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JPEG Vs. RAW
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Jan 9, 2019 22:42:23   #
paver
 
Hi,
I am trying to better understand a post processed RAW file vs. a JPEG.

I am a real novice in this area but
as I understand, RAW files are just basically numbers, that until processed with special pp software, can not be viewed through the normal process of viewing an image on a computer.

I beleive, after the pp, the pp software has the ability to convert the said image to a GIFF, or TIFF, etc.

Question is since JPEGs are heavily compressed files, with a lot of lost info. aren't the pp converted JPEGs, lossy as well, throwing away information?

I understand that post processing an image,
gives us the ability to not only edit an image to our liking, but the great ability to save an image, that would be terrible without pp.

What happens to the quality of an image viewed in pp software, vs. a post processed JPEG?

Once again, a true beginner trying to learn.

| Reply
Jan 9, 2019 23:09:51   #
sbohne (a regular here)
 
Man, after nearly 20 years I still can't believe there is confusion on this. Here we go:

A RAW file is all the data from the sensor capture. Your RAW files will need post-processing. When you open them as is, they are flat and lifeless. Some people use software that comes with their camera, others use Photoshop or OnOne Software RAW. Yes, the post-processing software normally permits saving to TIFF, jpg, gif, etc.

Ok, here's the whole "lossy" thing: if I were to save a RAW file as a TIFF, and again as a JPG, and I printed a 16x20" print of each file, you would see no difference in the two. Now, if I opened the JPG, edited it, saved it, and then repeated that process about 100 times, then you MIGHT be able to see a difference in a large print, most likely not on small prints. The amount of "loss" has really been mischaracterized; mostly by so-called "experts." One of these same experts told me that every image should have a Histogram that looks like a mountain range. Really? Even a marshmallow photographed on a white fur rug? Even a black cat on a bed of coal? A gray scarf on a gray background? His answer? "Yes." Well, that's just plain wrong.

If you learn how to make a proper exposure, jpg away. I owned 3 studios. We made hundreds of thousands of captures for portraits, weddings, and commercial photography. None of them RAW. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Every single one, a jpg. And we made prints to size 40x60...and a couple of billboards. Why jpg? Because by the time my competitor across town had opened the RAW files from the wedding he shot on Saturday, I already had the album layout sent to the printers. The reason is TIME. My studios were busy, and people didn't feel like waiting two months for me to do all of the post-processing, and most of them wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between a print from a RAW file (which has to be saved as a jpg or tiff for printing) and a print from a straight jpg if it bit them on the ass.

Worried about blowing an exposure? Look in your manual for the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) function. Depending on the camera, you can make up to 7 bracketed exposures. If you are REALLY anal, most cameras let you save a RAW file AND a jpg.

Nearly EVERY image needs some post-processing DEPENDING on what you are using it for. Taking a quick snapshot of the kids playing in the leaves? It's a memory captured...frozen for posterity. Will it hang in the Guggenheim? Probably not. Even if the color is off a tad, you can probably live with it.

Now, a bride photographed full length in a green room? You're going to need to work the image. You'll most likely have to remove a green color cast. But unless you've absolutely blown it (camera set on manual and you forgot), most images are not going to "be terrible without post-processing."

What happens to the quality of an image viewed in pp software vs a post-processed JPG? Nothing. Opening a file, viewing it, then closing it does nothing to the file. You can open, view, and close a bazillion times, and it will be the same file quality as the first time. Only EDITING and then SAVING causes any "loss." And there is not going to be a lot of that.

I hope this has been helpful.

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 01:09:44   #
rgrenaderphoto (a regular here)
 
paver wrote:
Hi,
I am trying to better understand a post processed RAW file vs. a JPEG.

I am a real novice in this area but
as I understand, RAW files are just basically numbers, that until processed with special pp software, can not be viewed through the normal process of viewing an image on a computer.

I beleive, after the pp, the pp software has the ability to convert the said image to a GIFF, or TIFF, etc.

Question is since JPEGs are heavily compressed files, with a lot of lost info. aren't the pp converted JPEGs, lossy as well, throwing away information?

I understand that post processing an image,
gives us the ability to not only edit an image to our liking, but the great ability to save an image, that would be terrible without pp.

What happens to the quality of an image viewed in pp software, vs. a post processed JPEG?

Once again, a true beginner trying to learn.
Hi, br I am trying to better understand a post pro... (show quote)


The difference is in control of the process. The last poster explained what a RAW file is vs a JPEG, but did not go into the differences in workflow between the two formats.

