« Hate Mail | Main | More Thoughts on Raw and JPEG »

Thursday, 12 June 2008

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00df351e888f883400e5536b67778834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference JPEG...Seriously?:

Comments

RAW. Whether or not my photos are any better for it at the moment is beside the point. A person would have to be...um....crazy to give up the possibilities digital photography gives with RAW.

And, I totally agree with your comments on reviews that only talk about a camera's JPEG performance. That may be fine for a cheap point-and-shoot, but, when it's a review of some expensive, meant-for-serious-photographers camera? Useless. I've written to a couple of such sites in the past, trying to make just that point.

I use raw for all my images. I can't imagine using anything else for serious images. In fact, I use raw for even less than serious images. But then, you never know when that casually snapped pic grabbed at an odd moment turns into the best thing you've done all day.

I'm with Barb. I've shot raw exclusively since I first read Bruce Fraser's book, recommended by Michael Reichmann.

Mike J.

Studio shots of work completed, or prior to starting, tripod, and fussed lighting, raw, but my other camera only shoots jpeg. More and more, I use the little P&S camera, as it hides me. But, more and more, good technique is the least important attribute of a good image. The big camera, mostly raw, but fast and street, or documentary, jpeg is great.

If I need to use Photoshop, raw, otherwise, jpeg, iPhoto, and fuss not.

Bron

I am a professional photographer in Boston. I shoot probably 80% jpg. I shoot lots of events (1000 images in a night) and lots of general marketing and pr type photography for corporate, medical and educational institutions. I would shoot all of the above as jpgs.

If I am shooting advertising stuff or anything where I deem the level of output will actually be able to realize the benefit of a raw file, then I shoot raw. The more important portraits or images I know will run on high quality stock will be shot raw. Also, anything that I see as a subject matter where large prints could be valuable I shoot raw. Obviously not for any pixel count advantage, but for the cleaner, crisper file with more latitude in every direction.

From a properly exposed image, I would doubt even a somewhat educated viewer would see any differences between the output from a raw vs. jpg file. This assumes two properly exposed files and basic adjustments only.

Have you done any comparisons like this? We read the math differences. We see the latitude advantages for salvaging an imperfect exposure. We see the advantages of raw when a great amount of post-processing will be done. But if the final output is very close to the original, proper exposure, how big is the difference??

John Gillooly
Boston

It's funny, I do all of my personal work (including everything that goes on my blog) in RAW. I've never shot anything but raw except by accident. Color control, added luminance data, we've all heard the benefits, and they're all true, IMO.

Then, just recently, I got a job photographing court documents. The camera they specified? Any point and shoot with a tilt screen. The files? 2500X2000 B&W jpegs, the smallest size that is still legible.

So yes, I do use jpeg, even to make money. It's not art (or Art), but having ready files pop out of the camera is important when there are 5000 of them that all need to be converted to pdf and burned to a dvd yesterday.

The caveat being of course that for those 5000 I don't care about anything but legibility. So long as noise is small enough at ISO 200, pretty much anything out there today will work. So I don't need to hear about it in a review. Come to think of it, I only read camera reviews for entertainment these days. It's fun to read about other peoples' gear, but I like what I've got.

What are you trying to do?
I take urban shots, Mardi Gras in New Orleans eg, in JPEG "sports mode"... hit the button and blast away because the action is fast. The rest are mainly contemplative landscapes in raw (and bracketed) and 90% on a tripod.
JPEG is a necessity not a choice.

John Gillooly nails it: Properly exposed, it is extremely difficult to discern between RAW and JPEG images. You get as much or more variation in RAW processing between Photoshop, Nikon/Cannon's software, and other publishers' RAW software. Plus, there are many people who don't have the time to futz endlessly in Photoshop and who don't want the time penalty that RAW adds to the workflow. Pixel peepers love to be preoccupied with inconsequential differences. More power to 'em if that's what they enjoy! Me? I'd rather be out there taking more great photos.

For professional work, in my case weddings, I use RAW exclusively.

For personal photography, it depends on the situation. If it is just happy snaps, then it'll generally be JPEG, as I won't spend any time processing after the fact. (Sometimes even lower-resolution JPEG - gasp.) Also, in non-challenging conditions, such as when a P+S would generally suffice, JPEG provides enough manipulability anyway. For landscapes, concerts, etc, it's back to using RAW.

However, everything goes into Lightroom, JPEG or RAW, and then I have the same tools available for both. There's no need to draw a distinction after the fact.

To get back to your original thought, camera reviews should be focusing on RAW image quality. And although the tide seems to be turning a little, the emphasis on resolution and noise levels is absurd. I would appreciate more time spend on dynamic range, which is much more of an issue for real-world prints.

Raw only. The dynamic range limitations of raw files from even the best of today's digital cameras are frustrating enough. JPEGs are even worse in that respect, and less robust to post-processing to boot. I'd be happy to see manufacturers leave out JPEG entirely and spend their engineering effort and firmware capacity on improving the quality of their raw files.

Hi Ctein,

I might be out of your target group, although my friends think I take photography too seriously, if that counts. Since I went digital, I shoot RAW most of the time. The exception is outdoor sports for my touch rugby club. The last time I shot for them, I knew the final output would only be for the web, so jpeg seemed a fair choice. The team shots were done in RAW, though. FIrst time I ever blistered my index finger from shooting, too.

I have been shooting RAW almost exclusively since 2001. I don't think small-sensor cameras actually have enough dynamic range in their tiny cramped little pixels for RAW to make any difference, however.

Unless you are using a DP-1, there should be no real difference in a compact camera, apart from the ability to change white balance settings without inducing posterization.

I'm kind of in a niche as I shoot mostly dance and theater images, where the camera is usually at 3200 or 6400 ISO and then underexposed a bit. Under stage lighting, finding the right color balance is a challenge.

I need every bit of exposure latitude, color correction and noise reduction a RAW file provides. There is no way I could get good results with out of camera JPGs.

I agree with John above, if the image is properly exposed (and I would add in 'normal' ISO ranges: 100-400), you'd have trouble telling the RAW from the JPG. When I take portraits, I suppose JPG would be fine, but never for the stage.

I shoot 100% RAW and would not consider buying a camera that didn't shoot RAW. Sometimes the difference from a JPG is small, But often it is HUGE. I never know when I am going to snap a masterpiece (maybe only to my eyes)and I would hate to have that great shot and be limited by a JPG file. Also, if that great shot is either over or underexposed a bit, I rally appreciate the latitude and cleanness of RAW.

Raw only since 2003. 'Proper exposure' can be redone miles better if client or anyone would need something different in terms of white balance and colors.

For me raw adjustments are natural and important steps in workflow. Tossing off a few bits and letting the camera software freeze my 'film development', no thank you!

I use raw exclusively, because my Pentax puts the JPEG in it anyway. If I want all the jpegs, I just run a little script that extracts them all. I suspect most cameras do the same, so why ever shoot JPEG in-camera?

