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benjikan
07-12-2007, 02:27 AM
Hello all...

The RAW vs JPEG Debate is one that has been raging for quite some time now. I wish to share with you some of my own observations and how it might aid in your decision as to which to choose. It will not be a technical discourse as I am not in a position to do so. It will be based on my observations and how the decision will affect the final outcome i.e. the print media.

RAW is akin to a recording that is done directly to Pro Tools without compression and JPEG is what that recording might sound like after converting the signal for MP3 listening. That signal has been compressed and as a result has lost some of the high end and low end definition as well as the dynamic range. This analogy can be directly transposed to visual media. In photography RAW is the pure unadulterated signal. Now why would anyone even consider JPEG unless they felt that their image was not worthy of that kind of rendition. It should not come down to a question of memory or cost of storage etc. It is an image that merits the best resolution possible that may in the future be used for a support that needs the kind of resolution that only RAW can provide.

You may think.."Well it is only a snap shot." Well todays snapshot may be tomorrows historical archive. You are leaving a trace of history for future generations to view. Give your image the respect it deserves. Shoot in RAW...

David Metsky
07-12-2007, 05:33 AM
You may think.."Well it is only a snap shot." Well todays snapshot may be tomorrows historical archive. You are leaving a trace of history for future generations to view. Give your image the respect it deserves. Shoot in RAW...
JPG does everything I want, is quicker, smaller, and much easier to work with. I'll stick with JPG, thank you very much.

Graystar
07-12-2007, 05:41 AM
The only people that debate this are the people that don?t know enough to know that there is no debate.

A better analogy is this...RAW is like processing film. JPEG is like using an instant camera. They both start life the same way...light falling on some media. But with film you can make decisions in the darkroom that will affect the final outcome to suite your tastes. With an instant camera you have no control of the final image and have to take what you get.

That?s all there is to RAW/JPEG. With RAW you have to apply, at a minimum, noise reduction, white balance, contrast, and sharpening yourself. With JPEG the camera start with a RAW image and applies those things for you. Usually, a computer can do a better job of applying these adjustments than the low-power ASIC in the camera. That, along with other abilities, means that you should be able to produce a better image if you start from RAW (and if you know what you?re doing!)

However, modern cameras are doing a pretty good job of applying these adjustments to JPEGs. To poo-poo JPEG images just because you can get (with work) a "better" image with RAW is a bit shortsighted. JPEG is a tool, just like any other, to be used when appropriate.
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JLV
07-12-2007, 11:47 AM
A better analogy is this...RAW is like processing film. JPEG is like using an instamatic. They both start life the same way...light falling on some media. But with film you can make decisions in the darkroom that will affect the final outcome to suite your tastes. With an instamatic you have no control of the final image and have to take what you get.

.


Instamatics used film. You may be thinking of a Polaroid camera.

Graystar
07-12-2007, 07:00 PM
Yes, sorry. I meant instant camera...like the Polaroid and Kodak. I fixed it.
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longroad
07-12-2007, 07:49 PM
I think the answer to this debate is that people can do what they want to do.

When I first got my DSLR I said there's no way in hell I'd bother shooting RAW as post processing is not something I enjoy doing and I've always been fine with JPEG out of my other cameras.

Then I thought i'd give it a try and I enjoyed being able to change the white balance and other settings in software and therefore getting a possibly better result.

However 95% of the time I just dont have the time or will to want to sit at the computer and process all my photos. I have better things to do and Im not a pro.

RAW is great for those who love computer editing and have the time for that process. And that's great, you're sure to be happy with the results that way.
People who prefer JPEG love a digital camera for what it is, and that is to get quick instant photos with no delay. Although it may shock the RAW evangelists, the vast majority of people with digital cameras don't lose sleep at night if their white balance is slightly off or if that tone setting in the camera didn't quite work out right.

I'm a fan of both RAW and JPEG and I think this "argument" is just a dead end.

benjikan
07-14-2007, 03:58 AM
I think the answer to this debate is that people can do what they want to do.

When I first got my DSLR I said there's no way in hell I'd bother shooting RAW as post processing is not something I enjoy doing and I've always been fine with JPEG out of my other cameras.

Then I thought i'd give it a try and I enjoyed being able to change the white balance and other settings in software and therefore getting a possibly better result.

However 95% of the time I just dont have the time or will to want to sit at the computer and process all my photos. I have better things to do and Im not a pro.

