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01-10-2016, 10:01 PM   #1
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JPEG less noise and sharper than RAW

I have a question regarding my K-5lls. I have always felt there was a bit more noise in my RAW images than should be when shooting in low light situations but just assumed it was the limitation of my camera. Tonight while doing some testing to see if certain settings might give me better results I decided to see what kind of results the camera would give me if I just shot in green(auto) mode. I was shocked to find that the JPEGs produced in AUTO (green) were much less noisy and sharper than the RAW+ files. I ended up shooting about 12 different shots at various focal distances (16-50mm) in green mode, noting what settings the camera used and then shot the same settings in manual mode RAW+. After importing and comparing the 3 images in lightroom the result was always the same with the Auto mode JPEG being significantly sharper and less noisy than both the RAW and JPEG shot in Manual with identical settings. It's almost as if there is a slight "haze" or "film" over the RAW+ files that reduces resolution. Has anyone else noticed this and what could explain it? Again just to clarify what I did: I first shot an image using green mode(auto), so if the camera in auto mode shot an image at 1/60 2.8 3200 I would turn the dial to M and adjust settings to 1/60 2.8 3200 and single focus exactly where focus point was in auto. Result being the RAW and JPEG produced in M mode was much noisier than JPEG produced in green(auto) mode.
Thoughts???

01-10-2016, 10:16 PM   #2
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The RAW image is, as we know, the data straight from the sensor. The JPG is a processed version of the RAW image. When your camera creates the JPG, it goes through adjustments (which you can choose in the settings). The camera will sharpen the image, do exposure, contrast, color, and noise reduction tweaks, etc when recording the JPG. So if you're judging an out of the camera RAW file to an out of the camera JPG file, it is easily possible that the JPG looks sharper, and less noisy, among other things that make it look more appealing. But you have to remember that the RAW image is prepossessed. You shoot RAW so you can make the adjustments yourself with image processing computer software. The RAW file was never intended to be an end product like an out of camera JPG file was intended to be. It just gives you the control to determine how sharp, noisy, colorful, contrasty, etc your picture will end up.
01-10-2016, 10:21 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by djam Quote
Has anyone else noticed this and what could explain it?
That would be normal, actually. A camera jpeg is just a RAW that was developed in the camera. So the camera already applies noise reduction, sharpening, contrast and a bunch of other stuff depending on how you have your jpeg develop settings in the camera.

To get a RAW file that looks like a camera jpeg it has to be developed by adding all that processing manually or at least via script on the computer. If you like the jpegs the camera produces there is no reason to shoot RAW. But you do have more flexibility in HOW the RAW is developed on the computer, and you can go back and do it several different ways if you want. The jpegs are pretty much already done and the camera usually does a pretty good job.
01-10-2016, 11:26 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by djam Quote
I have a question regarding my K-5lls. I have always felt there was a bit more noise in my RAW images than should be when shooting in low light situations but just assumed it was the limitation of my camera. Tonight while doing some testing to see if certain settings might give me better results I decided to see what kind of results the camera would give me if I just shot in green(auto) mode. I was shocked to find that the JPEGs produced in AUTO (green) were much less noisy and sharper than the RAW+ files. I ended up shooting about 12 different shots at various focal distances (16-50mm) in green mode, noting what settings the camera used and then shot the same settings in manual mode RAW+. After importing and comparing the 3 images in lightroom the result was always the same with the Auto mode JPEG being significantly sharper and less noisy than both the RAW and JPEG shot in Manual with identical settings. It's almost as if there is a slight "haze" or "film" over the RAW+ files that reduces resolution. Has anyone else noticed this and what could explain it? Again just to clarify what I did: I first shot an image using green mode(auto), so if the camera in auto mode shot an image at 1/60 2.8 3200 I would turn the dial to M and adjust settings to 1/60 2.8 3200 and single focus exactly where focus point was in auto. Result being the RAW and JPEG produced in M mode was much noisier than JPEG produced in green(auto) mode.
Thoughts???


This is EASY to fix. The others above talked about RAW, but not what you have to do. Go into LightRoom and use the Noise Reduction-Luminance bar. That will take care of the "noise" that you see, particularly with low light images. Obviously, you have to do a lot with RAW images (including sharpening), and the noise reduction is just a small part of it. The "haze" you see likely comes from the white balance...no big deal to get it right. I often times use a gray card. I do find the camera does a great job outdoors, but when changes are needed the AUTO setting on LR usually is good enough. For perfection, just use the temperature off a gray card. If you are going to shoot RAW, spend a few bucks on a gray card to get the colors right.


Last edited by quant2325; 01-10-2016 at 11:41 PM.
01-11-2016, 12:13 AM   #5
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I think one of the points djam is making is that the jpeg produced in Raw+ mode is not as good as the one he gets in auto JPEG mode. Any reasons why that would be?
01-11-2016, 12:26 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by johngs Quote
I think one of the points djam is making is that the jpeg produced in Raw+ mode is not as good as the one he gets in auto JPEG mode. Any reasons why that would be?
Well the exposure settings were obviously not the same in Auto mode as they were in Manual.
01-11-2016, 03:24 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by djam Quote
Again just to clarify what I did: I first shot an image using green mode(auto), so if the camera in auto mode shot an image at 1/60 2.8 3200 I would turn the dial to M and adjust settings to 1/60 2.8 3200 and single focus exactly where focus point was in auto. Result being the RAW and JPEG produced in M mode was much noisier than JPEG produced in green(auto) mode.
Thoughts???
QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Well the exposure settings were obviously not the same in Auto mode as they were in Manual.
Uhm, yes clackers, according to the original poster, the exposure settings obviously WERE the same.

djam, I think we need to see a couple of examples from the series you shot? Specifically the green mode jpg and the RAW+ jpeg - because these are the two you would expect to be the same when the settings are the same.

