JPEG revisited

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by ckrueger, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2011
    I recently received my Oylmpus EM1, and have been shooting RAW+JPEG due to unfinished Lightroom support. I went back and processed some RAW files this weekend because Lightroom 5.3 RC has now added final EM1 support, but I noticed something distressing: JPEGs look better than RAWs.

    Let me count the ways the JPEGs are better:

    * More aquity, noticeable in high-frequency detail like skin or clothing textures or leaves
    * Less noise
    * Better edge definition (think a high radius sharpening filter in LR, already applied OOC)
    * They stand up better to LR sharpening without creating false detail
    * Colors are more pleasing to my eye
    * Per-lens image corrections (I have not tested this to observe it, but have read about the feature)

    I know what you're going to say (cause I said it too): Of course the JPEGs look better, all the processing is baked in! And that's true. BUT! With my best effort on the RAW files in Lightroom, I couldn't make them look as good as the JPEGs. This isn't OOC JPEG versus OOC RAW I'm comparing, this is processed JPEG versus processed RAW.

    What the heck? My world is turned upside down!

    The one area the RAWs are better is in bit depth; I can recover considerably more shadow and highlight detail from blown exposures in RAW. The JPEGs have color shifts and poor contrast at the edges of the histogram, as expected. So I can't blow exposures in JPEG, and I sure do blow exposures a lot. But on the other hand, the in-camera HDR on the EM1 is pretty good.

    I could wave my hands and say "RAW will get better over time". It seems to me the RAW engine for Olympus cameras is less than ideal in Lightroom, so Olympus' JPEG engine is a better RAW converter for this camera than Adobe is. But that leaves me with the question: will it ever really get better?

    I remember being surprised at how the RAW processing for my Canon 350D and 5D were much better than for my Olympus E-410. I went with the Canon 40D over the Olympus E-3 as a wildlife camera partially due to the superior Lightroom RAW conversion of the Canon. And now it seems the Lightroom sharpening and noise reduction for the EM1 can't compare with JPEG. That's almost ten years of cameras, and LR's RAW conversion has yet to pull ahead of Olympus in-camera JPEGs.

    My finger is hovering over the file mode setting... Am I really going to go back to "Large, Fine" JPEGs after shooting RAW since my old Olympus E-10 in 2001? It's hard to stomach. I have the typical photo nerd thoughts....

    * I'm throwing away image quality! (err, maybe not.)
    * RAW engines will improve and make my photos better! (Maybe, but I don't go back to my old photos to update them)
    * JPEG bakes in settings so you can't change them! (But at "Neutral", the settings are right)

    I realize what I'm suggesting is anathema, and no self-respecting photo nerd would be caught dead with their camera set to "newbie mode", but JPEG sure seems like a better deal.

    What do the faithful think? Have any of you made the switch to JPEG? Do you hate yourselves now? Or is it a panacea of small files and rapid photo processing?

    Anyone willing to throw a little absolution my way? :)

    (I attached a poll, cause.... why not?)
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  2. bigal1000

    bigal1000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 10, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I kind of agree the jpegs from my EP5 are excellent,though I still shoot raw a lot.
  3. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'm not embarrassed to say that I am a JPEG shooter. 90% of the time, anyway. I spend more than enough time at my computer between work and play, I don't need to add more than necessary to process photos. I'm sure it'd be different if I was a pro, but my shots are for me, family and friends. Olympus JPEGs get me way past "good enough" most of the time. And those Oly JPEGs are a big reason I don't try something like the GX7. I'm addicted. Happily.
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  4. Matero

    Matero Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 22, 2013
    Nice reading, since acquiring E-P5 I've been asking myself 'why I'm using RAW?'

    My skills for photography and especially post-processing really don't need opportunity to pp RAW. Oly jpegs are just fine for me.

