Ugly Hedgehog® - Photography Forum
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Jan 10, 2019 07:58:04   #
marycar53 Loc: Tuscumbia Al
I shoot RAW and use the Canon software to upload to my computer, and do any processing to JPEG for the ones I keep.

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Jan 10, 2019 08:05:48   #
I am not a pro photographer, but I am a scientist and understand light. All of the previous replies have valid points. So let me summarize. Shooting RAW files will allow you to produce the same image as if you shoot in JPEG. Shooting JPEG files will not allow you to produce the same image(s) that shooting in RAW will. The ONLY advantage that shooting in JPEG gives you is the time advantage. If you shoot in a studio and can control every aspect of your lighting then you can certainly shoot in JPEG. If you have to shoot a lot of images with quick turnaround then JPEG may be better (although) you can convert to JPEG with preset pp very quickly. If you are looking for the ONE exceptional image of many subjects and are willing to spend some time to get it, shoot RAW for the creative control of exposure of different areas of the image, contrast, color correction, etc., etc. Not sure why so many on this forum are so prejudiced against pp, after all there was a lot of pp in the old film days.

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Jan 10, 2019 08:08:39   #
WessoJPEG Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio
We all know what it is.😂👍

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Jan 10, 2019 08:20:35   #
mborn Loc: Massachusetts
When I was shooting film part of the fun was working in the darkroom and improving the image. Now with digital I do the same except sitting in front of the computer without the chemicals. Same process working with a negative/RAW file

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Jan 10, 2019 08:24:51   #
connievloutely Loc: Quaker State (PA)

I am a Canon user and shoot raw.

I just finish a week old email exchange with Canon support and it turns that it is best to shoot raw.

I use the Canon DPP 4 to convert my RAW file to a TIFF file. The reason I use Canon's DPP 4 program is, Canon knows best how to do the conversion. All the other RAW converter are reversed engineered.

When converting the file from raw to TIFF DPP4 allows you to pick the colors space you want, sRGB or Adobe RGB. sRGB if picture going to be veiwed on a electronic device or Adobe RGB if you are going to print your picture.

Then there is the whole issue of your monitor calibration. I would say the safest color space is sRGB and then convert TIFF file to a JPEG after all adjustments are made in the RAW converter.

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Jan 10, 2019 08:25:56   #
Fotomacher Loc: Toronto
THINK - a RAW file is like a first generation film negative. A JPG file is like a negative made from a print of the image. (Called an inter-negative) It will be second generation at best and if you were to repeat that process of printing and making new inter-negatives, you will “lose” information.

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Jan 10, 2019 08:46:25   #
f8lee Loc: New Mexico
TheShoe wrote:
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.
Anything on the computer is just numbers, limited ... (show quote)

At its core, this is wrong. There is a specific difference between the two file types, despite the fact that they are, of course, encoded in binary format.

It is an incorrect "explanation" in that a raw file (no capitalization needed) is not an image at all until it is "de-mosaiced", whereas a JPEG (or TIF or PNG or other) file is actually an image file. This makes sense once you understand how a digital sensor works.

Think of a digital image as a matrix of rows and columns, where an array of 6000 by 4000 would yield 24 million "dots" or pixels (picture elements). An image file consists of pixels that have clearly specified colors in terms of Red, Green and Blue values (RGB). So, for each pixel of an image file, there is a precise RGB value. If the designated color for the pixel located at position100,100 were, say, 0, 200, 0 (for the R,G,B values) then that dot is going to be a certain shade of green. Anytime it is displayed that exact same shade of green should appear, as it is determined by looking up on a standard table to what color that specific combination of RGB values corresponds.

A raw file is the stream of data that comes from the sensor. With a few exceptions (Leica's monochrome, Foveon) ALL digital sensors, from that new Hasselblad to your smart phone camera, work as follows: while they too have a matrix of dots (called photo sites), each of those photo sites is covered with a colored filter that is either Red, Green or Blue. This is because the sensor chip itself is natively "color blind", each photo site can only register how many photons have struck it when exposed. The pattern of those colored filters (called the Bayer pattern) is R-G-G-B (for upper left, upper right,, lower left, lower right) - and there are twice as many green filters as there are red or blue because the human eye is more sensitive to green. Fuji's X-Trans chip uses a different pattern, but the concept is the same.

