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03-28-2010, 03:04 PM   #1
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Understanding RAW

I just purchased a K-x, and out of fear of being deemed an ignorant newbie, I'd like to state that I HAVE consulted the manual consistently and searched previous forum posts too.

Now that that's out of the way, I'm confused with handling RAW files. I shot in RAW+, and when I opened the files in the included Digital Camera Utility 4 software, the JPEG and RAW files looked identical to me. I also read about in-camera RAW development, but I don't understand what converting to JPEG accomplishes. I guess to sum it up, what exactly do I do with RAW files, and is there any particular reason for shooting in RAW+?

Thank you!

Kevin

03-28-2010, 03:13 PM   #2
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The Raw file is essentially what the camera sensor see and captures. As for difference there should be some tiny ones. I know for my camera the Raw file is slightly large in resolution is at least my apple preview program show that it is. But the biggest difference is what you can do while processing the picture. If you want to think about it. Think of the Raw file at the undeveloped negative in a film camera. If you have an underexpose picture you can work the Raw file to exposure it better. Or perhaps your white balance isn't set up properly you can fix that. As for difference better the inbody Jpeg conversion vs another program like Adobe or Lightroom. I guess it really depends on how you save the file.

Reason to shoot in RAW+. Convenience of Jpeg but with the safety of RAW processing.

Reason not to shoot in RAW+. Lack of memory card space. Too lazy to process all the RAW files.

Reason to shoot in RAW only. Too much time on your hands.
03-28-2010, 03:30 PM   #3
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I think I understand that while still in the camera, I can tweak a RAW photo before converting to JPEG, whereas I can't do much with it if I just take it in JPEG right away. If that's true, I still don't understand image editing in the software though; the tools for RAW and JPEG look to be identical.
03-28-2010, 04:08 PM   #4
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The RAW file looks the same as the jpeg because the program is applying the settings to the file that you specified with your camera settings. In other programs they may very well look the same as when you open the RAW file you may actually viewing the embedded jpeg preview. The advantage of RAW is that the file will always have ALL of the information captured by the sensor. With jpeg, information has been discarded and lost forever. That isn't to say that you can't further process a jpeg, but it is like trying to refine an oil painting without all of the paints that were available originally. If at this point you don't want to bother with RAW I would suggest that you shoot RAW+ and just archive the RAW files. As you acquire more skills and programs for PP, you may want to re visit them.

03-28-2010, 04:11 PM   #5
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It's a big subject, and would suggset you try browsing the internet for more info (as opposed to hoping to find it in the manual). The short answer is this: the reaosn the files look the same to you is that the RAW files have to be converted to something like JPEG before they can be displayed. In the process, all the extra information that made RAW better than JPEG is thrown away. So if you just take your RAW file and look at in on screen, it will look abut the same.

The difference is that if you intend to do a lot of PP - major changes to exposure or white balance, especially - then you can get better results by working on the RAW file than you could by working on the the JPEG. the controls might look the same (depending on what program you are talking about), but since the RAW file has more data to work with, the software can do a better job of adjusting white balance, exposure, and so forth. See any of the very many other existing threads on RAW versus JPEG (I'd guess there at least a couple of dozen such threads in this very forum) for more.
03-28-2010, 04:18 PM   #6
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You can also think of it in music terms, jpeg is an mp3 while the music is there and it may sound great, it is a lossy compression. Meaning that to compress the file you have to lose some information.

A live musical performance like RAW is lossless, meaning you are getting all the music at all frequencies and keeping all the data that makes up the sound/image. Now consider if you want to modify something, you have much more opportunity to make changes if you have all the data.

That probably made things worse sorry.
03-29-2010, 03:41 AM   #7
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First off, your camera ONLY shoots RAW. When you select JPG, the camera takes the RAW data and pipes it into its on-board JPG processor to generate the JPG "image" to save to the card.

When you shoot RAW, the RAW "data" goes directly to the card and is not an image.

To generate an image, you use a RAW processor (software on your PC) which turns the data into a viewable image, much like the camera's JPG processor. The difference is that YOU have complete control over the image generation process. You can change the white balance, adjust the contrast/brightness/black point/etc....

So you can leave these decisions up to the camera's little processor (and hope it makes the right decisions since they are irreversible), or save the decisions for later where YOU have complete control over it.
04-15-2010, 07:28 AM   #8
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I'm surprised that you didn't notice any difference bet/ RAW and your JPEG. Typically you may not, but there *must* be some shots where you do notice the differences? I shoot JPEG most of the time, but I do shoot RAW+JPG sometimes and I'm typically glad that I did during those situations, as I was able to recover lots of detail and color from the RAW files.

I convert my RAW (DNG) to TIFF with the included converter before processing them in Paint Shop Pro X2 and exporting as JPEG and it works very well for me.

