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11-09-2009, 12:17 PM   #1
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RAW vs JPEG for a poster sized print

I'm new to all of this. My basic understanding is that RAW allows for extensive post production, but that JPEG is rather limited and has a smaller file size.

Here's my question: If I want to enlarge a print into a poster size to display on a wall, does it matter if the image was a JPEG or RAW for the image quality? Will RAW always be what I want to use for enlarged prints?


Coach Teeter

11-09-2009, 12:36 PM   #2
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Hey Coach, RAW images have to be converted before they can be printed. The RAW image is the actual data recorded on the sensor, so it will always have more data than a processed JPG. Therefore it is easier to manipulate and there is more information to modify to allow for changes in white balance, changes in available light, dynamic range, color devations, etc. Most printing places will only accept .jpg or .tiff images for printing. Shoot the shot in RAW, edit and post-process, save to .tiff or .jpg THEN send it to the printer for printing the poster.
11-09-2009, 12:43 PM   #3
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Hi Coach. You may get some differing viewpoints here but if you're just looking to re-size a print then it being JPG or RAW is irrelevant. The more important thing is the size of the actual print. The general rule is that its better to shrink an image than to enlarge it.

But you're not out of luck, there is software available that can do a great job of upsizing. Take a look into Alienware's Blow-Up or Genuine Fractals (my favorite). Of course, these are not perfect. If the original print isnt that high a resolution (72dpi or so, but Ill assume you're not trying to enlarge an image you got from the net) then you might run into trouble.

I've enlarged shots from my k200D up to 20x24 with great quality.
11-09-2009, 03:31 PM   #4
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RAW for maximum quality


Two separate issues.. Jboyde is right - purely from a pixel density perspective, there is no difference in the number of pixels in either format which dictates print size.

However, RAW always captures more data and gives more latitude in post processing, while a straight from camera JPEG has already applied some compression and image adjustments for you. So if you're applying a lot of post processing, the uncompressed RAW files will respond better (which includes upsizing) until you're ready for the print stage at which point you would merge down the image before converting to a jpeg and selecting your own level of compression.

11-09-2009, 09:59 PM   #5
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I would really caution you against converting an image to JPG before printing. JPG compression is uncontrollable by the user and you have to accept the modifications made to the image that the compression algorithms make such as discarding color information (the main issue).

You will be much happier keeping the image in TIF or PSD format and using the largest color space available like Adobe RGB for 8-bit files or even Adobe Pro Photo for 16-bit files. Any time you convert an image to JPG, it loses information. Do this 5 or 6 times to the same file and you will begin to degrade the quality of the file. This is a non-issue for a postcard, but if you're printing 8x10's or larger, you really don't want to create problems that you don't need to.

I actually create a TIF version of my RAW images for printing so I can sharpen them without affecting the original files. I flatten these prior to printing but never convert the image to a compressed format like JPG.

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