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Author Topic: Yeah, but...JPG Follies  (Read 8313 times)
John Camp
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« on: November 21, 2007, 07:05:46 PM »
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I've always shot RAW because everybody agrees you can make more thorough adjustments, as Michael demonstrates in his front-page article. As I read the article, this question popped into my head: "What if you really work at it, and take a great deal of care with your exposure, setting your white balance, and so on? Would you then get JPGs whose cake is not so baked that you couldn't adjust them to be essentially as good as RAWs?" If you can, then that would seem to be a strong argument for shooting JPG at least in some situations (running short of card space, running short of time to get the photos back to the office by phone, etc.)

Would that be even more true, where you were shooting in a studio where the lights can be minutely adjusted, and you may have to download and manipulate hundreds or thousands of shots? In other words, if you can manipulate the external conditions thoroughly enough, does it obviate the need for RAW, or make it even *desirable* to work in JPG?

JC
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Don Libby
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2007, 07:23:23 PM »
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Just to add on to what John mentions above ...

Now that CS3 has the capability of opening both RAW and JPEG in ACR does that bring the two closer?

I don't have the answer to that but for me I'll continue to shoot RAW.

don
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walter.sk
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2007, 07:37:25 PM »
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The only times in the last few years that I have shot Jpeg were after filling a CF card and needing to get another quick shot that I would lose if I took the time to change cards.  I can squeeze one or two Jpegs on a "full" card.

I often make several size prints from one image, for fine art purposes.  I like to make the choices of how, how much and when to sharpen, to use a deconvolution program such as Focus Magic, to use or not to use noise reduction, etc, dependent on the size of the final image.  In other words, when the camera makes all the preconversion decisions, the image may be fine but not necessarily the way I would convert the data.

In addition, converting to 16-bit color in ProPhoto RGB gives me still more opportunities to fashion the final result to my liking.  But then I used to spend hours in the darkroom dodging, burning and otherwise shaping the results in B&W prints.

It all depends on what you want from the picture.  Maybe a good parallel would be those who shoot color slides and take them to a good lab with instructions on how to process them, rather than just sending them off to the corner drugstore.

One last thing:  over the years, RAW processors have improved tremendously.  I fully believe that some of my best-processed images will be surpassed in the future with further improvements in RAW processing, and I would like to have the raw data at hand at that time.

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I've always shot RAW because everybody agrees you can make more thorough adjustments, as Michael demonstrates in his front-page article. As I read the article, this question popped into my head: "What if you really work at it, and take a great deal of care with your exposure, setting your white balance, and so on? Would you then get JPGs whose cake is not so baked that you couldn't adjust them to be essentially as good as RAWs?" If you can, then that would seem to be a strong argument for shooting JPG at least in some situations (running short of card space, running short of time to get the photos back to the office by phone, etc.)

Would that be even more true, where you were shooting in a studio where the lights can be minutely adjusted, and you may have to download and manipulate hundreds or thousands of shots? In other words, if you can manipulate the external conditions thoroughly enough, does it obviate the need for RAW, or make it even *desirable* to work in JPG?

JC
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brianrpatterson
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2007, 07:51:46 PM »
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Having shot weddings in Fine JPG mode to 'save time' on the computer - then only to wish I had more 'room' to adjust bordeline images, I can't see a time advantage in RAW vs. JPG postprocessing.

With a reasonably fast computer and a proven workflow, it takes little more time to go with RAW out of the can, uh... card. Plus, memory is so cheap owning the space you need isn't an issue anymore either.

Add the aforementioned comments on ProPhoto color space, salvaging highlight and shadow areas, and the occassional uprez needed, and I'll never shoot JPG originals again - unless I'm running short on card space...
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Don Libby
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2007, 09:00:37 PM »
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Walter brings up a valid point regarding improvements in RAW processing.  I’m very glad to have the historical advantage of the RAW file that was shot some years ago and either reworked or just worked on in the current version.  Amazing progress over what was available to us just three years ago.
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meyerweb
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2007, 09:04:46 PM »
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As with anything else, there's a time and place for anything. If I'm shooting landscapes, or portraits, or other things where quality is paramount, then RAW is obviously the way to go.