If you are going to shoot for nothing more than viewing images right out of the camera on a screen, a tablet or the web, it makes sense to shoot in JPEG. If you want to learn the creative process on how to manipulate your images to something different or unique, shoot in RAW. Your options in editing JPEG are limited vs the complete range of editing possibilities with RAW images.

So, shoot in JPEG and learn your camera, lenses and accessories. Learn how to crop, rotate, do minor exposure tweaks. Then, when you feel comfortable, start playing around with RAW files and see the difference the format can make to the end result.

To the second poster's point about quick output, it is valid given his workflow's requirements for quick turnarounds for weddings, etc. I know several AP Stringers and SPorts photographers who only shoot in JPEG because they have a photo editor breathing down their necks for images right now, now, now.

I also know many advanced portrait artists who use the awesome power of RAW for fine exposure and tonal control, retouching that would make your head spin, and composite images that are otherworldly.

Do JPEG now, try RAW later. One great advantage of UHH is the wide range of talent and opinion you can take advantage of.

Have Fun.

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 01:20:01   #
paver
 
Thank you, it has.
No disrespect intended, but I, once again I, have not been shooting digital very long, so the 20 year comment, not necessary, IMHO.
Plus, how many shooters used digital 20 years ago? Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think many. ( Not sure when digital became mainstream)

You have probably seen this topic discussed adnosim, but I am just starting to dip my big toe into the pp world. (plus my wife keeps asking me, now that I have all this fancy gear, why I can't make her wrinkles disapear when I photograph her.)
Please don't tell her I said that, she knows where I keep the hammer!😉

Being new to digital, and with no professional experience to boot, I am trying to get as much
"exposure" (pun intended), as I can, with the time I have left on this big spinning ball.

I really enjoy the hobby, and I learned a long time ago, that in life, and photography, asking knowledgeable people serious questions, is one of the best way to get educated on a topic, but dealing with really smart individuals can really be a pain.
Just ask my wife😃

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 01:25:42   #
sloscheider
 
sbohne wrote:
Man, after nearly 20 years I still can't believe there is confusion on this. Here we go:

Fortunately new photographers are being born every day. Once upon a time you were a newb too :-)

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 02:23:55   #
TonyBrown
 
Well said sbohne couldn’t agree more. I always shoot jpeg.

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 02:37:48   #
billbarcus (a regular here)
 
Guess I'll put my 2 cents worth in. I began shooting with film when there was no such thing as Digital, or digital anything for that matter! No internet, no cell phones, no iPads, no email... no, no. no, NADA anything digital. So, paver, take this humble advice from an older guy who is still in-love with the love of his life; Photography.

I'm a self-taught photographer - pro, semi-pro, photo-journalist, et.al. I started out in photography shooting by the seat of my pants. I turned pro and photo-journalist with film - 35mm, medium and large format landscape cameras - Ansel Adams type.

Well ... so you're new to digital, and congratulations indeed. Well, when I went from 'hard film' to digital it was like stepping out from the controls of a bi-plane Stearman into the cockpit of a Gulf Stream. I kicked, and I squalled, and I threw temper tantrums! But ... I had no choice. The Photo World had suddenly turned Digital and if I was going to stay in business I had to get out of the cockpit of that Stearman, because the clients wanted their 'stuff' Now! Not next week, not tomorrow, but NOW! Like as soon as I landed my airplane and could download to the computer and email them the proofs. Enuff said.

Digital was extremely difficult for me to learn, and 20 years later I'm still learning and still pounding my fists on the table. DO I MISS hard film? Oh yes. Yes, I miss those days when I'd blow 12 rolls of 36 exposure Fujichrome Velvia @ 25 and 50 ASA (ISO it's called now) with a 10-day minimum turn-a-round processing time and then throw the whole lot into the trash and keep just two keepers.

So, 20+ years of digital shooting, weddings, portraits, aerials, landscapes and I have shot one (1) single solitary Raw image. The reason ... just because it was novelty and everybody in the industry was raving about it and saying that if you're a pro man, then you must shoot Raw. So, then I put out $700 bucks out for a piece of circular plastic in disc form called Photoshop 7.0 just so I could shoot and process Raw and be just like the 'Big Boys.' Guess what?

The Raw thing in my humble opinion is pure, Bunk! Plain and simple. And, this thing of shooting RAW and then going into PP and creating an image from an image is NOT photography. It's manipulation of colors, balance, composition, the Rule of Thirds, and all the rest of what real photography is supposed to be. Photography is an ART not a PROCESS. The only thing I have ever used Photoshop was to erase garbage cans and junk cars and other junk from the back yards and the neighbor's front and back yards when I was doing aerials for real estate folks and developers. One doesn't sell a developer aerial shots when there's litter and crap all over the place in the adjacent land.

