RAW converter. This is helpful especially in high contrast situations or when you want extra dynamic range to be captured in a scene.
01-06-2013, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Jpg is locked in. You basically processed the file with the camera's computer and there is very little you can do to fix things after.

With raw you can process the file any way you like over and over and over. Make more corrections.


Space is cheap. Quality is not. Shoot raw and do it right.
01-06-2013, 02:04 PM   #4
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Also, with jpeg, every time you will save the image, you lose quality. So if you do photo editing, you want raw. If you just send the photos from the camera onto the internet or in emails, then jpeg is okay.
Make sure its sRGB.

Oh, and jpeg is processed by the camera. Its developed by the automation, not by you (if you shoot raw, you must also get raw editing software, like lightroom, aperture, faststone, or some other)

01-06-2013, 02:10 PM   #5
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Think of RAW as your negative in film terms. You have a lot more flexibility with that when developing your image. I've taken black images and adjusted the exposure in lightroom to reveal a perfectly usable image. You can also recover a lot of detail from the shadows. These are much less effective in JPG.

Just think about the image size - that should tell you the difference in available data.
01-06-2013, 02:53 PM   #6
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I really like making my own decisions about white balance. A JPG file is sort of stuck with one white balance. Though alterations are possible, it's not as straightforward as changing it in a RAW image. The noise reduction software I use also works better when I start with a RAW file. My older camera (*ist DS) has a much less flexible JPG engine, so I rarely shoot JPGs on that. The 6 Mp files are so small, around 5K, it hardly matters.

One argument for JPG is travel, where I often switch to RAW+JPG. I don't like editing on any computer that's small enough to travel with, but I do like seeing the shots I've taken each day. A laptop or tablet is usually bogged down by the RAW file size and high-powered editing software. I set up my camera to take a reasonable JPG shot and look at those on the trip, maybe marking some shots for processing later or deleting later. When I get home, I chuck all the JPGs and keep the RAW versions.
01-06-2013, 02:53 PM - 1 Like   #7
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If all you are doing is taking snapshots for upload to the internet jpeg is fine, even better perhaps as there is less work. If you are (or ever will in the future) going to edit or process those images then you need to shoot in RAW.

  1. You can recover 1 stop or even more of shadow or highlight detail
  2. You can go back and re-process at a later time when your skills or the software may have improved
  3. You can shoot HDR much easier
  4. You can make as many versions of the image as you want without ever touching the original
  5. Editing RAW files is non-destructive unlike jpeg where every edit and save degrades the image even more
  6. jpegs are actually RAW files but processed by the camera into jpeg, you do have some control over that but you only get one shot


Neither is right or wrong, just use what suits you best. There is a lot more work in shooting RAW than jpeg. My wife shoots all jpeg because she wants the results NOW for upload to her blog or Facebook or whatever. I only shoot RAW because I want the ability to edit the image to suit me. It also forces me to take the time to title, caption and keyword every shot, something I doubt I would do if I was shooting jpegs. That may not seem like an issue now, but 20 years from now will anyone have any idea who or what is in that picture unless it is properly annotated?
01-06-2013, 03:06 PM   #8
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Whenever I shoot JPG I always regret not shooting RAW. Something usually happens and I need to fix what can't be fixed in JPG. I once shot 2 days of school portraits with the wrong lights. If I had used RAW I could have easily adjusted the white balance, but instead I had to re-shoot. The school was not happy and I almost did not get another chance.

01-06-2013, 03:19 PM   #9
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The most significant difference between highest quality JPEG and RAW is that you step down from 12-14 bit color to 8 bit. That means if you really mis on exposure that you will see , as you correct it, color banding more frequently during corrections.

Most other things are minimal in comparison
01-06-2013, 04:07 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I fear I may be banned for this, but here goes.

Shooting raw, in my experience and opinion, is a lot of hooey. JPG losses are exaggerated to the point of myth if you use max quality in camera and editing software. The idea that you will need to use the "greater bit depth" to somehow magically make a bad exposure good (which implies, of course, that you are incapable of making a good exposure) is one that wastes the time of photographers worldwide.

Do not take anyone's word for this, mine included. I spent HOURS comparing the "losses" in JPG files to raw and TIFF, making 500 edit/save cycles, pixel-peeping all the while. The difference? Nothing.

