Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tip: Why Shoot Raw?

Many of you been asking on what format I'm taking my pictures and the answer is very simple.

I use only RAW format, well maybe sometimes Raw+Jpg when I need fast delivery on the images, otherwise I use only RAW format.

It gives me the possibility of having more control over your images without having degradation while save it over and over and over.

I found this video by hadto titled "Generation Loss" that shows exactly what I'm talking about.

Keep reading for video...


You take a normal JPG image from your files and open the last saved jpeg image, then you Save it as a new JPG/Jpeg image with slightly more compression and repeat the process 600 times and this is what you will get.

Watch the video

Generation Loss from hadto on Vimeo.

And you what are you shooting Raw or Jpg?... why so?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I shoot JPG as it's faster to process. For me it's lengthy enough to choose which photos to keep.

BTW the video lowers compression quality with every frame so you probably won't get such degradation after 600 "regular" load/saves.

Deron said...

First, the JPEG format would only be a problem if you are doing repetitive loads and saves. If you just make a single generational edit, it is probably not very significant in most everyday cases.

Also, this "video" is really more of an argument about lossy versus lossless compression, not file formats. RAW happens to be lossless, but that's not the only choice. PNGs, JPEG2000, and many other format do lossless as well.

And if you only have a JPEG and you later find you will be doing a lot of multi-generational edits; you can easily convert the JPEG to a lossless format as the first step, and you'll still never have more than a single generation loss.

The biggest downside to RAW is that it is not a truly interchangeable format. Each manufacturer has a different incompatible raw format, or perhaps several formats. It also takes specialized often proprietary (or patent-laden) software to read the raws; and even different versions of the software will interpret the raw files differently. And because of that RAW is not a particularly future-proof file format for archival purposes.

That being said, RAW is fine, but understand what it really is and is not.

Dave Wilson said...

I shoot pretty much exclusively RAW. Storage is free and I don't want to throw away 4 stops of dynamic range by using in-camera JPEG conversion.

That said, if I'm shooting snaps that I will never want to do anything with, I may switch to JPG to save me some time later but this doesn't happen very often at all (less than 2% of the time, perhaps).

Anonymous said...

I shoot RAW too - my main reason is it gives me a bit more leeway when playing with levels etc in PP... nikon's NEF has 14bit colour, rather than JPG's 8bit. Frankly, it barely impedes my workflow, so seems worth it to me.

Diddlbiker said...

I did something similar about a year ago, and the poster of the vid came actually to the same conclusion when you watch his "nothing happens" video:

As long as you don't change the compression parameters (image size, ratio) the only degredation happens to the parts that were actually changed - and depending on the compression grade, usually only unnoticable.

Not that I would ever save, close, open and edit a file 600 times, but if I would I'd be perfectly confident that there would be no visible degredation in a JPG file under normal circumstances.

There would be if I would be resizing the file all the time. But even a TIFF file will look like crap if you resized its contents 600 times.

Ryan said...

I think focusing on the loss/compression is actually the wrong way to consider RAW vs. JPG.

Raw is just what it sounds like, it's the raw output of what the camera sees. Things like White-balance and even exposure are interpretations the camera makes.

In a RAW file what the camera sees, and what in interprets are kept separate. In JPG, they're mashed together.

RAW gives you a much broader range to work with after the fact, whereas JPG narrows those ranges considerably. Accidentally crank off a bunch of photos in the wrong white balance setting? In JPG you might be able to wrestle them back, in RAW you just change a setting.

RAW vs. JPG shouldn't really have much of a workflow effect if you're using the right tools. Personally I use Lightroom and using RAW makes no difference to the processing time (but does keep my options much wider).

Rob said...

As someone who's fairly technically proficient, RAW is a no-brainer. I have the storage capacity, my images are going into Lightroom anyway, why would I even think about throwing away tons of information that I can use to enhance the image?

If I'm shooting sports or something where I need to fire off 30 frames over the course of 4 or 5 seconds, then sure, I'll switch formats, but for everything else, why not shoot RAW?