Well, Mr Gillooly makes a point. Here in San Francisco, it's not uncommon for wedding photographers to shoot JPEG. A friend picked a photographer based on the work, and then discovered there would be no raw files - if raw was required, my friend would have to provide larger memory cards!

These wedding shooters are the only folks I've encountered or heard of who shot JPEG in the class of photographer you describe.

I have a better question: Have any of the previous posters shot transparencies or been behind a camera for more than 2 or 3 years? No, I'm serious. I can remember throwing away dozens of Kodachrome slides in the seventies because they came out crap. There was no crying to mama about Raw this or Raw that. The shot worked or it didn't.

I shoot Raw+Jpeg. I prefer the Jpeg version though. It reminds me of slides. The colours look better. Remember that the people who are important in photography (gallery owners, curators, etc) are not photographers. They don't care what format your camera shoots in. They want to see the print, and they won't be using Photoshop at 100%. Rarely do I see a difference worth noticing between Raw or Jpeg when printed. I limit myself to slight adjustments such as Levels and maybe sharpening. If I need B&W I dig out my F90x and shoot Tri-X. You guys should try it sometime.....oh, I forgot, it's harder to fix mistakes and you can't convert it back to colour if you don't like it. So sad.

RAW for virtually everything.

Just a couple of years ago there was good reason to use JPEG over RAW for many situations, but the reasons are all gone. Basically just a couple of years ago there were no good RAW processors that provided a decent workflow, and the embedded JPEG files in the RAW files were all but unusable, so you couldn't use them as a photo-proxy. Now if you need speed, you can use Photo Mechanic and extract the embedded JPEGs and use them for quickie review and display, and if you need quality you can use one of several excellent workflow oriented RAW processors.

Basically if someone recommends using JPEG, they are probably not very knowledgeable about the tools that are now available to process RAW, and how those tools have virtually eliminated all 'excuses' for shooting JPEG.

how many times does this RAW Vs JPG argument have to be regurgitated??? same old boring justifications from both sides....

my dad's bigger than your dad!

I know many serious pro photographers who sell and exhibit a lot of their work shot only with jpg. I think raw is highly over appreciated and most of the amateurs would be better of using jpg and concentrating on what’s in the picture rather than file format. Your example picture could have been made by any point & shoot jpg camera or even a cell phone camera.

I have my dSLR set to record both a raw, and SHQ JPEG.

That way I have an exhibition quality "negative", and a file I can use right away for the web.

I always carry a Fuji F10, even to the mailbox, and it records JPEG only. Its quality rivals a SLR, and it goes to ISO 1600.

With my SLRs, an Oly 300 and a Lumix L1, I carry 4 gigs of memory.

BTW, what's with all caps when writing raw? Raw is not an acronym; it's a state (right next to New York).

At my wife's NYE party, her employer hired an event photographer, and he shot everything in SHQ. Time constraints, and raw quality was overkill for the circumstance.

100% RAW for all of my photography (serious and non-serius snaps).
Can`t believe that professionals are shooting weddings in jpegs, since I shoot them in RAW because of highlits burning in jpegs are horrible. RAW gives You also the creative freedom of choosing the WB after the exposure. Given the fast pace of a wedding can/t believe anyone nails the WB right in all the lighting situations a wedding provides.
I once heard that shooting jpegs is like shooting film, take the negative to a local lab, pick up the prints and throw the negatives away, why would a serious photographer do that?
The memory cards are cheaper by the hour ...
And with software like Lightroom the managing of RAW files is very fast.

Dear John,

Thanks for your helpful information. I infer from your remarks that it's the sheer volume of work and the rapidity with which you have to photograph that make JPEG distinctly preferable to RAW?

In the limited comparisons that I've done (and in most of the reviews I've read) RAW mode captures about two stops more luminance range than JPEG mode. This seems to be fairly consistent across cameras. I think the really high end ones do even better than that, but I haven't gotten to play with any of them.

It's not a post-processing thing. RAW images, even run through default processing, hands-off, convey a substantially longer subject luminance range; the difference is neither trivial nor invisible. That is true for proper and correct original exposures.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com
======================================


Dear Blake,

Not so. A two stop difference in subject luminance range is pretty readily visible to most people and doesn't require the least bit of pixel peeping. Except for the larger volume of bits being processed, RAW processing doesn't consume any undue access time.

Keep in mind that your JPEG camera has a built-in RAW converter. The sensor does not capture JPEG's, it captures RAW information and converts it internally. It manages to do that tolerably well with no muss and fuss. Why do you believe external programs can't do the same thing?

This business about different RAW converters producing different results is a complete red herring. It has no import except, indeed, to the pixel peepers. There is no "correct" interpretation of sensor data, and even if there were I can assure you that the conversion built into your camera does not provide it.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com
======================================


Dear Fazal,

That's incorrect. Many small-sensor cameras capture a decently long luminance range and, in cameras that provide RAW mode as well as JPEG mode, regardless of the sensor size RAW mode typically produces two stops more capture range.

As for the absolute range, my Fuji Finepix S6000fd has a six megapixel sensor that is 22% of the linear size of a 35mm frame. It captures nearly 8 stops in RAW mode. The S100fs I'm currently testing crams 11 megapixels into a sensor that is only slightly larger-- 25% of 35 mm size. It manages to capture a full nine stops in RAW mode, although the pixels are substantially smaller and the total sensor size isn't anywhere close to "professional."

Anybody who tells you that small-sensor cameras cannot produce good results is ignorant of their capabilities. Bigger is unquestionably better, but that does not make small bad.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com
======================================

I shoot jpeg for the present and RAW for the future. I always shoot in RAW+JPG mode. 99% of my post processing is on the jpegs because it's easier and faster and frankly, after a lot of playing with it, I can rarely tell the difference. However, I always have the RAWs around for the rare cases where I can save a highlight. And I keep them around because I have this dream that one day a wonderful RAW processor will arrive that I can just point at a directory and it will auto-magically turn all the RAWs into images with a subtle perfection that would take ages of fine tuning per frame today. Call me a dreamer.

14 bit losslessly compressed RAW + Fine JPEG Large.

I mostly shoot for my blog, which means I intend to make art. I had no necessity to shoot JPEG only so far. I don't do any action-type photography, thus I don't need longest high-speed series (I even accept that my D300 gets slowed down to 2.5 images per second by 14 bit mode), and I don't do 1000 images a day (or 4000 as wedding photographer David Ziser). My mileage is more like 15000 a year.

I use Photoshop a lot, and I do much of my photography under less than ideal conditions. See this recent post on my blog ( http://blog.andreas-manessinger.info/2008/06/607-let-there-be-more-light.html ), there is no way I could do that with a JPEG.

Shooting this way, I amass something between 350, maybe 400 GB image data per year, plus around 200 GB of unflattened 16 bit Photoshop files. That's much, yes, but only by yesterday's standards. These days we definitely have crossed the line from where disc storage grows faster than the demands of photography. Well, OK, not if you shoot 39 megapixels, but for my D300 this is absolutely true, and it can't be much off even for a 1DsIII.