RAW is great for those who love computer editing and have the time for that process. And that's great, you're sure to be happy with the results that way.
People who prefer JPEG love a digital camera for what it is, and that is to get quick instant photos with no delay. Although it may shock the RAW evangelists, the vast majority of people with digital cameras don't lose sleep at night if their white balance is slightly off or if that tone setting in the camera didn't quite work out right.

I'm a fan of both RAW and JPEG and I think this "argument" is just a dead end.

"I'm a fan of both RAW and JPEG and I think this "argument" is just a dead end."

None of the images that I have had published would have been accepted if I had presented them in JPEG. In fact if I did so it would reflect poorly on my professionalism. It is a given that images will be processed in RAW in case the client ( in the rare occasion) wishes to re-retouch the images. I will do the re-touch in 16 bit and deliver the client the images in TIFF or PS format.

The dynamic range for JPEG is generally between 7-8 stops and 11-13 stops for RAW. That represents at least 50 percent more potential latitude.

zmikers
07-14-2007, 04:59 AM
"I'm a fan of both RAW and JPEG and I think this "argument" is just a dead end."

None of the images that I have had published would have been accepted if I had presented them in JPEG. In fact if I did so it would reflect poorly on my professionalism. It is a given that images will be processed in RAW in case the client ( in the rare occasion) wishes to re-retouch the images. I will do the re-touch in 16 bit and deliver the client the images in TIFF or PS format.

The dynamic range for JPEG is generally between 7-8 stops and 11-13 stops for RAW. That represents at least 50 percent more potential latitude.

I have to argue with your statement here. I can understand why you shoot in RAW, because I do too. I never shoot jpeg, only RAW, but I do not think RAW is for everyone. Not all of us here are professionals like you. Many people who use dslrs want shots of their children, pets or vacations. In these situations I think jpeg is a perfectly valid choice. I really don't agree with the fact that just because you are a pro and need to shoot RAW then that should be the final decision for everyone.

erichlund
07-14-2007, 08:16 AM
I have to argue with your statement here. I can understand why you shoot in RAW, because I do too. I never shoot jpeg, only RAW, but I do not think RAW is for everyone. Not all of us here are professionals like you. Many people who use dslrs want shots of their children, pets or vacations. In these situations I think jpeg is a perfectly valid choice. I really don't agree with the fact that just because you are a pro and need to shoot RAW then that should be the final decision for everyone.
He said he was a fan of both and never said RAW is the only thing to shoot. It is the only thing he shoots for his clients, because they expect and need that.

I only shoot RAW. It's just a choice, and one that works for me. MANY professionals only shoot jpg, because it's not ultimate image quality, but being able to deliver high quality AND timeliness. RAW requires greater processing and that takes time. I have the time. Some people don't.

A lot of wedding photographers shoot jpg. The shoot 300 - 1500 shots at a wedding (I can't even imagine the latter). The processing would take ages.

As said, both are just tools. Use the one that makes sense for your particular situation.

zmikers
07-14-2007, 09:24 AM
No he didn't say he was a fan of both. He was quoting the post before his.

I agree, and that's what I said in my post. If you want to use jpeg, then use jpeg. If you want to use Raw then use RAW:D

Graystar
07-14-2007, 10:01 AM
The dynamic range for JPEG is generally between 7-8 stops and 11-13 stops for RAW. That represents at least 50 percent more potential latitude.
This is a myth that has to be straightened out.

Dynamic range is a property of the sensor and refers to the sensor's response to different light intensities. It has absolutely nothing to do with the image format. Remember, that a JPEG from the camera is merely an automatically processed version of the same exact RAW image you get from the camera.

Dynamic range is a response indicator. Neither JPEG nor RAW nor TIFF nor any other image format respond to anything. These are merely containers that simply store what's already been captured.

That said, RAW appears to have captured a greater dynamic range merely because it hasn't been processed yet. The application of noise reduction, contrast, and sharpening starts to reduce the perceived dynamic range of the image. But when working with RAW you get to control how these are applied to bring out the best in the image, whereas the camera is unable to vary the curves it's applying on an image-by-image basis. With RAW you can. That?s why RAW images can ultimately be better (if you put in the time.)
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flippedgazelle
07-14-2007, 10:43 AM
How much of a myth is it? I don't know the exact figures in terms of "stops", but as soon as you save to jpeg you lose image information, so therefore you loose dynamic range. The same principal holds true with the mp3 format for sound.

In fact, Kodak is pushing a type of jpeg technology that (they say) will increase the dynamic range to the point where it is competitive with RAW.

Yes, dynamic range is a property of the camera's sensor, but it can also be used to refer to the output. And with many digicams saving jpeg images with a compression ratio of 6:1 or worse, you can bet the dynamic range suffers.

