Only limited differences between jpg and raw?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Starred, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Starred

    Starred Mu-43 Regular

    134
    Aug 7, 2010
    I shot a lot of vacation pics with my Em5 in both jpeg and raw.
    Because of the supposed large difference between jpg and raw I downloaded DXO Optics Pro (free trial) on my desktop. When I opened the raw files I indeed saw a huge difference between the unprocessed files and the processed files.
    However, these processed files looked VERY similar to the unprocessed files I saw on my Ipad3 (I suppose the ipad displays the jpg files?) in direct comparison. Heck, the unprocessed pics on my ipad looked even better than the processed raws on my desktop.
    When I opened the jpegs via DXO Optics Pro I could hardly see any difference between the uncorrected and corrected files.

    My conclusion therefore is that the jpgs from the EM5 indeed are as good as most people tell, and the ipad3 is a very good tool for showing pictures.
    Or I am doing something wrong with DXO?
     
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    If you get the exposure right, if the dynamic range of the scene isn't too great, and if your camera settings for the JPEG conversion deliver the sort of results that you like, then you may not notice a great difference.

    On the other hand if you don't get the exposure right and/or the dynamic range is high and you get some blown highlights, you'll really appreciate working in RAW because you'll have a much greater ability to rescue the image and get something acceptable out of it.

    And if you do much in the way of processing you'll also appreciate the greater scope you have to do things if you shoot RAW.

    On the other hand, if you shoot RAW you need to do some processing with every shot. Depending on the processing application you use you may be able to simplify that by creating a preset of your basic processing settings and have the application apply that automatically when you import photos. That will work fine provided the exposure is right and there are no problems with blown highlights, and you may even work out a group of settings that mimics your out of camera JPEGs.

    The only other thing to consider is that the settings in the camera have very "coarse" adjustments, often from -2 to +2 in whole number steps. You may decide that a contrast setting of 0 in camera isn't quite high enough for your tastes but also that +1 is too high. You can't fix that with in camera settings. Lightroom which I use probably allows you to get things a bit more contrasty, or less contrasty, than the camera, but it also has a scale running from -100 to +100 so each step is much finer in range and you can set contrast, and the other settings, a lot more precisely.

    The E-M5 certqinly does do a good conversion to JPEG but you get far more leeway to fix things by shooting RAW when you don't get it right, and you can also exercise much more control over the JPEG conversion if you shoot RAW and process the images yourself. Only you can decide whether it's worth the effort to you to shoot in RAW.

    There is an alternative: shoot RAW and JPEG pairs. Use the JPEGs when you're happy with them and process the RAW images when the JPEGs don't meet your needs,
     
  3. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    There's nothing wrong with jpegs as long as you're happy to accept the limitations they have.

    1. JPEGs are compressed files. You may not see it but they don't have all the information of a TIFF file. You just can't push a JPEG as hard as a TIFF or a raw file, or print as big before the artefacts become visible.
    2. JPEGs are 8 bit files. That means you have a TOTAL of 16.7 million discrete points of colour (256 shades of red, blue and green) to choose from. It sounds like a lot. But a 12 bit file has 77 billion colour points and a 16 bit file has trillions of colour points. Graduations from light to dark are always smoother in a higher bit depth file. Your camera is at least 10 bit capture.
    3. JPEG files are limited to either the sRGB or aRGB gamut. This is fine but any decent inkjet printer can print colours well outside this gamut.
    4. As raw processing software gets better it's possible to go back and redo older files with improved results. I'm doing that now with Canon files I shot 5 years ago in LR4. A jpeg bakes the file with whatever encoding was on the date the firmware was released. That's the best that file will ever look. Not so with raw files as encoding algorithms and noise reduction profiles improve over time.

    Gordon
     
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  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    The only good comparison is the two images on the same screen in the same lighting conditions.

    RAW gives you a lot more latitude for 'difficult' pictures, and DxO is great at handling noise and color. It does OK processing JPGs, but you really should be feeding it RAW files only. It's default profiles tend towards the warm and contrasty (pretty much like the Oly's native JPG processing, truth be told). The iPad will be displaying the embedded JPG and not the RAW file itself. The iPad screen is also crazy bright and very contrasty. Pleasant as a viewer, but uncalibrated even an IPS panel is not an 'accurate' place to look at pictures. Of course, 'accuracy' only really matters when you start talking about printing or people with calibrated monitors looking at the photographs.

