View Full Version : Some Raw vs JPEG education please

9th December 2007, 05:35 PM
I've had the E500 for some time now and more recently the E510

On both the default option I have been using is Raw + SHQ. This in my mind gives me instant files to play with and RAW's for use when I've messed something up (like when I was taking non flash pictures underground and walked back onto the surface taking puctures at 1600 ISO and + 2 stops:o)

Mostly my post processing is limited to cropping and some gently sharpening in PSP and Once in a blue moon I do something adventurous like changing the saturation, but honestly I mostly like what I see..

Point is I hear a lot of you talk abot manually developing your RAW files and wonder whether I should be doing the same ?

What am I missing :confused:?


9th December 2007, 06:46 PM
If you're happy with jpegs, then you might not need to use RAW – but RAW gives you a lot more options for the future and can be better quality.

RAW can mean a bit more faffing about, but software like Aperture or Lightroom has made a big difference.

If you're happy to keep the RAW files for possible future use then that seems a good policy.

9th December 2007, 07:15 PM
If you don't do any Post Processing, or don't use Lightroom or Adobe RAW plug-in for Photoshop, I guess you don't really need to use RAW. Yes of course, you could be using Olympus Master etc or another RAW manager, but essentially what RAW provides is the ability to adjust more settings. JPG has predetermined algorithms for the things that you can do manually in RAW.

For example, compression, sharpening, pixelation etc... all of these can be controlled manually using RAW but not so much using a file format that will have already applied many of these parameters.

Does that make sense...?

9th December 2007, 08:36 PM
I guess I mislabelled this so I've renaned it

I know of the power of Raw processing and I fully know how do make all the adjustments I was playing with Rawshooter before the almight A took it over and built it into LR.

It's just that often after a lot of playing around I come to the opinion that the in camera engine does a pretty good job so I end up throwing it all away and going back to that.

I tend to fiddle with the camera settings at the point of taking the photograph and work with those settings to get the image I want.

I see a lot of people talking about how they process everying from Raw every time and I wonder how many people are doing that because they think that they have to in order to prove their credentials as a "serious" photographer. Is it better or is it just adjusting the settings in the warm in front of the PC?

It's like back in the film days when I decided that fuji did a better job at developing provia/velvia than I was ever going to so focussed on reshaping / cropping slides once the basic processing was done.

Maybe it's worth a poll some time - RAW processing - do you need to do it or do Olympus know a thing or two after all ?


10th February 2008, 03:19 PM
I also shoot Raw + Jpeg ... and sometimes I use the JPEG that came straight from the camera ... especially if it already looks good and I don't have the time to play with it.

I treat RAW as my negatives and process the images into my jpegs for distribution just as a photo film developer would, excepting the cases as stated in paragraph 1. I like the option.

Sometimes when shooting, I also find it easy to take a dozen pictures at various quick settings as well and adjust them later ... that helps me learn and doesn't tie me up with composing one shot for 10 minutes or whatever. I find I get more shots this way and often as has come with experience, I find I can shoot pretty fast anyway and not have to worry about settings because I usually pic the correct ones.

But just as a purist, I don't like that jpegs are lossy. I like that Raw is lossless. Once that opportunity (the SHOT) is gone, it's gone!! And if you only have jpeg then you have only captured a lossy version of it and are limited with what you can do with it later.

The only bad thing about Raw IMO is the space it takes on the HD ... but I make multiple back ups to multiple locations and use only HIGH QUALITY dvd discs ....

Another thing, in Vista Oly put out that codec that lets you preview the Raw thumbnails which is nice because XP doesn't have that option. So before I got Vista (still use XP on other machine), I would have to reference the file name with the jpeg to know which raw I wanted to open .... instead of just importing every RAW into LR or Master ....

Just my two cents, but each to his own.

10th February 2008, 03:36 PM
There is an article: Raw Image Format: Pros and Cons

over on Wrotniak's web site. Makes an interesting read on this topic.


Scapula Memory
10th February 2008, 04:06 PM
When I first got my E1 I shot in jpeg only because I wanted to see what could be achieved in camera. Also because I wanted to learn about the camera and not get bogged down by PP. In recent months I started to shoot in Raw & jpeg to start playing around with raw files and making comparisons to jpegs. Now I set the camera to raw only and feel confident about making adjustments in PP that appeal to me. Having said this I do not spend hours on each pic, more like minutes as I get a feel for the software and what I am trying to do.

