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Unread 12-06-2005, 05:21 AM   #1
ZiggyB
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A case against RAW

So before people kill me :) I just want to say I do understand the advantages of RAW images off of a digital camera. You get the digital negative which allows you to do all sorts of things in post processing.

The biggest one for me is fixing the white balance, but also you work on highest quailty image before converting it to your final JPEG version for public display. Even with low compression JPEG you'll lose some quality just because JPEG is a lossy compression format. I've even heard of people that are able to squeeze a few stops out of an image using RAW when the highest ISO setting on the camera still can't cut it.

However for me, the advantages just don't outway the disadvantages. For me that disadvange is the size. RAW is great, but the file sizes are just huge.

For instance, on my Canon 350D/Rebel XT, using a 1 gig CF card, I can take about 300 images using the lowest compression JPEG. But with raw, that goes down to almost half of that number.

Now I'm already taking about 300 pictures per day at a convention. Then that doesn't even include the storage needed later for backup and just processing the photos after a con.

If I switched to RAW in my workflow, I would basically need to double, almost triple my hard disk and flash memory requirements.

Personally, I think that the low compression JPEGs still do everything I need. I'm still able to fix the white balance and do all of my post processing with JPEGs and keeping my HD space and flash requirements low.

Now I'm not saying to never use RAW, but I just wanted to say that you don't HAVE to use it to get really great photos. :)
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Unread 12-06-2005, 07:41 AM   #2
staereo
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Of course, I feel the need to reply here.

I would never, ever use jpeg again. Seriously.

I shoot only in raw, because of how much it allows you to take care of post processing that you missed when taking the shot. Furthermore, you can archive the image and rework it later if you choose. The jpeg compression is not at all an issue for me on the first shot, because it still looks fantastic from my 20d. However, the tools lost when going raw makes it worth the lost memory from a card. If you have the money, buy more cards. If not, bring the computer with you. Even if I didnt have a laptop to bring with me, I would certainly bring my desktop to a hotel if I didnt have any other options.

Furthermore, as canon users, our first choice below the raw is a compressed format, which of course uses less room. But something to consider is, our cameras, when shooting raw, use VERY LITTLE space for what is uncompressed data for use in the future.

Take a look at some camera's that use lossless compression or uncompressed file formats. A good example is TIF. Take that raw picture, and go ahead and convert it to a mere 8 bit TIF file and watch it jump to around 2.5 times the size. Convert it to a 16bit TIF and watch it shoot to 4 or 4.5 times the size.

Your raw format is an uncompressed file that is in relation EXTREMELY small. For every DVD of pictures that I burn from a shoot, I put 1 copy of the picture in its raw form, before the post processing, and 1 copy of the picture in its final form in TIF. The rest of the images I discard. Just in this form, on average the final TIF images take up 3 times the space as the RAWs that accompany them.

Sure, jpeg is fantastic, but raw is truely mind boggling when you compare lossless to lossless. It is an incredibly small file for the quality and usability that you save.

I am not trying to discard the uses of jpeg. Heck, if Im just shooting my daughter running around the yard for myself, nothing wrong with jpeg. If my photos are going to at any point leave my hands, or have a possibility of doing so in the future, RAW is the format of choice.

I dont like the idea of closing doors when its art and not just snapshots.

If all a person is doing is snapshots for their own scrapbook, and would prefer not to invest in the materials for shooting raw, then thats completely understandable. But many of the RAW capable cameras out there are a pretty penny to begin with, and arent usually used by people just snapping a few pics here and there.

Since I have already made that initial investment into equipment, and I shoot raw for the work I do for others; I choose to always shoot raw. Perhaps if I didnt already have that equipment, I may shoot jpeg when it was just for my own snaps.

Either way, TIF vs RAW, RAW seems pretty small of a file to me. It just happens that most canon users have jpeg as the next step down in quality so going from a tiny lossless to a lossy compression like jpeg, you notice a big storage size difference.

But its kind of like buying a ferrari. If you bought the ferrari, why even ask how much it is to insure, or what it gets for mileage. Lets face it, if you bought a ferrari, dollar sensability took its first stride out the window right then. hehe...

Bruce
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Unread 12-06-2005, 09:48 AM   #3
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And somewhere in the middle is where I land, it appears. Of course, that means I have the worst storage requirements of all, since I shoot both RAW + JPEG now.

Both sides of the argument are sound, which is why both are correct. In a high speed workflow, RAW is really an inconvenient format to work with, because it always requires a conversion step. In most instances, the gain you get from starting from RAW vs. starting from JPEG is relatively minimal (it does really pay off when you screw up the starting color balance or exposure, though). And when you're aiming for a web sized image, any artifacting that comes from originating from JPEG gets knocked out almost immediately just on a pure resize action. Whenever I'm trying to get a web gallery knocked put up on a page, I always work from the JPEGs, because they simply handle faster.

