To RAW or not to RAW?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by M, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. M

    M Guest

    As a newbie to DSLR I am wondering why I should (or shouldn't) shoot in RAW.
    What is the advantage? I can't see any discernable difference between RAW
    and JPEG but the RAW takes up much more space on the FLash card. And you
    have to convert to JPEG to print anyway.
    M, Oct 4, 2005
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  2. M

    Jer Guest

    The answer depends on whether you want to piss around with any given
    image with post processing. If you always capture a printable jpeg,
    forget RAW and blast away.
    Jer, Oct 4, 2005
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  3. You *don't* have to convert to JPEG to print. It will have to
    be converted to something other than RAW, but it doesn't have to
    be JPEG. (Not that it makes any great deal of difference as far
    as printing goes... :)

    Here's where there is a difference though... Use a flash to
    shoot a scene that is mostly white, where you want to see a lot
    of detail in the white. A wedding dress might be one example, a
    shot on a ski slope, a polar bear on an ice flow (okay, *you*
    won't, but that is something I might do) and there must be a
    million others. And over expose it a little, say 1/2 stop or a
    bit more. But... leave your camera set for white balance for
    incandecent light.

    Now, if you are shooting RAW, none of that makes any difference
    at all. The white balance setting is ignored anyway, and there
    are 2048 levels of white in the brightest f/stop. Hence you can
    adjust brightness between 1/2 and 1 stop an lose nothing.

    If you shoot that in JPEG, the color balance will be Heck to
    adjust, and if you try to adjust the highlights, there are fewer
    than 75 levels in the brightest f/stop and any significant
    adjustment is going to posterize at least some of your
    Floyd Davidson, Oct 4, 2005
  4. M

    larrylook Guest

    If you have a once in a lifetime shot ruined by bad WB setting or exposure
    off a stop, the jpeg may not be fixable. The raw will take about 2 seconds
    to fix. Some moments are not repeatable. For example it's hard to make a
    whale jump when you want. Sometimes trying a different wb setting in
    postprocessing gives a different/better feel. That being said feel free to
    use jpeg for family snapshots and not so important events. Raw can be
    converted to many formats, not just jpeg. It has more bits of color.
    larrylook, Oct 4, 2005
  5. M

    chasfs Guest

    Raw gets you all of the data from the sensor, essentially unmodified.
    With a raw converter, you have more control over the image processing
    than if you depend on your camera's image processing software to
    generate JPEG. The tradeoff is control, vs size and convenience. If
    you're making web photos, or 4x6 prints, raw probably isn't worth the
    chasfs, Oct 4, 2005
  6. M

    al-Farrob Guest

    larrylook wrote:


    I think you have explained it in this sentence:)
    Thank you
    al-Farrob, Oct 4, 2005
  7. M

    Rich Guest

    You could shoot a whole slew of jpegs in rapid fire
    mode and probably capture a "best" whale picture,
    though you wouldn't have the exposure latitude
    of raw.
    Rich, Oct 4, 2005
  8. M

    no_name Guest

    Not necessarily. Most DSLRs will include some kind of imaging program
    that will handle the camera's RAW format and you can print from there.

    JPEG is a compressed image format that even at high quality ends up
    losing some of the image content.

    RAW is just that, the raw output of the sensor. It will be formatted in
    some manner defined by the camera's firmware & software, but all the
    data from the sensor is there.

    The main advantage for me, is you can make JPEGs from RAW files (and
    still have the RAW files to work with later); you can't go the other way
    and make RAW files from JPEGs.

    RAW is more versatile. For instance, if you set the white balance wrong,
    you can correct that in your camera's RAW imaging program.

    Which doesn't mean you should or shouldn't shoot RAW. The JPEG output
    from your camera may give you everything you want and need.

