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RAW format for hobby-level use?

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by haydnw, Nov 26, 2003.

  1. haydnw

    haydnw
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    Hi

    I am looking at getting my first digital camera, and have a quick question about the RAW format vs JPEG format.

    From what I have read, the RAW format stores the most information and is most suitable for high-quality perfectionist level pictures. JPEGs are compressed and so make smaller files but the nature of the JPEG compression means that some image info is lost. I'm fine to here!

    Someone somewhere wrote that the RAW format needs a lot of processing before it is suitable to be used for printing out. Is this true? I am looking at buying a Fujifilm S7000, which apparently does not have variable quality settings for JPEGs. I want to be able to print my pictures out but don't want to use RAW if it needs a lot of processing before printing. Similarly I don't want to use the only JPEG setting available on the S7000 as it apparently uses a high compression level and I don't want a loss of image quality. So I'm between a rock and a hard place if RAW is no use!

    Any info people can provide would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Haydn
     
  2. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    From what I gather, in order to get RAW images into a 'printable' condition, you MUST play around with all the various settings such as colour, hue, contrast etc. etc. If you are interested this site has done some comparisons between RAW and JPG, together with adjustments they had to make to the RAW images:-

    http://www.ics.uci.edu/~eppstein/pix/rawvsjpg/

    I've commented before on another thread about Fuji's reluctance to have variable levels of JPEG compression on their cameras. I've got a Finepix 2800 and in general, the photos produced are very good, but you can spot, especially when zooming and cropping, jpeg artifacts caused by the high compression ratio used. As you are obviously looking at a 'higher end' camera, why not look at the Minolta A1. This gives you a choice of RAW, TIF, and 3 levels of JPEG compression (Extra Fine, Fine and Normal). this is the camera I chose over the Fuji S7000 and have been pleased with the results so far. You can set the camera to fully automatic so that it is essentially a 'point and shoot' camera, or you can play around with almost all the settings you fancy and do everything on full manual. I was also particularly impressed with the LCD Screen. On my Fuji, when it was too bright, I had great difficulty in seeing the screen, but I've had no problem at all with the Minolta.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Miggs

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    The raw image has to be tweaked but by how much depends on the individual image and the conditions is was shot in. As for jpegs, the loss is minimal. I load my images into PS6 then save them as tiff files then make any alterations then, so the loss of quality stops there. I hope this is on help to you......miggs
     
  4. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    I have a Fuji S2 Pro and I shoot mainly in RAW mode. Fuji supply a converter with the camera which is their 'LE' version - basically it batch converts RAW files into 8bit TIFFs. There are no settings. If I do a side by side comparison of the highest quality JPEG and a RAW converted to TIFF, there is very little difference. I use RAW as it can be a boon when doing large hikes in levels. I have shot, converted and printed RAW files without any modification.

    Here are some example shots:

    http://www.christophergeary.co.uk/thailand/general/sun3.htm

    http://www.christophergeary.co.uk/thailand/general/karenwoman2.htm

    These are, of course, shown in jpeg form but they are as they would be if you were viewing the TIFF version (only smaller). I cannot be doing with a process that is unneccessarily complicated (i can barely type it :D) and the S2 in RAW mode allows me to shoot, convert and show/print. Job Done. :smashin:

    Oh the only downside to RAW conversion is it takes a fair amount of processor time to do it. A P3 933mHz machine with 512mb ram will do one 12mb RAW file in about a 30 seconds or so. But thats a minor inconvenience, I batch convert 50 at once, go downstairs, pour some wine and listen to some music :smoke:
     
  5. haydnw

    haydnw
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    Thanks everyone - looks like a bit of playing around is needed when I get the new camera!

    Cheers,
    Haydn
     
  6. Peakoverload

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    Shooting in RAW format need not be difficult or involve much more editing than you would normally apply to a jpeg or tiff file.

    With a RAW file you can alter the white balance and generally play around with various settings to get the picture the way you intended. However you can also download it exactly as is, the same way the JPEG would have been if it had been shot in that format.

    The big plus side of RAW files is if you have Photoshop CS.

    RAW files are 16bit files with jpegs being 8 bit. In an 8 bit file you only have 256 shades per colour channel with 16bit files you have a whopping 65,536 shades!!!

    Thats one hell of a difference. Before Photoshop CS only basic editing was allowed in 16 bit mode. Now with Photoshop CS you can edit 16 bit files exactly the same as 8 bit files. The quality difference can easily be spotted in the levels window. With an 8 bit file when you change the levels you will almost always see white lines appear in the histogram. These white lines or combs as they are called show that there is information actually missing from the file. This is because the changes you have made are now using shades outside of those 256 colours. With a 16bit file those combs are greatly reduced. In my experience they are reduced by around 65%.

    HTH
     
  7. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    I understand from a 'professional' point of view, the advantage of shooting RAW as opposed to TIF or JPEG, but for your 'every day' user, I feel it is overkill. Apart from maybe a bit of cropping and red eye removal, most of the time I don't need to adjust my JPEG images, so any more work than this is, in my book, added hassle.

    Also, whilst in theory, the RAW images are going to be better with 65,536 shades per colour channel, how noticable to the naked eye is this difference, and, when printed on paper, is it noticable at all? I'm not saying it isn't, this is more of a question.
     
  8. Peakoverload

    Peakoverload
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    The question of the increased number of shades being noticeable in the printed version would purely depend on the size of the printed media. On a 6"x4" print then no, the difference would be virtually impossible to make but as the price of 6MP cameras comes down and down print sizes will increase more and more. A print measuring 15"x10" is more than easily achieved with a 6MP camera and at these sizes 16Bit files will be noticeably better IMHO.
     
  9. spanners

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    As you proberly guess i'm new to the forum but I've read the 7000 has only one jpeg setting, but the one in front of me has 6 settings (if I'm not talking rubbish-poss! )ranging in quality from 1280 x 960 throu' 4048 x 3040, page 32 of manual. Hope this helps.
     
  10. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    I think you're gettting confused with the size of the images captured, in pixels, and the amount the image has been compressed.

    Yes, there are several image size settings available, but you have no control over how much compression the camera uses when it saves the image as a jpeg file. Fuji uses a high compression rate for it's jpeg images, which can be quite noticable, so reducing the 'actual quality' (not the size) of the final image.

    With my Minolta A1, I too have many size settings, but I can also chose for each size if I want 3 levels of jpeg compression (low, medium and high), plus TIF and RAW.

    Hope this clarifies things.
     
  11. spanners

    spanners
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    Thanks melliot1963, Ive learnt something else now .
     

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