My RAW can't beat Oly's jpeg

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Gerard, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    I really tried to behave like a serious photographer and shoot RAW. Did that since I bought my G5 in '14. I never was very content with the results my PP delivered. Unless I shot in very bright light, the colours or contrast were not great.

    On 'our' forum I read about the great performance of the Oly jpegs, so I did jpeg and RAW side by side for a while. I was not so sure what choice to make though.
    Untill yesterday. I think.
    After a long period of very, very dull days, british-style, we had a rather clear day. Thick clouds, so no direct sunlight.

    I took my EM5, O17 and P45150 to the local park. After taking a photo in jpeg, I changed to RAW and shot some more photos.

    On my PC screen the jpeg looked great. Colours popped out, contrast was ok.
    I tried but failed to match this with the other photos in RAW.

    I think I keep RAW for my HDR photos.
    Any suggestions?
  2. Gerard,
    If you're happy with your jpg images, shoot jpg.

    I like to have control over how the final image looks like on screen or in print so I shoot raw.

    Have fun
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  3. griffljg

    griffljg Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 7, 2016
    Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Larry Griffiths
    What do you use to convert your raw files?
    • Agree Agree x 3
  4. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2016
    I like to shoot Raw+Jpeg and use both, depending on the situation.
    Sometimes I love the jpeg enough to not touch the raw at all. Sometimes the jpeg just doesn't do it for me and I completely process the raw in a different way. Other times I pull up a split view of the OOC Jpeg and the raw, edit the raw as close to the jpeg as possible, then process it further (this is all in Lightroom Mobile for iPad, so I can't just open the raw straight in to Olympus Viewer and edit from there).

    Have you tried using Olympus Viewer? You can open the RAW files and it holds all the processing information the camera would perform to create a jpeg, but you can then tweak it further and export a jpeg out.
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    As with anything, processing RAW is a learning experience. What you are experiencing is what we all who have shot RAW have gone through. It takes time and experimentation to figure out how to process RAW effectively. Until then, the supplied RAW software has presets that will get you to the in camera JPG and you can just tweak from there.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. System13

    System13 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 11, 2016
    Wisconsin USA
    JPEG is a PDF, RAW is a Word document. One you can easily edit, one not so easily.
    The human eye is a million times more sensitive than the best camera
    To make up for this, EVERY time you take a picture that's a JPG, the camera changes many things so the picture looks better
    It changes or adds
    White balance
    ALL of this happens inside your camera when you press the button, unless you shoot in RAW
    JPEG gives you the picture as you imagined it, RAW let's me make the picture as I saw it.
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  7. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Agree with everyone else. You can either accept JPEG quality as good enough, or you can improve your raw processing skills. If you use lightroom, I have found that one of the easiest ways to improve how landscape shots look is holding the alt key and than draggin the blacks down and the whites up until you see clipping.
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  8. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    I think this is the main question. I can only write down my own experiences to try to help you.
    Actually the software you use should not be relevant unless you start looking at certain parameters (noise reduction vs detail etc.) at 100% view.
    But I experienced that my knowledge of the software was the main problem.
    A few years ago I bought a Panasonic GF6. Wonderful camera but not known for its good jpeg output.
    So I got Lightroom and there the struggle started. With lots of effort I could get decent output from it. However, other users with Panasonic camera's and Lightroom produced brilliant images so it must be me not knowing how to use Lightroom.
    I sold the gf6 and bought an Olympus e-m10 (because I missed the hot shoe on the gf6) and started using Olympus viewer.
    No problem getting great pictures from my raw files. It does the same as the in-camera jpeg engine but you can control what it's doing.
    I think working in raw is a necessity, in the first place for finetuning the white balance.
    Then I read about different free raw editors on this forum and installed rawtherapy on my laptop to see how it would work with my Panasonic raw files.
    The default output is much better than the default that Lightroom gave me. I only tried a few images but it seemed to work for me

    So don't give up too soon. Start with Olympus viewer and then try some different editors (trial or free versions) to see what gives you the best results.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  9. magIBIS

    magIBIS Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jun 8, 2016
    Central Europe
    Hi there! I shoot Oly for 5 years now. The first three years with my beloved ep2 I experienced the same - my skills in shooting and developing mostly did not surpass the pleasant ooc JPEGs, and my laptop + olyviewer were an slooow experience - not encouraging.
    Then I made a private portrait session for a newborn and family in dimm conditions and knew I have to go the RAW-route. The family wanted the pics immediately - as usual - and was happy with the ooc pics. The RAWs took me a long learning curve, trying different software and workflows, finally one year later granted with better results in a printed gift. Massively more appealing, than the ooc could have been.
    Consequences are, now I shoot RAW + M(SF)-JPG. The JPGs are fine for documentary pics for quick sharing, big enough for their screens and occasional small prints. If I like a pic, I take the RAW and developed to my liking - showing, how much more "art & magic" is hidden there.
    Another time, when I decide up-front for a style, let's say grainy film B&W, I like to shoot directly in that profile, as the exposure gains a lot by pushing and pulling to my liking, using the dynamic range of the sensor more efficently, preserving the needed information for my pp, not the average one I need for documentary pics - still giving me a pleasant ooc for quick sharing. My next experiment on that route will be the custom color mode of the em1m1, I got last year.
    For very hard conditions it does not work - but then probably no ooc will be better than a thoughtfully exposed RAW and pp.
    That's my two cents - hope it gives you some input, you can use.
    Best wishes!
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Highlights down
    Shadows up
    Whites up until slightest clipping appears
    Blacks down until clipping appears
    Clarity to taste.
    Exposure if necessary

    Those 6 adjustments alone will work wonders. You'll get better at determining how much of each. Then try the other things like sharpening, noise reduction etc...

