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01-02-2007, 06:23 PM   #1
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to RAW or not to RAW?

Trying to decide whether to even TRY using RAW with my K100D.

What I know (or think I know) about RAW is not much: (1) the image files are lossless; (2) the image files are much bigger; and (3) you can fix a lot of things on the computer if the file is RAW that you could not fix if the file were JPEG. Oh, I might add (4) that doing anything with RAW image files requires special software, or perhaps more precisely, that not all image programs support RAW files. Picasa doesn't, as far as I can tell.

That said, I have a few questions. Hoping someone here uses RAW and can help me decide whether I'm the kind of user who might want to take the trouble.

What Windows software will help me view RAW images on my computer? Apparently Adobe Lightroom beta 4 will do it; ditto Bibble Pro (also Bibble Lite?). I guess there's software that came with my K100D but I haven't tried it. I like Lightroom well enough after playing with it for an hour, but I can't say it would be an improvement for me over Picasa.

If you shoot RAW, you would pretty much want to shoot RAW all the time, no? I mean, you can't always predict in advance whether you will need RAW's advantages, or can you?

If you shoot RAW, does it HAVE to be a lot of work? My goal at the moment is to become a better photographer, not to become better with photo editing software. I do not disagree with those who think this is an important aspect of digital photography - but I spend too many hours on the computer already. What I want to do with pictures mainly is fix probs with white balance, color cast, or contrast, and a little basic cropping.

I like Picasa very much. I even like the fact that it's editing tools are limited - most of the time. But when I have a real problem photo that I would like to rescue if I could, well, then I start wishing I had something more powerful.

Anyway, if anybody has any tips to offer, or links to articles, I'd be most grateful. Color me curious.

Will

01-02-2007, 06:43 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Trying to decide whether to even TRY using RAW with my K100D.

What I know (or think I know) about RAW is not much: (1) the image files are lossless; (2) the image files are much bigger; and (3) you can fix a lot of things on the computer if the file is RAW that you could not fix if the file were JPEG. Oh, I might add (4) that doing anything with RAW image files requires special software, or perhaps more precisely, that not all image programs support RAW files. Picasa doesn't, as far as I can tell.

That said, I have a few questions. Hoping someone here uses RAW and can help me decide whether I'm the kind of user who might want to take the trouble.

What Windows software will help me view RAW images on my computer? Apparently Adobe Lightroom beta 4 will do it; ditto Bibble Pro (also Bibble Lite?). I guess there's software that came with my K100D but I haven't tried it. I like Lightroom well enough after playing with it for an hour, but I can't say it would be an improvement for me over Picasa.

If you shoot RAW, you would pretty much want to shoot RAW all the time, no? I mean, you can't always predict in advance whether you will need RAW's advantages, or can you?

If you shoot RAW, does it HAVE to be a lot of work? My goal at the moment is to become a better photographer, not to become better with photo editing software. I do not disagree with those who think this is an important aspect of digital photography - but I spend too many hours on the computer already. What I want to do with pictures mainly is fix probs with white balance, color cast, or contrast, and a little basic cropping.

I like Picasa very much. I even like the fact that it's editing tools are limited - most of the time. But when I have a real problem photo that I would like to rescue if I could, well, then I start wishing I had something more powerful.

Anyway, if anybody has any tips to offer, or links to articles, I'd be most grateful. Color me curious.

Will
as far as raw goes, this is my rule of thumb

If the shots are really important to me and need to be as sharp as possible, then I shoot raw.
if the exposure will be a challenge, then I use raw.

the best use of a raw editor for me is how easy it is to correct color temperature. ever shot an indoor shot and everything is yellow? no problem fixing it with raw. it can be done in jpg, but it is much harder and sometimes they just don't look right.

for everything else, jpg will do just fine. casual shooting, holiday shots,
don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with jpg. I just like to have the extra insurance of raw when the shot is mission critical

try downloading a trial version of photoshop elements 5. it has limited raw capability, but the options cover about 80% of most situtions.
you might have to update the camera raw plugin for the k100 though

hope this helps
01-02-2007, 06:52 PM   #3
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I shoot RAW only, I treat it as my digital negative. I can then convert it to Tiff or JPG as I wish. Your Pentax software will do any RAW adjustment you need.
You can then bring your files into your Photo Prog as a Tiff or JPG. Adjusting WB is probably best in the RAW prog.

If your current goal is to improve your photography, continue shooting JPG and experiment with bracketing, exposure, and such. Your sd card will hold more images and you'll see how you're progressing without the use of converter prog.