Last February I have exchanged hard drives in my two computers. I have kept the 500 GB internals and the 500 GB external that I use for transport, but the internal 300 GB discs had to make way for 1 TB each. Since then prices have fallen, you get 1 TB for below 150 Euros now, American prices are normally way lower for taxes and ... hmm ... imperialism :) For the same money I'll get 2TB next year, when my demand has outgrown storage capacity. Then I'll exchange the 500 GB discs. You get it.

So far, disc capacities double per year, my demand never will. At least as long as I don't do RAW video :)

I shoot both to card, but oddly enough, the JPEG is what I do most of my work with. I go with JPEG mostly because my work only ever ends up online in a resolution perhaps only a quarter of the original RAW, and I strive to get everything done in camera out in the field. I detest post-processing images on a computer, and would like to keep the time I spend in photoshop/GIMP as close to zero as I can. Minute curves work, and a smattering of sharpening, that's it.

I'm not entirely brain-dead though, I archive all of my RAW's. And for the heavy post processing work I do punish myself with, it rules supreme over JPEG.

JPEG is really only for the convenience, serious image work will always be the realm of RAW.

In the real world time is often scarce, and quality is defined in two categories, "good enough" and "not good enough", jpeg is king. Beeing able to publish/mail/use images straight from the camera without any processing, get results good enough, and move on to the next job is often essential in my world. Thats why I save all pictures in both jpeg and raw. I use jpeg if good enough. If not, raw files gives me good latitude for correction to save the day. Or if by accident I get a superb picture worthy of more work and perhaps big size printing.

I've used RAW since about '02 - use it for anything inc casual shots. When I saw what RAW was capable of, after having been professionally misled for a year regarding jpegs, I trust myself and my eyes now - not the camera.
The only time I use jpeg is if I want an animated sequence of shots - in which I would shoot maybe 5000 images to do the animation. Makes sense at that point but now that I have a HD video camera with frame by frame capability I won't ever touch jpeg again!
And for me there is also a central issue in not using a pocket digicam with RAW capability - they are far TOO hampered. I've tried a few and they're just too restrictive!

I am one of those folks John Gillooly talks about. With a properly made photo that has reasonable dynamic range, I can't tell a difference between a jpeg and what I can squeeze out of a RAW file. That might just mean that I lack RAW skills.

I always shoot RAW + jpeg fine. I end up using RAW files in roughly 20% of the pictures, but that can rise considerably in some situations.

I've only done a handfull of weddings for my friends, so I am no expert on that field, but I would never in my right mind be bold enough to shoot jpegs only. White dress, black tux, jpeg that!

Both!

I always shoot both raw and high quality jpg. The jpg's are used for assessing the images, creating online-versions and all the quick&dirty jobs. When I land a cover or a feature in a magazine (mostly based on a review of the jpg's online) I dig out the raw's and fine tune the few images that need extra attention.

Very few people can see the difference in the end, but I like to have the "digital negative" in case I want to really work with an image.

BTW: jpg's in a decent quality can often be extracted from the raws (on Nikon at least), but I prefer the convenience of having both straight out of the camera.

Martin

I'm not a professional, but like to regard myself as a somewhat serious amateur.

I usually shoot raw, with two exceptions:

(1) Weddings or similar situations where I know I'm going to need to edit large numbers of pictures in a hurry. I know in principle I could learn something like Lightroom (or Aperture or Bibble) that's geared towards fast efficient raw workflows; but I can't see when I could put the time & effort in to learn these tools right now, and meanwhile I'm still in the Dark Ages of editing raw files one by one in Adobe Camera Raw.

(2) My cute little new street / walking around camera, an Olympus E410. On this I shoot jpeg+raw, because my Dark Ages version of Adobe Camera Raw doesn't understand E410 raw files and Olympus' own software is clunky and painful to use. I like to have the raw files as a backup though, just in case by some mishap I find myself with a real picture on my hands.

Totally agreed! It is beyond me why anyone bothers testing (or using) JPG at all. To be sure, there are a few use cases, like journalists who have to send back images ASAP over low-quality lines, but for the vast majority of scenarios, there is in my mind only one reason to use JPG: laziness.

In my particular case, I have an extra reason not to use JPG: I use the Leica M8, which has a horrible JPG implementation, but great RAW output. I have not yet seen a decent test of the M8 which bases its image quality judgement on RAW, except dpreview.com's, which shows both.

These are plain facts. I just don't understand why it is rare to find people declaring them. The large majority of "consumers" are jpeg shooters by design of their cameras; and, we don't want to make them unhappy. Do we?

Using jpg only and not shooting raw is like having a camera that just pops out 6x4" prints.
Shooting raw is like getting a strip of negs - in a few year's time you might have the skills and technique to make better prints from them. If you only shoot jpg and want a bigger better print in the future you're limited to the equivalent of scanning that 6x4".

On the subject of the Finepix S100FS, I'll admit it looks a tempting proposition until you look at the price and consider that for the same amount you could get a barely larger SLR with the option of a pancake lens when you want to travel light.

Cheers, Robin

I shoot JPEG with my always-with-me digicam - does that count? Have been exclusively shooting dSLR RAW only since last year, simply because I lacked hard-drive space and processing power. RAW is deceptively expensive business if you think about it: storage, RAW processing software, computer with enough power to not take forever doing it, extra RAM to make that computer really chug along, monitor calibrator because, if you can change the colour easily you will...

RAW when using a sensor that captures with better than 8-bit resolution.

The trouble with shooting RAW is that the best conversion software is (in my experience) the most awkward to use. I started exclusively shooting RAW in 2002 when I discovered that my Canon D30 (no, that's not a typo) would pick the wrong white balance about 5-10% of the time -- particularly when shooting in available light from mixed sources. Having the raw data to fall back on was a godsend. But RAW workflow has always been a chore for me. Until it was upgraded to version 2, I had a miserable time getting Aperture to pull decent pictures out of raw captures of dimly-lit scenes. Canon's editing software produces consistently excellent results but, despite a steady improvement over several versions, the user interface is abysmal. I often achieve better results converting with CS2 and LightRoom than with (pre 2.x) Aperture, but still not as good as with Canon's software. So, the cost of shooting RAW is high, but definitely worth the results in this case.

I don't think the cost is justified for P&S cameras with small sensors, though. I opted for a Lumix LX2 over a Canon G7 based on RAW output capability. First of all, neither Aperture nor ACR could deal with the Panasonic raw images when I first acquired it -- I couldn't even preview the images in Aperture. Second, the raw conversion application didn't really improve on the in-camera conversion as far as I could tell. My conclusion from this second point is that the raw image data are captured with 8 bits of resolution or less -- which JPEG can handle gracefully. I quickly gave up on RAW with this camera, and shoot JPEG. In retrospect, I wonder if the G7 was a tacit acknowledgement of the fallacy of raw output capability from a tiny sensor.
--
kobi

I try not to shoot too many images the world is overflowing with jpegs as it is

After a year of shooting JPEGs, I switched to raw only several years ago, despite being "just an amateur." The hassles of raw have been largely eliminated by software such as Lightroom and Aperture.

