RAW vs. JPEG

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ohle

New Member
#1
Have focused on RAW pics for my Canon T1i, as the camera allows up to 9 images in rapid burst.
However, in scenes where many more photos can be taken, waiting for the processing makes me miss some photos.

On my upcoming trip to the southwest, plan to shoot primarily in JPEG where I can take many more photos in succession and capture every movement of the train.

On days when the weather is questionable, will consider shooting RAW as the post processing might improve the shots, but on bright clear days, may stick with JPEG.

At scenes with limited frame volume options, like a train speeding over a small bridge, may use RAW as 9 frames should be more than sufficient.

Revisiting scenes shot the previous day in JPEG, may shoot in RAW the second day.

Want to see others' philosophy on RAW.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
#2
I would find switching back and forth more of a bother than any benefit. If you find yourself needing more than 9 shots in machine gun bursts, I would plan the shot a bit more.
 

ohle

New Member
#3
Realize now I may have been shooting things wrong.
Will shoot in burst when catching a speeding Amtrak train at one scene, when I can get 9 images easily.

The kind of scene I'm talking about is a slow-moving train on a wide mountain curve.
Seems like I may have done too many shots in continuous shooting, and the processing lag made me miss some shots.

That was with a Canon XSI.
Today, I have a T1i.

To test the camera's RAW shooting volume, took some photos in succession in my living room, separated by a half to a full second. Not in burst, but deliberate sequenced shooting.
Easily hit 40+ frames before stopping the experiment.

Even threw-in a couple of continuous high speed shots, and still got high numbers before stopped the experiment.

Guess will keep with the RAW.
Plan to shoot in order but not in high-speed continuous which requires more processing time.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
#4
any pause you can do in the middle of a burst will add tremendously to the buffering capacity. good work.
 
#5
I've only used RAW occasionally, and usually when there is overcast and might be some strange some color shifts.

I shoot an old Nikon D70, and it's buffer fills up pretty fast, so when I am shooting RAW I usually plan my shots and not just hold the button down.

But, when I DO shoot RAW, it seems the JPG images are usually totally fine and I just work them.

On a couple of occasions I have not shot RAW, and for some reason (blue sky and blue water, orange locomotives, brown desert earth) the white balance gets messed up and I wished I had shot in RAW.
 
#6
On my XSi i have been using the JPG + RAW where I get both files of the shots, but have been using raw a lot more lately, its just nice to have the extra options to edit with.
 
#7
Even though my camera has the RAW function I never use it. The JPEG photos already have excellent quality. Most photo editing software can't process RAW photos and most photo centers can't print the photos. The files are also huge going up to 15 MB per photo. I experimented with RAW for a bit but found out it was a waste of time. I eventually did some fine tuning and it looked identical to my JPEG file.

Why are you shooting so many photos of the same train at the same location? Good lord. I believe in one shot when photographing trains on the go. It makes it more unique. I have tried shooting maybe 3 or 4 on those rare occasions but they eventually get deleted back to one. Be a pro and get that one shot!
 
#8
I shoot RAW 100% of the time.

To me shooting JPG is like owning an awesome Muscle Car and never taking it out of first gear...

As far as shooting raw only when its cloudy, I feel that its just as important to get detail down in the dark areas of the trucks on a sunny day as it is to get detail in the clouds on a cloudy day.

Since I converted from Film to Digital, I have gone from JPG to RAW, back to JPG, then back to RAW. I never plan on going back. Every once in a while I go looking for an old photo in my collection and I kick myself when I find that old photo is a JPG.

When I went to college for Photography, it was all film. I can't tell you how many times I was told to, "Go back in the dark room and burn this or dodge that". Shooting in Raw allows you to bun and dodge just like you did back in the day. Sure you can do similar things to a JPG, but not anywhere near the same quality as in a JPG.

The other option I might throw out there.... Memory is Cheap! You can get huge cards and hard drives for next to nothing. Shoot both RAW+JPG at the same time and then play around with both. You might like the JPG now, but may be in the future you will like RAW better?