A converter prog can only do so much. If the image is off to begin with, there only limited things that can be done to salvage it.
01-02-2007, 07:03 PM   #4
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I'm not sure what I can contribute, but perhaps the experience of a recent convert might be helpful.

QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
What Windows software will help me view RAW images on my computer?
Okay, I'm no help here - I'm guessing you don't want to pop for Photoshop. I'm lucky, as a student I got CS2 for a tremendous discount. I like it very much. I don't know what most of it's for, but I like the stuff I understand. I've looked briefly at the Pentax software and couldn't figure it out. If it's not reasonably intuitive, I'm not interested. I imagine you'll get plenty of suggestions from others...

QuoteQuote:
If you shoot RAW, you would pretty much want to shoot RAW all the time, no? I mean, you can't always predict in advance whether you will need RAW's advantages, or can you?
Unless you're psychic, no, you can't know for sure. But if I'm taking a few quick snaps in good light that I doubt I'll want to spend a lot of time on, I'll use jpeg. Or something documentary, for instance I photographed a busted lens in jpeg to post a question.

QuoteQuote:
If you shoot RAW, does it HAVE to be a lot of work?
Emphatic NO. I'm absolutely thrilled when I can just do a quick conversion and be done with it. It means I got it right in the camera. (This actually seems to be happening more often, which is encouraging.) On such images, I open in ACR, twiddle a few sliders, open in PS, save as .psd. Done. If I want to post, I resize the .psd, sharpen, and save as jpeg. Ditto if I want to print. Sometimes I won't even save a .psd because they're so big - after opening the converted raw in PS I simply resize, sharpen and save as jpeg.

If I were better at using ACR/PS, I could probably automate this much more. However, I usually only work with one or two images at a time, so my current workflow is adequate.

Obviously this takes more time than simply taking what the camera gives you, and resizing it for whatever purpose. But not much more time, at least once you've got the hang of it - took me a few weeks to feel comfortable.

QuoteQuote:
What I want to do with pictures mainly is fix probs with white balance, color cast, or contrast, and a little basic cropping.
In any decent raw conversion program, all of this is easily done in next to no time, once you're used to doing it. It's just twiddling sliders, mostly. I realise I'm just scratching the surface of what's possible with raw, but I think I've got a firm enough grasp of the basics to make it an advantage, particularly if I'm planning to print.

I picked up Real World Camera Raw, and found it very helpful, but of course it's aimed at Photoshop users. But much of the basic info applies to any program.

Like you, I spend too much time at a computer already, so I had to weigh the costs and benfits of raw capture. For me, the small extra time I spend tweaking the images I want to go further with is well worth the increased control I have. I used to develop and print my own B&W, and I greatly prefer sitting at a computer to breathing chemicals in the dark. Come to think of it, I spend more time on this forum than I do tweaking photos! Agh, I need to get out more... with the camera!

Julie

01-02-2007, 07:14 PM   #5
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I tend to shoot RAW only, though often once I process the RAW files the way I want I only keep the JPEG and delete the RAW files (just take up too much space) unless it is something special...

I use RAW as I really like the workflow using Bibble Lite, and if I am going to use Bibble I might as well use RAW as I am then not editing and resaving a JPEG, and of course as you said there is more to work with, when you use RAW.

I find with Bibble I can process my photos pretty fast, MUCH faster than with Pentax's Lab software.. As with Julie I just found it not "reasonably intuitive"
01-02-2007, 07:26 PM   #6
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I have shot nothing but RAW since i got my K100D and have been happy with the results.

Its personal choice I guess.. but I like the whole control RAW offers.
01-02-2007, 07:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Trying to decide whether to even TRY using RAW with my K100D.


What Windows software will help me view RAW images on my computer? Apparently Adobe Lightroom beta 4 will do it; ditto Bibble Pro (also Bibble Lite?). I guess there's software that came with my K100D but I haven't tried it. I like Lightroom well enough after playing with it for an hour, but I can't say it would be an improvement for me over Picasa.

If you shoot RAW, you would pretty much want to shoot RAW all the time, no? I mean, you can't always predict in advance whether you will need RAW's advantages, or can you?

If you shoot RAW, does it HAVE to be a lot of work?

Anyway, if anybody has any tips to offer, or links to articles, I'd be most grateful. Color me curious.