Perhaps one reason for the lack of raw discussion in camera reviews is that so much depends on the qualities of different raw converters (and how they are used). With JPEG it really is a function of the camera, and the raw files themselves are a lot more difficult to evaluate. Not that there shouldn't be more discussion of camera raw capabilities.

I prefer a camera that can shoot both RAW and JPEG. I shoot RAW some of the time, but I find that under good conditions I get a pretty good JPEG out of the camera. Of course, I make sure that the cameras that I buy CAN produce a good JPEG.

I also rarely shoot on full automatic, and am always checking for proper exposure using the histogram and clipped highlights warnings. The camera that I currently use the most, the Ricoh GX-100 has excellent auto WB, so for these reasons I seldom need to tweak WB or exposure in post-processing. It also has poor shot-to-shot time in RAW, so if I'm shooting candids it's much better to be shooting in JPEG.

I can store three JPEGs at slightly different exposures in less space than 1 RAW file. And I do shoot a lot of exposures, so the disk space and backup requirements add up. I also don't like to spend excessive amounts of time in my workflow. For these reasons, JPEG will continue to be important to me.

That said, I wouldn't purchase a camera these days that didn't let me shoot RAW. And I save all my RAWs as DNGs.

Hello, I'm a professional photographer and when I'm not working with medium or large format film I use a Fuji Finepix, and I shoot in .jpg with it. The review I've just read about the S100FS does compare RAW and .jpg, and on the basis of it I'd be tempted to reinvest in it specifically to continue shooting in .jpg because the grain in RAW looks so revoltingly noisy to me. I mean, if I liked grain I wouldn't prefer larger format film over 35mm, so I certainly don't want grained noise in my digital work either. And while I can understand why other people might prefer RAW, there is an edge of snobbery to it, no? A few years ago I shot an entire project in .jpg with a cheap Fuji Finepix s7000. For the resulting exhibition, I was able to print photos enlarged to almost A1 @ 300dpi without, to my eyes and tastes, any discernably annoying quality issues in terms of surface artifacts.

So I, for one, would appreciate a second opinion on the latest Fuji model that includes an appraisal of its .jpg quality, if you could bear to? Thanks.

JPEG... seriously! I shoot JPEG 99% of the time. For me personally RAW doesn't provide anything of much use beyond what I already get from a JPEG. I even shoot in-camera B&W a lot... go figure.

PS That doesn't mean I don't recognize the advantages of RAW (before someone starts shouting bad things at me) :)

For sports I shoot jpeg, eveything else RAW.

A weeekend at a track can chew up a lot of memory cards and motosport is more about the right timing.

RAW gives me more options to fine tune the image later.

I largely agree with John Gillooly. I don't think shooting raw of JPG is going to matter most of the time for a well-exposed shot.

However, sometimes RAW enables you to get a little more dynamic range out of a shot, or to save a poorly-exposed shot. Also, it stops white belance from being an issue. I don't shoot in the same volume that John does, and I enjoy post-processing, so the time penalty for RAW doesn't bother me. So I shoot almost entirely in RAW, except when I take out a P&S that doesn't support it.

I'm with Bron. Content over technique, these days. I always carry a little Fuji F30 with me as it's a smashing little tool for taking photos with. JPEG only. Some of my favourite (& most communicative) shots have been taken with it, regardless of the lack of RAW. A JPEG is better than no picture. A bit of care in the exposure and it's fine; they even blow up to a perfectly adequate 14" print quite happily. The rest of the time, I use a DLSR which is always in RAW mode and with that I've never found a reason to use JPEG. In both cases I often do a significant amount of fiddling/piddling around in post to get to what I think I saw at the time.

Nonetheless, RAW is better - more flexible, more forgiving, & you can push edits that much harder before it falls over into posterised muck - & to cross the divide I'm trying the smallest/lightest DLSR compatible with my existing lenses, and it's not a bad compromise. But that will be in RAW all the time, too.

RAW mostly but sometimes JPGs are good enough, the way you sometimes just want a ham sandwich. I sometimes shoot casual photos of no particular importance. These pictures will never be displayed anywhere other than on the web or in (at most) 5x7s. They have no inherent visual importance in and of themselves and I know that when I'm clicking the shutter. With those, maybe 20% of my shooting, all I want is to click and download, with as close to zero post-processing time as possible.

I shoot partypictures in clubs and I use JPG for the reason that there is no point in "wasting" space on my SD with RAW for I use a flash anyways. therefore I never had any exposure problems. Shooting in JPG also saves me some time when uploading them to the ftp server as I don't have to convert them to jpg first. yes, it's not a day's work to convert them, considering the fact that I'm often returning in the early morning I just want to sleep.
And there are few occasion where the image buffer of my D80 is to small, in that case I switch to JPG

otherwise I shoot RAW only. I'd be stupid if I didn't

Never shoot RAW, I only shoot jpg. To my eye, I cannot tell the difference, and to the people I give my photos to, they can't tell the difference. When I did use RAW (right after I got the D2X, and was taking internet advice), I always converted to a TIFF afterwards. But for 99% of my shooting, I can't tell the difference between RAW and JPG. So brand me a heathen, but JPG works for me, and my type of landscape photography. Proper exposure is a must, however.

Ctein,

The one time I use JPEG files is in commercial illustration shoots where I do RAW+JPEG. The jpg file is a small one, maybe one meg size, just big enough to read well on screen. At the end of the shoot I download all cards to portable hard drives as backups, then copy the little set of jpg files to a card or CD and give it to the client for editing. It's the editor's job, not mine, to pick which shots have the best informational content. By the time I get home, there's an email from the editor with the list of file #s for me to process out from RAW. Tweaking the RAW files in ACR generally takes about half a minute each--I've never understood why people think RAW workflow is slow??--then I initiate a batch action that prepares the set of files as 300ppi 8-bit TIFFs in Adobe RGB while I go do something else. Burn to disc, or upload via FTP if they're really in a rush. The editor can conveniently file the whole take of jpg shots for future reference, but has to come back to me for a printable version.

Oh, there's another time. My aging iBook would faint if I asked it to deal the 14.6 megapixel RAW files produced by my Pentax K20D. On the road for my personal work, I shoot RAW+ so I can review the small jpg files in the evenings while the RAW files go straight to the portable hard drives.

i use it all the time

quality has to suffer for $$$$

RAW almost exclusively. In "Professional Photoshop, 5th ED", Dan Margulis ran some tests of RAW vs. JPEG. He found that for properly exposed images with "typical" subject matter (most of the important detail in the midtones, little important in the shadows or highlights, no large areas where compression artifacts might show up) the JPEGs were essentially the same as what came out of Camera Raw. Once you get away from these happy conditions the results from RAW are far superior. Since I never know exactly what might catch my eye, and am very rarely under the gun to provide a bunch of images on a tight deadline, RAW provides me insurance against tough subjects or less than optimal exposure with no real time penalty. The exception is when I get roped into shooting at office events where the images will be go on the agency web site - JPEGs are good enough. I think evaluating the quality of the RAW images would provide more useful info in evaluating a new camera, although given the diffence in results from different RAW converters I'm not sure what criteria you'd use for the evaluation.

