The benefits of shooting raw are obvious as one can often recover details in shadows and highlights while improving blown-out areas, color casts/white balance and the overall tonal range.
It occurred to me however that since one can often do this, is there often image data that goes unused that could otherwise make images better? Are we often throwing away opportunities for greater dynamic range and/or finer gradations? Is this acceptable because monitors and prints can't make use of this potentially greater dynamic range, and our eyes can't perceive any finer gradations?
#1. "RE: Underutilized image data?" In response to Reply # 0
I'm not sure you are throwing anything away, but if you have the data the limiting factors are the hardware, the post processing software and the expertise of the person using it.
It's amazing the difference in texture I see using a product like Nik's Color Efex Tonal Contrast. The software is able to use and enhance detail in a different manner from Unsharp Mask. Until I started using that tool - the detail was in the image but I was not able to unlock it. I've got a lot of images that would benefit from being re-edited.
I shoot a lot of IR. My camera has a Deep IR conversion - totally blocking visible light and rendering the image in shades of black, white, and gray. Selection control points work as of today work far better with some color information, but there is no real reason why that needs to be the case. So I have detail in images today that I would like to use, but lack the software tools to use it effectively.
As you correctly point out, monitors and printers have similar limitations. Get a really nice high resolution monitor and you'll see problems that don't show up in a print. Get a really nice printer and you'll see issues that you can't see on a typical monitor.
The landscape is changing - and will continue to change.
#2. "RE: Underutilized image data?" In response to Reply # 1
>It's amazing the difference in texture I see using a product >like Nik's Color Efex Tonal Contrast.
Hi Eric. I think this is an excellent point. I too see this. It brings up local contrast. I think of it as micro-burning and dodging if that makes any sense. It increases texture, apparent sharpness, vibrance, clarity, etc.
>As you correctly point out, monitors and printers have similar >limitations. Get a really nice high resolution monitor and >you'll see problems that don't show up in a print.
I guess the trick is to set the white point and black point correctly so that the tonal range of the image is not greater than that of the final output.