Graystar
07-14-2007, 01:19 PM
You cannot compare photos to sound reproduction. Sound reproduction attempts to reproduce the original sound waves in its full fidelity and dynamic range. However, that is impossible with photos. Except for maybe an emotional reaction, you?ll never look at a photo of a sunset and squint. But that photo may still have all the color, perceived brightness, and shadow detail that one might have experienced when viewing the actual scene.

MP3 compression results in the loss of dynamic range. JPEG compression, however, generally results in loss of fine detail. There is no loss of dynamic range because dynamic range isn?t recorded in images.

If you take a picture of a 100W bulb and a 250W bulb next to each other, you?ll get two white spots. In viewing the actual scene we perceive the 250W bulb as being much brighter, or more accurately, more intense. But in the printed image both bulbs will have the same white in the center. The 250W bulb will have a larger white center in the photo, but we won?t perceive any difference between the intensities of the two bulbs. That?s because we can record the levels of color and of brightness but not the levels of intensity. Therefore, an image?s dynamic range is always dictated by the viewing device and can never fully reproduce the dynamic range of the scene (except, of course, those times when the full dynamic range of the scene is within the sensor?s limits, and matches that of the image viewing device.)

See Cambridge?s tutorial on dynamic range.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dynamic-range.htm#


Even an ordinary 8-bit JPEG image file can conceivably record an infinite dynamic range-- assuming that the right tonal curve is applied during RAW conversion
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erichlund
07-14-2007, 02:42 PM
Well, actually, yes you can. Both are simply interpreting wavelengths and attempting to reproduce those wavelengths in a new medium. You are perhaps using very high fidelity sound reproduction as your model, when you should be using a cheap mp-3 player. The sound out of that device compared to a live performance isn't anything close to realistic. You don't "feel" the booming base because the cheap player is not capable of reproducing it, just as a monitor or print is not capable of reproducing the actual intensity of the sun. Photography is not about actually reproducing the image (an impossibility at current technology levels), but interpreting it as well as possible within the constraints of the mediums that we have (monitors, projection devices and paper/ink). Frankly, audio is the same, but we can get closer to the actual sound of a live performance because we have better technology for interpreting sound than we have for interpreting light.

You are correct that the sensor reads a certain dynamic range, and that range can be equally interpreted in jpg and raw (This is not to say that different sensors in different devices do not have different dynamic ranges, they do). The difference is not in the range, but the gradient of the data. Either on the monitor or on paper, white is white and black is black, and that's all the range you have, but how many points to you have between white and black, in order to be able to interpret detail, that's the key. Remember, it's also possible when you have more data space, to skew your data so that you put more detail gradient into the critical space. I don't know if this is actually being done to any degree in RAW vs. jpg, but it is part of the underlying principle of the foveon sensor (admittedly, a different discussion).

You also have to understand that the most critical area of the gradient is where the sensor is either getting the least data or the most, in other words, the shadows and highlights.

jpg, with less gradient in these areas, is less likely to be able to draw detail out without generating visible error artifacts, where raw has more information to interpret between the lines (so to speak).

A good, well processed jpg can look just as stunning as a good RAW. But, given a photo with initial flaws, it's easier to get to that stunning look with RAW, because you never lose the original raw info. With jpg, you have to make a copy, and once you get off the path to perfection, you make another copy of the original and start over, because the copy you were working on probably isn't going to get back to that path.

Graystar
07-14-2007, 03:33 PM
You don't "feel" the booming base because the cheap player is not capable of reproducing it, just as a monitor or print is not capable of reproducing the actual intensity of the sun.

The difference, though, is that high-end equipment is designed with the intent to reproduce the sound, including its range of intensities. With photography, there is never any intent to reproduce the actual intensity of the light coming from the sun. That?s the difference.


The difference is not in the range, but the gradient of the data.

But that?s not dynamic range. 8-bit grayscale only has 256 shades of gray. But there is no information on how black the black is, or how white the white is. The black and white in the image is always a representation of the recording process?s interpretation of black and white. The sensor says, ?what I?m looking at is white? and the JPEG says, ?okay I believe you.? Later, the JPEG sends 255,255,255 to the display device. Of course, the display device now says, ?Here?s my version of white.? There?s never any transfer of information stating how intense the white should be. It would be nice if there were an additional channel to tell the monitor to display the white portion of the previously mentioned 250W bulb brighter than the 100W bulb. But that information isn?t available.

