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Thread: Shooting with RAW (NEF)

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    New Member Nikonoff's Avatar
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    Shooting with RAW (NEF)

    Hi everyone, just started shooting in RAW or NEF as it's known in Nikon circles, and aside from huge files I can't really see what the difference is. I have to be honest, I was only trying it for fun and really didn't know what to expect. I set the camera (D90) to simultaneously take a shot in NEF and JPG just to compare but as I said earlier can't really see a difference. There's so much hype about RAW that I'd like to take advantage of it, but I need to find out what to do with them first.
    regards

    Harry

    D90, Nikkor 18 - 55 and 55 - 200 VR lenses

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Harry. For most situations you will get about the same results whether you use raw or jpeg.
    Raw is good for detail recovery in non-usual cases, like when you've got an over-bright sky and
    you want to still maintain some shadow detail, and in lots of other examples...

    When your jpeg gives you a blown sky, or irrecoverable shadows that's where you can go to a raw
    file and get the info from it.

    You have got to know how to "develop" raw files to give an optimum image. Don't worry about "hype".
    It's not usually found on AP.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    RAW files are 12/14 bit files. JPG files are 8 bit files. That alone gives you a huge advantage when editing. Especially when you seek to restore detail from shadow areas etc.

    Looking at the two images side by side on screen you will likely not notice much difference (as you have found), but zoom in, got to something like 400 % zoom and compare the quality of the pixels.
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    Ausphotography Regular John King's Avatar
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    Gidday Harry

    Further to what Am and Rick have said, a JPEG file has the colour space, bit depth and white balance irrevocably baked into the file, and those values are almost always less than optimal. Changing them in post processing will almost always lead to massive data loss. Considering that JPEGs are already lossey compressed files, one cannot afford to lose yet more.

    Basically, changing these files very much is a bit like adding an ensuite to a Hollywood set - there's nothing to add it to!

    The upshot of all this is almost all editing latitude is lost. It takes me a few seconds to have a RAW file looking better than the JPEG (I always shoot RAW + LSF JPEG, that's another story ... ). 'Heroic' editing of a marginal but important JPEG can take hours!

    Just FWIW, and IME.
    Regards, john

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    WIth Raw files you can set the White Balance in post processing, if the scene changes from e.g. cloudy to sunny or shade during your shoot.

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    Wow Guys, that puts it in perspective. Thanks for the detailed information, and you absolutely correct Ameerat, it wasn't AP that I was tarring with the hype brush, I may have been referring to some UK publications.........

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    'TsOK, Chris - sorry, I meant Harry. I will say that you can get a lot of hype online when people get a bee in the bonnet.
    Just keep asking Qs here. If the answers are not to hand, they'll soon be worked out, and not without your involvement.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 02-10-2016 at 6:08pm.

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    Perpetually Bewildered fillum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonoff View Post
    There's so much hype about RAW
    In my experience there seems to be a couple of 'themes' that run through discussions about capturing images as raw files. Often it is made to sound more difficult than it actually is in practice, and secondly it's often put forward as some sort of 'magic' that solves all image problems. Whilst raw files do allow more latitiude for adjustments / remediation than jpegs, there are limits as to what can be achieved.

    All digital cameras capture images as raw data, but what data gets stored on the card depends on your file storage settings (raw / jpeg / etc...). (Although note that many basic cameras don't allow a raw file option and store jpeg only). If your storage mode is set to jpeg only, the camera's firmware applies your in-camera settings such as 'picture-control', white-balance, etc, to the raw data and writes the resulting subset of data as a jpeg file to the card. As an extreme example you might take a shot where the exposure is 'spot on' but have your picture-control set to 'vivid' with the colour settings, contrast and brightness all bumped right up - the resulting jpeg image is likely to have blown highlights in some, if not all channels. If you only have the jpeg file in this case there is no way to go back and rectify the image - any detail that hasn't made it into the jpeg file is lost forever.

    When saving the image as a raw file these in-camera settings are not applied to the raw image data but are stored as parameters as part of the exif data in the file. Some raw-processing software, such as the stuff Nikon provides, will read these parameters and apply them to the image when it is loaded into the software. Consequently the loaded 'raw' image will look similar to what an in-camera jpeg image would have looked like. However in this case, because you have the raw data, you can change settings. So if your picture-control was set to 'monochrome' in camera the image would load as monochrome, but you could then change it to say 'landscape' which would give you back a coloured image. Third-party raw-processing software probably won't apply these in-camera settings when the file is loaded, so regardless of what the picture-control was at the time of shooting, the loaded image will show a fairly flat looking colour image.