Well, my friend you can learn Raw all you want, but you might want to take my advice and the gentleman's advice that owned that studio for 20 years ... you know the guy who politely offended you.

Welcome to the world of digital. And, oh yes, I do love it!

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 02:54:51   #
TheShoe (a regular here)
 
paver wrote:
RAW files are just basically numbers, that until processed with special pp software, can not be viewed through the normal process of viewing an image on a computer.

Anything on the computer is just numbers, limited to the digits 0 and 1. The only difference between RAW and JPEG is the way those digits are interpreted by a decoding program. A JPEG is just binary digits (bits); a RAW file is just bits; an SQL Database is just bits. Even an Operating System is just bits. An encoding has arranged the bits in a sequence that a compatible decoding program can be used to make sense of those bits.

The difference between a RAW file and a JPEG that represent the same photo is that some of the data is lost in the encoding and compression of the JPEG; a RAW file, on the other hand, contains all of the data read from the sensor. If you edit a JPEG and save the edited file, more data will be lost when the file is compressed.

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 03:47:36   #
paver
 
Bill, thank you!
I don't know if you read my comment about seeking answers to questions from knowledgeable individuals, but you sir seem not only knowledgeable, but also very experienced.

You know, It seems to me that on this and other photo sites, it is almost sacreligous to profess you only shoot JPEG, and the mention of not pp an image places you in the company of Neadrothals.

I have a copy of GIMP, Elements 13, and several other pp programs.
They are absolutely amazing pieces of software, that in the hands of an experienced user produce unbelievable results.
The main issue is the very steep learning curve
associated with them, and more time in front of the computer, less time with the camera.

I do understand that some professionals require this ability to excell in their business.

It blows me away reading posts from members that talk about using layers, brushes, and, if the black being used is really black!
Way above my pay grade!

I like the fact that you and others have mentioned images that have heavy processing applied, are not "pure", and take away from the "art of the camara".

What is great, is that like life in general is made of the choices we make, and being that photography is a part of our lives,
WE CAN MAKE THE CHOICES THAT MAKE US HAPPY!

That is the bottom line for me, being happy.

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 05:39:27   #
tdekany (a regular here)
 
paver wrote:
Bill, thank you!
I don't know if you read my comment about seeking answers to questions from knowledgeable individuals, but you sir seem not only knowledgeable, but also very experienced.

You know, It seems to me that on this and other photo sites, it is almost sacreligous to profess you only shoot JPEG, and the mention of not pp an image places you in the company of Neadrothals.

I have a copy of GIMP, Elements 13, and several other pp programs.
They are absolutely amazing pieces of software, that in the hands of an experienced user produce unbelievable results.
The main issue is the very steep learning curve
associated with them, and more time in front of the computer, less time with the camera.

I do understand that some professionals require this ability to excell in their business.

It blows me away reading posts from members that talk about using layers, brushes, and, if the black being used is really black!
Way above my pay grade!

I like the fact that you and others have mentioned images that have heavy processing applied, are not "pure", and take away from the "art of the camara".

What is great, is that like life in general is made of the choices we make, and being that photography is a part of our lives,
WE CAN MAKE THE CHOICES THAT MAKE US HAPPY!

That is the bottom line for me, being happy.
Bill, thank you! br I don't know if you read my co... (show quote)


The bottom line for me is the end result. I don’t care how the photo was done. But on the other hand, see if you find a talented photographer, pro or otherwise, who says not to shoot raw.

Does it make sense to adjust the exposure manually but shoot jpeg? Why not let the camera choose the exposure as well? Do what works for you. What and how others do things should be irrelevant. What most of us who lack talent should focus on subject matter, light, and composition.

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 05:39:42   #
WessoJPEG (a regular here)
 
sbohne wrote:
Man, after nearly 20 years I still can't believe there is confusion on this. Here we go:

A RAW file is all the data from the sensor capture. Your RAW files will need post-processing. When you open them as is, they are flat and lifeless. Some people use software that comes with their camera, others use Photoshop or OnOne Software RAW. Yes, the post-processing software normally permits saving to TIFF, jpg, gif, etc.