    That is it then, I'll stop wasting hard disk space.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
  5. mcrosa

    mcrosa Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Miami, Florida
    Mike Crosa
    Right now I was shooting raw with my E-3 and E-620. But I have sold those and have an epl-1 camera to tide me over unitl I can get my em-1 and try going jpeg. I have been shooting jpeg with the epl-1 :smile:
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Ok, this has nothing to do with bit depth. For some reason people get a little lost with how to count when going from base 10, decimal, to base 2, binary. Bit Depth in decimal is, for instance, rounding a number to 4 decimal places or 5 decimal places. (the difference between 4 or 5 places, converted to base 2 is over 3 places/bits). Highlights and shadows are more easily recovered in RAW files because the original individual color channel values can be accessed.

    So far as JPGs go, I use them all the time unless I want to be able keep a safety net for WB and exposure. Being able to configure Olympus cameras to display highlights and shadows before taking a picture makes it much easier to get the exposure spot on.
  7. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2011
    I'm glad I'm not the only one looking at JPEGs and thinking they aren't so bad. You guys are soothing my nerd guilt. :)

    Ironically, the only time I've used JPEG in the past decade was for pro work!

    I also find it a lot easier to nail the exposure on my recent Olympus cameras too, thanks to the blinking highlight/shadow warnings. The only time I really miss an exposure these days is if I forget to turn "live view boost" off after shooting with flash.
  8. bcaslis

    bcaslis Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR, USA
    Brian Caslis
    For me the biggest issue is the E-M1 color response in JPEGs is fantastic. Lightroom 5.3 RC is now usable and with the Huelight color profiles gives very good results. But I still like the color response from the JPEGs better. But the image processing in Lightroom is very good, I do see slightly more details there than in JPEG, except for ISO 100 JPEGs which the E-M1 does really well.
  9. allan

    allan Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 24, 2009
    You might want to convert your RAW files first with Olympus' Viewer 3 software to preserve the colors and then finish in Lightroom. This is what I do.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
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  10. agpr

    agpr Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 2, 2010
    Heraklion, Crete
    What works for me best is shooting raw and then exporting to jpeg using Olympus Viewer 3. That way I have control over WB (most important), contrast, sharpening and saturation, but I also retain the Olympus look. Please note that I don't own Lightroom. Olympus Viewer 3 is on the slow side, but I like the results. Give it a try, it will cost you no money.
  11. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    When I got my first digital DSLR (Nikon D70s) I shot primarily JPEG. By the time I moved to the Nikon D300 I was shooting nearly all RAW.

    With the EPL-1 I shot strictly JPEG (I was trying to see if :43: would work for me; I was testing out the form factor more than anything else).

    Now, with the EM-5, it depends upon what I'm shooting. I'm quite happy with JPEG most of the time but if it's something I'll only shoot once (like visiting a vacation spot) or if the ambient lighting is especially snarky (like today where it's rainy and dull and...eeuch...) I'll add RAW to the mix hoping that if I need to do something difficult to bring out the best of the photo in post then I'll have the most information available in the "negative".

    Disclaimer: I tend to vacillate between JPEG/RAW/and JPEG+RAW with no discernible logic behind the changes of operation. This post is valid today but tomorrow I might espouse a totally different point of view. There is absolutely no longevity warranty connected with this post :biggrin:. I'm fairly fickle in my photography opinions and methods (except for having a viewfinder. I have to have a viewfinder; I cannot hold the camera and use the rear screen. YMMV.).


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  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    The faithful do not think, they KNOW.

    If there are highlights which would be blown in Jpeg : RAW give them back. (shadows too)
    If there is a crappy whitebalance (unlikely from Olympus) you have the whole three colour channels intact in RAW.

    Otherwise Olympus Jpegs are rather nice, and nine times out of ten better than the misguided colour balancing attempts of LR fans, especially skies.