I have not shot a JPEG in over 2 years. Even things that are less important are shot raw. My camera (Olympus E300) has a notoriously bad JPEG engine. I almost sold it and someone forced me to try raw.

On the other hand some people who still shoot E-1 and other cams say it is a perfectly good JPEG camera.

Like many people I was certain that my time at the computer would be considerably more when processing files. I'd have to say it's less by quite a margin.

Using PS CS3 and Bridge seems darn good to my amateur self. The color red still can give me nightmares but I am pretty happy.

I'm sure some people need the speed and card space to shoot and move quickly but that is not me.

Don't some PJ's shoot JPG to move files faster wirelessly?

Always good to read the responses to articles like this.

Good one Ctein

PS Why do so many reviewers always shoot JPEG?

I'm a serious amateur, and shoot mostly raw or raw + jpeg. I appreciate the latitude available when processing a raw file, as does everyone who understand the reasons for shooting raw.

Until my daughter stopped riding, for over 6 years young people on horseback, usually jumping over a fence, dominated my subject matter. The only time I turned off writing raw files was when shooting a lesson for the trainer, capturing the jumps over two or three fences and, in an hour, capturing 600 to 900 images. I burned those files to a CD without any post processing and gave the disk to the trainer the next day.

And thank you, Ctein, for continuing to write for us. I always enjoy and learn from your articles.

Bob

I've shot RAW from the start (Canon D30) not (initially) because it was "better" - though I don't dispute that - but because I'm a pack rat and hate throwing things away. I figured all that extra data must be of some value. I also figured, that just as cameras will be improved, so too will processing software and it would be nice to be able to reprocess old images ... sort of like being able to retake a film frame on an improved version of the film.

As I've never really shot JPG, I can't really compare the relative merits on a shot by shot basis. But I do know that my faith that the software would improve paid off big time.

Cheers,

Colin

You mean my cameras have a jpg mode?!
Your little P.S. about not wanting to offend amateurs I found interesting. A reminder of how the real meaning of words gets perverted, sometimes. One should be proud to be an amateur. The word comes from the latin amator ( lover) from amare (to love). Hence an amateur is someone doing something out of love, not out of necessity. Taking pictures for the love of photography. Sounds to me like a couple of notches above taking pictures for financial gain, or the hope of.
Well, now I shall resume my normal activity: trying to figure out what to do next in term of images. I lost my amateur status more than twenty years ago, when I thought it would be an improvement to be a professional...

I know my camera produces excellent JPEGs (Olympus use very little compression, and even my old E-1 could crank out fairly large and detailed JPEGs should I wish it to.)

But the fact is that as a hobbyist, I know I'm not good enough at gauging exposure - I want, and sometimes need, the headroom of RAW.

I've spoken to professional photographers, and was surprised at how many potrait specialists shot JPG - but then, they often have great control over their lighting (as they're in a studio) and can judge exposure really easily. RAW just becomes an extra step for them - it costs money, because it takes time. Which makes sense.

Would I shoot JPG? Well, I suppose you could say that I aspire to.

Which sounds nuts, perhaps. But I'd rather phrase it as "I aspire to know my camera, subject and scenes so well that I can get it right first time".

Maybe not so nuts, after all...

JPEG.

I have two kids under three. I get, on a good day, an hour to myself. At the end of the day (literally; that's when my free time is), I don't have the energy to add another step to my workflow to winnow down and/or edit the few pictures I've managed to take (of my kids, natch). So I keep it simple and learn to love weird colors.

I shoot jpeg in only two circumstances: first is for casual shooting of fun stuff that I'm not going to post-process or keep -- a kid's birthday party, for example, where I'll email the parents the cute shots and then delete the originals. Why spend the extra time and overhead dealing with RAW when I need none of the advantages?

The second is when I'm shooting an event for a client who wants only jpeg files delivered, and when I'm shooting in good light and getting good exposures (typically in low-contrast daylight with fill flash). This takes little or no post-processing, and so I can typically select the images, burn the CD, and ship it.

Other than that, I shoot exclusively RAW because, even when I think I'm not shooting anything serious, I'll sometimes come across a shot that turns out to be one of my great keepers, something I'll want to blow up to 20 x 30" and actually sell -- and so I want every advantage of RAW...

I've done all my shooting in raw since buying my A1 back in '04.

I don't think the work flow with RAW is all that bad anymore. If you're stuck using the manufacturer's raw software it can be bad. The quality of most of the raw software that comes with a camera often leaves something to be desired even in this day and age.

However, there are a lot of high-quality, 3rd party, work flow oriented raw processors now, that really make things easy to do. Once you get over the learning curve, I don't think the processing overhead with raw is nearly as bad as people make it out to be, at least not anymore.

I'm shooting almost always in RAW+JPEG format.

Years ago, before I had enough memory cards and an 'image tank' (i. e. mobile autonomous hard disk), I sometimes shot JPEG in order to save card space.

Today, I sometimes (read: rarely) switch to JPEG in order to speed up the writing from the buffer to the memory card---which is useful when shooting bursts of frames at fast-moving action. Most digital cameras can shoot more consecutive frames in JPEG mode before slowing down, and they will write them to the card faster than raw frames.

-- Olaf

I shot Kodachrome for 40 years, so learned how to expose properly.
My first digital cameras didn't even have a RAW option, and I've always been happy with my low-compression JPEG images. The greatest pleasure of shooting digitally is the ease of seeing my final work. If the Windows/MAC programs would automatically work with RAW files (like they do with JPEG) then I might consider it, but as it is it's just one more complicated step between me and the final image (or print).

I've done Jpeg-raw comparisons and though I can see the advantage in exposure latitude, for me, not much otherwise. I am also strict about using the histogram function for every shot and setting up the camera to my liking. As such, I’m exclusively jpeg.

Since I've had the Fuji S100FS (about 3 weeks now) I had to change several of my criteria acquired handling the S6000FD. With the S6000FD for some lee-way in image quality I shot raw occasionally, first of all to squize out more detail from 12MP pictures (using FinepixStudio or S7raw for raw-conversion) and to do a better job in noise reduction. For best jpg-results I used mostly the 3:2 mode (perceptibly better than 6MP Fine; there is no essential quality difference between 6MP Fine and Normal); in order to prevent blown highlights I used -0,33 or -0,67 exposure compensation. The S100FS behaves differently. 11MP Fine files yield clearly superior image quality compared to 3:2 or 11MP N. In normal conditions I don't see blown highlights (no need for negative exposure compensation). Noise is well handled up to iso 800 (iso 1600 still very usable shooting 6MP or 3MP files). As for raw, I run two or three test series, but I was not able to detect the slightest advantage in image quality: in the huge 22MP pictures extracted in FinepixStudio or S7raw I couldn't see more detail or better noise behaviour compared to the 11MP Fine files. I must admit, I didn't try ACR (so far). I'm quite acquainted with Photoshop (CS3 now, at work), but I prefer to use HeliconFilter (shareware) for postprocessing. In my experience (I'm not a pro and rarely print at all, and if, not over A4 - 8x11") the jpg files from the S100FS allow extensive postprocessing, especially setting tone and sharpness at lower values in-camera (mandatory "soft" for sharpness to avoid sharpening artefacts).
As I see it, the S100FS has an astoundingly good jpg processing engine: judging from my results, there is no gain from raw over 11MP Fine files. Maybe there is a good reason for the raw mode being so deeply buried in the setup menu (I counted 13 steps to get it - the S6000FD requires 3 less): you don't need it. Please take this with a grain of salt, as I understand that a "pro" may not renounce raw in toto.
(Samples in my blog; see there the link to my Flickr page with some test and comparison crop.)