Without a shred of doubt altering a raw image is far more efficient than a jpeg. As mentioned raw is lossless and you can revisit it again and again if need be. I would recommend it and suggest you spend a few minutes on each picture ( you can batch process to save time ) For me an image is much about retaining as much detail as possible, especially colour and exposure. Adjusting WB without a hit is also a fantastic facility. With raw you have it in the beginning unlike jpeg where much detail has been stripped out.

This is not about credentials or showing off, but more about getting the finished product you wanted and influencing that. It may not suit you in which case nothing to worry about. It takes only a few seconds to produce a jpeg from a raw file and doing this in real time and seeing the effects on a PC screen is quite rewarding. A raw file also serves as a digital negative, you always have the master copy.

At the end of the day it is only a learning curve, time might factor in, but so far for me processing raw files has been quite enjoyable and I assure you I do not spend hours tinkering with one image!

Horses for courses really, your 510s jpegs will be very very good and if this is serving your needs then do not feel you are missing out.

Jim Ford
10th February 2008, 04:15 PM
I used to shoot all jpeg, but in the last year have shot raw exclusively. Apart from any arguments regarding quality, I find it _much_ easier to do exposure adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw, than in Photoshop. We all try to get the exposure right on location, but it doesn't always work out. Even with a 'correctly' exposed image I find it can be quickly and easily fine tuned by holding down ALT and moving the 'exposure' slider to the right until the highlights are not quite blown, then again holding down ALT and moving the 'shadows' slider to the left until the shadows aren't quite blocked. This is such a quick and sensitive process compared to the 'levels' adjustment in PS. Finally, you can easily adjust the mid-tones with the 'brightness' slider and 'contrast' and 'saturation' to taste.

Another point that I feel is insufficiently emphasised, is that all these adjustments are non-destructive. The adjustment data is held within the file in the case of DNG files, or external xmp 'sidecar' files in the case of ORFs. In both cases the 'as shot' data is unaltered. This means that however many times you fiddle with an image, the original data remains untouched and you can always go back to it at a later date and start again.

Jim Ford

Nick Temple-Fry
10th February 2008, 05:37 PM
I like this one, it comes up so regularly that you can well rehearse your arguments. Indeed by careful choice of forums/magazines you could devote your whole life to making just this one topic your hobby, in fact I suspect some of the more ubiquitous photography 'journalists' have done precisely that.

So my half pennies worth:-

It doesn't matter a printers cuss - what has worth/value is the photograph, and the photograph is what you can see with your eyes. Line up a mixed series of photographs, some shot raw, some on film, some with in camera jpeg development and then get a panel of 'judges' to decide which was shot with what technique.

But I would also argue it is worth learning to shoot raw, the fact you can play with aspects of colour temperature/noise/sharpening/exposure etc in comfort will give you a far better opportunity to learn to control these settings. Whether ultimately you choose to do so via the camera buttons or via the PC.

I shoot raw, because I enjoy both the composition of photographs and the control of the development process. I also like the capability to deal with difficult exposure situations and situations where the white balance/colour temperature can change from moment to moment.

But does my choice make be a better/more serious photographer than anyone else, of course not (just look at my images).

This is an art, practised for personal enjoyment, both the pallete knife and the calligraphy pen have equal value.


10th February 2008, 06:05 PM
I normally use Raw and JPG. I have some older photo that I did not take using a Raw option, and now I wish that I had.

I basically have unlimited storage available, so now it is not a problem. (Currently over 4TB)

Just backup, and often.

The E-510 SHQ JPG are, in my opinion, very good, and I only get slightly better pictures when processing Raw occasionally.

11th February 2008, 12:33 PM
I recently started using RAW and thought I'd be converted to using it all the time, but I haven't. There are various reasons.

I don't have the time to edit every picture I take, and it seems pointless to use a standard 'fits all' editing.
The RAW file sizes on the E400 are so big that I'll fill the computer and external storage in no time at all.
I've messed around with deliberately over and underexposed pictures, and no matter how hard I try I can't get the detail out of blown highlights or the deep shadows.
So some of the claimed benefits of RAW aren't there, for me at least. It's still important to take care with getting the picture as near right as possible in the first place.

I think RAW has got a place though, and I'm also far more confident about editing now. If there's a special occasion, or a special picture, I might use RAW and PhaseOne4.

But even so it isn't always the quality of the picture - perfect exposure, perfect colour etc - that's important, it's what it shows. No matter how hard you try it isn't always possible to have the camera on the right setting for "that shot" - the one that would get away if the photographer takes too much time to press the button.