However, Bruce's arguments for RAW are very sound. And in low speed, quality oriented editing, like when I work for print, I love starting off with the RAW files, because I have a lot of non-destructive power available to me before I work in Photoshop. The quality difference is quite noticeable at the lowest level.

So I have high storage requirements. So what? Storage is cheap, DVD media is plentiful, and my camera can still shoot RAW + JPEG fast enough that I'm never waiting for the camera. My old 707 used to take about 15 seconds to process a TIFF image onto a memory stick, which is why I _never_ shot in the uncompressed mode on that camera. But the modern D-SLRs can create the files quickly. It's best to just suck it up, buy a few extra CF cards, and maybe a hard drive vault or a laptop, and shoot them both. It creates a lot more data in the end, but the benefits of having both outweigh the disadvantages for me.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 02:26 PM   #4
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Reason I don't shoot in RAW:
- Don't have the storage space.

Reason I don't have the storage space:
- I have 1 1GB camera card and a 256MB card, that's all I'm getting anytime soon, so I just have to work with it.
- I have a 30 GB laptop that suffers from a chronically full hard drive because I just can't get things off fast enough (even with a DVD burner).
- I have a 75 GB external hard drive with the same issue.

Reason I don't buy more:
- I'm a poor college student who uses the money from working for either cosplay (minimal) or putting towards a car and has to wait for Christmas or birthday (thankfully both of which are coming up) to get more computer or camera equipment via presents from parents.

Has nothing to do with the editing time for me, since I spend enormous amounts of time doing it already, it's the fact that I just can't get enough space to actually DO the editing. The number of times my internal HD has filled when I'm trying to edit files from the cons this summer is just not cool. -_- I take waaay to many pics. ^^;;
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Unread 12-06-2005, 02:51 PM   #5
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The $180 solution to RAW storage space at cons:
http://www.eastgear.com/shop/product...roducts_id=444

Blazing fast (dump a full 1GB card in around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes), and one set of 2500mAH rechargable batteries will last 20-30 of these transfers before needing a recharge. USB2 for transferring back to the work computer.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 03:00 PM   #6
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Ok perhaps a need a little more education.

Besides having a very high quality original image to start with and ease in which to fix white balance, what are the other things you can do with RAW that you can't with, say, high quality JPEG?

Detailed instructions in Photoshop would be nice too.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 03:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Admin
The $180 solution to RAW storage space at cons:
http://www.eastgear.com/shop/product...roducts_id=444

Blazing fast (dump a full 1GB card in around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes), and one set of 2500mAH rechargable batteries will last 20-30 of these transfers before needing a recharge. USB2 for transferring back to the work computer.
Wow, that sounds awesome. Thanks for the link! I'll definately point that out on my Christmas list. ^^;;
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Unread 12-06-2005, 03:28 PM   #8
jtnishi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZiggyB
Ok perhaps a need a little more education.
Besides having a very high quality original image to start with and ease in which to fix white balance, what are the other things you can do with RAW that you can't with, say, high quality JPEG?
Well, in RAW, you typically can get one more stop of latitude toward the highlight clipped end. That is, in general, where you might be reaching the white clipping point in a JPEG file, you can actually pull a bit more detail on the high side out of a RAW file. If you've ever had a shot come out too bright, this can be a slight saving grace.

Also, in issues like in law enforcement or copyright issues, where there is a clear need for verification of an original, a RAW file is going to hold more water than a JPEG will. However, I'll grant that this is a very minor point for 99.9% of us.

RAW workflows tend to be non-destructive. That is, any change you can make in a RAW file will generally be reversible if you stay in a RAW file format. If you accidentally overwrite your JPEGs, you're in trouble. If you accidentally save your settings for a RAW file into the RAW file, no sweat: just change the settings back to the shot based settings.

However, don't ignore the significance of the two very items you've mentioned. The ability to correct white balance after the fact using RAW can be very powerful, because try as you might, it'll probably be near impossible to get white balance as good from manipulating a JPEG. I've tried a number of times to correct at least a few pictures where I only shot the JPEG, and completely screwed up the white balance. It's damned painful, and the result rarely ever looked that good (I have at least a couple of shots of Rinnie @ PMX that have this very problem, and it drives me nuts that I shot only JPEG then).

And starting with a high quality original is big if you manipulate the photo in any way, shape, or form. The JPEG compression on most cameras isn't big, but it's enough to create artifacts of some sort. And many manipulations that bring out detail in some way (brightening shadows, sharpening) will bring out those artifacts, too. They aren't many, but they do exist. Now granted, in the cases where this is important, in general, it doesn't really matter too much that you start with a higher quality original.

If all you can reasonably afford to do is shoot JPEG, then shoot JPEG. It is always preferable to have enough storage space to shoot without running out than it is to shoot with RAW. But... if you can afford to get the extra storage space, then there should be enough compelling reasons to shoot RAW that it should be a consideration.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 03:31 PM   #9
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Great find, Admin!

