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Is there really a big advantage of using raw formats?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2022 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yoyomaoz wrote:
cooltouch wrote:
Since I got my first DSLR over 10 years ago, I have shot raw, in the beginning because I just figured that raw images were likely to hold all the detail there is possible to hold. But as my post-processing skils improved I began to appreciate one aspect of shooting raw, and that is the ability to control EV. With jpgs, I've found I can bump an image's EV value by *maybe* 1EV before all sorts of bad things begin to happen to the image. But when I manipulate raw image EV values, there is no sacrifice in quality.

It's worth noting at this point that not all raw converters are equal. The one that came with my Canon DSLR was pretty good. The one that comes with Paint Shop Pro -- the photo manipulation software I use the most -- is just okay. The one that came with my Sony NEX was simply awful. But the one that comes with Photoshop is, hands down, the best I've ever used. In fact, Photoshop's raw converter is so full-featured that often when I finally convert the image over to jpg (most often), there's little if anything, left to do.

When it comes specifically to image exposure, there's one thing I've noticed I can do with slide images that I haven't been able to do with anything else. If I use my NEX or Canon DSLR to duplicate a slide, and let's say it's a severely underexposed slide, I can often extract very large amounts of detail from portions of an image that appear to be almost pitch black. It's quite remarkable how much detail I've been able to pull out of slide dupes. But that's only for shadow areas -- to use yoyomaoz's analogy, once that light bucket has gotten full up with photons, there's no room left for any shadow detail at all cuz it's all photons. All 255s. Well, it's exactly the same with slides. Once they're blown, that's it. There's no more information to be gleaned from a slide that has become transparent because of too much exposure. So, when I'm duping slides, I tend to be a big fan of dimmer slides because I can almost always extract a maximum amount of info from it. But only if I'm shooting raw and using Photoshop's raw converter.

I've looked at the possibility of saving my images as raw in Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro -- maybe I've just missed this capability, but I've never found it. However, both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro have native, non-destructive formats (psd and pspimage, respectively) that even remember the editing that has been done to an image after it's been saved and called back up again, so these native formats are just as good as raw.

I quite like aspects of Paintshop Pro but as you say some aspects can be mediocre - I would argue that the RAW converter in particular is mediocre - it has what I would regard as very limited ability to fix blown highlights. Lightroom is much better in this respect. I used to use this software almost exclusively with the Nik Suite of plugins running under it. But I found that partly due to the above issue and partly due to how slow PSP can be to convert and process multiple images compared with Lightroom it was advantageous to swap over to Lightroom as my main editor. Lightroom is excellent in that you can run Nik plugins under it and also run PSP or Photoshop more or less as plugins as well. Thus, I normally start my workflow for any image in Lightroom, undertake basic adjustments including pulling back blown highlights and enhancing detail in shadows where needed then I will drop into a Nik plugin or into PSP to undertake more advanced processing should this be required. For example PSP has layers which Lightroom does not. This can be an advantage in some situations. Then when completed processing in PSP (or Nik) its simply a matter of clicking "Click Here" and the program exports the edited file back into Lightroom for you to complete any further work that may be needed in that software. Sounds complex but its really simple and allows me to use the best processing software for the task in hand more or less seamlessly.

As regards blown highlights specifically one tool in Nik Color Efex I like to further help with this is the Tonal Contrast Filter. This filter works just like a "clarity" slider in Lightroom but it allows you to adjust Highlights, Midtones and Shadows independently of each other. This means that you may be able to use it to enhance some of the hidden detail in highlights by adjusting the highlight slider in this filter Or you can do the same for either of the midtone or shadow ranges that is needed. Just be careful not to overdo it as it can produce some unpleasant artifacts - and you end up with an image that looks like an overdone HDR image. This technique works best if you have already used Lightroom's highlight slider first as this gives the Tonal Contrast Filter something to work with and enhance.

As you say I am often also amazed at how much detail can be pulled out of shadows that appear to be black. Lightroom in particular also has sliders for adjusting shadows and blacks and using these sympathetically with its highlight slider can work miracles. As a result I now feel confident, when shooting in highly contrast situations, in shooting my RAW images perhaps a stop or even more under what is metered by the camera to minimize blown highlights, as so much information that would otherwise be lost can be made evident.

