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RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?

Shy Talk

Port Glasgow, UK
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Shy Talk Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2010
Tue 19-Feb-13 11:55 AM

Quite apart from digital pix, I've recently been scanning negatives and positives from my youth.

I know a TIFF is not the same as a RAW, but the Coolscan V that I'm using outputs TIFFs.

I edit them a bit, then save them as JPEGS. (I save the TIFFs too)

Thing is, apart from the edits, they look exactly the same, quality wise.

If I save them as JPEGS without editing them, I simply cannot see any difference.

I've had a wee shot at using RAW in my modern Nikons, but I can't see any difference from the JPEGS that the camera outputs.

Now, I don't do much to my pix. Bit of cropping maybe, curves on a good day, sharpening a little....

Should I be shooting RAW?

For a minimalist pp' er like me, is there a real benefit?
The big downside would be reduction in pix per card plus computer clottage.

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mklass

Tacoma, US
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#1. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

mklass Platinum Member As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 08th Dec 2006
Tue 19-Feb-13 03:27 PM

If you are getting the results that you want, keep doing what you are doing.

If you are only viewing the images at computer screen size and resolution, most all the time your JPGs will be fine. If you are only doing light post processing, JPGs will be fine.

RAW is best for moderate to heavy post processing work and for what you need to do to produce larger prints (greater than 8x10 or so).

The only absolute rule of photography that I know of is that you somehow have to trigger your capturing device (camera, phone, whatever) to take a picture. Almost everything else is optional.

Mick
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avm247

Rancho Cordova, US
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#2. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

avm247 Moderator Awarded for high skills in documentary architecture and aviation photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Charter Member
Tue 19-Feb-13 04:14 PM

Don't forget, JPEG is a lossy format so any changes/saves compresses the file and loses data, maynot be an issue for you, but I prefer to say with a lossless format (RAW/NEF) until final output (JPEG).


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walkerr

Colorado Springs, US
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#3. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

walkerr Administrator Awarded for his con tributed articles published at the Resources Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in multiple areas Master Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art and science of photography   Donor Ribbon awarded for his most generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 05th May 2002
Tue 19-Feb-13 04:50 PM | edited Wed 20-Feb-13 01:12 AM by walkerr

It sounds like there are two separate topics here:

1) Can you see the difference between a TIFF and a JPEG, presuming the latter didn't start as a jpeg. Answer: not necessarily, as long as you didn't apply too high of compression setting to the jpeg. If you then tried to do appreciable edits to the jpeg, you might see some breakdown in the image, with the classic example being skies that end up with banding.

2) Is there a benefit to shooting raw vs. jpeg. Answer: It depends. The photos are your website seem to be primarily daylight shots of aircraft. That's a very straightforward kind of shot, and it's easy to get away with minimal post-processing. You'd probably get a slightly cleaner shot with more detail if you finessed a raw file the right way, but it wouldn't be a huge difference. For other subjects with more challenging lighting (difficult to predict white balance, large dynamic range, etc.), the differences can be large. Things like in-camera sharpening (if you use it) are a very poor substitute for what you can do with a raw file or a completely unsharpened jpeg. There are a lot of photographers who have no idea how good their cameras and lenses really can be unless they get away from in-camera sharpening.

As for me, I shoot raw 100% of the time. I like challenging lighting situations and appreciate the benefits. I've also been able to go back through older images and greatly improve them via new raw processing tools. If you leave yourself more post-processing latitude in your jpegs by not sharpening them, lowering the contrast, etc., they're just as much work to post-process, if not more, than raw files. It's not a good trade for me, but as I mentioned earlier, it depends on what you photograph and how you want your photographs to look.

Rick Walker

My photos:

GeoVista Photography

esantos

McAllen, US
13267 posts

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#4. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

esantos Moderator Nikonians Resources Writer. Recognized for his outstanding reviews on printers and printing articles. Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, including Landscape Photography Awarded for his extraordinary accomplishments in Landscape Photography. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002
Tue 19-Feb-13 07:30 PM | edited Tue 19-Feb-13 07:31 PM by esantos

Just one thing that came to mind reading through the thoughtful comments made here already, if you get the white balance wrong and you are shooting jpeg you may wish you had shot it raw. Even though the latest Nikons have excellent auto white balance sometimes the camera can get fooled or sometimes the camera has the wrong white balance setting for the lighting situation. Trying to correct a color cast due to the wrong WB setting in a jpeg can be done but if it isn't done in an editor that offers WB adjustments or the correction is extreme it can be problematic.