Ziggy- Youre right on with exposure and white balance being the hot items when it comes to main motiviations for shooting raw. The reason is, youre sacrificing no image data to change those items when its shot in RAW. When you change those items in PS, youre actually modifying the picture and reducing the quality of the final product, and it takes much more work to do so. ( http://www.lonestardigital.com/shooting_raw.htm )

That said, there are other benefits.

I would rather give you this link to a wonderful article about shooting raw. It is a 7 page article, careful to find those little page links at the bottom of each page, dont think the first page is all there is.

http://www.pixelpixel.org/helpinfo/35_rawor-1.stm

That should help quite a bit. For me to re iterate it would just be stealing this guys well conveyed thoughts.

I hope it helps,
Bruce

Edit: In an effort to save an extra post, to add to Jason's last post about copyright. I know my 20d adds the serial number of my body to the raw. So if someone had picture other than raw, and i had the raw, and the raw has my body's serial number on it, it makes it VERY clear who took the picture. I am not sure if that info carries through a jpeg flow or not.

Last edited by staereo : 12-06-2005 at 03:36 PM.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 06:42 PM   #10
Shiro MS08th
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I would also give my opinion here too.

RAW file is great, lotsa of editing can be done with it, like white blance aswhich is very important, and brighten and darken far more than JPEG as you guys have said it.
Size is one factor, but for those who have been using RAW normally don't find it a problem, just buy another card or just use a compactdrive.

For me, at the start I used RAW alot, but it's more troublesome and my HDD ain't that big.
And the one big thing, everytime I use RAW, I don't really care about my white balance and exposure settings anymore, which is bad, since I'm on my way to learn how to see and use in manual settings. (But still most of the time I uses D70 Cloudy -1 & Auto -2 and still unable to set the right settings upon seeing the sunlight aka human light meter.)
And if everything can be changed in photoshop, not much difference using a P&S and a DSLR.
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Unread 12-07-2005, 04:41 AM   #11
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Shoot less pictures :-) Q.E.D.
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Unread 12-09-2005, 02:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiro MS08th
...
And the one big thing, everytime I use RAW, I don't really care about my white balance and exposure settings anymore, which is bad, since I'm on my way to learn how to see and use in manual settings. (But still most of the time I uses D70 Cloudy -1 & Auto -2 and still unable to set the right settings upon seeing the sunlight aka human light meter.)
And if everything can be changed in photoshop, not much difference using a P&S and a DSLR.
You may have a misunderstanding here, but perhaps I misunderstood you :-) Anyway, RAW data is data directly off the sensor, minimally processed (there has to be some processing, but it's minimally). The idea is not to fix mistakes per se in Photoshop (although you can). The idea is that this gives you the most flexibility and most potential to work with with respect to what the camera captures. Anything else has extra processing done for you.

So if you want to learn manual everything, RAW is the way to go too (amongst other reasons).
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Unread 12-09-2005, 12:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didjiman
You may have a misunderstanding here, but perhaps I misunderstood you :-) Anyway, RAW data is data directly off the sensor, minimally processed (there has to be some processing, but it's minimally). The idea is not to fix mistakes per se in Photoshop (although you can). The idea is that this gives you the most flexibility and most potential to work with with respect to what the camera captures. Anything else has extra processing done for you.

So if you want to learn manual everything, RAW is the way to go too (amongst other reasons).
We just look at each other statement at a different perspective only.
No worries.

Ya RAW gives you flexibility.

Cause it gives too much flexibility, you can correct lots of things.
Like white balance is fully adjustable, brightness can be lighten up by 3 stops or so I think without spoiling the image.

Cause of some much flexibility, even I do a mistake, when I get home I can do edition and still can use it.

But on JPEG, you can't really edit much from a bad picture, and if that picture is something I want, I will regret.
So that mentality force me to train myself to think of the correct white balance, settings and etc before I press the shutter down.

So before I train myself to a decent-good level of technical aspect first, I won't use the RAW mode.
Or unless I'm on an assignment, use RAW mode to stay on the safer side.
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Unread 12-09-2005, 01:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Admin
The $180 solution to RAW storage space at cons:
http://www.eastgear.com/shop/product...roducts_id=444

Blazing fast (dump a full 1GB card in around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes), and one set of 2500mAH rechargable batteries will last 20-30 of these transfers before needing a recharge. USB2 for transferring back to the work computer.
Oh wow, it accepts a variety of card formats without an adapter. That is very useful for a great many phtootgraphers with different cameras.
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Unread 12-15-2005, 11:03 PM   #15
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Hard drives are cheap as hell, storage space shouldn't be an excuse. Just today you could've went to Bestbuy and gotten a 120 gig Seagate for $40 with no rebates, or pricematched it to Circuit City. If you want to use that with a laptop, just buy a cheap external casing for it.

I typically only shoot RAW, and don't see that changing anytime soon.
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