Raw files or JPEG

This is the big question that puzzles every one in amateur circles!

Particularly if one listens to fellow club members who happened to be major prize winners in club and international competitions.

Now if one takes two paces back, to the good old film days, and you offered these members a choice of the three films shown below or possibly fall into two camps, but would all agree that the Lucky Film would not be their first choice.

Lucky film from China

They would go on to tell you why they used one of the other, two, how they exposed the film, who did the processing, and who they would not trust the processing, and if you press them, with the question, do you bracket your exposures they would probably all answer yes in certain circumstances.

Of course it is no longer necessary to bracket exposures when you shoot raw on digital.

Processing the image in Lightroom enables you to adjust almost every part of the image, enhance one particular colour, you can almost do anything which is probably why film users believe the digital is cheating! This is somewhat similar to the people that coated their own glass plates, thought of people that purchased ready-made glass plates in the early 1900's.

Now these former picky film uses have changed to digital, they are prepared to accept what I would call the Lucky image, commonly known as a JPEG.

No longer are they interested in the old days where they carefully researched the various film emulsions, they have forgotten all the careful research they did in the various laboratories to process their film and they are prepared to accept the electronic processing done by the small computer chip in their camera.

They'll give a weak excuses as to why they do this, like raw files take up much more space! This might have been a problem several years ago, but today storage space is very cheap.

Now a real believable scenario is what they would do in the old days, show you a transparency processed by lab A and a transparency process by lab B.

Today they would become believable if they did two exposures at the one time of six variable scenes with variable lighting, one raw file and one JPEG, (you can do this on most of the better cameras) past the raw file onto one of the many experts in Lightroom and maximise the JPEG themselves and show the results that when they lecture or talk that the JPEG is good enough!

Sometimes I have heard serious amateurs quoting what their friend who is a "Professional Photographer" does to support their point of view.

Now as somebody that has owned the largest professional colour lab in New Zealand this sort of information does not impress me as of my 200 customers probably 5% really knew what they were talking about, which means 95% of my customers really didn't have a clue about the finer techniques of photography and relied on the lab to correct their mistakes. This 95% often included photographers with letters of qualification after their name.

I'm sure you will agree is not the fancy name the photographer gives himself, but what knowledge and technical expertise he has, as to the value of his comment.


Some interesting articles

Raw vis Jpeg a interesting article

How to use Lightroom to convert RAW

Sermon From A Raw Convert This article is a little out of date (2003), but this does not alter the valuable information contained on this page, I have added "up to date" comments in red.