    My suggestion to help you get your head around this stuff would be to take some test shots (raw + jpg) of something with a range of colours and some extreme(-ish) lighting (maybe a side-lit bowl of fruit?) and deliberately under- and over-expose the shots and then compare the results you can achieve in post-processing of each file type.

    Let us know if you have any questions...




    Cheers.
    Phil.

    Some Nikon stuff. I shoot Mirrorless and Mirrorlessless.


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    Hi Phil, you've really hit the nail on the head with respect to the mystery that surrounds the use of RAW files. I had deliberately shied away from RAW believing that it was a format that, due to it's magical properties, I would never really benefit from due to my lack of understanding. In any case, nothing ventured nothing gained, I'll muck around with comparative shots in both formats and see what happens. Thanks.

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    Ausphotography Regular John King's Avatar
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    Harry, one problem that one faces with demonstrating many of the benefits of raw files is that the Internet is pretty unhappy with any format other than JPEGs and PNGs. This makes it difficult for any of us to upload files for direct comparison.

    I can do this only by uploading (using FTP) the files directly to my web site host server, then posting direct links that allow someone else to download the full size and unaltered files to their computer for comparison. The same thing can be done using DropBox, etc. Needless to say, this is a fair bit of mucking around!

    Do experiment with raw. It really is worth learning how to use this data format for producing images.

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    Ausphotography Veteran tandeejay's Avatar
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    At my photography club last month, the guy who'd been brought in to judge that months photography competition said "you should only shoot jpeg if you can nail the exposure settings in-camera every time."
    John Blackburn

    "Life is like a camera! Focus on what is important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work out take another shot."


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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post

    Looking at the two images side by side on screen you will likely not notice much difference (as you have found), but zoom in, got to something like 400 % zoom and compare the quality of the pixels.
    So how many are going to do a 400 % zoom?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Another reason not yet mentioned, but could still be important for shooting raw over jpg is for higher quality printing.

    The comment made earlier that jpgs are only 8bit colour quality is the relevant piece of info here.
    You can create higher quality jpgs with some new formats surfacing, but as it currently stands, in camera generated jpgs are only 8bit colour quality.

    With printing, colour fidelity is everything!
    The more bits(of info) stored in the image file, the greater the ability to reproduce colours(or more accurately the colour gradations) in prints!

    It's that simple.
    It extremely rare to get simple non graduated colour tones in photos, which means that as each colour is produced, there is a graduation from one to another.
    As an example; in a typical sunset type situation the sky will graduate from a darker blue to a cyan to an eventual white/yellow colour at the horizon.
    Obviously there are hard to distinguish graduations from one colour tone, to the next, and so on.
    The more bits, the better those tones will reproduce.

    If you want to edit this image to it's it's limit(eg. in terms of tonal range) andn then print it in high quality, then most really high quality print shops will recommend a 16bit TIFF file type.
    If you shoot in jpg mode in camera, you're clean out of luck! That format can not produce a 16bit TIFF file that is actually true 16bit quality.
    From what I understand, you can do this, but the extra bit information is psuedo .. it's not real and it provides no useful data.

    This is where raw format comes into it's own.
    So on top of the points made above re: editability .. it can create a high quality image format that will produce a higher quality print that jpg is capable of.

    NOTE! this doesn't mean that jpgs can't be printed in high quality!
    Of course you can, and for 99.9% of printing purposes, jpg is fine.
    It's when you've pushed and processed that lil bit more than jpg is capable of rendering is when TIFF mode comes into it's element.
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    Ausphotography Regular Hamster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tandeejay View Post
    At my photography club last month, the guy who'd been brought in to judge that months photography competition said "you should only shoot jpeg if you can nail the exposure settings in-camera every time."
    I similar quote I like is:
    "You have to be a really good photographer to shoot in jpeg"


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    New Member Kevvy's Avatar
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    I agree with all that Arthur said.
    I shoot only in RAW and save as TIFF after pp because I get a lot of printing done.
    i also occasionally get a coffee table book from online printing companies and the 16 bit file type is a requirement to produce best results.
    Cheers

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