04-15-2010, 07:48 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by epqwerty Quote
Reason to shoot in RAW+. Convenience of Jpeg but with the safety of RAW processing.

Reason not to shoot in RAW+. Lack of memory card space. Too lazy to process all the RAW files.

Reason to shoot in RAW only. Too much time on your hands.
I may add a reason to shoot JPEG: Hi continuous shooting.

In Hi continuous shooting, it is strongly advised to use JPEG if you want to shoot more than a few shots. In RAW and RAW+, the buffer memory becomes full very rapidly and the continuous shooting rate drops drastically after 10-20 shots depending upon your camera.
04-15-2010, 03:48 PM   #10
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As Parallax mentioned, the JPG and RAW *look* the same because your JPG settings are used to display the RAW in the RAW-developing software. I now shoot RAW-only but I use various JPG settings; when I open the RAW in PentaxPhotoLab, those are the defaults, which I invariably override. They're the starting point, not the finished product.

Also, I often shoot monochrome. I'll set the Image Effects to B&W and select some filtration; when I chimp a shot, that's what it looks like, even though the RAW is saved in color. Or I may use that to preview how an image may look if I add an optical filter; or if doing any spectrum-slicing with IR or actinic (violet-blue) or other optical filters, I'll select some B&W filtration accordingly.

But in any case, shooting RAW gives you much more control over the image, and your changes can be made more deliberately. Remember that the camera's eensy weensy robot brain is making decisions on how to render the JPG image, and the computer to do RAW development and PP on is rather more powerful.
04-15-2010, 03:52 PM   #11
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There is so much more that you can do with a RAW file than a JPEG file, especially if you have programs like Photoshop and Lightroom, or even less expensive and sophisticated ones. If you end up not liking a JPEG file, you just pretty much have to delete it because there is only so much tweaking it can take before it doesn't really even look like a photo anymore instead of just a jumbled mess. With RAW, you can go that extra mile and get a ton of extra detail out, or change things to be how you like them, or maybe how you wanted to see them when you originally took it.
04-15-2010, 04:09 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jct us101 Quote
If you end up not liking a JPEG file, you just pretty much have to delete it because there is only so much tweaking it can take before it doesn't really even look like a photo anymore instead of just a jumbled mess.
Ah, so don't edit and save a .JPG. Edit and save a COPY of it -- never touch the original, except to load it in the first place. If you find yourself engaged in iterative editing sessions on the same image, save it in a non-lossy format. I use PaintShopPro9, whose proprietary format saves the editing history along with the image. For pictures worthy of such attention, I'll save each edit version as a .PSP, then save it again as a low-compression .JPG for display purposes. If I don't like the JPG, I just go back to the .PSP and fix whatever is needed. So I never get that run-it-thru-the-xerox-a-million-times effect.

Same with a .RAW -- I never overwrite a .RAW, never overwrite ANY original image from camera, scanner, wherever. Just like with film -- don't f*ck with the negative. Treat any original image file as if it were your only neg of the image. It's valuable.
04-15-2010, 04:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
ATreat any original image file as if it were your only neg of the image. It's valuable.
Maybe yours are, but not mine.
04-15-2010, 04:53 PM   #14
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Tomzee--I'll give you the Idiots Guide answer, since I happen to be an idiot:

As said above, the camera always shoot in raw, but then you select JPEG as your only file format, the camera itself processes it a certain way to make your JPEG.

So, when you're using the supplied Pentax utility software (or whatever the hell it's called), and you open a raw file, it's going to pretty much give you the same thing as the JPEG when you first open the file.

However, as you review what that software can do once you open that file--a whole ton of stuff like color balance, saturation, etc.--you can do a ton more than if the image was saved as a JPEG. You're now dealing with a "raw" data file that you can mold into a piece of clay the way you want. As a JPEG, you would be hacking at it with an ax.

That being said, my opinion is that if you have your in-camera settings to your liking, there's nothing wrong with shooting JPEG only, and you can STILL tweak those a bit.

But not to the same extent.
04-15-2010, 06:57 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
It's a big subject, and would suggset you try browsing the internet for more info (as opposed to hoping to find it in the manual). The short answer is this: the reaosn the files look the same to you is that the RAW files have to be converted to something like JPEG before they can be displayed. In the process, all the extra information that made RAW better than JPEG is thrown away. So if you just take your RAW file and look at in on screen, it will look abut the same.

The difference is that if you intend to do a lot of PP - major changes to exposure or white balance, especially - then you can get better results by working on the RAW file than you could by working on the the JPEG. the controls might look the same (depending on what program you are talking about), but since the RAW file has more data to work with, the software can do a better job of adjusting white balance, exposure, and so forth. See any of the very many other existing threads on RAW versus JPEG (I'd guess there at least a couple of dozen such threads in this very forum) for more.
That is exactly right! Well said.

- Itai
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