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07-03-2007, 09:47 PM   #1
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Fireworks, RAW or jpg?

After getting my K100d a month ago, I shot mostly jpg. I shot some fireworks in raw today, and while I do like the flexibility, it is a lot of work to make it all work! (I have GIMP and Photolab, and Picasa, so I need about 3 programs to adjust, do major edits (gimp) and to organize it all...

My main concern though is processing and write time for tomorrows show. They will be coming much more quickly than the ones tonight, so I really want a more rapid write time (although I suspect I wont need the 15sec exposure like today, shooting fireworks a county away).

The processing time seems similar, is it? Would RAW even make a large difference in shooting fireworks?

07-04-2007, 03:03 AM   #2
axl
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well,
write times for JPEG are sure shorter than for RAW...
but K100D can shoot another picture even if still writing previous one, so even if you shoot RAW you shouln't be having problems to fire away one after another and another and ....
advice though, switch off noise reduction in custom settings menu, as that effectively doubles exposure time needed for any shot, and I'd say 15sec is bit long for fireworks, but maybe not
07-04-2007, 03:46 AM   #3
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Psyfalcon,

I guess that you are making a little bit wrong assumtions and conclusions.

So, first of all why are you worried about write times when shooting fireworks? It's too slow to start worrying about write times.

My guess is that when you did it last time, it took a lot of time between shot-to-shot. and you've just made wrong conclusion that writing RAW files is to blame.

No. It is noise reduction. When you shoot fireworks, you usually make 3-5 seconds exposure. This exposure is long enough for noise reduction to kick-in. Your camera immediately after exposing does so called "black frame", which takes the same amount of time your exposure took. Then this black frame is subtracted from picture taken before and this results in hot pixel free image.

You can turn off noise reduction (Custom menu) however longer exposures will result in pictures with hot pixels all around.

Sorry for my English, today is not a day when I can easy find words to express myself in English
07-04-2007, 08:32 AM   #4
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The fireworks I shot last night were 10 miles away. I wanted some of the lake I was shooting over, and had no warning when they were going up, so it was pretty much set the shutter to 15sec and hope a few launch!

Todays will be shorter, in the recommended 3-6 second range, but even then, from the time the shutter closes to the time I can click off another shot seems interminable. I suppose that is the combination of noise reduction and then to a lesser extent write times (which yes, actually is not that bad at all!)?

Edit: So it is nearly all the noise reduction... time for some black frames to see how bad the noise is!

07-04-2007, 11:06 AM   #5
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Turn off NR for fireworks. I think NR may only really help you beyond 15-30 seconds, and often you don't need that long to catch a few fireworks going off.

Turn on bulb mode so you can choose exactly when exposure starts/ends for the fireworks. (Admittedly this is harder if you're a county away and can't see them streaking up/can't hear them launching until long after they've launched.)

Oh, and get a cable release or make one.

d'oh, forgot to actually build my cable release today. Have all the parts but had too much else to do.
07-04-2007, 12:12 PM   #6
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In addition to your exposure times, you also need to take into account your SD card. Although the difference could be minimal from one card to another, if you have a standard SD card, writing a RAW file could take 2 seconds longer than if you had a fast card.

The best comparison I've seen so far was done by Rob Galbraith, where he compared multiple cards in multiple cameras to see which cards performed best per respective camera. (Rob Galbraith DPI: CF/SD Performance Database)

Looking at the Nikon D80 tests (the most recent of his card speed tests ), you can see that a standard card can write about 2.4 MB/sec in RAW mode, compared to a superfast card at well above 8 MB/sec in RAW mode.

Some of my RAW files are 14 megs in size. With the fastest card I own, a SanDisk Extreme III 2 GB, that means nearly 2 seconds to record that RAW image. The same image would take nearly 7 seconds to record using a standard speed card.

