If you’ve followed along you know that the last couple weeks Stacie and I set out to challenge ourselves to shoot in RAW and see what the results were. Since we’ve both been known to regularly shoot JPEG this was sort of a big deal for both of us. Stacie may post more about this challenge and how it pertains to editing and I might talk about it from a different perspective.
On to the results!
First I did an edit where the light wasn’t too dark or too bright. One of the first things I’ve learned from this experiment is that each different camera will record RAW images slightly different from another. Where I’ve found with my backup camera that the JPEG files record color ‘better’ I’ve found with my Canon 5D Mark ii that it’s just not the case. Here the original RAW file seems to record more of the actual colors. I feel like it’s especially noticeable in both her shoes and her skin tone. Looking at all these edits really made me realize how the JPEG on my camera actually seems to loose some color tones. I’ve also found that the extra step of editing the RAW image in Adobe Camera RAW really wasn’t an extra step. What I’m doing there which is an easy fix, I’d spend more time trying to fix in a JPEG file.
This next set of images you’ll have to excuse. The shot isn’t my favorite and the edition his basic at best, but I wanted to show how you can recover an area that became too bright. I did everything I could think of to the JPEG original here and could not recover the tulle under her dress. As a result I feel the edited JPEG file is almost more contrasty than it should be. Look at the difference between the contrast on her shoes in the edited JPEG verses the edited RAW. Although sometimes I like the contrast boost in images I feel like it’s not always worth loosing image information. In my RAW edited version I didn’t spend the time that I would have liked brightening the top of her dress, which appears somewhat dark, but that would be an easy fix in photoshop.
In this last sample I want to show you how much you can recover from a dark image. Here you can definitely see the difference in the color after both versions are edited. Her skin in the JPEG file looks dull and dead, where in the RAW edited version it looks lovely and creamy. Even in the original files you can see how the RAW file recorded the color better!
I’ve been shooting JPEG for all of my career up until now except a few incidences where I’d shot RAW and didn’t like it. Overall I feel like it’s worth it with the color. The photos seem richer and more true to the human eye without being over done. I didn’t know what I was missing! Even in an outdoor natural light shoot the information I was able to recover was amazing.
After this experiment I’ll be shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats in my camera from now on. I still feel like JPEG has its values. The file sizes are smaller for one so they are easier to store. However, with online backup companies like Backblaze you pay $5 a month for unlimited storage so storage isn’t a big concern of mine. My sole reason for wanting to now shoot in RAW is that it records more color information than I can get in a JPEG file. I’m not too worried about the need to fix the exposure because I’m a true believer of being able to get it right in the camera. Any time you can get your exposure correct in the camera you will save yourself tons of editing time. I plan on using the JPEG files I’ll shoot with for anything quick. At weddings I like to do a little slideshow during the reception of the preparations and ceremony and JPEG will be a quick way for me to download the files off my camera while everyone is eating dinner, load up about 35 or so onto my iMac and put my computer up by the bar to share.
I’ll be switching up my shooting pattern to be editing and using RAW files all the time! This is a great challenge to test on your own camera and see how it works. The thing to know is that each camera records information differently. With different sensor sizes, brands, and capabilities RAW will not look exactly the same from one camera to the next.
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