When an exposure is made, the data captured by the imaging chip is a bunch of values that represent how many photons hit each photo site - and those measurements are all based on the light that made it through those filters. As a thought experiment, imagine a subject that was only pure blue - the photo sites with red and green filters above them would not register anything! Lots of black gaps in that file, eh?

So a raw file first needs to be rejiggered to become a true image file, where each pixel has a stated RGB value. On the raw file, each spot has only an R OR a B OR a G value, but they are not blended. That process is called de-mosaicing, and the output of the process is the resultant image. Obviously there are a lot of calculations required to do this, but that's what the computer built into the camera (or phone) does. Cameras that only output JPEG do in fact create raw files to start with (there is no other option) but they quickly do the calculations and discard the raw file when the JPEG is created.

So, unlike a JPEG or TIF etc. file, the computer processing a raw file must interpret what actual color should appear at a given pixel, based on the readings made from the surrounding photo sites. There is no absolute lookup table, as there is for image file RGB values, to decide what color purple a given spot should be if one adjacent red reading was 500, another from the blue filter was 644 and yet another from a green filter spot was 42, or whatever. For those who say "yeah but you need a computer to interpret" any digital file!” I say that is actually incorrect - where a JPG specifies a unique and specific RGB value (and leaves it to the hardware drivers and gear to not screw it up) the various demosaicing programs can actually result in different outputs from the same original raw file. Apple includes demosaicing software in OS X, but DxO, Phase One's Capture One, Adobe and others (including the camera manufacturers themselves) all have their own demosaicing software. While different software won't completely change the look of a given image, the subtle tonalities can well be different if you take an image and process it with C1 and compare that to the same raw file run through Adobe Lightroom.

By the bye, since you CANNOT see a raw image what you are looking at (on the back of the camera when you chimp, or on a computer screen) is a demosaiced image that has been interpreted by a computer, be it in the camera or on your desktop.

And THAT is the difference between a raw and JPEG file.

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Jan 10, 2019 08:51:41   #
sumo Loc: Pasadena TX & San Antonio
billbarcus wrote:
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, 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!
Guess I'll put my 2 cents worth in. I began shooti... (show quote)

❤️ ❤️ 💕 this answer

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Jan 10, 2019 09:05:37   #
jerryc41 Loc: Catskill Mts of NY
A generally nice assortment of answers, as usual. I always shoot raw because I like processing - which is necessary with raw. JPEG is good for producing an acceptable image immediately.

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Jan 10, 2019 09:09:09   #
RichieC Loc: Adirondacks
Been reading this forum for many years, and newbies ask the same questions most or all of us did when we first arrived... 'Some' lose track of this and assume it is the same people asking the old question.

As others have said, your camera shoots raw, then processes it into a jpeg.

RAW is an uncompressed lossless format- everythign that was captured is retained- good or bad. There are others- files sizes are large ( TIFF, native PSD formats are some example of lossless formats- that compress). RAW files unadjusted at all look awful - RAW require some PP work- even displaying them in Photoshop (.psd) have had some adjustments made by the program just to view it as no monitor works in 14 bits.

JPEG is a "lossfull" compression algorithm- just saving in it loses information because that is the primary reason for its existence. Many programs accept the format - like HTML, word, your phone, etc.

JPEG is just a very widely supported compression algorithm. It was designed to save memory space , when that was a very expensive premium, by averaging and grouping colors of pixels that are similar and then drops the digital number of these RAW pixels- which represents the color, from 12 or 14 bits across three channels, and drops them to 8... (the bigger the bit depth number, the more accurate the color) this saves a tremendous amount of memory space. The bit depth is a logarithmic scale (8 bit = 256 tones per pixel- total possible tomes = 16.78 million vs. 14 bit = 16,383 tones per channel = 4.39 trillion possible tones), so this alone offers profound savings in memory, and the amount of pixel averaging ( high quality vs low) is controllable- but no matter your setting, some pixel averaging is taking place. In a final jpeg, you can't see these nuances of pixels color... but these slight differences are retained in a RAW negative- thus they are available to enhance in post production. Things like details in what appears to be blownout highlights and plugged shadows, midtone details etc. etc.

So JPEG vs RAW is really a workflow question. DO you want to be in control of converting the digital negative to a format you choose... or want the camera to do it mindlessly ( based on pretty darn good assumptions) for you.

In a nutshell. Raw is a digital negative, JPEG is a print. You can PP a jpeg, but lots of nuances have been lost. IF you didn;t like a print in the old days, you re-load the negative in the enlarger..I shoot both at once, when I come across a situation that needs adjustment- I use the raw.