FYI, I do all my photo edits in Photoshop CS3. I open the RAW file directly in Photoshop and make all edits. The very last thing I do is covert the finished photo to JPG. If you are converting the RAW to JPG right off the bat, there is not point in shooting RAW.
 

ohle

New Member
#9
Why are you shooting so many photos of the same train at the same location? Good lord. I believe in one shot when photographing trains on the go. It makes it more unique. I have tried shooting maybe 3 or 4 on those rare occasions but they eventually get deleted back to one. Be a pro and get that one shot!
I shoot many bec. like making love with your wife, you wanna do it over and over and over...:p

I can get the train's engine at various spots as it crosses the bridge or rounds the canyon curve.

Am traveling to the desert SW soon to get such canyon pics in northern New Mexico, of Glorieta and Raton passes.
Can't travel that far out of state often so like to take as many pics as I can.
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
#10
There's nothing wrong with shooting more than one shot at a location. But when you get to 9 fps, you're almost making a movie. At times it's justified, for example, a fast train where you're trying to get it a location but can't react quickly enough.

Many time it's not though. You can just as easily shoot at specific locations, I want a shot there (click)... pause there (click) and pause there (click).

What do you do with the 9 frames? If you're deleting 8 of them, then be a bit more selective to start with. Pick a precise location and do a 2 or 3 frame burst, then again at another location a bit further into the scene. The pause will help the camera buffer.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
#11
RAW is not an image file, no one can print it until it has been converted to an image file. JPG, BMP, TIFF are image files. Every editor that can ‘handle’ RAW files is actually interpreting the RAW file using some built-in algorithms and the info that is carried in the EXIF file, such as exposure compensation, white balance and such. Even if you shoot a black and white shot in the camera, all the colors are still there if you shoot RAW (but not if you shoot JPG). The exif data just says “make this B&W” and it shows it that way. But all the colors are really still there. The editor uses the data plus the exif data to render its version of an image. Every editor renders the results a bit differently, some better than others. While it is a lousy editor, Picasa actually does a darn good rendering straight up, so good that I use it to convert the majority of my routine shots. And Picasa is free. In many cases I just batch export (make into JPG) the entire folder, and then only save the important RAW files, deleting the bulk of them. So I wind up with the master RAW files on the keepers, and serviceable if not master-quality JPG files for all the others.

When the editor shows you a RAW image on the screen it still isn’t a universal image file, it is a ‘native’ file such as .psp, .psd or whatever that can only be viewed by that software. (do a “save” to see what it calls it.) I don’t know of any reputable editor that “Saves” as the RAW file, thus over-writing the master. This would not be good. Once you are finished editing and do a “Save As”, only then does it become a JPG, BMP or TIF (or whatever) that are universally view-able. JPGs are compressed, TIF and BMP are usually not compressed and in some cases make even larger files.

Viewing and editing RAW files is too simple to be a reason to stay away from shooting RAW. Yes the files are big, that’s because none of the data has been thrown away yet. The JPG files are smaller simply because a lot of the data has been deleted/compressed.

Regardless of the workflow, your editor or virtually anything else, it is worth your time and discipline to cull your images mercilessly. Even if storage space is almost free, it just makes no sense to keep every frame of a high speed passing. Long bursts are good to make sure you at least GET the right image, but force yourself to cull it down to 1, 2 or 3 frames and get rid of the rest. Recycle those bits! The folks who have to look at your files when you are dead to see if you really were the photographic genius your kids think you were will thank you.
 
#12
Ok, I know Railroad photos are somewhat different, but the whole time issue seems to be a big hangup with a lot of railroad photographers.

I read the other day where Landscape Photographer Zack Schnepf said he spends on average about 3 hours processing each photo.

I read the award winning Thomas Mangelsen prints 1 out of every 10,000 shots he takes.

I also heard that Ansel Adams would sometimes spend weeks just working on one print.

I don't spend that long working on my photos, but I would much rather get 1 amazing shot than 50 decent shots. Unfourtinately, when it comes to railroads, I do end up with more of the 50 decent shots than the 1 amazing shot.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
#13
Ok, I know Railroad photos are somewhat different, but the whole time issue seems to be a big hangup with a lot of railroad photographers.

