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RAW Format
Hey everybody this is my first time posting to the dpreview forum. After doing much reading and researching I just ordered my first DSLR today a Nikon D40 with the 18-55mm and 55-200mm vr kit. This will be a big upgrade from my first digital camera I've had for 4 years the Canon PowerShot S1 IS(which I feel very limited by)..

My question is this: is it worth it to buy Photoshop, or Capture NX? And Is shooting in the RAW format necessary for an amateur/hobbyist?.

I'm a college student so I can get the CS3 design suite for $329 from my school..

I'm not a professional by all means photography is a hobby and I want to learn more and try to get the most out of my photos. Maybe someday be able to sell a photo or two but not as a full time job..

I enjoy taking photos of landscapes, wildlife, travel, macro, everyday life, a little sports, and portraits..

Thanks in advance for everybodys response...

Comments (26)

Ecdeboer wrote:.

Hey everybody this is my first time posting to the dpreview forum.After doing much reading and researching I just ordered my first DSLRtoday a Nikon D40 with the 18-55mm and 55-200mm vr kit. This will bea big upgrade from my first digital camera I've had for 4 years theCanon PowerShot S1 IS(which I feel very limited by)..

Enjoy your D40, it is very good..

My question is this: is it worth it to buy Photoshop, or Capture NX?And Is shooting in the RAW format necessary for an amateur/hobbyist?.

No, but RAW can be useful, mainly for correcting white balance mistakes. But post-processing shots is worth it in my view..

I'm a college student so I can get the CS3 design suite for $329 frommy school..

I'd get it..

I'm not a professional by all means photography is a hobby and I wantto learn more and try to get the most out of my photos. Maybe somedaybe able to sell a photo or two but not as a full time job.I enjoy taking photos of landscapes, wildlife, travel, macro,everyday life, a little sports, and portraits..

Thanks in advance for everybodys response..

Alex.

Http://alexandjustine.smugmug.com/..

Comment #1

Post-processing RAW files is very educational, because you can see how a lot of different changes affect the image. Nothing you can't do by bracketing in the field, but it's quicker and you have a wider range of options in the computer...

Comment #2

1. It's not necessary to shoot raw to get great photos out of the camera..

2. Raw can be handy in some situations, thus to get the most from the camera it's still a good idea to have a good raw developer..

3. CS3 is "the" photoeditor that nearly everyone uses. It also has a horribly steep learning curve and includes a whole pile of tools that you'll probably never use. I don't think that it's particularly useful to complicate your life with it, but at that price you may want to go ahead a pick it up as eventually you may find it useful. A better editor early on is either Photoshop Elements or Lightzone..

4. Lightroom (another Adobe product) on the other hand is a great program for organizing photos and is a very good raw developer with very intuitive tools. Along with basic editing tools it's probably all you'll need for quite a while. I don't think it comes with the CS3 suite, but you can get it with the ed discount. If there's one program to get this is the one to get and I've owned and used a lot of them over the years. Download the trial version and see if you don't agree.A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #3

LM2 wrote:.

1. It's not necessary to shoot raw to get great photos out of thecamera..

You should learn how to process RAW pix. Then, reserve it for difficult situations or when you need the ultimate quality..

2. Raw can be handy in some situations, thus to get the most fromthe camera it's still a good idea to have a good raw developer.3. CS3 is "the" photoeditor that nearly everyone uses. It also hasa horribly steep learning curve and includes a whole pile of toolsthat you'll probably never use. I don't think that it's particularlyuseful to complicate your life with it, but at that price you maywant to go ahead a pick it up as eventually you may find it useful.A better editor early on is either Photoshop Elements or Lightzone..

4. Lightroom (another Adobe product) on the other hand is a greatprogram for organizing photos and is a very good raw developer withvery intuitive tools. Along with basic editing tools it's probablyall you'll need for quite a while. I don't think it comes with theCS3 suite, but you can get it with the ed discount. If there's oneprogram to get this is the one to get and I've owned and used a lotof them over the years. Download the trial version and see if youdon't agree..

I agree! Get PSE6 from Costco for $50. Get LR from Adobe for $300. That combo is fantastic..

I start with LR and use it to organize pix and to do the basic sorts of editing. Perhaps 5% of my pix need something that LR can't do...selective NR, stuff that requires layers, artsy-pfhartsy filters, etc...for those I use PSE6..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #4

Chuxter wrote:.

LM2 wrote:.

