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RAW...huh...what is it good for?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by kevinparis, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    absolutely nothing you may say....

    but RAW is good... but worrying on how to deal with it is very very bad.

    RAW is simply all the image data your camera captures. If your camera is set to shoot jpeg or only shoots jpeg then the image you get has already thrown away at least 20% of the image you shot.

    Import a RAW file into a computer and it has to 'process' this file.. If you are on a Mac then the RAW 'conversion' is done at the OS level... and Apple have spent a lot of time and effort to make sure that conversion is as true to the camera manufacturers interpretation as possible. This happens for iphoto and Aperture and Preview and even the thumbnails you see in the Finder

    If you use Adobe software, Adobe Camera RAW (aka ACR) will do the same thing, and their guys are equally passionate about getting as good an image as possible.

    Bottom line is that you the photographer should NEVER have to play around with all those RAW adjustment sliders...unless you really know what you are doing otherwise you will either see no obvious results or will screw up your opportunity to mess about with the image later. I have never ever seen a raw conversion slider that has made an image look better than the default settings

    My theory is that 95% of all photographers.. and maybe even a 100% of photographers here don't need to have any control over or any concern with the the RAW conversion process. Let the experts at Adobe and Apple fret about that... really your life is too short and you don't know what you are doing.

    Also you don't need Photoshop or similar to do photography... they are completely the wrong tool for photographers... they are wonderful graphic arts tools but were never designed for photographers.

    Lightroom or Aperture and maybe Bibble offer the best way for almost anybody who takes digital images to import process and share their images quickly and easily.

    I know photoshop...probably longer than most people here....its a wonderful application... but it is not the best way for a photographer to start processing their images. It is a tool for grahic artists... not photographers

    If you are working in digital photography, especially if you are starting don't buy photoshop....buy aperture or lightroom look and learn what both programs can do to your pictures and how they address the organisational nightmare you will bump against someday

    and if you find you really need Photoshop... which i doubt... buy it later when you understand what it is you are trying to do.

    I know there are things photoshop is good for.. but in my world they are black belt ninja things that most people neeed less than 5% of the time
    just my opinion... your mileage may vary
    • Like Like x 8
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Raw....hmmmm how else would you eat clams?
    How else would you want files....

    Kevin, it seems to me that old school film shooters love raw and the newer digital generation likes those jpeg things.....
    Just an observation....
  3. Michael

    Michael Mu-43 Regular

    OOOO Kevin! that's provocative but probably ninety percent correct!
    I seem to recall reading in the last PS paper manual (CS2 or 3) that the ACR AUTO setting would correct most images presented, for the most part that is a very true statement.
    I tried Aperture ver 1. ? and 2 for about six months but found it slow and cumbersome especially when photoshop was really needed, this was with a high spec'd Mac. I have never used Lightroom but knowing that ACR is incorporated its probably all one needs that or perhaps Elements, which is very good value for money. Having used Adobe software professionally for nearly twenty five years old habits die hard...
  4. JoeFriday

    JoeFriday Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    I must be doing something wrong then.. I often tweak the sliders in ACR for images with questionable lighting and get huge improvements. In fact, I rarely use 100% default settings with any image. And I shoot RAW 100% of the time. JPGs are the equivalent of Polaroids, in my mind.

    I just hope I don't get my Adobe ACE certification taken away now.
  5. G1 User

    G1 User Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 20, 2010
    Seems like a reasonable explanation...
    I am "old school' and yes I shoot film (4-35mm camera's: 1 RF, 2-SLR, 1-AF Compact), Plus 1 Digital m4/3

    Yes I shoot RAW in all my camera's.
  6. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I was talking to a girl the other day who is just getting into photography and I told her 'I shoot RAW'.
    Well, You shoulda seen the look on her face.
    Found out later that she thought I said 'I shoot in the RAW':biggrin:
    • Like Like x 2
  7. JoeFriday

    JoeFriday Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    and that would have been considered odd down in Oz? ;) 
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Grant

    Grant Mu-43 Veteran

    Oh Kevin you old provocateur you.:wink:

    This reminds me of a saying " If everyone like the same thing then everyone would want to marry my Grandmother!"
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Wow. Photoshop is for graphic artists and not for photographers?! Wow. I am both and both statements are wrong! And I "play around with those RAW adjustment sliders" all the time. The defaults setting are not the "best," they are "average."

    I guess we got up on the wrong side of the Lightroom today.

    That is one of the funniest post I have read in a long time. :D 
  10. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I use ACR almost exclusively with PS, and it's a great tool for bringing out the most IQ from my images. With the workflow I've set up, it doesn't take me more than a few seconds per image. I use PS simply to do some minor adjustments, maybe add frames, play with layers if I want to get creative, etc. post-ACR.
  11. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    I'd come a "cropper" without LR and as I never vote labour these days have started "exposing myself to the right" so I need a bit of "software" to bring me back in line

    They still sell and process film in French and Belgian supermarkets - about 2.50 Euros a go!
    • Like Like x 1
  12. joele

    joele Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Sorry but I disagree with both statements actually, really what is the point of using a RAW converter if you don't make adjustments? that is the whole point, otherwise just shoot jpeg and save your time and money...

    I also disagree with the photoshop comments, I have a rather involved sharpening process to give that 3d pop (or accentuate it if already there) and I haven't found a way to do it outside of photoshop to date... I also have a good number of macros for various other things/effects...

    For me RAW and photoshop are essential tools..
  13. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    :2thumbs: keep them coming Brady, keep them coming :rofl:

  14. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    well.... working with a default converted RAW file still gives you more information to play with than a JPEG does.

