face WitchDoc access_time Thu Apr 25, 2019

Do you eat RAW?

I mean do you shoot raw?

Or are your pictures fully cooked when they come out of your camera?

Some people shoot only raw format, some shoot only JPEGs.

(JPEG stands for joint photographic experts group. No, they are not actually any experts in taking photos of knee joint or shoulder joint).

I am sure you know what raw is, but if you do not know what it is, raw is the raw data that the camera gets from the sensor of the camera (oh, oh, more or less). The camera does some magical cooking with that sensor data and out comes the JPEG picture that we can see in the photo viewer in the computer.

Most low end cameras will not give you the raw data. You will get only the fully baked final JPEG output.

Is that final, fully baked JPEG output good enough for you?

Apparently most people are happy with that. I have not come across a cell phone that gives you the raw data. Yet the phone users never think of getting raw files of the pictures.

I have heard of photo pundits say that JPEGs are good enough for viewing and even making some large prints. But they add the condition that one should pay enough attention while shooting, to get a good picture. With a bit of sarcasm they would say "you have paid for that JPEG conversion software in the camera, so why not let it do the job?"

Yes, why spend time, sometimes a lot of time, converting the raw in a special software, for which you have to pay again?

To tell you the truth there is truth in that argument.

If you are happy with the JPEGs that you get from the camera, it is well and good. Happy shooting.

On the other there is something to be said for getting the raw files and doing some self torture, I mean raw file torture and getting, ok, another JPEG or may be TIFF picture. TIFF stands for tagged image file format. Do not worry, they are not experts at picking a quarrel.

Now, let us face it.

Most of the times the JPEGs you get from the camera are good. But there are times you curse yourself for getting the white balance and or exposure slightly off and the picture is not just right.That is when raw comes in handy.

When you feed the raw image data into the processing software, it gives you the options to get the white balance, the contrast, the colour and the exposure the exact right way you want. It is worth the time you spend on the processing. But remember there is no such thing as the perfect white balance or perfect exposure or perfect colour or contrast.

Of course, it is possible to do that with a JPEG file, to some extend. But that manipulation will very often kill the picture.

One big problem with the JPEG files is that every time you do some modification and save it, it loses some quality, some information. If you have to do even moderate manipulations it is always safer to save the file in TIFF format from raw and then do the manipulations.

So should you discard the JPEG pictures?

Wait, not so fast!

There is a definite place for a JPEG picture in the scheme of things.

After that family outing or a pleasure trip, you may not want sit down and manipulate and convert all those heavy raw files and spoil the fun.That is when the JPEGs come handy. Most of such pictures are good enough to be saved and seen as they came out of the camera. Those photos may not get more than just one "dekho" in their lives. So save those JPEGs, to remember the fun times. Do not spoil the fun of the fun times.So what is the way out of this JPEG Vs raw mess.

It is actually very simple.

Most cameras that give you raw shooting option will also give you the option of shooting raw and JPEGs together.

Use that option.

Discard what ever you do not want.

That option comes in handy when it comes to selecting the files you want to keep. Most raw files cannot be viewed on most computers. Select the JPEGs and use the corresponding raw files if you need to do any manipulations or print them. Very conveniently the raw files and JPEG files come from the camera with the same file name.

There is a place for JPEG and there is a place for raw, but you should know your needs.

You do not have to pay a leg and an arm to buy a raw conversion software.

Most cameras come with their raw conversion softwares with the camera. If you do not have that, you can actually download them, mostly for free. They are good for all practical purposes.

And then there are some real good free softwares in the "Free and Open Source Software" or "FOSS" universe.

Rawtherapee, Ufraw and IrfanVeiw are just some of them.

I use an excellent FOSS called "Dark Table" that runs on my Linux machine. Dark Table and Linux are for free too. Yes free completely, no conditions attached. You can simply download the latest version you come across and use it with no questions asked. They are very happy to let you use them. In fact they want you to download them and use them and also to spread the word!

More about the Linux and FOSS cult later.

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