    Basically, if you've exposed a scene properly, in good light, and the dynamic range of the image largely coincides with what the sensor can capture, RAW can gain you that little bit of extra, but the difference won't be huge. Take a picture in lower light, with a white balance that's even slightly off, or slightly blown highlights (in JPG, RAW has greater range) or underexposed areas, and you will be able to get a lot more out of the RAW than you could ever hope to do with the JPG.
     
  5. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    A lot of folks seem pleased with the results they get from JPG images. I'm not among them.

    As indicated from a couple of the above posts, RAW files will enable far greater development potential for your images.

    Storage is cheap.

    My suggestion to anyone seriously interested in the future development of potentially excellent images is to capture RAW, at least. RAW is all that I've captured professionally and personally for years... using Lightroom, for example, processing RAW files is as easy as processing JPGs... and a LOT more rewarding!
     
  6. Starred

    Starred Mu-43 Regular

    134
    Aug 7, 2010
    I think one of the issues I have could also be related to the screen. My current desktop screen is about 4 years old and pictures just do not seem to be as nice on this screen as they are on my ipad.

    Does this mean I have to consider buying a better screen, or even a move to an apple mcbook?
     
  7. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I believe the Retina display MacBooks are IPS panels, but I've yet to see any reviews go into the color accuracy thing.

    If you're serious about quality color management and repeatability (and prints that look like what is on your screen) you want to get yourself an IPS panel display and a screen calibration device (like the eyeOne or Spyder). The Dell Ultrasharp series monitors are a great buy for a great screen.

    First time you look at a calibrated monitor, you'll probably think:
    1) It's dark
    2) Things look dull and not very contrasty

    But you get used to it, and the results in print are well worth it.
     
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  8. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    It's likely that neither your screen nor your ipad are producing accurate colors. If you don't calibrate your monitor, there's no telling what the monitor is doing to your images. And I suspect the ipad (which is certainly not calibrated) is tuned to produce highly saturated images, because those look better to most people. But it's not accurate, either.

    Do you need a new monitor? Maybe. But you'd probably be better off buying a ColorMunki Display package and calibrating the one you have. See the post on color management posted here recently:

    https://www.mu-43.com/f74/introduction-colour-management-30455/

    On the subject of raw vs. jpeg, I think it's been said. Raw just gives you much more flexibility in edit your images to look just the way YOU want them to, rather than the way some engineer in Japan thinks they should look. Correcting mistakes (wrong color balance, under or over exposure) is much easier, but that's not all. Pulling detail out of the shadows, adjusting the tone curve, getting NR and sharpening just right, all are easier to do with a raw file and can be done with fewer visual artifacts in the finished image.
     
  9. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Don't fall into the trap that MacBooks have the best screens on a laptop. They don't. OSX has excellent colour management throughout the OS, but the screens are middle of the pack. Even the current iMac only covers 90% of the sRGB gamut and my 17" MacBook Pro is marginally better. The best laptop screen I ever owned was a Sony 3 LED 18.4" panel that had 178 degree angle of view and a gamut larger than Adobe RGB. That unit is still attached to my printer. And it has a TN panel but a 10 bit processor and LED backlight.

    Both Sony and Dell offer laptops with better displays but they're nothing unless they're hardware calibrated.

    Personally, assuming your happy with the performance of your current computer the first thing to buy is a Colorimeter (Spyder or other brand) and calibrate your display. If it's less than 80% of sRGB then look at a mid range Dell external screen for your current rig.

    Gordon
     
  10. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Thanks for that bit of info. I just bought a Spyder4Pro and calibrated my iMac screen a few days ago. When I got to the end of the process it reported that my screen was covering 93% of the sRGB gamut and I was left wondering why only 93%. Now I not only don't feel bad, I feel good that I got a little bit more than the current iMac offers. Mine is an early 2008 model and I think it's probably due for upgrade sometime in the next year of so, so I hope the next model is a bit better than the current one.
     
