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-   -   RAW Format (http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?t=2483)

Slopes09 09-11-2005 10:53 PM

RAW Format
 
In your opinions, how valuable is shooting in RAW? I finally have to get a digital camera for newspaper and this could influence my final decision. Theres several good cameras out there but only one of them shoots in RAW (Finepix S5100, 4.1 megapixels)(I'm leaning toward this one). The other shoots in JPEG(Dimage Z20, 4.9 megapixels).
Edit: Alright, maybe I should have rephrased the question, as I realized that I completely left out the question I wanted to ask. Which is: What are the advantages of shooting in RAW vs. JPEG and vice versa?

jb17kx 09-12-2005 08:39 PM

The advantage of jpeg is not having to convert it. And sometimes conversion is worse than the format you save it to!

hoydie17 09-12-2005 09:07 PM

I'm by no means an expert, as I started shooting in the RAW format about 3 months ago.

The advantages RAW can give you is the ability to see exactly that, a RAW image. Regardless of what settings you have the camera set for, it does not save any of the changes to the picture. Therefore if you adjust your ISO and White Balance, it will save the changes within the metadata, but not to the photo itself. In a few words, you see what the camera sees.

RAW images can also give you much better color depth than a traditional .jpg format. The numbers escape me now, but I believe it's 12 bit color depth for RAW as opposed to 6 or 8 for a .jpg.

I've noticed also that you can underexpose your shots about half a step (stop) or maybe even over-expose half a stop, sometimes more or less. And with the proper type of software, you can compensate for underexposed/overexposed photos. I use a program called Picasa 2.0 and it has been outstanding for many of my pictures. Picasa 2.0 is freeware, just GOOGLE it.

Some of the photos I have here on RP.net were shot as RAW images, and in more than a few, the exposures were off the mark, usually underexposed. But by using RAW format, and Picasa, I was able to "artificially" add the light to enhance the exposure. A normal .jpg would have made that nearly, if not completely impossible without sacrificing image quality.

Biggest disadvantage I've noticed so far, is the file size, an average RAW image is probably between 2.5 and 3.5 MB, mostly they're larger though. Largest I've come out with was a 6.3MB file. I can get between 50 and 70 photos on a 512MB card flash.

As was mentioned previously, the conversion from .RAW/.NEF can be disastrous when moving over to .jpg. Some photos may turn out somewhat grainy, but generally, they turn out as good, or even better than a straight .jpg image. It can be quite time-consuming to make the proper adjustments, so don't shoot RAW if you're one of those types that wants to shoot, download, and post immediately.

Hope that gives you some better info. I'm sure there are many others here with more experience that can give you better insight. But until they respond, here's my 2 cents.

Overall, I'm very pleased with shooting RAW vs .jpg, and now that I've learned a little more about it, not sure I'll ever go back to .jpg.

To get a solid example of some guys here on RP.net who use RAW, check out Peter Furnee, or J. Alex Lang's selection of photos. They shoot, process, and edit almost exclusively in .RAW/.NEF format. Only changing over to .jpg format prior to posting on the internet.

Sean

busyEMT 09-13-2005 12:42 AM

I too am not an expert (but I will waste time any how). I have, however, done some reading about this.

I think you can look at this like slide vs. print film. There are a great deal of difference in quality; the slide (RAW) format is viewed as more of professional, and print (.jpg) not.

Speaking to the loss of quality during conversion, this can happen in the camera or on the computer. It is best to use the software bundled with the camera. RAW or .jpg, the best quality comes with a good shot from the click of the shutter. If you are interested in submitting to magazines (or say, the TRAINS annual contests), they typically want RAW files submitted with a print.

The downside to RAW is speed and size. Both with my Fuji S5000 and Canon 10D, rapid shooting makes processing slower. If you have a 256 or 512mb card, you get less pictures when out.

If you can afford it, I would recommend buying a camera that can do both. I take photos in RAW but landmarks and street signs for documentation in .jpg.

Slopes09 09-13-2005 01:20 AM

Alright thanks alot. I was leaning toward the S5100 anyway becuase it was more inexpensive anyway. If RAW doesn't work out, then I can always just shoot JPEG. But RAW sounds like more of challenge, and it'll add something to shooting that I wouldn't get with JPEG. Anyways, I'm done babbling, thanks again.

hoydie17 09-13-2005 02:23 AM

The beauty of having a camera that can shoot both is that the menus are pretty intuitive and easy to navigate. My D70 for example, takes about 3 moves on the keypad to move from RAW/NEF to .JPG (Fine or Normal).

So depending on the speed of the train you're dealing with, you can select different formats relatively quickly.

My technique has always been to "bracket" my shots. In other words, test out the optimum exposure for your subject prior to it's arrival. Using the histogram/highlights meter to determine if any settings need to be adjusted.

When the train arrives, shoot one or two exposures at your predetermined settings, and then take your f-stop up a notch, shoot again, down two notches shoot again.

This will allow you to see a couple of different exposure levels and have a better chance at getting the photo you want.