If I'm shooting 1000 pictures of a football game, or a youth soccer tournament, there's no way I'm going to take the time to RAW process all of those. There's a time for RAW and a time for JPG.

Bob

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Walter brings up a valid point regarding improvements in RAW processing.  I’m very glad to have the historical advantage of the RAW file that was shot some years ago and either reworked or just worked on in the current version.  Amazing progress over what was available to us just three years ago.
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2007, 10:34:41 AM »
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As with anything else, there's a time and place for anything. If I'm shooting landscapes, or portraits, or other things where quality is paramount, then RAW is obviously the way to go.

If I'm shooting 1000 pictures of a football game, or a youth soccer tournament, there's no way I'm going to take the time to RAW process all of those. There's a time for RAW and a time for JPG.

Bob
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To be honest I've never shot a jpg on my 5D, but I've seen the jpg output of other dslrs and don't really want to go there. Now that Lightroom is integrated into my workflow I don't see any great difference in effort and the output choices make it well worthwhile.

Plus, even at the soccer tournament you might shoot a winner!
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macgyver
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2007, 01:02:59 PM »
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As with anything else, there's a time and place for anything. If I'm shooting landscapes, or portraits, or other things where quality is paramount, then RAW is obviously the way to go.

If I'm shooting 1000 pictures of a football game, or a youth soccer tournament, there's no way I'm going to take the time to RAW process all of those. There's a time for RAW and a time for JPG.

Bob
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In the poorly lit sports venues I shoot in I can't stand not to shoot raw.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2007, 02:49:02 AM »
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With the batch adjustment & processing capabilities of RAW converters, there's not any good argument for JPEGs unless shooting & processing speed is at an extreme premium. The minute or two it takes to tweak white balance and other settings isn't generally an issue because you can then apply those settings to many images; on a per-image basis the time inventment is minimal. And batch processing (to create web JPEGS or whatever) can usually be done while one is either sleeping or productively occupied elsewhere, so that time isn't generally an issue, either.

The only time I've ever shot JPEGs professionally was at a horse show during an event where 25 horses and riders are riding in circles in the ring at the same time and you have maybe 5 minutes to get salable shots of each, which means getting the exactly right portion of the movement of the horse, horse and rider both exhibiting proper form and good facial expressions, not being obscured by dust clouds or other horses and riders, etc. All this requires split-second timing and a bit of luck, and even shooting JPEGs with a 1D-MkII it is easy to run into buffer issues if you're not careful. But for everything else, I shoot RAW.
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mahleu
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2007, 04:57:46 AM »
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If I'm shooting 1000 pictures of a football game, or a youth soccer tournament, there's no way I'm going to take the time to RAW process all of those. There's a time for RAW and a time for JPG.

Bob
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Under that kind of constant lighting I find it much faster to process my RAWs as I can simply apply a set of adjustments to everything and convert them all with little need for any further editing.
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CatOne
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2007, 10:25:18 AM »
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Under that kind of constant lighting I find it much faster to process my RAWs as I can simply apply a set of adjustments to everything and convert them all with little need for any further editing.
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Yeah LR could apply adjustments to 500 photos and export them all as JPEGs in a few minutes, maximum. Given it sorta makes sense to at least LOOK at each of them (to, say, evaluate focus) I just don't see much time advantage if you use the right tools.  This is definitely somewhere that the new (Aperture and Lightroom) tools make a HUGE difference in improving the RAW workflow.
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meyerweb
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2007, 09:34:37 PM »
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Where do you get the idea that a soccer tournament has constant lighting?  Aside from changing conditions due to cloud movements, etc. a major tournament can go from 7am to 7 pm over 2 or 3 days.  Lot's of lighting changes possible under those conditions.

Even one football or soccer game can go from sun to rain (or more likely, moderate overcast to heavy rain) during the course of a game.
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dobson
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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2007, 10:01:14 PM »
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I think that one reason people consider .jpeg "faster" is that you simply can't work with it as much on a computer. People shooting .jpeg are not tempted to spend hours improving a photo with pretty much fixed content.
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Provokot
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« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2007, 11:05:19 AM »
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I'll never shoot JPEG again. Ever.  I confess that I used to shot JPEG all the time - and to good effect - but having decided to embrace RAW and having seen how much Lightroom can do for a RAW image, I now have many thousands of images  entitled "Regret.JPG".
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digitaldog
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2007, 11:18:28 AM »
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Now that CS3 has the capability of opening both RAW and JPEG in ACR does that bring the two closer?
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Not at all. Its not the opening of the data, its how the data is being handled. JPEG (or any rendered image) is representing a baked color and tone appearance. Its difficult, and often impossible to remove the ingredients and rebake this effect.