  11. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    All digital photos are captured in raw. Post processing can either be done by the chip your camera, guessing what "your" photo should look like (and throwing away anything it doesn't think you need); or you can do it.

    The chip is both faster and easier to use.
     
  12. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Not necessarily.

    People do seem to have problems "programming" their chip to get the kind of OOC JPEG they want. We've got a lot of threads here which have started with someone asking what they need to do to get their JPEGs looking a particular way. If you don't want your camera's default, it seems that it may not be all that easy for some people.

    OTOH, there's also a lot of requests for presets for applications like Aperture and Lightroom in order to get a particular look. If you're going to process the shot straight from RAW making all the choices yourself it does take more time, but all that extra time is because the "meat interface", i.e. the user, is slow in comparison to the computer. Just choose a preset and the computer is as fast as the chip, and no harder to do.

    In other words, treat the computer the same way as you treat the camera's processing and feed it a fixed set of instructions to be blindly followed, and speed and ease of use are basically exactly the same in my view. The loss in speed and ease on the computer comes when you start looking at each shot as an individual image and trying to get it to the way you want it. If you try that in camera by changing your JPEG settings, I'd say that using the camera's chip is harder and it will probably take you more time as you try to get the settings right which may take several shots, and there are going to be a lot of shots that you lose because by the time you change the camera's settings to the ones you want the scene has changed and what you wanted to shoot is no longer there.

    The big advantage of RAW and processing on the computer is that you can do non-destructive processing and throw no original data away, and that means you can go back again and again to the image and either refine your processing of a particular treatment of the image over time, or make several different versions of it with totally different treatments, or both.
     
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  13. Grant

    Grant Mu-43 Veteran

    I will not argue about the values of RAW over JPEG and they are many but I will address faster and easier.

    It is true that it is faster and easier to use JPEG out of the camera over RAW but what you are doing is relegating your artistic creativity to a chip that contains a program by a team who you have no idea what their vision of creativity is. In essence you are giving over the conception of your creative ideas to people you don't know well enough to kiss. Sort of reminds me of the man so lazy that he married a pregnant woman. Never under estimate the value of creativity, work it and you will learn to enjoy it.
     
  14. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    Memory these days is big and cheap, so I shoot raw & the highest quality jpeg setting. For quick computer only purposes, like email, I often send out a fast jpeg reduced and contrast adjusted. For anything else, and for anything I print I go to the raw file, which has all the information the camera captured. I've always treated the capture as "information" for a print, whether it is on negative film, positive film, or a digital sensor. And I want all the information I can get to do the subsequent work.

    In camera jpeg settings, as has been mentioned already, do not have the same degree of control that raw developers have. Further, if you don't have a raw file backup, any information the jpeg engine has discarded is gone forever; you cannot get it back. It may or may not be important, but I think a raw file for backup, even if you are usually satisfied with your jpegs, is not a bad idea.

    As for which is "better", beyond my personal preferences, I won't wade into that viper's pit.
     
  15. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    This is the gold, to me.
     
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  16. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    Irony just doesn't go the distance any more.

    Yes, I only shoot raw.
     
  17. billgreen

    billgreen Mu-43 Top Veteran

    651
    Apr 4, 2012
    Herradura de Rivas, Costa Rica
    Bill Green
    I don't want anything or anyone (including me) to alter my image data in a way that can't be reversed. JPEG converters change and dump data that can't be recovered. I shoot raw and use only non-destructive editors. I always retain an original raw file for every image. I can't imagine letting a camera decide how to alter and dump data that then can never be recovered. Just doesn't sit well with me.
     
  18. michaeln

    michaeln Guest

    I will be delighted if some day my photography and pp skills were to the point where my 27" iMac becomes inadequate. But like most here, that's pretty unlikely to happen.
     
  19. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    And, as software improves, so can your output. I have a number of images which, with LR3.6, had blown highlights, but using LR4 has enabled me to pull much more detail out of those shots. If the highlights are blown in your jpeg, they're blown forever.
     
  20. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Jpeg is for people who like getting their shot right the first time. :wink:
     
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