I own both a SanDisk Extreme III 2 GB and a Sandisk Ultra II 2 GB, and although the difference is minimal in most instances, it's certainly noticeable. If I need to shoot fast, I certainly go for the Extreme III.
07-04-2007, 12:40 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Psyfalcon Quote
Todays will be shorter, in the recommended 3-6 second range, but even then, from the time the shutter closes to the time I can click off another shot seems interminable. I suppose that is the combination of noise reduction and then to a lesser extent write times (which yes, actually is not that bad at all!)?
No, write times have nothing to do here. Camera has more than enough time to write all RAW data into memory card while you're making another long exposure. Delays are just because of noise reduction. If you expose for 15 seconds, camera takes black frame for another 15 seconds.

QuoteOriginally posted by Entropy Quote
Turn off NR for fireworks. I think NR may only really help you beyond 15-30 seconds, and often you don't need that long to catch a few fireworks going off.
My experience says that NR is also useful in shorter exposures, 3-5 seconds are enough to make some hot pixels
07-04-2007, 03:26 PM   #8
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My wife and I photograph Fireworks every Fourth and some years on New Years. This year I brought the K100D, she used her Fuji S5200 I used 2-4 seconds, enough time to catch a full event from mortar blast to die out. I had a tripod but forgot my cable release, it was OK since the jiggle occurs as the shell is going up. I didn't use RAW, bright light on black does not need much processing.

Sometimes when they launched several at once they became a mish-mash of light. But I got several keepers.

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07-04-2007, 05:47 PM   #9
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I'm jealous. It's looking like all of the local fireworks displays are going to be rained out here in the Southern Tier.

At least I got some nice fireworks shots at the Binghamton airshow last weekend, despite the fact that I noobed it quite a few times. (Really long bulb exposures + NR = missed a few shots I wanted.)

Edit: As to the question of RAW vs. JPEG - My answer would be that unless you REALLY need the fast framerate (continuous 3fps shooting is pretty much the only reason I can think of), shoot RAW just for the insurance of knowing that you won't regret having shot in JPEG later. As others have said, for a fireworks display your card is not going to be the limiting factor. You will probably be averaging an exposure every 10+ seconds or slower, and the camera can store 8 RAW images before it even starts writing to the card (but it will start writing ASAP, so you can usually get an additional shot or two in 3fps continuous mode before slowing down.)
07-05-2007, 11:10 AM   #10
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Here's an impromptu fireworks shot I took last night with my highly coveted 77mm prime.

I was blocked by some buildings but this lens is fantastic. (so is the K10D )

As for the JPEG. I am happy with the Pentax processing JPEG images within the K10D...so when I am not shooting weddings or portraits professionally, I shoot jpeg....just makes it easier for me afterwards....BUT RAW always for my client's photos...never can be too safe there....
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07-05-2007, 01:29 PM   #11
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I took some fireworks shots last night. I haven't really tried this particular cliche before, but I found it fairly easy and even enjoyable, in part because, using the remote to trigger the camera, I was able to have my cake and eat it, too (that is, get the pictures and watch the show at the same time).

With the K10D, a SanDisk Extreme III 2GB card and noise reduction off, I had no problem with delays. Blog comments on the experience here:

Ulysses at Large: Fireworks!

And photos here:

Picasa Web Albums - William Porter - 20070704 fire...

I like shooting people or animals better than fireworks, but fireworks can be fun, too.

Will
07-05-2007, 08:17 PM   #12
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I used my SanDisk Extreme III 2GB card, and shot jpgs. The night was muggy and the breeze was very light.

But I did shoot a few keepers:



After the first few firework volleys, most of the smoke just literally hung in place, which meant after the first 2-3 minutes, there was a cloud of smoke blocking most of the fireworks, and there was burnt firework paper wrappers/stuffing raining down on us, like fallout




Next year I'm bringing a large fan and an umbrella
07-05-2007, 08:27 PM   #13
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We got rained out so the fireworks have been scheduled for Friday here, but other towns picked Saturday so I have 2 days to shoot. I'm thinking of shooting jpg for these, I want to get them online quickly and well... my raw experience being near zero, it would take forever

One example of the next county's fireworks though:
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