Of course, this technique really only works well with RAW images as the starting point.

Lightroom has several useful secrets for convenience and speed

1. Smart Collections
Using Smart Collections is a very powerful and handy tool for managing and cataloging your photos in Lightroom. For example, make a collection that automatically includes all photos whose file name contains the word "tonemapped" for HDR photos. You could import a file into Lightroom that has that word in its name, and it would appear in the desired collection by itself. In smart collections you can specify and quite sophisticated filters such as - all pictures that have a rating of at least 4, the specified keyword and made not earlier than on this date ... So there is room for imagination. Another plus of smart collection is that by default the filter works on all photos. That is, if you make a collection for pictures with rating 5, it will include all the pictures with rating no matter when they were made and in what catalog they are stored.
2. Copy/Paste
A very handy feature in the mode Develop, the ability to copy the group settings from one snapshot to another. If you think that the settings you have made for one image will work for the other one you can just copy them. You can do this by pressing Ctrl-Shift-C or Ctrl-Shift-V.
Presets are another cool thing. You must agree that you can write the usual sequence of actions in a preset and click once on a preset instead of moving a bunch of sliders. What's also useful is that you can apply a preset immediately when you import a photo into Lightroom, which speeds up your work even more.
4. Instant movement between panels.
You've probably often had to scroll down the right side bar in Develop mode to get to the desired panel more quickly.
This can be done much faster by pressing Ctrl+NUM where NUM is the panel number. For example, Ctrl+1 is basic parameters, Ctrl+7 is calibration, Ctrl+4 is split toning.
To see a list of all the abbreviations, look in the Window > Panels menu.

Last edited by John Klein on Mon May 16, 2022 12:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a personal perspective:

If I were a professional photographer, i.e. I would make a living out of it, then I would shoot RAW, guaranteed, for all the reasons mentioned in the posts above.

But I am not a professional photographer. I like photographic equipment, I like repairing photographic equipment, I like handling & working with photographic equipment. I do NOT like sitting behind a computer doing PP. Post-processing for me is a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Since this a hobby for me, why put up with the unpleasant parts if I don't have to?

For me, (and I stress this is a highly personal perspective, not right, not wrong!) some relevant considerations are:

- Coming from shooting slide film originally, I still try and get the exposure right in the camera, so I can minimise any PP drudgery, RAW or JPEG.
- My camera has an adjustable dynamic range optimiser which utilises the higher DR of the sensor RAW output when generating the in-camera JPEG (most probably do these days), which applies some of the dynamic range compression tweaks you can do in RAW PP. Is it as good as what can be done yourself in RAW PP? No, it isn't. But it often does a better or as good a job as I can squeeze out of RAW PP without spending a (to me) excessive amount of time on it.
- In 30 years' time, any computer will still handle JPEGs for free. A proprietary RAW format?, good luck with that, unless you are prepared to spend $$$ then. Simple economics; they know RAW is for amateurs/pros, JPEGS are for the rest (that's the general opinion, not necessarily mine). Amateurs & pros are the ones that can be made to part with much more of their money. So future support for older RAW files will cost, even if some products do it for free today. Call me cynical.
- JPEG is much smaller to store. It is not the storage cost issue so much, as it is the I/O time required in copying, moving, loading, saving, and backing up al these big RAW files.
- The lower resolution JPEGs are good enough for me looking at them on-screen, or the occasional print in nothing larger that A4 size.

In summary: considering my personal circumstance/preference, shooting RAW would give me nothing I really need, but would give me a lot of hassle I really don't want.

And if I am in a situation where I think the images I am about to take do merit considering publishing, then the RAW format is only one menu setting away. Wink

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RokkorDoctor wrote:
Here is a personal perspective:


In summary: considering my personal circumstance/preference, shooting RAW would give me nothing I really need, but would give me a lot of hassle I really don't want.

And if I am in a situation where I think the images I am about to take do merit considering publishing, then the RAW format is only one menu setting away. Wink

Audio Recording Engineer: "Tape is cheap"

Professional Analog Photographer: "Film is cheap"

Computer Engineer: "Storage is cheap"

The main thing is to get the capture! After that, better equipment gives better results. That cell phone photo may be most treasured, but "I wish I'd made that using better equipment. A lot of tradeoffs to consider before we all go out to buy several Fuji GFX cameras and lenses to pack around all the time everywhere we go.