So, I'm going back to SHQ JPEGs, bracketed where necessary, and taking care to get it as right as I can before I press the shutter. And I'll be always looking out for that special picture. ;)

11th February 2008, 01:22 PM
I shoot 90-95% jpeg, I shoot raw if I think there might be an issue or if I must nail a shot, this applies in the studio or out and about. In the studio you are in control so you should be able to nail it, colour and exposure wise, the only exception tends to be young kids, you are having to take pics so quick the flash might not of recharged fully so the expression is caght but it may be a tad dark then shooting in Raw is useful.

Overal I think the jpeg engine in the E-1 is great, the E-400 is good but not up to the E-1

Check out the wifes studio shots (she's Cheesy Grins on here if you didn't know) www.cheesygrins.co.uk most of the shots on there are jpeg



11th February 2008, 08:50 PM
I'm glad that I started this thread because some interesting opinions are coming out.

I like your collective tone - it ain't something that people should seem *shamed* into, but I think some people begin to feel pressured that way. If you need it for a shoot or a picture or for everything it's a tool in your toolbox.

I had begun to think that I was one of the only luddites that prefered to spend time in front of the lens than the computer (too much of that at work) and I agree with all the opinions that you can do more with RAW (and I do sometimes and I do improve things, but in the main I just like taking the pictures.

One day I'll find a raw converter that I really like and I'll do more, but I'm not satisfied with anything I've tried so far (and I've tried a lot). Until then I'll use both RAW and JPEG and keep enjoing pushing the shutter


11th February 2008, 10:58 PM
No matter how hard you try it isn't always possible to have the camera on the right setting for "that shot" - the one that would get away if the photographer takes too much time to press the button.

So, I'm going back to SHQ JPEGs

I'm not sure I understand your logic Ellie:confused: of course this could just be my innate stupidity. One of the advantages of shooting RAW is that you don't have to bother about the settings to the same extent. With a RAW file you can muck about with contrast and colour balance settings to your hearts content in PP without any quality loss. You are right that trying to regain detail from a badly exposed shot will never give you as good a result as proper exposure but in my experience you can save more detail from a badly exposed RAW file than a badly exposed JPEG. You might have to spend a bit more on memory but nowadays it is so cheap that isn't a problem and for long term storage you can pickup a 500Gb external hard drive for less than 70 or 100 DVDs, a total of 470Gb, for less than 13. Lets face it the thing that matters is the end result, a badly composed picture will always be a badly composed picture no matter how well exposed, I just feel that shooting in RAW gives more options and a better chance of getting a technically good shot allowing you to concentrate on the composition.

Ian C.

11th February 2008, 11:04 PM
Ellie, Ianc gives excellent and sound advice in his post. I'd wholeheartedly agree with his comments too. Shooting in RAW gives you as the photographer much more control over the end result, than if you only shoot in JPG format.

12th February 2008, 02:44 AM
:D I've often been told that my logic is incomprehensible, but it works for me.

I did take some pictures using RAW this evening, because I knew they wouldn't work in JPEG. I was pleased to be able to do what was needed, but I can't do it very often and with files of 22mB I'll run out of space far too quickly. I've got pictures on discs that are unreadable on our new DVD drive (they work on XP and the drive works properly with everything else) so can't guarantee discs will work on the next thing M$ chooses to bring out.

:o I feel as if I'm rambling, and that isn't a good thing, because I can go on for hours once I've started.

12th February 2008, 07:36 AM
Hey Ellie - good to read you're trying out RAW (ORF) format for some shots. Just a fyi: don't forget that once you have the Olympus ORF/RAW file on your PC you can then make any adjustments to it and save it as a JPG, which will be a much smaller file than the ORF. You can then delete the ORF if you want to - thus saving a lot of space.

Oh and you're not rambling... this is a good discussion and I am sure has many readers.

12th February 2008, 07:52 PM
You can then delete the ORF if you want to - thus saving a lot of space.
:eek: You mean throw things away!

Aren't supermarket receipts potential heirlooms. ;)

12th February 2008, 07:59 PM
There is nothing wrong with throwing out the ORF files as long as you keep a JPEG, a TIFF, and a DNG copy of the file plus remember to save backup copies.

Ian C.

12th February 2008, 09:02 PM
:eek: You mean throw things away!

Aren't supermarket receipts potential heirlooms. ;)Hehe... but Ellie... if you only shoot in JPG format now, then there's no difference ;) you shoot in RAW, and then end up with the same file as if you'd shot in JPG.