I've encountered a number of news shooters who shoot jpg simply because the ethics of the news profession make Photoshopping a little suspect -- they're discouraged from manipulating images, other than the most basic stuff. Also, they very often have to load many, many images into their computers, pick a few, and transmit them from their motel room or a coffee shop or wherever they can get a hookup. RAW doesn't help them much, and jpgs are convenient.

When I was a fulltime reporter, I'd go out with photographers every day, and since film was relatively cheap compared to other costs involved, most assignments got separate rolls of film -- which meant that on even routine assignments, like an environmental/personality portrait in a person's home or office, the photographer could shoot a full roll of film. That attitude is even stronger with digital -- shoot until you drop. The worse thing a news photographer can do is miss a shot, or produce a flat "nothing" shot. In the case of colorful but relatively routine events like parades or carnivals or art fairs, they often will taken dozens and sometimes even hundreds of shots.

That, in any case, is one mindset. I really don't think RAWS are much slower going through production, but if you're shooting a late football game on a short deadline, shooting jpgs might make a difference.

JC

Ra, RA, RAW !!

I didn't even know you could turn it off;

My phone doesn't do RAW yet; maybe the next firmware upgrade

Since I don't shoot in RAW, maybe I can't qualify as a "serious" photographer. However, when I got interested in photography back in the early 1980's one of the first things I was taught was how to properly judge and set exposure. Since I know how to do that, and also how to bracket exposures if the lighting is tricky or uneven, I haven't been able to see much advantage to RAW. If one hasn't yet learned how to control the interplay between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, then I guess RAW can be a worthwhile safety net.

I did try shooting in RAW for a couple of weeks since everyone seemed to be touting its advantages, but I still couldn't see any difference in my prints. It did lengthen the amount of time I had to spend on the computer, which I don't need. So for me it was simple: Bigger files + more time at the computer + no discernable improvement in print quality = back to shooting JPEG. So put me down as an at least semi-serious photographer who shoots JPEG.

RAW is a pain in the butt. For those of us who have computer dylexia or similar are JPEG
people. Exose the sensor, print the picture.
It's like film to the drugstore; somebody else does the developing and printing
Images on the web pages-JPEG,
JPEG for colour prints and similar.

99.9 percent of the people looking
at printed images can't tell the
difference!

Which is why I have a Canon G7-JPEG!
And I still do most of my photography with Kodak colour slide film!

I'm an advanced amateur photographer. I take a lot of martial arts photographs and despite needing to shoot a lot of frames quickly, I have never shot anything but RAW images. The image quality and exposure latitude is just so much better with RAW that it outweighs any extra time possibly spent on image processing later.

A couple of people wrote that a properly exposed jpeg is indistinguishable from a manually converted raw file. I'd suggest that if that's true at all, then it's only true for well exposed jpegs of optimally lit scenes. Without even bothering to shoot multiple exposures (which is often not an option anyway) you can show more highlight and shadow detail in a manually converted raw shot than anything most cameras will produce (although many are incorporating features that try to do this automatically). I recently combined two jpegs created from the saw raw file; one processed for highlights and one for shadows, and love the result.

For fine art photography, I imagine raw is a no-brainer ... if shooting for a handful of keepers in a month and then trying to get the most out of them. I shoot 150 pictures at a birthday party, delete half when I get a chance to look at them on the computer. Ultimate IQ isn't important by any stretch, just enjoyable prints, and good exposure goes so far; high dynamic range sometimes means PPing raw. I have to say, though, that in the short time I've owned my Sony A700 (upgrade from KM 7D) I'm PPing far less due to DRO (dynamic range optimization) which takes a stab at handling high contrast scenes automatically.

Out of 75 (or 50 or 12 or 100) pictures that I keep from a given 'event' (party, outing, whatever), I'll occasionally have a couple of real gems and I might spend time tweaking them in ACR.

As Ctein alludes to in his jpeg test analogy, accepting the in-camera jpeg is like accepting the 4x6 print from the one-hour lab. Might be very good, but you usually like to have the negative around anyway. One thing I sometimes think I ought to do is delete the raw files for all of the 'lesser' photos I shoot - the multitude of pictures that friends & family will enjoy, but that will never be 'great' no matter how processed. But I haven't yet.

I use mostly JPEG with my main camera, an Olympus E-1. It's much faster in JPEG, and I like the camera's color rendering more than I like that of any of the raw converters that I've tried. Also, with sharpening and contrast turned all the way down, the JPEGs have a lot of latitude for tweaking. I do have to get the white balance about right though.

Ironically, with my "snapshot" camera, a Nikon D40, I use raw a lot more. Partially because it's reasonably fast when shooting raw, partially because the D40 seems more prone to overexposure than the E-1, and partially because the raw converter that I use produces colors that I like as much as the camera JPEGs.

I use raw exclusively, because jpegs don't make for very good DNG files. Jpegs also aren't much smaller than the raw or dng results for my camera settings, which makes the camera memory and hard-drive space questions moot. Add Lightroom's management and development abilities, and there's no real time penalty, either.

I definitely shoot RAW with very little exception. Memory cards and hard drives are cheap and any decent image editing software will batch process if you need jpegs (and do a better job than the camera). When I bought my first dSLR it was one that got blasted by several reviewers for poor in camera jpeg processing - my response was who cares.

I am just a pazter, but;
With the D200 (used primarily for landscape & "new topography" stuff, usually on a tripod) I have it set to RAW & Jpeg (fine). Like the jpeg in that case for a quick review.
With my "bridges" usually jpeg, sometimes RAW, depends (subject/circumstance & write delay).
My little P&S's jepeg, cuz that all they got.
Do prefer the control over sharpening, noise reduction, and "black" though, with RAW. I sometimes open jpegs with ACR just to adjust the black. :)

i use RAW almost exclusively with one exception. On last year's vacation I had only a 4GB SD card and no retail stores within 60 miles. So, I reluctantly shot JPEG. I managed to cram over 600+ images on that card, and later when I got back I was actually relieved that I wouldn't have to spend the next two weeks processing a bunch of RAW images. Also, it was very easy to just re-size and upload images to the web for friends and family to see.

Sure, I missed a few shots that I could have adjusted better in RAW, but I usually shot the same scene multiple times, so it wasn't hard to find images that I could use.