A useful primer is here:

[a href=\"http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/family/prophotographer/pdfs/pscs3_renderprint.pdf]http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/p...renderprint.pdf[/url]
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2007, 01:04:26 PM »
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Over the past couple of yeast I've noticed a pattern to the "debate" over RAW vs JPG.  The folks in the "JPG is fine" camp had, as far as I could tell, never spent any significant chunk of time working with RAW - they all "anticipated" issues there either aren't there any more (ie clunky workflow) or never took the time to get good at it.  The simple question to ask some who says JPG is OK, is how many RAWs have they processed?  Any less than 1 - 2K and credibility = 0.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2007, 03:48:58 PM »
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I agree with everything being said here, and shoot raw 100% of the time. Having said that I prefer the JPEG rendering in Michael's first example (the motorcycle). I wasn't there so I don't know which is more accurate, but I find the warmer color balance in the JPEG more pleasing.
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michael
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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2007, 04:05:59 PM »
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Jeff, you've missed the point.

This is not about producing an esthetically pleasing image. It was done to simply show using an extreeme example what was possible and what was not possible using both raw and JPG files.

Michael

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I agree with everything being said here, and shoot raw 100% of the time. Having said that I prefer the JPEG rendering in Michael's first example (the motorcycle). I wasn't there so I don't know which is more accurate, but I find the warmer color balance in the JPEG more pleasing.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2007, 04:23:24 PM »
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Where do you get the idea that a soccer tournament has constant lighting?  Aside from changing conditions due to cloud movements, etc. a major tournament can go from 7am to 7 pm over 2 or 3 days.  Lot's of lighting changes possible under those conditions.

Even one football or soccer game can go from sun to rain (or more likely, moderate overcast to heavy rain) during the course of a game.

That doesn't alter the fact that once can still set a particular WB and apply that to dozens or hundreds of images (say all the shots of one game). The consistency you get is typically better than camera JPEGs with auto WB, and certainly no worse than what one would get manually setting WB in-camera. Shooting JPEG, you have to correctly guess WB, the appropriate contrast and tone curve, and all color settings correctly before you take the shot.  When shooting RAW, all you have to worry about while shooting is getting focus and exposure right, and everything else can be tweaked to taste.

I've shot many concerts, weddings, and other events where I've exposed more than 1000 frames during the event, and going through the shots and tweaking WB and other settings to create the web gallery has never taken more than 30 minutes, and that was for an event where there were indoor and outdoor activities and I had to divide the images into several groups, each with their own WB settings. Once that is done, then I simply start the web gallery creator and go to bed, and the client has the gallery to view online the next morning.

Overall, RAW is a huge time saver, because the batch WB tweaking done prior to creating the gallery is one less step I need to worry about when processing the client selects for printing. The greater color accuracy and level of control over the finished product means far less time spent fixing what the camera didn't get right if I had shot JPEG, and the flexibility of RAW processing saves a lot of time in situations where Murphy intruded and something was shot with less-than-optimal settings. The only slow part of the process (generating the preview JPEGS from the RAWs) can be done either at night while you are asleep, or on a separate machine that can be occupied with that task while you are on a different machine doing something else.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2007, 04:38:09 PM »
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Jeff, you've missed the point.
I didn't miss your point, and I understand quite well the benefits of raw processing. I just think you chose a counter-productive example. If a JPEG shooter who doesn't know much about raw looks at your first example, it might very well reinforce their opinion that JPEG is just fine.

A better example might have been shooting raw + jpeg with the camera set to tungsten WB and then showing how easy it is to fix on the raw file to produce a pleasing result.

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This is not about producing an esthetically pleasing image. It was done to simply show using an extreeme example what was possible and what was not possible using both raw and JPG files.
But the results do matter to most of us, it's all about the end result. If a particular edit is "better" in theory but produces undesirable results, is that really an advantageous outcome?
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