Exposure compensation? Assuming you have an occasional missed exposure-and you try to fix it in post-processing by hitting auto-level or curves-that may cause you an issue regardless of file type, but there are better ways. One, of course, is to not miss the exposure in the first place. We seldom did in the match-needle metering days, why should it be so hard to get it now?

I see SO many articles on editing where the photographer spend a lot of time with esoteric editing workflows to end up with something that looks so...well, so much like the starting point, with subtle differences-not improvements- that no one else will notice.

If you enjoy the process, I think that is great. But if you think your CAMERA is taking a lot of time to WRITE a raw file, imagine how long it will take you to process it-all to end up with something that looks like the JPG you could have had in seconds.
01-06-2013, 04:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by luker Quote
We seldom did in the match-needle metering days, why should it be so hard to get it now?
I'm willing to bet that people missed exposure a lot, but thanks to the latitude of negative film and the corrections done by whoever processed it, you would never know.

Developing a RAW is like developing your own film, it takes more time, but you are in more control of the process. Shooting in JPEG is like a Polaroid or just dropping off some film at the nearest 1hr booth and hoping for the best. It comes down to whether you want to make the decisions about the processing or if you want them made for you.
01-06-2013, 04:44 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
I'm willing to bet that people missed exposure a lot, but thanks to the latitude of negative film and the corrections done by whoever processed it, you would never know.

Developing a RAW is like developing your own film, it takes more time, but you are in more control of the process. Shooting in JPEG is like a Polaroid or just dropping off some film at the nearest 1hr booth and hoping for the best. It comes down to whether you want to make the decisions about the processing or if you want them made for you.
I've shot RAW since the day I got my K200D. Now that my skills at processing are getting better I find myself going back and reprocessing some of my older work. I'm finding I'm getting nicer results from them.
01-06-2013, 04:45 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by luker Quote
I fear I may be banned for this, but here goes.

Shooting raw, in my experience and opinion, is a lot of hooey. JPG losses are exaggerated to the point of myth if you use max quality in camera and editing software. The idea that you will need to use the "greater bit depth" to somehow magically make a bad exposure good (which implies, of course, that you are incapable of making a good exposure) is one that wastes the time of photographers worldwide.

Do not take anyone's word for this, mine included. I spent HOURS comparing the "losses" in JPG files to raw and TIFF, making 500 edit/save cycles, pixel-peeping all the while. The difference? Nothing.

Exposure compensation? Assuming you have an occasional missed exposure-and you try to fix it in post-processing by hitting auto-level or curves-that may cause you an issue regardless of file type, but there are better ways. One, of course, is to not miss the exposure in the first place. We seldom did in the match-needle metering days, why should it be so hard to get it now?

I see SO many articles on editing where the photographer spend a lot of time with esoteric editing workflows to end up with something that looks so...well, so much like the starting point, with subtle differences-not improvements- that no one else will notice.

If you enjoy the process, I think that is great. But if you think your CAMERA is taking a lot of time to WRITE a raw file, imagine how long it will take you to process it-all to end up with something that looks like the JPG you could have had in seconds.
Thanks for that different perspective. My tendency was to reserve RAW for archival pictures where you wanted to preserve every detail for the future. Perhaps for those who do massive post processing, it is also a necessity. For everyday pictures I think it is obsessive over-kill. One cure for this is to have a thread that challenges one to evaluate the lens and processing of a picture. Generally, I find that if I can spot a processing artifact, it turns me off.
01-06-2013, 04:50 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by luker Quote
I fear I may be banned for this, but here goes.
I doubt it. Many of us appreciate an opinion backed with an honest effort to advance the art - even if we don't wholly agree with that opinion.

I personally use a class 10 memory card and shoot RAW+ (I get both a DNG and JPEG version of every image). With my shooting style, I have yet to out-shoot my camera's ability to write the data to the card. I'm comfortable with how my camera renders some of its jpegs, and appreciate being able to immediately preview my shots using simple jpeg viewers. At the same time, if I feel an image will benefit from post processing, I MUCH prefer to work on the RAW file. And from my experience, my post-processed jpegs rarely look just like my camera created jpeg files.

So, redimp, the bottom line is Pentax provides multiple multiple formats and none of them are 'wrong'. Use what works best for you.
01-06-2013, 04:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by luker Quote
...I see SO many articles on editing where the photographer spend a lot of time with esoteric editing workflows to end up with something that looks so...well, so much like the starting point, with subtle differences-not improvements- that no one else will notice.
Partly true, but a great deal of my photography is aimed at pleasing myself. So why not go overboard if I want?
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