    But flash cards continue to drop in price, so you might find the extra
    space the RAW files take up is justified.
    no_name, Oct 5, 2005
  9. M

    Eugene Guest

    But what if you miss the shot because you're cards are all full of huge
    RAW files, or because you're camera is too busy to do another shot
    because it's trying to write your last burst of RAW images? Sometimes
    the best way to make sure you capture that moment would be to change
    down to a lower res jpeg so you can do a much faster (and longer)
    continuous burst. I'm not against the use of RAW capture, but there
    certainly are times when I prefer to use JPEG.
    Eugene, Oct 5, 2005
  10. M

    larrylook Guest

    You have a point here. But 2gb cards now cost what 500mb cards cost a few
    years ago, so the future is in your favor. Also good cameras can take raw
    shots pretty fast. If you take 10 rapid shots and the exposure is off on 1
    shot, it may be off on all 10 (say dark object with bright backround) but
    maybe could be fixed with raw. When your teenager and his girlfriend pose
    for a pre prom picture they may only allow one shot. (teenagers can be
    fussy - I know from experience). Don't get me wrong - I shoot a lot of
    jpegs too.

    larrylook, Oct 5, 2005
  11. M

    Jer Guest

    Then your card is too small, or you didn't bring enough cards along, or
    Jer, Oct 5, 2005
  12. Even a camera with a small 4-shot buffer should do fine shooting RAW.
    Instead of holding your finger down and doing bursts, be discriminating
    before you press the button. My 10D has a 9-shot buffer and I've never
    filled it.
    Randall Ainsworth, Oct 5, 2005
  13. M

    Eugene Guest

    Yes that's true. I'm still using 128M cards, which are definitely too
    small for the 20D. I've got an 20GB XS-Drive which helps a lot, but it's
    still a nuisance having to change cards so regularly. It can take quite
    a while to transfer a full card to the drive as well.
    Eugene, Oct 5, 2005
  14. M

    Eugene Guest

    In low-res low-quality mode the 20D can do over 100 shots at 5fps. I
    know this is perhaps a bit of a novelty, and I haven't yet found a real
    world use for this functionality, but you never know. No danger of
    missing the shot at least. My biggest problem with doing RAW bursts is
    that after approximately 3 seconds I would have to stop to change cards
    ;-) Yes I know I need bigger cards

    Anyway don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to argue against the use of
    RAW files. I know they're superior as far as quality goes. Just saying
    that sometimes JPEG is good enough and can be a lot more convenient.
    Like when I'm doing a panorama I'll take 72 seperate photos to get a
    view of 360x90 degrees (yes I know I need a wider lens), and it would be
    pointless capturing them all in RAW format. I actually use the
    low-quality, low-res jpeg setting, and I still have to shrink them down
    considerably before stitching. With that many images you get a hell of a
    lot of image data to deal with.

    Another situation where I would definitely prefer to use JPEG format is
    when I'm doing a landscape interval sequence with perhaps a few hundred
    photos. I'd generally be loading them into a video editing program
    anyway where the quality and resolution is going to be reduced quite a
    bit. Again low-res, low quality JPEG format is easily good enough for
    the task.
    Eugene, Oct 5, 2005
  15. M

    Jer Guest

    I travel with several 4Gb CF cards, and I pay attention to the frame
    count. I don't wait until a card is exhausted to change to a fresh one,
    preferring to choose an idle moment for swapping cards. I'm kind of a
    paparazzi of sorts, I always shoot multi-frame, and now, I never miss a
    capture when I want one. This didn't start with my foray into digital,
    I've used it for years to swap partial film mags. Now with digital,
    frame conservation is for shutterbugs that aren't really trying.
    Jer, Oct 5, 2005
  16. M

    mark Guest

    mark, Oct 5, 2005
  17. I prefer to be discriminating. It's not a machine gun.
    Randall Ainsworth, Oct 5, 2005
  18. But what if you miss the shot because you're cards are all full of huge
    RAW files,[/QUOTE]

    Yeah, I mean god, how did people ever manage this when shooting film.

    Photographs by Christian Bonanno
    Christian Bonanno, Oct 5, 2005
  19. M

    Jeff Heyen Guest

    While this is one guy's opinion, I find it refreshing, and even if you don't
    w/ Ken Rockwell you can't discount his practical photo experience. As Ken
    says, if you have to ask, you should be shooting JPEG.

    Jeff Heyen, Oct 5, 2005
  20. M

    Bill Lloyd Guest

    For sports photography, it often is. That's the reason the 1D mk II
    can do 8.5 fps.
    Bill Lloyd, Oct 5, 2005
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