1. It's not necessary to shoot raw to get great photos out of thecamera..

You should learn how to process RAW pix. Then, reserve it fordifficult situations or when you need the ultimate quality..

Which was what I said in point 2 ";^).

Some people avoid thinking about the photo situation by just shooting everything in raw. It requires thought about the scene to determine that raw will be an advantage (or necessary) and many here would just rather not think..

And indeed it is a valid approach as the memory cards get bigger and cheaper the reason to shoot jpeg only gets marginalized. And since you can now batch develop raw photos in programs like Lightroom the overhead in post processing is no longer much of an issue to the photographer..

Still I mostly shoot in jpeg and reserve raw for difficult lighting/HDR situations. For instance I got my arm twisted and am doing a wedding at the end of the month. (I hate wedding photography!) The venue has an almost impossible combination of daylight, incandescent and florescent lighting. While much of that can be minimized by judicial use of flash, not all. So I'll shoot the whole thing in raw and make sure that I don't get caught with unfixable light problems.A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #5

Hi! I'm also a new photographer but being a (graduated) architecture student I've worked with both Photoshop and Elements...the learning curve is NOT that much if you practice and work with the program and being in college you have an unlimited amount of "teachers" in other students that already use PS...try the architectural school or any graphic design students. Don't waste your time with Elements as you will quickly outgrow it and wish that you had just paid the money upfront for the real PS which will last you a lot longer and be a better use of your dollars - just my humble opinion.Have fun!Jim S Jordan ~ The Photographer Formerly Known As WingsGirlC19.

Check out my photos: http://myrtleart.smugmug.com..

Comment #6

LM2 wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

LM2 wrote:.

1. It's not necessary to shoot raw to get great photos out of thecamera..

You should learn how to process RAW pix. Then, reserve it fordifficult situations or when you need the ultimate quality..

Which was what I said in point 2 ";^).

I was agreeing with you...reinforcing your point..

Some people avoid thinking about the photo situation by just shootingeverything in raw. It requires thought about the scene to determinethat raw will be an advantage (or necessary) and many here would justrather not think.And indeed it is a valid approach as the memory cards get bigger andcheaper the reason to shoot jpeg only gets marginalized. And sinceyou can now batch develop raw photos in programs like Lightroom theoverhead in post processing is no longer much of an issue to thephotographer..

Still I mostly shoot in jpeg and reserve raw for difficultlighting/HDR situations. For instance I got my arm twisted and amdoing a wedding at the end of the month. (I hate weddingphotography!) The venue has an almost impossible combination ofdaylight, incandescent and florescent lighting. While much of thatcan be minimized by judicial use of flash, not all. So I'll shootthe whole thing in raw and make sure that I don't get caught withunfixable light problems.A member of the rabble in good standing.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #7

I'm of the 'don't need RAW' camp..

I shoot all jpegs and strive to get the photo in the camera they way I want it so that I don't have to do any post processing..

So far.so good!.

I have two digitals that shoot RAW.neither has ever fired off a RAW file..

I understand the need for them, but so far I've never needed a RAW shot..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Remember.always keep your receipt, the box, and everything that came in it!..

Comment #8

I don't know about Nikon, but with Canon RAW is about double the size of the highest resolution/least compression JPEG. With the 5D that makes RAW files about 12MB. "Resolution" and "Compression" are relevant only to JPEG; all RAW files represent the information as it comes from the sensor. The only setting that has an effect is ISO. In effect, RAW is always "highest quality.".

Personally, I use JPEG (always the highest quality settingswhy take a chance with anything less?) most of the time, the major exception being situations with unpredictable light. In those situations, RAW provides a bit of a safety-net. There are also cameras that are known to have less-than-optimal jpeg processing (see some of the reviews on this site); if I had one of those, I would use RAW..

Bob.

New_type wrote:.

Say 10mega pixel with the highest quality..

Comment #9

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

..."Resolution" and "Compression" arerelevant only to JPEG; all RAW files represent the information as itcomes from the sensor..

Some cameras can compress RAW files. For example, the D300 has 3 options: Uncompressed, lossless compressed, and compressed. The uncompressed size is exactly 19,823KB. According to Nikon, the lossless compressed size is 20% to 40% smaller and the compressed size is 40% to 55% smaller. As an example, I took a test shot and the lossless compressed size was 12,753KB, the compressed size was 11,827KB and the JPEG-fine size was 7,573KB..

I would have said that all RAW files contain the information as it comes from the sensor, before it has been de-mosiaced. This is true even if the file is compressed..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #10

Chuxter wrote:.

