Best Option between Raw and JPEG?
Just got into the DSLR game and bought myself a D5000. Not having processed digital images before, I wonder what the main differences are between RAW and JPEG formats. I have used JPEGS before but never seen RAW as a format. If I intend to do some post processing, am I better saving photos in RAW only, or doing the RAW+JPEG option so I get best of both worlds? Interested in others opinions on this or a link to other posts if it is a basic newbie question Cheers Glyn
#1. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 0
blw Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Thu 12-Nov-09 04:25 AM
The most correct answer, as it often is, is "it depends." JPEG is a compressed format, and as such it saves a lot of space, and it also loses some quality every time it's saved. If you're going to do a very small amount of editing, JPEG is a great idea. It's also pretty much the universal format for display and printing, so you'll almost always end up with a finished product in jpeg format.
But raw contains more information - it is like a digital negative. If you're going to do more advanced work, raw is probably a good idea. And some things that are baked into jpeg - like white balance - and are fully adjustable in a raw file.
Most of the advanced photographers around here shoot raw, save in some intermediate format such as either Photoshop or similar, and eventually output in JPEG. But there are some who think that raw is a complete waste of time, and if they get the results they need, more power to them.
Note that a raw file - at least a Nikon DSLR raw file - always includes a JPEG, so you've always got the option of extracting that JPEG if you need it.
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
#2. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 0
Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009Sun 15-Nov-09 06:46 AM
As Brian said, "it depends." You should probably research the topic in more detail as there is a lot of information out there to help you make an informed decision. I shoot Raw+Jpeg just to make sure that I have a Raw file of those few "great shots" that I want to post-process. With Raw files, you should know that if you are going to do post procesing, that you need a program such as Nikon's Capture NX to recognize, read, and then fully edit the file, whereas JPEGS can be handled by almost all photo editing software. Also, if you take your images to the corner drug store for printing, they will, most likely, not be able to print your Raw files for the same reason. I like to print a lot of my images, right off the card, onto my snapshot printer, and if I didn't shoot JPEGs, I would have to convert the Raws before I could do that.
One important thing to note, as Brian stated, is that JPEGs deteriorate each time that they are opened and saved. So, if you have an image that you really like, and want to keep and view forever, you should have a RAW image.
Best of luck with your new Nikon. My son just bought a D5000, and he loves it.
#3. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 2
Sun 15-Nov-09 08:15 AM
Thanks Brian / Don, I have started the research and it is complex to say the least. I like you Don, have started using RAW+jpeg so I have both formats. And if you've read my mind, I'm using the Nikon View NX that came with the camera and am getting the hang of it. I'm concerned over the differences in out put from both formats as what I see when I make some changes in RAW, then have to convert to JPEG to take it down the store to print. Do you think there is much degradation of image quality in this process of not enough to concern you guys? hey, lots to learn and play with. Thanks for your input and comments, all appreciated and accepted humbly. Cheers Glyn
#4. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 3
Donald Kahn Registered since 16th May 2009Sun 15-Nov-09 12:40 PM
I don't know if the degredation is significant on the first opening of a JPEG file. However, you can also save a copy of your NEF image as a 14 or 16 bit TIFF file. TIFF's are huge files, but they do not degrade like JPEGS, and most post processing programs can read them. The only problem with the TIFF format is that it takes up a lot of storage space. I keep all of my NEFs and TIFFs on a huge external hard drive which I then back up to another huge external hard drive.
In reading your comments, I'm not sure if you are converting your NEF files JPEGs or merely saving a copy of the NEF as a JPEG. If you save your edited NEF with all of your edits, you can go back at a later date and remove or further edit the NEF. Or, you can save your edits as another NEF file and retain the original unedited NEF. I've never used View NX as an editor, but Caputre NX2 is a non-destructive editor which means that your original NEF is not permanently changed by your edits, as pointed out above.
You can download a full working trial version of Capture NX2 on the Nikon site. You may also want to check out some of the other forums and resources on this site that discuss and answer a lot of questions regarding post processing. I'm not an expert at post processing, but many of the Nikonians are, and you can pick up some good tips and information in the other forums.
Best of Luck
#5. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 0
Shoot RAW for most things except perhaps "snap shots". Download a 1 month trial of Lightroom and start "playing" with processing. LR is fairly easy to learn the basics. Like you, when I first started with DLSR, I just shot JPEG, didn't have a clue what RAW was. Now going back and looking at images that I shot with JPEG 4-5 years ago...I's "Man I wish that I had shot that RAW."
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#6. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 5
Thu 19-Nov-09 01:04 AM
Good feedback Steve. Are you still using LightRoom or have you moved on up to something better. I'll give LR a go and see what it has, the Nikon ViewNX is a bit limited. I've used Photoshop before years ago in another life but don't want to spend too much until I know what I want out of this post processing gig. Its pretty interesting stuff though and I'd forgotten all aboutnaperture and DOF using a point and click for so many years. My last SLR was a Canon AE1 which would have been about 20 years ago, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for the response anyway. Cheers Glyn
#7. "RE: Best Option between Raw and JPEG?" | In response to Reply # 6
dimitrios66 Nikonian since 06th Dec 2007Sun 22-Nov-09 03:01 PM
Dont underestimate Lightroom 2. It is a very powerful program, and it has cataloging abilities that can create an entire workflow within one program from cataloging, to developing, to printing, etc.
You just have to decide on a workflow no matter which program you go with. It is also quicker and easier to learn than many other programs so it is great for the beginner such as myself.
As to your original question, I shoot raw only since i import everything into lightroom anyways. Then I only convert the pics that are keepers and selects to what ever format i need whenever I need it (jpg,tiff,dng,etc). The rest just stay in the catalogs for future use if ever needed. The most important thing that I have learned is to create a workflow that works for you and your particular situation. That will take research and practice along with trial and error, but if you just keep your Neffs somewhere in the meanwhile, you can always go back and decide later how you want to do it. Like I said, I am nowhere near a pro like many people on this forum but this is what I have learned so far.
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Visit my Nikonians gallery.