I read the other day where Landscape Photographer Zack Schnepf said he spends on average about 3 hours processing each photo.

I read the award winning Thomas Mangelsen prints 1 out of every 10,000 shots he takes.

I also heard that Ansel Adams would sometimes spend weeks just working on one print.

I don't spend that long working on my photos, but I would much rather get 1 amazing shot than 50 decent shots. Unfourtinately, when it comes to railroads, I do end up with more of the 50 decent shots than the 1 amazing shot.

The difference is:
Railroad Enthusiasts who happen to take photographs,
or
Photographers who photograph trains.

Nothing wrong with either but the rules and assumptions of each shouldn't be confused. And honestly, most of us are part each. Sometimes I am Mr Serious Photographer trackside, other times just a rabid foamer with a camera. I'm fine with either. But it impacts how I approach it each time.

Here's one where I was mighty glad I shot in the highest possible resolution, even if each shot took 30 seconds (seriously) to save (Tiff mode).
http://www.railroadforums.com/photos/showphoto.php/photo/371/title/olympic-wallpaper-sd70m/cat/500
 

pedrop

A Railfan in Brazil
#14
Well, I used Nikon D90 in the past and now I use a D7000. Both cameras allows us to shot in JPEG and RAW at the same time, but D7000 can store the RAW files in one card and JPEG in the other. That´s one of the many reasons I use Nikon.
 
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#15
I always shoot raw as well. As technology moves forward, old shots I took years ago that weren't any good can be saved. The latest version of Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw both are a vast improvement and I aim to go back through my library and take a look, you never know!

Also keep in mind that a faster CF or SD card can have a big impact on your buffering speed when shooting bursts. With trains I rarely shoot more than 3 or 4 at a time unless I am trying for an "action" shot, like panning or something, but I also shoot birds in flight, and for that, it's usually "machine gun" mode.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
#16
Also keep in mind that a faster CF or SD card can have a big impact on your buffering speed when shooting bursts.
excellent point. also if your camera will utilize it, check for UDMA compatibility on the card, it makes the transfer faster.

realize that some (like my 50d) have 2 high speed advance modes, the slower one is still fast, maybe 4fps? but not quite as fast as the max 6+fps. I actually use the slower mode more often than the faster. Birds in flight and fluttering butterflies will get the full 6.3fps. That's like a 36 exposure roll in under 6 seconds. But for train shots it makes more to toss.
 

ohle

New Member
#17
There's nothing wrong with shooting more than one shot at a location. But when you get to 9 fps, you're almost making a movie. At times it's justified, for example, a fast train where you're trying to get it a location but can't react quickly enough.
If you're on a trip out of state, to a locale you may only visit once every year or two, tend to like to take as many pics as I can.
What if one shot is blurry? You have 8 others.

However, I didn't hold the shutter down and get 9 fps RAW.
Just kept shooting every second, as the train wasn't speeding and wanted to get more than ample numbers.

Many time it's not though. You can just as easily shoot at specific locations, I want a shot there (click)... pause there (click) and pause there (click).
Looking at my slide rolls, I see I took many pics too.
Now, was using a 35mm or 50mm lens, so couldn't zoom-in like now can with my 28mm-70mm lens, but took just as many pics.

What do you do with the 9 frames? If you're deleting 8 of them, then be a bit more selective to start with. Pick a precise location and do a 2 or 3 frame burst, then again at another location a bit further into the scene. The pause will help the camera buffer.
Won't delete them.
In a scene of Amtrak approaching a semaphore, counted 16 shots (RAW).
Those weren't 9fps, but 16 shots taken every second, with some pauses, some where the train was farther away..

Did take others' advice here and shoot mostly RAW.
On occasion, where the window was narrow, say a train up against a rock cliff between trees and knew I'd only get a handful of shots, did the RAW+JPEG but for most cases, shot only RAW.

Shot RAW for my prime Amtrak shots, JPEGS for "scenery" non-train shots and freights.
 
#18
I was reading Ken Rockellls we site. He says to use the electronics of the modern cameras to get it right and shoot JPEG. It seems to make sense unless your shooting fashion covers or something. But most people here sound like they prefer RAW.
 



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