I certainly agree that 8-bit grayscale will be limiting in displaying any black-to-white gradient wider than 256 pixels. However if the gradient is 256 pixels wide then there?s no problem. To me, that doesn?t have any meaning to dynamic range...it only speaks to the content of the image. 16-bit color will give you a nicer gradient...but it won't increase your dynamic range.
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erichlund
07-14-2007, 04:40 PM
The difference, though, is that high-end equipment is designed with the intent to reproduce the sound, including its range of intensities. With photography, there is never any intent to reproduce the actual intensity of the light coming from the sun. That’s the difference.

But, if we could, we would. That's what I'm saying. Our photo technology is more akin to the mp-3 than to high fidelity audio equipment. It's a limitation of the technology. If I could produce a sunset that would make someone squint because of the intensity, I'd be happy to. It's just not possible. Nor is it really possible to exactly match the audio quality of a live performance, but that's an argument for another day and a different forum.

But that’s not dynamic range. 8-bit grayscale only has 256 shades of gray. But there is no information on how black the black is, or how white the white is. The black and white in the image is always a representation of the recording process’s interpretation of black and white. The sensor says, “what I’m looking at is white” and the JPEG says, “okay I believe you.” Later, the JPEG sends 255,255,255 to the display device. Of course, the display device now says, “Here’s my version of white.” There’s never any transfer of information stating how intense the white should be. It would be nice if there were an additional channel to tell the monitor to display the white portion of the previously mentioned 250W bulb brighter than the 100W bulb. But that information isn’t available.

I already agreed that we can only put out the dynamic range of the output medium. And we can only record the dynamic range of the input medium. I absolutely agree that 0-0-0 is black in both jpg and RAW. As for the two different light bulbs, if they are of sufficient difference, you can reduce the sensitivity to record that difference. Whites can be differentiated as shades of grey. Add enough neutral density filtration and you should be able to see, within the dynamic range of the sensor, the difference in a 100W vs a 250W light bulb. Of course, the rest of the photo is just black. :)

I certainly agree that 8-bit grayscale will be limiting in displaying any black-to-white gradient wider than 256 pixels. However if the gradient is 256 pixels wide then there’s no problem. To me, that doesn’t have any meaning to dynamic range...it only speaks to the content of the image. 16-bit color will give you a nicer gradient...but it won't increase your dynamic range.

I think we agree on this point.

zmikers
07-14-2007, 06:39 PM
A good, well processed jpg can look just as stunning as a good RAW. But, given a photo with initial flaws, it's easier to get to that stunning look with RAW, because you never lose the original raw info. With jpg, you have to make a copy, and once you get off the path to perfection, you make another copy of the original and start over, because the copy you were working on probably isn't going to get back to that path.

I think this is the point here. Well said. 2 points here. First, RAW is easier to PP because it has all of the information to work with. Second jpegs degrade because of copying and recopying everytime you want to save them.

I think we all agree on the details, but when to use them is the arguement here.:D

benjikan
07-16-2007, 11:29 PM
I have to argue with your statement here. I can understand why you shoot in RAW, because I do too. I never shoot jpeg, only RAW, but I do not think RAW is for everyone. Not all of us here are professionals like you. Many people who use dslrs want shots of their children, pets or vacations. In these situations I think jpeg is a perfectly valid choice. I really don't agree with the fact that just because you are a pro and need to shoot RAW then that should be the final decision for everyone.

I agree. RAW is not for everybody. I am only suggesting that if you wish to go back to the source for what ever reason, the Raw image is just that. As you become more adept to the nuances of photography you may wish you had taken "That" image in Raw to tweak it with greater flexibility than if it was taken in JPEG. I am not saying NOT to shoot JPEG, that is your choice.:)

Here is an example of where I required greater latitude to bring out the detail of the painting, that may have been more difficult in JPEG.

Bob_Benner
07-17-2007, 01:30 AM
I use both. I went to the San Diego Padres game tonight and shot jpeg all night long. If I am shooting something specific I will use RAW. I think they both have their uses. One thing I have noticed is that when shooting RAW with my D200 I hardly need any processing in ACR, the jpegs with the D200 actually need more PP.

zmikers
07-17-2007, 04:11 AM
I agree. RAW is not for everybody. I am only suggesting that if you wish to go back to the source for what ever reason, the Raw image is just that. As you become more adept to the nuances of photography you may wish you had taken "That" image in Raw to tweak it with greater flexibility than if it was taken in JPEG. I am not saying NOT to shoot JPEG, that is your choice.:)

Here is an example of where I required greater latitude to bring out the detail of the painting, that may have been more difficult in JPEG.

Yup, I can agree with this statement:D:p