12th February 2008, 09:48 PM
:eek: You mean throw things away!

Aren't supermarket receipts potential heirlooms. ;)

:D Take a photo of till receipts in raw and convert to DNG. Then you can keep them as an heirloom since DNG is more likely to be supported in 20 years time than today's raw formats. :D

Jim Ford
12th February 2008, 10:17 PM
I did take some pictures using RAW this evening, because I knew they wouldn't work in JPEG. I was pleased to be able to do what was needed, but I can't do it very often and with files of 22mB I'll run out of space far too quickly.

What camera were you getting 22Meg files from - my E3 produces ORF files in the region of 10-12Meg?

Jim Ford

Jim Ford
12th February 2008, 10:36 PM
Just a fyi: don't forget that once you have the Olympus ORF/RAW file on your PC you can then make any adjustments to it and save it as a JPG, which will be a much smaller file than the ORF. You can then delete the ORF if you want to - thus saving a lot of space.

For me, throwing away the original 'as shot' data, whether it be the ORF file, or as in my case the DNG file is a huge 'no-no' - unless of course the shot was a 'non-keeper' in the first place! To do so is like getting some film process 'snaps' back from the chemist and throwing away the negs!
As long as you keep the ORF/DNG file you can go back at a later date - when your skills at Photoshop (say) have improved, and redevelop the image. I often find when browsing shots I've taken previously I find I can make some improvement.

When the camera turns the data captured by the sensor into a JPEG, it discards some of the data, and each time you edit a JPEG you destroy more of it. This data cannot be recovered. When you edit and ORF/DNG file, the data is _not_ altered, only the interpretation of it by the software. It's very much like film processing - you can put the neg in an enlarger, crop, dodge and burn the image, but the neg remains unaltered.

I really feel that if you've got the technical interest and skills to use a digital SLR, you're not doing it justice shooting a format more suited to 'point and shoot' cameras!

Jim Ford

12th February 2008, 11:10 PM
Jim - I suggested this as advice to Ellie in this instance and am not expressing this as advice to everyone. My advice should be read in the context of the thread as a whole.

Ellie has decided she won't shoot in RAW and has her camera set to shoot in JPG mode... I am advocating that she should use RAW. Ellie has expressed concerns that in order to do this she would use what she feels are excessive amounts of storage. So, my suggestion to her of shooting in RAW, processing as required, saving the resulting image as a JPG, then discarding the RAW will result in exactly the same storage requirements as she has now - via shooting in JPG mode. The difference of course is that Ellie can edit the RAW file if she so requires.

Of course, as a rule to all, I recommend shooting and saving in RAW format, but in this specific case, I feel my suggestion to Ellie is fine.

12th February 2008, 11:26 PM
Quick reply, I shouldn't be here.

Invicta, your reply made me chuckle.

What camera were you getting 22Meg files from
The E-400. I've mentioned it somewhere else because I couldn't believe how big they are.

Keep talking, please, then there'll be some interesting things to read and think about when I get back from our break :)

13th February 2008, 10:39 PM
Keep talking, please, then there'll be some interesting things to read and think about when I get back from our break :)

Hi Ellie

As you're not there then you won't read this which make this somewhat of a strange post.. ?

For me (and I started this mess) It comes down to do I want to make decisions now or am I willing to invest in some storage in the hope that I will decide to do something later ... hmm - jam today/jam tomorrow?

As per some of my prior posts I think that the Oly JPEG engine is actually quite good and trying to work to get the image right first time will make you a better photographer. I've seen lazyness coming into quite a number of pictures since people started mass RAW processing. It's like the challenge you used to have if you shot slide (which I did in film).

Yes storage is costly, but not immense and if you are even thinking about it then it's worth making the investment even in the short term whilst you investigate. A quick calculation shows that you would get over 210 22 Mb files on a 4.7 Gb DVD and you can buy 100 4.7 Gb DVD's for under 17 which accoring to my calculations gives you over 10000 images (assuming 2 copies just in case).

How long it will take to shoot that many pictures depends on how many you shoot, but If I was you don't close doors.

Given ALL of that I only process about 1% of my RAW files because as I've said I like the taking process not the developing process and therefore the minimum I need to do on the PC the better.

Sorry to Jim I don't agree that you have to process RAW to get the best out of a DSLR - that's why you buy lenses and filters (although I know some now think the Polarising filter is a thing of the past just change the colours in Photoshop - yeuch !)