I still use RAW, but I've realized that sometimes convenience is more important that quality, so I'm not afraid of switching to JPEG every now and then if the situation would benefit from it.

Ctein,
In that s100fs image, am I seeing the CA I think I am? I downloaded some full size samples awhile back, and printed them. Seemed to be an aful lot of CA. Looking forward to your review. Where will it be?

I've been photographing for three decades and consider myself a serious amateur. I may be convinced to use RAW at some point yet, but so far I use JPG because:

1: I'm tired of having to get bigger and bigger hard disks, and I don't want to use a separate one for photos. (I buy and sell web content, and I already use the largest disk which will fit in my machine.)

2: When I had a Nikon D2x, I tested the difference between JPG and RAW, with a high-contrast subject. To my surprise, the only difference I could tell was a subtly higher resolution in the RAW.

3: Also I found that the RAW processing was a clumsy affair. (Photoshop CS1 or maybe CS2.)

I used to switch to JPEG for things I had to knock off quickly, e.g. a lab demo yesterday aft. that I wanted to give images to the prof. this a.m. But with Lightroom's ease of exporting and converting images to JPEG, I just shot it in NEF, did two quick passes to select the best images, and ran the conversion. If I want to go back and massage some of the images later, I can. But I was still able to deliver images in less than 18 hours without ruining my evening.

RAW for any serious work.

JPEG for family/friends parties/events that don't need any post-processing - but most of the time I just don't take photos at such events.

I view raw files as analogous to negatives or chromes, and jpegs as kind of a print or product. My skills as a black and white printer off of negatives improved greatly over the 25 years I did that kind of thing, and going back and reprinting an old negative for better results is similar, IMO, to being able to go back and reprocess a raw file with new skills or better tools (now including Lightroom or Aperture).

All of my professional work is shot raw these days.

"From a properly exposed image, I would doubt even a somewhat educated viewer would see any differences between the output from a raw vs. jpg file. This assumes two properly exposed files and basic adjustments only."

John Gillooly's statement above may be true, but it assumes that the image, as recorded by the camera, is the photographer's preferred interpretation of the scene.

However, as is the case in most serious fine art photographs, the tonal range must be massaged and manipulated to render the scene as the artist wants it to be viewed. That's the weakness of a JPEG...they're an 8-bit file with only 256 levels of gray per color channel. RAW files can have depths of 12-bits (some newer cameras can go to 14-bits), giving more than 4000 gray levels per color. That means, when tonal adjustments are needed or desired, a photographer shooting RAW has many more options than one shooting JPEG.

So, if you're happy with how a sensor and it's accompanying A/D converter represent the scene, then JPEG is fine. If, however, you want maximum ability to interpret a scene as your eye/mind/heart saw it, then RAW is the only way to go.

Chuck

Plenty of news photographers still shoot JPEG, and with good reason -- you don't know turnaround time until you've got a newspaper photo editor for a boss.

There are a couple of occasions that I still use jpg. As mentioned above, the event scenario when I'll be shooting a ton of photos. But there is another. Not only do I use jpg but also sRGB. Talk about limiting. I take quite a few author headshots throughout the span of a year and 99% are delivered as sRGB jpg's. At conferences I'll sometimes have 15-20 minutes from start to finish for headshots.

Lighting is set up, someone stands on the x, I shoot the photos, batch process, and burn a disc all in that time. But I realized a while ago that most of the people I was shooting just don't have any photo editing program. And certainly don't care to learn how to use one. And the jpg is so universal that they can open it in a web browser if nothing else (a fair amount of them barely know how to use a browser). And if they're using Safari well then even the color profile will even be used.

For personal work I have a new 4x5 coming in the mail today! Finally replacing my 1942 Speed Graphic.

I shoot mostly RAW but I have many images that I shot in Jpeg, for one reason or another, that are winners. They look every bit as good as any, originally, RAW image. As long as the highlights aren't totally blown out they look great after visitng Photoshop. I tend to look at those images as scans...not great looking out of the scanner but full of potential. With a large jpeg I couldn't tell the difference between that and a RAW image in a print. Unless I forget, I always save these images out as TIFF, first thing.

I love the ability to shoot RAW + jpeg in camera. More often these days I am asked to e-mail a shoot and I don't want to have the hassle of first converting into jpeg.

When I find a "keeper" I always work in RAW.

I find this similar to film days when the contact sheet was evaluated for content but the negative was the starting point for the final print.

As an amateur, I mostly use RAW+JPEG. This mode has two disadvantages: more space (but memory is so cheap, I don't care), and slightly slower burst mode (so I don't use it when taking bursts of more than two or three shots).

For me, RAW+JPEG has many advantages. I know that every shot I shoot will be available in RAW - with all the advantages that brings, and in JPEG. The JPEGs are useful because they are instant, ready to use digital photos. You can copy them off the card and give them to grandma, send them to the editor, or whatever else. JPEGs are the digital equivalent of a polaroid - not the most flexible, but certainly the most immediately useful.

RAW+JPEG isn't ideal for everybody in every situation, but it really makes sense in a lot of cases. I have never understood why so few people seem to use it, and so few people seem to rant endlessly about it's advantages online (which they seem to do for every other photography related thing).

Properly lit, a jpg is more than sufficient.

It's when you need to radically manipulate an image that RAW can come in handy.

YMWV.

"Serious photographer"? Please.

I have been reading your articles for a long time now and am finally motivated to comment not because of a good post, but an absurd post.

Raw vs. JPEG has very little to do with serious vs. dilettante or amateur vs. professional. I know plenty of both ends of the spectrum that shoot only raw and only JPEG. Raw and JPEG are just choices as part of alternative workflows determined by your shooting conditions and final image use. I know several experienced, successful fashion photographers that turn over disks of out-of-camera JPEGS to clients for use in catalogs and top market magazine ads and get fat checks in return. Color, lighting, exposure, etc. are all tightly controlled in the studio and on location and shooting raw would provide absolutely no benefit beyond theoretical improvements that would be lost long before the image made it to a high speed printing press. Yet, they take their photography no less seriously than anyone reading your columns. They are simply professionals that don't get hung up over the parts of the process that don't provide any added value for the time & storage.

Anyone who thinks that only raw is good enough for "serious" photography and that JPEG is only for high frame rate or snapshots has a severely limited view of the world and what other photographers do and need/don't need.

P.S. Personally, I shoot raw most of the time, but that is because of my specific shooting situations and end use, not because it is automatically the superior choice in all situations.

Well Ctein I think you can see that there is somewhat of a bouquet of perspectives on this.

My own practice and point of view is similar to that of Bron Janulis (above). I used to shoot everything in RAW. But I have begun taking a broader point of view on photography and will now sometimes shoot JPG when I don't expect to fuss much with the images later.

I do still shoot 85-90% RAW. But I think two events represented a real turning point for me on this subject. First was when I converted my life to Adobe's Lightroom and realized that I could now perform the same adjustments on JPGs with the same ease (albeit with a bit less range) as I could on RAW images.

