A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


For the first time, I have the option of shooting in RAW. I know a little about RAW. I wondered "Do I need to be shooting in RAW?", google quickly led me to answers like "If you're asking if you should be shooting in RAW or JPG, then the answer is JPG." But I wanted to try it out. Heck, I wasn't even sure how to, or if I could do post processing on a RAW image. So I turned it to RAW and just started shooting stuff. It was shooting RAW and a basic JPG.

I offloaded the RAW images onto my computer, having read that Picasa can display and process RAW stuff. And so it can. I fiddled for just a second with the pretty basic tools that Picasa offers, and then hit the "I'm feeling lucky button". A second later, the image adjusts a little. I do that for the whole batch, wondering what kind of results I'll see.

Click this to check out a sample:
Raw vs JPG

In some of the shots, Piper seems a bit green to my eye, but there's no denying that some of the RAW images come out better looking. What do you think? Do you shoot RAW or JPG?

Although I haven't touched photoshop in 5 years or so, I'm going to see how the images look in it.


Michael Dunlap said...

No comment about raw vs. jpg...rather, one about Piper. She's a cutie! I can't believe she's standing already.

Matt Needham said...

I'm reading your blog for the D&D stuff, but I know a bit about photography.

Raw vs jpeg is really just about processing software choice.

A raw file is not a particular file format like a jpeg or a tiff. Raw just means the data collected by the sensor in it's most unprocessed form. It's not an image at this point. It's like exposed, but undeveloped film. The photo is there, but you can't see it until it gets processed.

If you have your camera set to jpeg the raw data is processed with the software provided in-camera.

If you have your camera set to raw, it saves the raw data as a file, and then processes a jpeg thumbnail for the rear LCD using the in-camera software.

The raw data still needs to be processed, but instead of using the computer inside the camera you'll use some other computer.

You can still use the manufacturer provided software if you want, or there are a lot of other choices.

The advantages of doing your own digital processing are very similar to why many fine art film photographers chose to do it themselves in the darkroom rather than use one hour processing. One hour film processing and in-camera digital processing are fast and easy, but there are a lot more options and control possible if the photographer chooses to learn and take advantage.

So raw vs jpeg is really just whether you want to process your photos with Canon or Nikon provided software or Adobe Photoshop or some such. In general most out-of-camera processing software offers more options and control than the in-camera software.

Is more really better? That just depends on the photographer. Some folks don't like messing around with processing. They like keeping it fast and simple. Others like to fiddle. In the days of film some photogs shot BW negs and worked in the darkroom. Others shot slides because they didn't want to mess with the darkroom.

Quality is also going to depend on the processing skills of the photographer. It's unlikely that the inexperienced will get better results from the darkroom or raw processing the first few times they try, but with a little study and practice I think most folks soon are able to do a better job themselves than 1-hour processing or in-camera processing.

Back to D & D... :)