    You might be hard pressed to find many examples of SOOC Olympus Jpegs on this site because RAW conversion seems so much more for the intelligenzia,
    but in my opinion Olympus Jpegs have a BIG place in finshed products : although my opinion sways towards pre-e-pL2 bodies rather than the trendy E-M5 & E-M1
    If Olympus ever stick e-410/510 or E1 Jpeg colours into the new breeds they'd be onto a bigger winner than ever.
  13. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    LR sucks IMHO for the OMD E-M5 files are not so nice out of LR compared to C1
    since C1 does not support the E-M1 yet can't say :)

    custom profiles can help LR a lot :)
    just my view :) being a full time photographer and also have a post production company that only serves pro togs I like to think I have a pretty good handle on images :)

    they might look smoother often wiping away fine detail in skin and textures of surfaces
    edge definition ? again not always the best
    jogs are mighty good and really are good enough for most things but are not better than raw coming out of the camera in no way can they ever match what someone can do from raw

    again does not mean most need to shoot raw or should ? the only case I have seen is iso 100 where it quits smudging up fine color details where its close to equaling raw

    the question is what you are shooting and is it worth the time to go through raw ? most likely not for mosts people having fun

    I shot a bunch of stuff with both raw and jpg to compare for first week with the E-M1 :)

    again if someone likes the JPGs better :) if not adjusting shots at all then jpg would be the better route for sure once you tweak settings to your likings :)
    if you touch the WB and or anything else then all bets are off IMHO anyway :) not saying they are wrong :) just saying all this is kinda personal but I do think liking and having a better file has a answer and no way can OOC jogs match raw for detail :) but again what is pleasing to someones eye is either cooked from in camera or from ply software or adobe or C1 anyway :)
  14. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I like, but don't love adobe's colours. I need to fight and fiddle with it more to get the results I want. DxO Optics Pro is a little overbaked by default, but fairly easy to tune in. It's a little less flexible on other fronts, and pretty slow, but the results bring me back time and again.
  15. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    to bad companies can't make there own software have better speed ? even the canon software did so much better :) but was so insane to use

    played with the OLY since its handy if you shoot other ratios and want more the file back :) or want to use there BW ! one thing in camera BW on the OLY is amazing good :) just wish the software was useable doing say 700 photos would not be something I would want to do in the OLY program :)
  16. bigal1000

    bigal1000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 10, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Shoot raw + jpeg you get both!
  17. bigal1000

    bigal1000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 10, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I could never warm up to DXO Pro I don't think it is worth the money at all,but only my opinion.
  18. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    The trick with RAW is to get as good as, or better at processing than the manufacture! And a new camera is nearly always a learning experience. That said, the E-M1 has been a challenge for me.

    I set the camera for Muted picture mode defaults and the jpegs are extremely good. I'll continue to shoot jpegs and raw until I am consistently happy with the outcome of the raw photos. With the use of several 4/3 cameras I learned that there was no way to match Olympus colors and processing. So I do not try to, and just work at finding very pleasing photos.

    I'm using Lightroom 5.2 for the E-M1 RAW files and it has been quite challenging. I've thrown out any previous learned processing steps to develop the E-M1 raw files and still trying to figure out a development work flow.

    For E-M1 RAW files - So far I've found that adjusting whites and blacks to their maximum values, taking vibrance down, and clarity up ends up in the ballpark with pretty decent colors. Color temperature seems more critical than other cameras raw files, especially when it comes to skin tones. I'm still having issues between reds and blues but don't think I'll waste any more time trying to come up with my own preset for initial processing. I'll wait until Lightroom 5.3 is released before I start fine tuning.
  19. bcaslis

    bcaslis Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR, USA
    Brian Caslis
    Lightroom 5.3 RC is available. I find it much better than 5.2. Using the Huelight camera profile also provides me a better starting point than the Adobe standard one. My problem is that I am shooting both JPEG and RAW and can't help comparing between the two.
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  20. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I've been burnt too many times shooting pure JPEG. I'll do RAW or RAW+JPEG depending on what I'm doing, but I want the RAW available. At worst I'll run it through the manufacturer program or in-camera develop when available. A few teraytes of storage is nothing compared to what I'm spending on equipment, after all.

    I did make an exception once recently for motorsports work. I needed to shoot a lot of frames very quickly on the A77. I racked up 3100 shots in six hours, which I'll be the first to admit is excessive. But I knew exactly what I was doing and what I was going for with the images. I set up the JPEGs the way I wanted, made a few touch ups in post, and was happy. I would've rather shot RAW here, but I wasn't going to get away with that level of bursting on a single card and buffer was threatening to be a problem. But I don't plan on doing that again either, as I've now got a feel for how to do motorsports well.