Ok, here's the whole "lossy" thing: if I were to save a RAW file as a TIFF, and again as a JPG, and I printed a 16x20" print of each file, you would see no difference in the two. Now, if I opened the JPG, edited it, saved it, and then repeated that process about 100 times, then you MIGHT be able to see a difference in a large print, most likely not on small prints. The amount of "loss" has really been mischaracterized; mostly by so-called "experts." One of these same experts told me that every image should have a Histogram that looks like a mountain range. Really? Even a marshmallow photographed on a white fur rug? Even a black cat on a bed of coal? A gray scarf on a gray background? His answer? "Yes." Well, that's just plain wrong.

If you learn how to make a proper exposure, jpg away. I owned 3 studios. We made hundreds of thousands of captures for portraits, weddings, and commercial photography. None of them RAW. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Every single one, a jpg. And we made prints to size 40x60...and a couple of billboards. Why jpg? Because by the time my competitor across town had opened the RAW files from the wedding he shot on Saturday, I already had the album layout sent to the printers. The reason is TIME. My studios were busy, and people didn't feel like waiting two months for me to do all of the post-processing, and most of them wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between a print from a RAW file (which has to be saved as a jpg or tiff for printing) and a print from a straight jpg if it bit them on the ass.

Worried about blowing an exposure? Look in your manual for the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) function. Depending on the camera, you can make up to 7 bracketed exposures. If you are REALLY anal, most cameras let you save a RAW file AND a jpg.

Nearly EVERY image needs some post-processing DEPENDING on what you are using it for. Taking a quick snapshot of the kids playing in the leaves? It's a memory captured...frozen for posterity. Will it hang in the Guggenheim? Probably not. Even if the color is off a tad, you can probably live with it.

Now, a bride photographed full length in a green room? You're going to need to work the image. You'll most likely have to remove a green color cast. But unless you've absolutely blown it (camera set on manual and you forgot), most images are not going to "be terrible without post-processing."

What happens to the quality of an image viewed in pp software vs a post-processed JPG? Nothing. Opening a file, viewing it, then closing it does nothing to the file. You can open, view, and close a bazillion times, and it will be the same file quality as the first time. Only EDITING and then SAVING causes any "loss." And there is not going to be a lot of that.

I hope this has been helpful.
Man, after nearly 20 years I still can't believe t... (show quote)



| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 06:18:28   #
Gene51 (a regular here)
 
paver wrote:
Hi,
I am trying to better understand a post processed RAW file vs. a JPEG.

I am a real novice in this area but
as I understand, RAW files are just basically numbers, that until processed with special pp software, can not be viewed through the normal process of viewing an image on a computer.

I beleive, after the pp, the pp software has the ability to convert the said image to a GIFF, or TIFF, etc.

Question is since JPEGs are heavily compressed files, with a lot of lost info. aren't the pp converted JPEGs, lossy as well, throwing away information?

I understand that post processing an image,
gives us the ability to not only edit an image to our liking, but the great ability to save an image, that would be terrible without pp.

What happens to the quality of an image viewed in pp software, vs. a post processed JPEG?

Once again, a true beginner trying to learn.
Hi, br I am trying to better understand a post pro... (show quote)


Every image coming out of a digital camera begins life as a raw file.

A camera generated jpeg is a converted raw file, that follows the editing rules that you set in your camera. A raw file is unconverted.

The biggest difference between the two is that an image that is converted in the camera may not be optimized for the situation and subject matter, and further adjustments can only be modest in nature, and with a raw file, you get to make the decisions about individual images as you see fit.

The analogy is with camera generated jpegs you get a polaroid or a contact print, and with raw you get a piece of exposed, but undeveloped film.

In my 52 yrs as a photographer, shooting large format in the 70s, even though a decent contact print could look ok, it was never ever good enough for publication, or delivery to a client. There is a lot of mythology surrounding this, but the best looking images today have been most certainly touched by post processing, and in many cases have begun life as raw files.

Another major difference is purely mathematical - plain and simple, raw files have greater dynamic range, and because they have not had ham-handed processing (in camera "generic" conversion), dynamic range is mostly preserved, as are soft and subtle tonal and color transitions. You are less likely to see "banding" and other artifacts when using raw files and converting them yourself, compared to using a jpeg.

There is no "bunk" or nonsense here. It is easily demonstrated, and if you do a deep dive on the internet you will find the why. Also, I would be suspicious of someone's advice who claims to have shot only one raw file ever - he clearly lacks the experience and understanding that would let him provide an informed opinion.

Put another way, would you take advice about where to eat the best porterhouse steak in town from a vegan?