Will
Here are two links on this topic:
Understanding RAW Files Explained
http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/why_use_raw.htmlhttp://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/why_use_raw.html
I have used Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0/4.0 (less than 100$) for the last 18 months; Adobe's Camera Raw works very well with it as a plug-in and is a free download from the Adobe website.

(Adobe gives you clear directions to install the plugin. Adobe is constantly updating the Raw plugin as new cameras come to market. Currently it is does not support the PEF files from the K10d so I am shooting in DNG, until they update the software.)

I found the the camera raw plug-in very intuitive and easy to use. I can make all the corrections I need on one screen and usually only use Elements to sharpen, resize and crop. Needless to say I am a big fan of RAW format. That said, I agree with the post that shooting JPEG would force me to focus more on exposure and white balance; knowing I can compensate for being off 1/2 to 1 stop off makes me "reckless" at times.

Regards,
Erl

Last edited by Wethphotography; 01-02-2007 at 07:43 PM.
01-02-2007, 08:23 PM   #8
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I shoot only RAW, but I run a portrait studio. I spent twenty-five years in the darkroom, so RAW makes me feel like I'm back in control.

jpegs are fast and fine, but one they're locked in, you're stuck.

01-02-2007, 08:25 PM   #9
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i only shoot raw when i need too (ie, family portraits, or what not)

other wise, im on Jpg, to save space on my pc....
01-02-2007, 08:28 PM   #10
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With my D70 I shot RAW exclusively. On the K100 I am trying to shoot jpeg in situations where the AWB will work well and there is no extreme contrast. I shoot with contrast set to -2 to preserve as much shadow and highlight detail as possible and use natural mode to avoid blowing any color channels. When the light or lighting gets tricky I switch to RAW.

This will probably change as I have only taken 1700 shots with the new camera and am still learning it.
01-02-2007, 08:39 PM   #11
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I haven't shot in RAW as much as I should with my Pentax, but I have shot quite a few with the Nikons and Fuji's I've had my hands on. I like the fact that you have a bit more room for error in terms of white balance and exposure. When I was using the Nikon and Fuji's I tended to shoot jpeg a lot (save space and more out of convenience), and RAW for what that shot I wanted as a keeper (I'll spend more time handling it).
01-02-2007, 10:31 PM   #12
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I have started shooting RAW only the last few weeks, after 2 months of jpgs. I also changed my standard settings to -2 contrast and +2 sharpness which seems better than before. I see a better output.

I use Photo Laboratory which is a bit slow but functional. I use Firehand's pay version of Ember, which I have had for years for dust-spotting, resizing, and just viewing.

I sometimes make a couple slightly differnt jpgs for evaluation, and then keep one. I delete the RAW file when done.

It's a big investment in processing time and storage, but I'm sticking with it - and getting another 1 gig SD card...
01-02-2007, 10:46 PM   #13
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My interpretation vs. camera's.

I guess I just shoot RAW when I want the final image to be more my own interpretation of an image, and so I can process it much more. Otherwise, setting up the camera and shooting JPG is a great way to learn and just enjoy more of what the camera is capable of doing for you.

For different lenses you might want to use different in camera settings. I personally like turning up the DS contrast with a little more sharpening and a little less satturation, but pictures turn out according to lighting situations more than anything.
01-02-2007, 11:42 PM   #14
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I've only been shooting in Raw for about 2 months now, and there's no way that some of my shots would have turned out if they were taken in JPG.
With all the fog, snow and varying light conditions.

I didn't like the software that came with the camera, and have been using Raw Therapee
Raw Therapee

I wish that I wouldn't have deleted it, but I had to fix a really dark JPG for a friend of mine yesterday, and the only program that did a semi decent job was raw therapee even though it isn't really designed for working with JPG's
01-03-2007, 12:02 AM   #15
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Ok a quick few points. RAW is great but ys its costly in mem, but its like film, you can correct alot after the shots taken.
I shoot alot of RAW+ with my K10D Its a toss up really sometimes of using the jpeg or process the raw for my newspaper work.
You can predict when you need RAW, Just look at the scene, you get to understand how your camera works after a few hundred shots and when you see it "failing expectations" of yours in WB, meetering etc, switch it to RAW (IE in tough lighting conditions/mix light, low light etc.)
You can batch process RAW files in the pentax Lab program. It does make you a better editor/understand your equipment more if you do one or 2 at a time though.
I use it now 100% for RAW. I dont like ACDsee for RAW processing, and dont have CS2.
After I convert it to a jpeg, I do final touches in PS7
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