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Shy Talk

Port Glasgow, UK
653 posts

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#5. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 4

Shy Talk Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2010
Tue 19-Feb-13 09:40 PM

Thanks folks. Some interesting stuff there.

Nowadays, I just shoot jpegs, they seem to work really well. I think most of my stuff is either 'snapshots' (kids etc) or in decent light (aircraft) usually.

I got to thinking about it more when I was scanning- I've been doing negs and positives recently.

With both types, I always keep the TIFF file that the scanner generates untouched. If I crop/ sharpen/ alter the curves etc, I save the modified pic as a jpeg.

Can't tell the difference between them at all, quality wise!

Listen- what I was really driving at is 'am I missing out by using jpegs?' That's the real issue.

I'm not a big pp'er, so I think probably I'm ok with the jpegs and a bit of 'in camera' sharpening.

I'd hate to reach retirement age and be sitting in my rocking chair thinking 'Dang it- if I'd only shot them phottys in RAW!'

Get the picture?

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KenLPhotos

Stewartstown, US
1935 posts

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#6. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

KenLPhotos Gold Member Nikonian since 26th Jul 2009
Wed 20-Feb-13 04:47 PM | edited Wed 20-Feb-13 04:53 PM by KenLPhotos

I also shoot RAW 100% of the time. RAW is useful in high contrast situations pulling out detail in the highlights and shadows. Also RAW rescues poor lighting, bad color cast and many other anomalies in photo images. Scanning prints or slides is much different that photographing real subjects. The photos and slides already have a limited range while RAW has all the range that was available from the sensor.
A JPG is created by the camera using RAW data and extracting an image from the data according to the user's camera settings. I would rather make my own choices extracting a JPG from the RAW data. I also have the original data to go back and modify a different way if necessary.
If you are getting good results from JPG or TIFF then keep using them. I think someday you may have an image that you wish had the RAW data to rescue it from the trash bin.

KenL

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There are many 'photographs of beautiful objects' but not so many 'beautiful photographs of objects'.

Luke_Miller

Rural Virginia, US
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#7. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 5

Luke_Miller Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2006
Wed 20-Feb-13 08:23 PM

>Listen- what I was really driving at is 'am I missing out by
>using jpegs?' That's the real issue.

Probably not - if you are happy with the results you are getting.

RAW provides a safety net. In challenging lighting where the camera might be having difficulty in producing an accurate exposure or white balance, a RAW capture contains much more data that can be used during postprocessing to produce a pleasing image. That extra data is often the difference between saving the shot or discarding it.

But if conditions are such that you will get good jpegs right out of the camera, requiring little additional processing, there is not much to be gained by shooting RAW.

I don't think there is a "one size fits all" answer. Either choice can make sense depending on the circumstances. When I got my Nikon D1 in 2002, RAW was the only practical choice as the D1 images required a lot of work in many instances. Each generalion of bodies has gotten better to the point that jpegs are fine most of the time.

On a European vacation my D1H quit working and I had to purchase a D200 to replace it. My D1H was a 2.7 megapixel camera and the D200 a 10 megapixel one. I did not have nearly enough CF cards to shoot the trip in RAW so I shot it in jpeg. Some of my favorite captures came from that trip and the D200 jpegs were just fine.

RAW is still my default mode (a habit I developed with my D1), but I shoot jpegs more often these days.

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prreid

Naples, US
51 posts

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#8. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 6

prreid Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Oct 2012
Wed 20-Feb-13 08:28 PM

I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer to this issue. For me, it depends on what you intend to do with the photo--remembering that JPEG is a lossy file and that each 'save' will create more loss that eventually will be quite noticeable when compared to a lossless file of the same image, e.g. TIFF or DNG.

This lossy issue becomes especially important when, with repeated edits and saves, you decide to enlarge the print and give it as a gift, enter it into a contest or just hang it on you Mother's wall. Here you may have a problem with the repeated file compressions and then an enlargement on top of this which will accentuate the lossy(ness) of the JPEG.

HOWEVER, if you are keeping the shots for photo albums, 4x6's which will be lying in someone's drawer, etc., why take-up the memory in your computer?

So, for me, it all comes back to a question you must answer: "What will I do with these photos?

Happy snapping!

jrp

San Pedro Garza García, MX
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#9. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

jrp Administrator JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources Charter Member
Thu 21-Feb-13 12:25 AM | edited Thu 21-Feb-13 12:26 AM by jrp

Most of the photojournalists I've met shoot in RAW + FINE jpeg.
There must be powerful reasons for that, as explained above.