I've been shooting digital since 2000, and raw since 2006. On a couple of occasions I have accidentally shot jpegs, and no, the results were not nearly as good as if I had shot the images as raw. Also, I post process 100% of my images - and on occasion, those of others (I used to do fashion retouching for a friend) - so my post processing skills are ok. I can do much more when I start off with a properly exposed raw file in terms of detail, sharpness, tonal range etc. Under controlled circumstances - shooting in a studio where you have 100% control over the light and shadow, you can get similar results from a camera-generated jpeg and one that is individually converted from raw - so often only minor adjustments are necessary. But if you are a hobbyist or work in the trade where you are making images that are handed over to corporate graphics departments to develop copy for publications, product literature, packaging imagery, etc - raw is a standard in the industry.

Here is a little background that explains the dynamic range difference between raw and camera generated jpeg.

https://www.dpreview.com/articles/4653441881/bit-depth-is-about-dynamic-range-not-the-number-of-colors-you-get-to-capture

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 06:28:56   #
catchlight..
 
Raw is the recipe book with endless possibilities, or the entire DNA/ data available at any time.

Jpeg is the result of the ingredients and a finished product... from in camera or after post possessing.

JPEG only contains information from the ingredients that were selected from the original recipe ...

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 07:41:32   #
Carusoswi
 
Nothing wrong with asking for advice here, but, unlike the old days when shooting with film, you can easily shoot images on your camera that will provide information with which you can confirm what works with you.

For instance, try capturing a scene greatly underexposed (this happens to me when, after shutting down my camera and flash, I power up the camera and forget to power up the flash, or when shooting "rapid" sequences, the flash is not ready for a subsequent shot).

Capture one image in RAW and another in JPEG (or, if your camera supports it, shoot one image saved in RAW+JPEG).

Then, since you have Gimp, try processing both images.

If you allow Gimp to auto expose those images, you will be surprised at how easy it is to recover (or correct) the exposure using the RAW file.

I am an old film guy. Gimp (or Photoshop) do much to enhance old film images, but, because the data save on a film image is fixed, a severely underexposed film image does not contain the data to allow for full correction of underexposed areas.

I love film. For me, it has special characteristics which I value.

I love digital because it provides instant feedback (which I often use to fine tune my film captures), and, if shooting in RAW, allows a degree of forgiveness when you mess up with your camera/flash settings.

My digital and film cameras both allow for TTL HSS (high speed sync) flash when shooting outdoors. I shot a series of shots of my grandson using this system on my digital camera, but did not bother to check the results by chimping at that time.

In reviewing the shots, all were severely overexposed (because I had metering set to spot).

Fortunately, I had shot in RAW, and used Gimp (I love Gimp, but also subscribe to Adobe CC) to recover the overexposed areas. I doubt that I would have been successful using JPEG files.

There is a great degree of flexibility in correcting jpg files, but nowhere near the flexibility afforded by RAW files. I am always amazed that, when my flash doesn't fire (because it isn't turned-on or hasn't recycled), the captured image can be recovered, and, often, the non-flash image is better than one captured with flash active.

No single response will adequately answer your question. What I recommend may not suit your shooting style. The really good news is that, while I love film, digital affords you the opportunity to experiment on your own to see what works, what doesn't, which capture format offers you the flexibily in post that satisfies your needs, etc.

Go for it. Shoot in RAW, then in JPG, or, if possible on your system, shoot in RAW+JPEG.

Work with your files in Gimp to determine for yourself which format offers the most flexible adjustments, and proceed confident in your own conclusions.

Sometimes, when having shot in JPEG+RAW, I find that the JPEG file exceeds anything I can do with the RAW file. In that case, I use the JPEG file.

In most situations, however, I find that the RAW file gives me the most flexibility for making adjustments in post. Only you can assess and answer which file systems best serves your needs.

If you can shoot important events in both formats, and if you save both types of files, you can do now what you feel works best for you, but, if your development in this glorious pastime finds you preferring a different approach, you can always go back and re-process the RAW files to achieve what may be a more rewarding result.

We really did not/do not have this luxury when shooting film.

Good luck and happy shooting.

Caruso

| Reply
Jan 10, 2019 07:54:48   #
Longshadow (a regular here)
 
catchlight.. wrote:
Raw is the recipe book with endless possibilities, or the entire DNA/ data available at any time.

Jpeg is the result of the ingredients and a finished product... from in camera or after post possessing.

JPEG only contains information from the ingredients that were selected from the original recipe ...



Good analogy.

| Reply
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