    It's fun. Takes some time but fun. I only do it for the best photos and pretty ruthlessly delete the others.
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  11. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Or. If you like what the camera produces, use what the camera produces. It is not wrong to let the camera do the work.

    • Agree Agree x 5
  12. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    I agree with the suggestions above. Esp turning blacks down does wonders. That said, there's nothing wrong with shooting .jpg (or both and later deciding which ones you NEED to adjust or WANT to paint in a different light). You can still edit and adjust, just to a less extreme...and when you really mess up WB or highlights, then you're screwed.

    RAW is more critical for pros doing shoots where they need the extra latitude to get it right for a client or to push exposures as much as possible, fix WB or to get more HDR in post. For hobbyist, it can be more dependent on the subject. If you are shooting something with deep shadows and bright highlights, you probably should shoot raw. If you are just shooting your pet/kids or static subjects in more even lighting, .jpg will get the job done 99% of the time.

    When I'm shooting for fun, I have in the past shot .jpg and sometimes I forget to remind myself to try shooting .jpg now and then for something different. It was the .jpg processing that was one of my original reasons for choosing Olympus afterall.
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  13. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Everyone has different tastes, no one's right and no one's wrong.

    I'm not sure I've ever met a JPEG that I liked better than a RAW file converted with minor tweaks, but that's me.
  14. stagor

    stagor Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 10, 2012
    Netherlands / N.Ireland
    31542504304_b49a4b2157_o-3.jpg Hi Gerard, I took the liberty of trying to make the colours Pop and to up the contrast, I think with the original raw file the results could have been much better.
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  15. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    I think you shouldn't stress about it. I used jpegs with my E-PL1. I processed RAW with my G5. I'm shooting RAW+jpeg with my new GX85 and so far I'm just using the jpegs.

    My Lightroom workflow was comparable to what Speedliner listed above. It worked pretty well. However, I found I didn't have the time to really dedicate to it.

    Bottom line: If you like the jpegs, just use them.
  16. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    As far as this image goes, the aesthetic issue that leaps out at me has nothing to do with the processing per se, and is mainly just the product of having those clusters of grass in the foreground being out of focus. I'd prefer the trees in the background being slightly softer. Or better yet, stop down to f/5.6 or f/8, slow down the shutter speed, and let the E-M5's famous IBIS do the work. Another alternative would be focus bracketing, but I don't think that's at all necessary for an image like this.
  17. Web-Betty

    Web-Betty Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 16, 2013
    Ah, the eternal raw vs. jpg dilemma. I've struggled with this for years, as I've tried to emulate Oly color in Lightroom. Sometimes I'm successful, other times I'm not. I don't have much to add to what's already been said (we've all been there). But here's what I've learned through my struggle with this process:

    • Nail as much as you can in-camera—WB, exposure, composition, etc. This will make jpg shooting much easier.
    • Shoot raw+jpg. When I can nail WB and exposure in composition, the jpg is usually just what I need.
    • When I don't get it right in-camera, having the raw to edit makes all the difference. I adjust what needs adjustment, then, as @Speedliner@Speedliner mentioned:
      • Highlights down
      • Shadows up
      • Whites up until slightest clipping appears
      • Blacks down until clipping appears
      • Clarity to taste
      • I would add I'm also a fan of dehaze (under effects)

    Good luck on your journey! In the end, do what's right for you and your vision. If that's jpg, embrace it! :)
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  18. greenboy

    greenboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I've never shot raw or raw + jpg. I kind of hate to introduce another time soak into my snapshots process, because for the most part I'm a snapshots kind of guy. I don't want to take time away from riding the motorcycles or playing music or hiking or watching films and series. But usually my E-M1 and the Oly Pro zooms do pretty close to what I think I've seen when shooting the stuff I like to look at at the time I'm there.

    But maybe I will mess with raw at some point. When I start thinking about raw is usually when it's gloomier or too many consecutive shots into the sun at the wrong time of day. Maybe I could fix some of those and maybe it'll make up for my lack of expertise in the camera use itself {fixing of course is a time soak ; }
  19. greenboy

    greenboy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Also, a lot of what is "good" about an image processing enhancement is subjective, and stylistic fads seem to come and go. If one sees a need in their one journey to change things up that's a good reason to do so, but just because others are is not always a good reason : }
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  20. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Happens to me sometimes - I shoot RAW only but occasionally like to 'develop' it in camera into a JPEG. Sometimes I just can't get the same effect with PP the RAW, but given that I'm doing better with RAW latitude for the other 80-90%, I just can't be bothered with RAW+JPEG.
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