Have a great time :-)
JRP (Founder & Administrator. Mainly at the north-eastern Mexican desert) Gallery, Brief Love Story
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SheriB

Southern York Co, US
1973 posts

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#10. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 4

SheriB Gold Member Awarded for sharing her exceptional images and details of rural farm life. Nikonian since 11th Sep 2010
Thu 21-Feb-13 09:33 AM

That is exactly what made me switch to RAW, about 4 months after I got my first dslr. The time it takes to make a minor correction and then convert to jpeg for sending to family etc is worth it compared to having someone be yellow or green tinted....

Sheri Becker

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barrywesthead

Kleinburg, CA
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#11. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

barrywesthead Silver Member Awareded for his continued support of the Nikonians community, freely sharing his expertise, particularly in the areas of digital post processing and printing. Nikonian since 06th Nov 2006
Fri 22-Feb-13 02:19 PM | edited Fri 22-Feb-13 02:20 PM by barrywesthead

>
>Thing is, apart from the edits, they look exactly the same,
>quality wise.
>
>If I save them as JPEGS without editing them, I simply cannot
>see any difference.
>
While it is true JPEG images can be re-saved multiple times with minimal quality loss (provided they are not overly compressed to very small files) what is often missed is that the quality degradation will show up first in the areas of least detail (skies and walls) and not in areas of fine detail which is where most people look for degradation.

The differences between slide 7 and slide 9 after 10 consecutive re-saves from PS show this below – but note that much of the loss occurs on the first save (slide 8): (be sure to click on the image for a full screen display)

http://www.art2printimages.com/1_91_NoPassword/PDI_JPEG_Tests/index.html

Barry
http://art2printimages.com

jbloom

Wethersfield, US
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#12. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 0

jbloom Gold Member Awarded for the continuous and generous sharing of his high level expertise and his always encouraging comments in several forums. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 15th Jul 2004
Tue 26-Feb-13 12:21 AM

You've gotten some good practical answers. I just want to add a bit of background.

One of the things that makes the raw file different from the JPEG is that that JPEGs store 8 bits of information per pixel per color channel. That means there are, for example, 256 possible values of red for each pixel. Raw files have 12 or 14 bits per sensor-element value. This doesn't translate exactly to 12/14 bits per color channel because the RAW file doesn't really have "color channels," it has the values recorded by the sensor's Bayer array. But if you think of it as more bits per pixel per color channel you'll be on the right track. So the RAW file can have more than 256 gradations of the red values. (And green, and blue.)

Normally this doesn't matter too much since the output devices (screens and printers) can't make much use of these additional gradations. But if you edit the files and make gross changes to color or intensity values, the relatively few gradations in the color channels of the JPEGs can result in funky color results.

It sounds as though you don't make large changes to your images, and that's why your JPEGs still look fine -- because they are.

As for TIFFs, they can have 8 bits per pixel per color channel or more. (Or less, even.) If the Coolscan V is capable of resolving more than 256 values per color channel, it may be saving the images as 16-bit-per-channel TIFFs rather than 8-bit. Or you may have an option. Either way, if you aren't editing them very much, it probably doesn't make much difference.

So, should you shoot RAW? I'm tempted to say no because what you are doing is working for you. But if you find yourself in a challenging lighting situation, you may want to switch to RAW just to be safe. After all, you can always extract a JPEG from the RAW, and if you don't do it too often the impact on storage needs will be minimal.

As for me, I shoot mostly JPEG for sports (which is most of my shooting) and RAW for everything else.

-- Jon
Wethersfield, CT, USA
Connecticut High School Sports Photos

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jec6613

Norwalk, US
1315 posts

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#13. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 12

jec6613 Registered since 12th Feb 2013
Tue 26-Feb-13 03:17 PM

>As for TIFFs, they can have 8 bits per pixel per color channel
>or more. (Or less, even.) If the Coolscan V is capable of
>resolving more than 256 values per color channel, it may be
>saving the images as 16-bit-per-channel TIFFs rather than
>8-bit. Or you may have an option.

Tangential but related information:

The Coolscan V outputs TIFF at either 8 or 16 bit, selectable, and the D/A converter is 14 bits, giving us the theoretical maximum usable bits. The resolution of a 35 mm frame, depending on slide versus negative and how it's mounted, is between 22 and 24 MP, and it's still north of 12 MP when you're scanning APS film cartridges, even!