I shoot RAW only, and haven't tried green mode since my K-10d I think, so I am not completely sure if the jpg-settings for contrast, saturation etc. are used in green mode or if it uses some default setting to process jpgs in green mode. If the last is the case, maybe your jpg-processing settings are different, and the camera adds more sharpness/saturation/contrast to the green mode jpg-processing.

Sometimes I randomly disturb some of the jpg-processing settings by pushing random buttons when I carry the camera and fail to turn it off. Last summer I shot a bunch of different butterflies, including a scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae). The preview showed a brilliant shining butterfly (and it really is!), but when I loaded the RAW files I was never able to recreate the in-camera processing from the preview. I noticed that my processing settings had accidentally moved to "vibrant" in the colour profile - and I just couldn't imitate this effect from the RAW file in Lightroom. I could increase saturation, lower the blacks and heighten the whites, but I never quite got that flaming orange. So I can relate to the feeling of "missing out" on some of the pre-processed colourfulness - but I still prefer the ability to adjust thingsaccording to my own head in LR.
01-11-2016, 03:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by geomez Quote
The RAW image is, as we know, the data straight from the sensor.
Only at ISO below some 1250. Noise reduction, which can't be turned off, cuts in above that even in RAW.

01-11-2016, 04:18 AM   #9
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jpeg includes a good amount of noise reduction and digital sharpening, raw does not (except with some brands who cheat a little, though it seems like everyone will be doing this to some extent soon). Raw definitely looks worse than jpeg, until you process the raw. Depending on the software and settings you use, the raw should end up looking much better than the jpeg.

If all of that is too much trouble and you don't want to fiddle with photos, then just stick to jpeg.

One more thing to keep in mind is that you can download some codecs and software that "views" the raw, but it actually makes a mistake. I don't know why, but it happens surprisingly often. The problem with these things is that they only show you the "preview jpeg thumbnail" which is embedded in the raw file. This jpeg is usually smaller and of lower quality and the software will enlarge it and display it. But this is not the actual raw data. To view the real raw data you need software like Photoshop camera raw, Lightroom, Raw Therapee, FastStone, or one of the many other reputable programs. Faststone and rawtherapee are free, and most others allow a free trial period. Investing in good software is important if you plan on shooting raw and developing the photos yourself.
01-11-2016, 04:21 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Please notice that the original poster asks why his JPGs shot in RAW+ are not similar to his JPGs shot in green mode with the same settings.

I don't mean to annoy anyone, but please read the post.

djam, I still think you would increase your chances of a useful reply HUGELY, if you post examples.
01-11-2016, 04:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MetteHHH Quote
Please notice that the original poster asks why his JPGs shot in RAW+ are not similar to his JPGs shot in green mode with the same settings.
Oh, right. In that case it is probably that the jpeg in Auto mode has some settings enabled that are not enabled in M mode. Auto is different from other modes like P and Av, because you cannot really select many options. Maybe the NR and sharpening settings for the jpeg are not turned as high in M and P mode as they are in Auto mode?
01-11-2016, 04:38 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MetteHHH Quote
Uhm, yes clackers, according to the original poster, the exposure settings obviously WERE the same.
Obviously I can't read, MetteHHH - apologies!

Not sure you can override the camera's NR/sharpening choices in Auto mode.
01-11-2016, 01:02 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone. When I get home from work tonight I will upload some pictures to show you what I mean. Many of you understood what I was saying which is that the green mode created JPEG is much sharper and less noisy than the manual mode raw and jpeg at the EXACT same exposure settings, focal distance, etc, and no amount of post process work would ever be able to get the RAW file as sharp and noiseless. It is almost as if the pixel sensors were much better calibrated and responsive in green mode.
01-11-2016, 01:08 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by djam Quote
. Many of you understood what I was saying which is that the green mode created JPEG is much sharper and less noisy than the manual mode raw and jpeg at the EXACT same exposure settings, focal distance, etc, and no amount of post process work would ever be able to get the RAW file as sharp and noiseless. It is almost as if the pixel sensors were much better calibrated and responsive in green mode.
No, listen to yourself! ☺

A better test is to compare RAW images in the two modes.

Your jpegs *are* post processed.
01-11-2016, 01:32 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by djam Quote
no amount of post process work would ever be able to get the RAW file as sharp and noiseless.
it looks like you are making a couple of different claims in this thread.

as people have stated, jpegs created from raw always have the potential to be better than any in-camera jpeg; if you personally can't do that, it's a problem with your post processing, not the image potential of the raw format.

comparing in-camera jpegs only, created in different ways, is a whole 'nother conversation.
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