And what about during later review "I wish I had chosen RAW for that"?

For me, storage is cheap, I have every digital photo I've made, in RAW, primarily for easy white balance adjustment, but also for maximum captured information. Storage is cheap. Storage is getting faster. Processing is getting faster and better.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

visualopsins wrote:
Audio Recording Engineer: "Tape is cheap"

Professional Analog Photographer: "Film is cheap"

Uhmm, IMHO good quality tape & film was never cheap, not even close to cheap. I always had to ration it.

visualopsins wrote:
Computer Engineer: "Storage is cheap"

Unfortunately, this is true. I say unfortunately as IMO it has led to really sloppy programming practices, incl. such awful concepts as the garbage collector in .net. But let's not get me going on modern computer design & programming practices; I've seen your occupation in your profile and I can almost guarantee that will be an area where we would never agree on... Wink

visualopsins wrote:
For me, storage is cheap, I have every digital photo I've made, in RAW, primarily for easy white balance adjustment, but also for maximum captured information. Storage is cheap. Storage is getting faster. Processing is getting faster and better.

I'm on a relatively slow hardware upgrade cycle, largely due to environmental concerns, so for me RAW files are still a bit too slow to process/copy/backup.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2022 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dcraw with right settings or better dxo does a very good job done.

Well we have here a situation of it depends what and how you use it. Had a s4500 finepix bridge for a rather long time.Jpeg produced good colors in good light situations and you could extract some sort of debayered tiff file.

Now i have an eos2000d.
My current Canon eos ef-s camera in raw mode can be better compared to my old bridge regarding sharpness and detail.Color rendering and contrast can be tuned to look good too.

Ooc the old fuiji bridge was always looking better.

So i would say from a non technical standpoint:
It depends: Does the camera produce reasonable jpegs ooc and you are used to shoot with the tight time-/ aperture/ iso settings and dont need the last 10% of resolution use jpegs. Jpegs are more than enoug than.

Otherwise shoot in raw. Even just using dxo or lightroom without doing anything beats the cameras jpeg engine when using the 2000d or any other cam with a not so excellent jpeg engine.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2022 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being an old school photographer I see it like this:

When I started with photography in the 1960s it was standard to shoot with B/W film, develop it yourself and make your own copies; i.e. the process was 100% controlled by the photographer.

Today the RAW-file is the present day equivalent to the film negative and the conversion into JPG is like the darkroom work for the production of the final pictures.

I never changed this concept hence to shoot JPG is more or less the equivalent to Polaroid instant photography.

As a logical consequence I had to upgrade all my hardware accordingly to enable a smooth workflow with my 92 megabytes uncompressed RAW files from my 42MP camera; luckily storage space is no issue any longer.

Anyway, some people still like Polaroid, I never did. Wink

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's similar to processing audio recordings: edits are best made in a high-bitrate environment for maximum latitude. Once the right decisions have been made, there's relatively little difference between the studio master and red-book version. Digital correction needs the biggest possible space in terms of dynamic range.

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like many others, I always shoot RAW (Nikon NEF), and in addition I shoot high-res JPEGs. I also consider the RAW files as negatives (or transparencies), and I keep JPEGs for "quick and dirty" prints, if I don't think they need further editing. I also use the belt and suspenders approach, and back up all NEF's and JPEG's on two different computers. For me, I file all originals by date taken under the camera model used. For me I only need D610, D750, and D810. YMMV

When editing RAW files, I always save the resulting work as a JPEG (maximum res), and rename that file to whatever the subject matter may be. When I upload a file for whatever reason, and the landing point needs something less dense, I always add "LO REZ" to the file name.

In the end I believe it's just whatever the photographer is comfortable using, and picking a process and/or work flow which helps him/her.

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's true. There's a place for lossy compression, but it's at the end of the process in instances where portability matters.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2022 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stock photography is delivered as JPEGs and is often blown-up to billboard size, but rarely was it captured that way.