    I fully recognise that photoshop has its uses - but it is something that comes at the very end of the process if at all.

    The fact remains that majority of what most photographers want to do to their images is done more efficiently in LR/Aperture.

    why should I open my 12 MB RAW file in ACR, turn it into a 50MB tiff, work out where I am going to save that, then make that file bigger and bigger as I add layer after layer of adjustments, possibly saving intermediate versions as I go along, each taking up hard disk space and increasing my file management problems, when there is a more efficient, more inuitative way of working available to me?

    • Like Like x 2
  15. joele

    joele Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I actually use LR too (never ACR), and process the image there, some things get saved to JPEG at that point, or if I want to do things in Photoshop with them I transfer it to photoshop directly (PHOTO-EDIT IN PS) and then save the end result to JPEG (I keep all my RAW files).. I never save multiple TIFF files, or any for that matter..
  16. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Leaving aside the issue of photoshop (which I've never used), I agree with everything Kevin says in the original post. I use RAW all the time and use Aperture as my processor, editor, cataloger, etc, etc, etc. (although I do quite a bit of my B&W conversion in Silver Efex now). And I hate the idea of shooting jpegs and leaving all of that information on the cutting room floor - unretrievable.


    For the first several weeks I had my LX5, before Apple added it to their supported RAW list, there was no way to process the RAW files in Aperture (and, yeah, I tried ALL of the workarounds using DNG files and everything else). So I just shot jpegs. And I took a really disproportionate number of shots in that period that I really really really liked! I still tweaked them in Aperture and converted many of them in Silver Efex, but I just got a lot more keepers than I usually do. I'm sure that was the 'new camera smell' thing rather than the processing so I don't attribute it to shooting in jpeg. But still there's this little nagging thought in my mind.... And it also makes me realize that it doesn't matter that much - great results are available either way. RAW just gives you more information to play with.

    And yeah, I'm an old film guy...

    • Like Like x 1
  17. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    I would agree.
    Loading up a RAW is, half for me, so you can tweak your image until is exactly how you think it looks best (without further specialised adjustments). A default process can only guess at one look of the many you might want for the image.

    You say you know Photoshop (CS5)?
    I've never seen PS make an auto RAW adjustment that is one I want to keep.
    Do you, for instance, know of the clarity slider in CS5? That is something you would always want to try adjusting (not to mention exposure etc.).
    RAW processing in CS5 is non-destructive. You can mess about with the image later as much as you like.
  18. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    I "saw the light" last March and gave my £300, (or was it £200), to "Uncle Sam's" economy - 50% more in the UK and Europe for the software than the US.

    I should have bought an M9 then I would have got it free

    Never looked back, the problem is that I now spend far more time "looking at a screen" and moving the sliders "here and there" than most other things - but I can put this down to "developing my creative talents"

    All good fun and this is going to be a long thread of mainly ................... ?
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Unless you are manipulating images (such as cutting and moving people, etc.) I find I can do 99% of what I need to do in Lightroom. And I am only shooting RAW. The non-destructive editing and catalog are worth their weight in latinum (point for who gets the reference).

    And as I have worked with it I have also found I tend to do the same basic adjustments most of the time which is where making your own presets comes in handy as excellent starting (and sometimes finishing) points.

    But I still spend a lot of time in Lightroom working with images. But it is far less time than I used to spend in the darkroom. When I had a darkroom I would often spend one evening a week (usually 6 hours) developing film and making enlargements. I was very happy to get 6 good pictures (and sometimes one very good) out of maybe two rolls of film (72 pictures for about 10% usable). Now it seems I shoot 3x+ as many pictures but can go through them in Lightroom in around 2 hours. Still only keep around 10%. But I am also doing mostly color instead of only black and white as well. I tried my own color darkroom developing but quickly gave up.

    So instead of standing in a room all evening with a dark orange light (and occasional flashes of bright blinding white light to check prints) breathing chemical fumes I can now sit in my easy chair with a dog in my lap. And I can quickly throw images up on the TV and get my wife's opinion.

    I do strongly recommend two monitors when you use Lightroom - you can get a lot more out of it if you do (e.g. zoom in on one and make adjustments while seeing a larger full screen version on the other).
  20. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    in the cold light of day and in response to some of the comments here I decided to open up a RAW file in Photoshop for the first time in many years.

    I was somewhat surprised to find that the controls offered differed a lot from what I remembered.

    The curious part is that the controls I associated with the RAW conversion process as opposed to the general image processing controls now seem to be absent in ACR.

    These still appear in Aperture under the heading RAW fine tuning and consist of Boost/Hue Boost, Sharpening/Edges, Moire/Radius and Auto Noise compensation. These are the controls that I was railing against using, as adjusting them has never made any image better. I am pretty sure that these fine tuning controls used to be part of the ACR experience

    Almost all the controls that appear in ACR, I have in Aperture - most of them with the same names - though Clarity seems to be called Definition in Aperture speak. The fact that all these appear regardless of whether I am editing a JPEG or a RAW file implies to me that they are image processing controls not RAW conversion controls

    But the big difference - and this is why i continue to rail against the Photoshop workflow is that it seems I have to bake in all the photography friendly controls ACR offers before I can move on to photoshop, whereas in Aperture, and I suspect Lightroom too all of the adjustments you can do in ACR are always available to me at anytime.

    The whole bolt on nature of using ACR and Photoshop reinforces my belief that Photoshop , despite its name was never designed for photographer, unlike Aperture and Lightroom

    • Like Like x 1
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