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View Poll Results: Mac users, do you shoot in RAW or jpeg?
RAW 11 52.38%
jpeg 10 47.62%
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 12:21 PM   #1
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Printing 12 bit RAW images

Various digital SLRs will take RAW images that preserve 12 bit colour (rather than 8 bit JPEG). However, most (all?) Mac RAW software (e.g. iPhoto, APerture and Adobe Lightroom) allows you to manipulate the RAW images in 12 bit colour but then converts to 8 bit JPEG for printing. Is it:

A. Possible to export as, say a TIFF, and preserve the 12 bit colour?

B. Are there any printers that will print 12 bit images (i.e. is their colour gamut sufficient to make any difference between 8 and 12 bit images noticable?

I went to a Henrys advance digial SLR workshop yesterday and the presenter (who used a PC) said that Canon jpegs were of such good quality that only under exceptional circumstances would any benefit be gained from shooting in RAW (unlike Pentax - he said - where in-camera jpeg compression is not as good as the Canon processor).
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 01:11 PM   #2
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With the recent prices of CF having plumeted [Costco now has the 2GB Ultra II for $99] there is little excuse not to shoot RAW. No matter how you look at it, you loose significant data when you convert to JPEG [no matter how efficient the conversion is, JPEG is a lossy codec]. The extra time of processing is minimal [10-20 seconds per image]. I've just started shooting but have tried to shoot nothing but RAW. Being able to fix things like WB [white balance] are a very big asset. If in a pinch for space, I would shoot JPEG but I do prever RAW.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 01:16 PM   #3
 
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To answer your questions:

(A) Yes, post processing apps are made to preserve the high quality captured from shootng RAW. I use Capture 1 Pro myself. It's similar to Aperture/Lightroom but much more refined and mature as it has been around for years. I receommend this app without hesitation - love it.

(B) No have not heard of any printers that yield such high a gamut yet. I think most output technology (printers and displays) are still playing catch-up to high colour depth images. Some displays (eizo and Lacie) can display at 10 bit. I think printers' gamuts are more than enough nowadays, especially of photo printers made by Canon, HP, and Epson with 8 inks or more. There are many ways to tweak the image to maximize print quality, and having your printer profiled is a must. Many users are not sure how to use the drivers and settings properly, which often misleads them to point out the printer's shortcomings.

My camera shoots at true 16 bit, and I try to retouch as much as possible in 16 bit to preserve quality. When the file is complete, I convert to 8 bit (I archive the 16 bit version as back-up) for job delivery on CD or FTP upload. For jobs and portfolio shoots, my first priority is image quality over any convenience, so RAW is the only way. I use jpegs in other scenarios (see below).

I partially agree with your instructor's comment on Canon's Jpegs. Yes, I think they are pretty good and ready of ouput IF .....

(a) camera exposure was bang-on. Remember that jpegs are 8 bit. Stretching level & curves on an 8 bit image only leads to banding and choppy gradations.
(b) you needed to keep file sizes down for whatever reason. Maybe you're on vacation and want to shot nothing but a bunch of happy snaps with a point-and-shoot camera. Then jpegs are the way to go. Most likely, these pics will end up online or emailed to family and friends. Only a few will be retouched and printed. Therefore, no need for shooting RAW.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 01:31 PM   #4
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I guess the other reason for not shooting RAW is post processing time (although this is a work-flow issue that is certainly improved by the newer software). Also, if you are shooting a lot of action shots (or bracketing), the camera response time is reduced by having to write a 9 Mb file rather than 2-4 Mb. Archiving is also an issue. I agree with migs that the best thing to do is to burn RAW images to disc rather than keep them on an HD and then to store the "manipulated" jpeg on your computer. FWIW, I have a 2Gb CF and so space isn't a big factor although write times and hence, shutter response are.

migs, thanks for the insight. I do think many people are shooting RAW because "its the better way" without realising many of the advantages are only really seen if you wish to spend time optimizing the shots at your computer (there is a reason for the "enhance photo" button - people are both lazy and not too sure of how to maximize the balance of a photo). But, just take a jpeg, look at the histogram, then play with the levels, save and open up the histogram again. Its become a comb. Doing the same in RAW preserves the smooth gradation.

I don't think RAW is a no-brainer but it all depends on what you intend to do with your photographs. It's somewhat similar to AAC/mp3. If you are playing through an iPod, then lossless files are probably a waste of space. Play the iPod through a decent stereo in a quiet room and the difference is clear.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 01:38 PM   #5
 
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There is no Apple program right now that support my Leica Digilux 2.
The Digilux2's CD have Mac version of Photoshop, but when I open it, it's full of black and white lines...

And, Aperture didn't support it. Lightroom didn't support it neither...

Therefore, I shoot in JPEG.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 01:40 PM   #6
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With my purchase of the Nikon D70, I initially shot at the highest jpeg setting, but have since switched to Nikon's raw format, which I'm pretty sure is 16bit.

I don't print enough to warrant a high end colour printer. I found my last colour inkjet printer died due to lack of use. The cost of inks and paper is a concern as well.

What I do instead, is to do pretty much what migs does as far as post processing and then export to tiff. I then copy to a CD and take it to Costco or Sam's and have the images printed on real photo paper for less than it would cost me to do it myself on an inkjet printer and the quality is remarkably good. If I need super high quality, there are professional custom colour labs that can do that special print. With some custom printers, you can download (or ask for) a 'color-profile' to match their printing equipment.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #7
 
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Regarding backup: I may have misled some of you - sorry. When I referred to burning disks, it applied only for job deliveries to clients. I don't burn disks for archiving. Many other pro-shooters and I agree that burning DVDs or CDs may have been appealing at one point, but not anymore. There is NO PERFECT backup solution, just like there is no perfect camera or software. You just have to come up with your own best workflow.

We all concluded that external HDs are the way to go, for the following reasons:

(a) Cheap. cost per GB has fallen dramatically. Nowadays, you can get 2 drives for the price of one just a few years ago, which means more redundancy and even safer archiving. We can now leave one backup drive at work and take the other home (or anywhere else) in case work burns down or gets flooded.
(b) Flexability. I do a lot of photoshop work, and I like to tweak same images once in a while. With a HD solution, I can easily open an archived file, make some adjustments, and resave quickly without any cost. If my archives were DVDs or CDs, I would have to spend $ for new media, plus the extra time it takes to re-burn.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 03:45 PM   #8
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WRT processing time in camera, I believe that it takes the camera more time to do the
JPG conversion than it would take to write the extra data. The burst numbers [frames per second], as far as I recall refere to RAW and not JPEG speeds.
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 07:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ender78
WRT processing time in camera, I believe that it takes the camera more time to do the
JPG conversion than it would take to write the extra data. The burst numbers [frames per second], as far as I recall refer to RAW and not JPEG speeds.
Not by my (albeit limited experience) and confirmed by DP review where initial burst is the same (in the case of the Rebel XT at 2.9 frames/sec) but after this burst the frame rate will drop in RAW c/f jpeg (1.8/sec vs 1/sec respectively, using the same card). This would indicate that jpeg conversion/compression is faster than writing even though the write rate is actually higher for RAW vs jpeg (approx 5.8 Mb/s vs 4.8 Mb/s).
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #10
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If my Panasonic FZ4 would shoot RAW I would.
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