The second "Aha!" moment came several months ago as the result of a practical application of that previous discovery. I had been commissioned to produce images for a book on a large outdoor sculpture installation. Among the selections made by the designers and publisher was a casual shot I had taken many months earlier with my Canon Powershot G7 -- a JPG-only camera. I was nervous, given the image's designed size and prominence in this large book: a double-page, double-truck, full-bleed beauty spread. I needed to perform a variety of edits on the image, some of which I never would have imagined a JPG would endure. But the image looks simply wonderful in the book, every bit as good as its far more expensive and elaborately captured neighbors.

So while I will continue to predominantly use camera RAW to wring the most potential from cameras and images I am no longer such a monotheist on this subject.

I shoot all raw but I also think it tends to make many photogs (myself included, sadly) lazy at times. No effort is given to get a decent white balance, it's enough to get the exposure 'in the ball park', etc. I'm not saying this is everyone or all the time, but I think it is a danger.

I think that many could benefit from setting their camera's to JPG from time to time simply to make sure they can still shoot without the net of Photoshop.

(and yes, I know that film is more like raw's than jpg's; but my point still stands)

Once I got a decent RAW converter (Capture One, then Raw Shooter and now lightroom) I found that I could do things with RAW files much faster than I could with Jpeg. So I'm pretty much 100% RAW these days.

If I didn't work my files I probably wouldn't care.

This whole jpeg vs raw thing has always struck me as being rather funny. You can get great pictures using either file type and I venture to say that nobody could tell which one you used by looking at a very good print from either; certainly not unless they had comparison prints.

For decades I shot 35mm transparency film (mostly Kodachrome 64 daylight, but also some Ektachrome 200 or 400 daylight and tungsten). I worked for a small magazine called "Yankee" in New Hampshire.

When I shot daylight film at different times of the day or under various weather conditions, I just accepted that the color in the pictures was going to be reflective of that time of day or of current weather conditions. Some very particular shooters might add filters to offset the color cast, but I just accepted it and actually liked the different effects that I got.

If I shot in daylight situations with tungsten film in the camera (usually by mistake), I paid the consequences.

Now, with digital capture and raw file capability we can make any picture "perfect" in terms of the color cast or we can make any picture look as though it was shot under "magic" light (ie. late afternoon or early morning light).

I've been shooting with digital cameras exclusively now for about six years, but have only used raw for about the past two years. Mostly I photograph birds and wildlife now and until about two years ago the cameras I used (Nikon D1, Canon d30, d60, and 10d) couldn't process raw files fast enough to allow me to shoot as fast as I needed to shoot to get pictures of my fleeting subjects. Since I bought a Canon 1D Mark II that has changed and I shoot raw almost exclusively. I do like the features that it offers, but I could pretty easily switch back to jpeg.

Dear Markus,

Like the old joke goes, "Vass yu dere, Sharlie?!"

Perhaps you misspoke? You could certainly make a nice photograph of the same subject with any camera. You could not make a photograph that looked similar to mine with a compact or cell phone JPEG. If you tried, you'd have either a chalk-white rock and flared out specular highlights on the wet kelp, or the subtle greens and blues retained in the shadows would go black.

There'd be nothing wrong with that, if that's the kind of photo you wanted. It wasn't what I wanted, and it wasn't what I photographed. Portraying that full range of tones in a direct-sunit scene like this was just the kind of situation that demanded RAW.

pax / Ctein

I shoot my personal work in RAW, definitely see the difference in a 16x20 print. I'm used to slide film so I do very little manipulation. 16 bit RAW just makes better prints, even printing in 8 bit mode.
I have a different problem at work, I'm a medical photographer, the only image considered useable is what comes out of the camera, jpeg. RAW files are suspect because of the out of camera manipulation. I once raised some hackles when I told a group of medical photographers I had incresed the contrast and sharpening in camera. Has anyone gotten around this problem?

Tom

A lot of agencies, newspapers and magazines want jpgs, not raw, either via a CD in the mail or transmitted on the internet.

But, between Lightroom and Photoshop, you can quickly make better jpgs from your raw files than the camera's jpgs. I'm not talking about trying to transmit the last night football shot before the weather report comes in and the newspaper shuts down for the night or racing to press with the shot of the primary winner where seconds count. But, even if you have just a few minutes, most of the folks I know now shoot raw and convert to jpg for transmission.

Dear Folks,

I really appreciate all the people who are taking the time to describe their photography habits to me. That's just the sort of information I was hoping to get.

To the less kind among you, who are dissing other participants... please play nice? I asked the question - essentially, who was eating vanilla ice cream and who was eating chocolate. When people answer a question like that, they'll inevitably tell you WHY they like one better than the other.

No, it's not going to tell us anything we don't know about vanilla or chocolate. But that's not the purpose of this thread. This is like one of Mike's "which lens do you use" polls. There is no wrong answer.

It's OK to correct factual errors, but don't dump on people for talking about what I asked them to talk about. And if it bores you to tears, there's a known fix to that. GO READ SOMETHING ELSE.

So, be nice; play well with others. Thanks.

pax / Ctein

Dear Michael,

Orthography is such fun. RAW started out ostensibly as an acronym from an early camera maker. I say "ostensibly" because there was some belief that they'd started with the name and back-engineered what it stood for. Should it still be capitalized, in deference to (short lived!) 'tradition' or, like laser, is it now just a word regardless of any acronymical heritage it may have possessed?

On the other hand, although JPEG was indisputably an acronym, it's now often written as jpeg. And TIFF and tiff (or tif) seem to be utterly interchangeable.

The seeming inconsistency in my use is because Mike and I are in different camps. He's a "raw" person; I'm a "RAW." So when he edited my column, he replaced 'RAW' with the 'correct' (hah!) form. In my comments, it's another matter.

Given photogs' habit of hanging onto obsolete terms forever (nobody's made Cibachromes in over 15 years or Type C or R prints in half a century), appealing to logic and reason is even less likely to work [smile].

My favorite acronym is still TWAIN.

pax / Ctein

RAW, always. Or RAW+JPG if it's supported and I'm in a huge hurry to get a photo to someone. That's been my practice ever since my good ol' Canon D30 eight years ago. Why not? Storage is cheap and batch processing is almost trivially easy.

I also use CHDK for RAW support on a PowerShot A570. The difference isn't as dramatic as with an SLR, but I think there are definite advantages to RAW even with a point-and-shoot.

I shoot RAW almost all of the time. (Is there a convention for using all caps, RAW, or raw?) When generating comparative or illustrative images for my blog, I often shoot RAW + JPEG and typically use the JPEG on the basis that all the comparative JPEGs have been processed in the same way -- not to mention that it is easier, especially for web publication.

On vacation and for family events, my wife and I may generate hundreds (OK, so we were getting a thousand shots a day of our first grandchild) of RAW files. Instead of using the in-camera JPEG, I use a Photoshop Action to produce my own JPEG. Naturally, I like my own JPEGs better than the in-camera ones. I just start the Action and then go to bed.

The comments to this entry are closed.