Suffice it to say, a Coolscan V 16 bit TIFF output has roughly the same amount of usable data as a D600 or D7100 NEF file - high enough that your technique or the film grain (especially with older stocks) itself will be the limiting factor in most cases.

Shy Talk

Port Glasgow, UK
653 posts

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#14. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 13

Shy Talk Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2010
Sun 03-Mar-13 10:36 PM | edited Sun 03-Mar-13 10:39 PM by Shy Talk

Guys

I'm sticking with my jpegs.

At least for digital shooting (I use the largest/ finest setting D300s/ D700). I'll stay with the clumsy TIFFS for scans.

For 'snap' type pics, it don't matter. A jpeg is fine- the subject (kids etc) is important, the format much less so.

For my aircraft work, the things that screw shots up are 'shake', 'blur', 'OOF','framing' and 'wrong exposure'.....usually.

RAW helps none of these.

I can do without the hassle......

Soon, my crop cam will be 24mp (either a D7100 or "D400"). The jpegs will be plenty large enough on their own.

The stuff Nikon put inside these cameras is hot!

Edit. Jec, I agree about the film. It's jolly hard to get 'stonking' results from even well exposed negs (and much harder from well exposed K64). My digipix eat the scans alive!
Oh, for a Tardis.

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jec6613

Norwalk, US
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#15. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 14

jec6613 Registered since 12th Feb 2013
Sun 03-Mar-13 11:19 PM

RAW does give you more exposure latitude at low ISOs than JPEG, by the way, you can just adjust it with a slider in just ViewNX, even.

PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
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#16. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 14

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Wed 06-Mar-13 01:40 PM

When we shot film, some folks saved the negatives. Other's made prints and tossed the negatives (RAW). Same thing.

Which are you scanning now? Prints or negatives? And what bearing would it have on your quality if you were scanning the other?

>Guys
>
>I'm sticking with my jpegs.

------
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Shy Talk

Port Glasgow, UK
653 posts

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#17. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 16

Shy Talk Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2010
Tue 12-Mar-13 02:11 PM

Perrone

Right now, mostly colour negs. Before that it was mainly slides.

Boy, are the negs easier or what!

Sometimes the scans come in at 23mp- I'm doing them in 14bit mostly.

It's all working OK, but ewhen I pp thee TIFFs that the scanner generates, and save them as jpegs- there's no difference.

Just wish I could stop the TIFFS having two pages. But that's another story!

my webpage is at http://www.scottishops.co.uk

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PerroneFord

Tallahassee, US
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#18. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 17

PerroneFord Silver Member Nikonian since 07th Apr 2011
Tue 12-Mar-13 10:27 PM

>Perrone


>It's all working OK, but ewhen I pp thee TIFFs that the
>scanner generates, and save them as jpegs- there's no
>difference.

Incorrect. Just because you can't SEE the difference currently, doesn't mean there is no difference.

If you plan to make JPEGs and save them, why are you scanning as 14bit TIF? Just scan to 8bit JPG since that is what you intend to save. Save a ton of time and disk space.

------
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jec6613

Norwalk, US
1315 posts

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#19. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 18

jec6613 Registered since 12th Feb 2013
Tue 12-Mar-13 10:48 PM

I agree that unless you're processing them before converting to JPEG for storage, skip the TIFF stage and go right to JPEG.

Shy Talk

Port Glasgow, UK
653 posts

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#20. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 19

Shy Talk Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Jun 2010
Wed 13-Mar-13 08:34 AM

Perrone

The reason I scan them as 14 bit TIFFs is to try and get every scrap of quality that I can off the neg.
I dont pp them much, but I do a bit. I save the altered pix as jpeg.

I think I'm going to delete the TIFFS. Once they've produced a decent jpeg, they've done their job.

my webpage is at http://www.scottishops.co.uk

my Nikonians gallery is here. https://images.nikonians.org/galleries/showgallery.php/cat/500/ppuser/330319

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SheriB

Southern York Co, US
1973 posts

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#21. "RE: RAW or JPEG? Who's kidding who?" | In response to Reply # 20

SheriB Gold Member Awarded for sharing her exceptional images and details of rural farm life. Nikonian since 11th Sep 2010
Wed 13-Mar-13 08:52 AM

>Perrone
>
>The reason I scan them as 14 bit TIFFs is to try and get every
>scrap of quality that I can off the neg.



Which is exactly why people shoot raw..so when they do convert to jpeg, or print, they know they have gotten every scrap of quality possible ..

Sheri Becker

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G