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Jan 10, 2019 09:09:11   #
Ok, now that I have read all of these opinions, I’m exhausted, and late for work!

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Jan 10, 2019 09:16:55   #
traderjohn Loc: New York City
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)

"Once again, a true beginner trying to learn." What didn't you understand regarding his last sentence? This is NEW for him. Why did you use that opening sentence? He is asking for help if you do not want to offer it without some disparaging remark, move on.

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Jan 10, 2019 09:22:02   #
DirtFarmer Loc: Way too close to New York City
paver wrote:
I am trying to better understand a post processed RAW file vs. a JPEG...

A procedural preliminary:
If you reply to someone, use "Quote reply" instead of "Reply". That will indicate to whom you are replying (not always obvious from the context).

I'll add my cent and a half to the discussion.

The raw file is what comes directly from the sensor (noted elsewhere above). Since the sensor elements don't inherently include color information, each element has a filter in front of it to select a color, red, green, or blue. So the sensor shows you the intensity of those colors at each pixel. Displaying that pixel map would probably not give you a really good photo. So the conversion from raw to image (jpg, tif, png, bmp, whatever) includes interpolation of the colors based on the information from nearby pixels to get an image with red, green, and blue values at each pixel.

That conversion can be done with a lot of different assumptions about the weighting of the values in the interpolation. That's where the postprocessing comes in. Your camera has a computer in it that will do that conversion based on settings you enter when you set up the camera or use a specific camera mode. The camera will then produce a jpg from the raw data based on the parameters defined by the camera settings. (Some cameras can produce tif files instead of jpg). If you have the camera save a raw file instead of just a jpg, you can put those data into a postprocessing program, which allows you to modify the parameters used to generate the image from the sensor data. You can do that after the photo has been taken.

So if you generate a jpg with your camera, that jpg is produced with the parameters that are set into your camera. If you generate a raw file and postprocess it you can change those parameters when you do the postprocessing. That doesn't mean you can't change the parameters from a jpg, but the jpg is an 8 bit image (giving you 256 levels of intensity) while the raw data are 12 or 14 bits (giving you over 16,000 levels of intensity) so you get finer control from the raw data.

I should also note that while jpg is a compressed format, the degree of compression is variable. So calling it a "heavily compressed" file is not necessarily accurate. Many postprocessing programs allow you to control the degree of compression on output. So you can have a jpg that is lightly compressed (which will produce a large file) or highly compressed (giving you a small file). The degree of compression does affect the quality of the image, but you will probably only see compression degradation on the really highly compressed files. Most cameras and postprocessing programs will produce a medium to low compression image which will be usable for most purposes.

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Jan 10, 2019 09:44:56   #
Wow! If my reply offended you, are a really delicate flower! You need to butch up. My comment was not directed at you, but the fact that after nearly 20 years that there is still confusion on this. I don't agree that shooting in RAW is "bunk." You absolutely have more control over your images. And yes, digital HAS been around for nearly 20 years now. I wrote an article on this very topic nearly 20 years ago for Sue Chastain's photo page on

As long as we're busting myths, you didn't mention this but I still see it today: your file is NOT sharper in RAW. Years ago, Nikon's propriety software had a flaw that produced slightly soft jpgs, and the "RAW ONLY NEVER JPG" cult jumped on this with both feet.

I'm not anti RAW. I just never used it because I'm experienced enough to read a histogram and I know I'll be doing some post processing. I just didn't have time to wait 90 seconds for each file to open when I was staring at 300 images taken at a wedding. That time may be shorter today.

I will take issue with a previous poster: shooting in RAW does NOT permit a photographer to do "amazing retouching." If I am wrong, I'll admit it... If you can explain to me how shooting in RAW makes "amazing retouching" possible.

Look, if you want to shoot RAW, DO IT, especially if you enjoy fiddling with the software. But a word of advice: do your research and LEARN HOW TO DO IT CORRECTLY. Many photographers brag about shooting RAW, but they are not skilled at the post. I had a local competitor who's best RAW file output wasn't as good as my worst jpg.

Most of all, have fun.

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Jan 10, 2019 09:47:14   #
DirtFarmer Loc: Way too close to New York City
sbohne wrote:
... yes, digital HAS been around for nearly 20 years now...

I used a digital camera around 1996. I bought my first digital camera in 1998.

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