Sean

railfanzone 09-14-2005 12:18 PM

Think of RAW vs. JPEG this way: RAW is the digital equivelent of undeveloped film and JPEG is the "film" developed a certian way - as defined by the paramaters in the camera. The advantage of shooting RAW is that you can "develop" that film any number of ways in the future, using different exposure compensation, white balance, saturation, contrast, brightness, etc. adjustments, giving you distinctly different JPEGs in the end.

Needless to say, I shoot 100% RAW - the only time I bother with in-camera JPEGs is if I have to print directly out of the camera. This shot would have been a waste if I left it up to the camera and shot only JPEG:

[photoid=118465]

Because I could set the white balance after the fact, I could remove the cast from the overhead yard lights.

Why limit yourself to what your camera thinks the scene should look like? Shouldn't that be your choice as the photographer?

-Tom

trainmonster 09-14-2005 07:20 PM

Well, since I'm broke and unemployed (I don't fit in with all these rich guys here, try being >50 and getting a job in Pa.) I have no choice but to shoot .jpg. I just do it at the highest quality, convert to .tiff in Photoshop, archive that, edit the .tiff and save it back as a .jpg. Any thoughts on that?

BTW, don't get old.

Rich

railfanzone 09-14-2005 08:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trainmonster
Well, since I'm broke and unemployed (I don't fit in with all these rich guys here, try being >50 and getting a job in Pa.) I have no choice but to shoot .jpg. I just do it at the highest quality, convert to .tiff in Photoshop, archive that, edit the .tiff and save it back as a .jpg. Any thoughts on that?

BTW, don't get old.

Rich

Rich-

That sounds like a pretty good compromise. Saving it to a TIFF right away you're preserving it without any loss of information in the image.

And I may get old, but I'll never grow up... :D

-Tom

Ween 09-14-2005 09:00 PM

Somewhere I thought I picked up that you want to minimize the number of times you save. But what you guys seem to be saying is that the conversion to TIFF, post-processing, and then saving back as JPEG results in less image quality loss than just post-processing as a JPEG right out of the camera. Is that right?

BTW, I have the ability to shoot RAW, but I don't. I'm sure one day when I finally try it out, I'll wish I had a Delorean to go back in time and kick myself for shooting JPEG all this time. I'm just hesitant to make the plunge and try it...

trainmonster 09-14-2005 09:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ween
Somewhere I thought I picked up that you want to minimize the number of times you save. But what you guys seem to be saying is that the conversion to TIFF, post-processing, and then saving back as JPEG results in less image quality loss than just post-processing as a JPEG right out of the camera. Is that right?

BTW, I have the ability to shoot RAW, but I don't. I'm sure one day when I finally try it out, I'll wish I had a Delorean to go back in time and kick myself for shooting JPEG all this time. I'm just hesitant to make the plunge and try it...

Well... at least you have the option. Poverty sucks. I read somewhere that repeated saving of .jpg deteriorates quality and .tiff does not. So I started saving as .tiff based on that.

Rich

busyEMT 09-14-2005 10:04 PM

Class warfare aside, I slowly waded my way into exclusive RAW shooting. I download my RAW files, convert only the ones I like to .jpgs for processing. Once I got the photos I want, the whole folder goes on to DVD.

Are .tiff files universally read by browsers like .jpg files?

railfanzone 09-14-2005 10:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ween
Somewhere I thought I picked up that you want to minimize the number of times you save. But what you guys seem to be saying is that the conversion to TIFF, post-processing, and then saving back as JPEG results in less image quality loss than just post-processing as a JPEG right out of the camera. Is that right?

BTW, I have the ability to shoot RAW, but I don't. I'm sure one day when I finally try it out, I'll wish I had a Delorean to go back in time and kick myself for shooting JPEG all this time. I'm just hesitant to make the plunge and try it...

Only if you're working in JPEG. Once you save to TIFF (or another lossless file format), you can save as many times as you want without any degredation of the image. JPEG, because it's a lossy compression format, will throw out data each time you save it. If you do all your post on the JPEG alone and don't save while you're doing the post, then there's no damage done. If you frequently save while you're donig post, then that's where JPEG will kill you.

As for shooting RAW, just try it out. It requires a little bit more post processing, but the results are well worth it. You can save many more throw-aways than if you worked with JPEG out of the camera alone.
Quote:

Originally Posted by busyEMT
Are .tiff files universally read by browsers like .jpg files?

Nope. Its more of a printing format rather than a web format.

-Tom

nordicus 09-15-2005 12:40 AM

I shoot raw with jpeg preview. The preview gives me a large image to look at and then I only work with the images I like. Here's an example of how you can save a photo, granted these aren't RP quality but...

For what ever reason, I don't remember now, I screwed up the setting on my camera resulting in a nice overexposed photo, the jpeg preview, which is the only thing I would have had if not shooting in raw was this:

http://nordicus.net/images/DSC_1450.jpg

Three words for that: Total Dog S%$!.

However, I wanted to see what I could get with the converson from the raw file:

http://nordicus.net/images/DSC_1450raw.jpg

Now with a little more work this could turn out to be something semi-worthwhile.


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