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

..."Resolution" and "Compression" arerelevant only to JPEG; all RAW files represent the information as itcomes from the sensor..

As an example, I took a test shot and thelossless compressed size was 12,753KB, the compressed size was11,827KB.

That's a *very* small difference. Why would anyone bother with it?.

And the JPEG-fine size was 7,573KB..

I would have said that all RAW files contain the information as itcomes from the sensor, before it has been de-mosiaced. This is trueeven if the file is compressed..

My statement about ISO being the only setting that has an effect on RAW is from a talk that I attended a year ago, given by Michael Reichmann of http://www.luminous-landscape.com/, who has been involved in the beta testing and development of Adobe Lightroom. That was before the release of the D300, so I guess it no longer holds in the absolute. Another exception to RAW being...well...RAW is the Sony Alpha 700, which has noise reduction applied before RAW processingsee http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydslra700/page32.asp. And, of course, different camera manufacturers have different ways of doing RAW, which means that there is no single RAW standard..

Bob..

Comment #11

I use both, and they both work great..

I recommend that you download the Capture NX 30-day free trial: http://support.nikontech.com/...konusa.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=61.

More importantly, I recommend that you max out the RAM on your computer before using it. It runs very, very slowly if you don't have enough RAM, and that will be very, very frustrating. I love Capture NX, though..

If you do decide to use Photoshop, then be sure to download the latest version of Adobe Camera RAW plug-in: http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/cameraraw.html.

You'll also want to buy a book that can guide you through the process of using Capture NX and/or Adobe Camera RAW..

Brandon..

Comment #12

Thank you all for your responses. I will definitely download the 30 day trial of capture NX when I get some pictures out of my D40 which is estimated to be arriving on the 12th..

My computer is maxed out at 2gb RAM it is a Dell Inspiron 6000 I've had it about 3yrs..

I'll wait on Adobe see if I can get some birthday money in May and think about buying it.Thanks again for everybody's response...

Comment #13

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

..."Resolution" and "Compression" arerelevant only to JPEG; all RAW files represent the information as itcomes from the sensor..

As an example, I took a test shot and thelossless compressed size was 12,753KB, the compressed size was11,827KB.

That's a *very* small difference. Why would anyone bother with it?.

I bothered with it to give YOU information. I normally use the RAW lossless compressed setting. Besides, like most compression schemes, the size of the reduction is dependent on the data. I'm sure that I could have taken a pic with a different subject and settings and found a bigger reduction ratio..

And the JPEG-fine size was 7,573KB..

Your point? I assume you are implying that the 40% saving in file size is so insignificant that it's not worth bothering with?.

I would have said that all RAW files contain the information as itcomes from the sensor, before it has been de-mosiaced. This is trueeven if the file is compressed..

Another exception to RAW being...well...RAW is the Sony Alpha 700, whichhas noise reduction applied before RAW processingseehttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydslra700/page32.asp..

Since the A700 and the D300 (apparently) share a similar sensor, when Phil gets around to reviewing it, we probably will find that it too does some NR before RAW. I suspect that Canon has been doing this for years, so it's no surprize that Sony and Nikon have followed their lead....

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #14

Ecdeboer wrote:.

I'll wait on Adobe see if I can get some birthday money in May andthink about buying it..

Gosh...I didn't even know they were on the market! .

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #15

Just a thought about the Adobe deal. I agree with what others have said about LR or PSE. But that deal on the Adobe Software might have added value if they are giving you a full license, meaning that after school you can use it professionally, and get the upgrades without ever paying the full hit (I think it's like $1700 for the design suite?). Some companies do this to get their hooks in you while you are a student..

Before you buy it read the License agreement and see what you are getting..

James..

Comment #16

Chuxter wrote:.

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

..."Resolution" and "Compression" arerelevant only to JPEG; all RAW files represent the information as itcomes from the sensor..

As an example, I took a test shot and thelossless compressed size was 12,753KB, the compressed size was11,827KB.

That's a *very* small difference. Why would anyone bother with it?.

I bothered with it to give YOU information. I normally use the RAWlossless compressed setting. Besides, like most compression schemes,the size of the reduction is dependent on the data. I'm sure that Icould have taken a pic with a different subject and settings andfound a bigger reduction ratio..

And the JPEG-fine size was 7,573KB..

Your point? I assume you are implying that the 40% saving in filesize is so insignificant that it's not worth bothering with?.

Perhaps I wasn't quite clear. I have no problem with the fact that you provided this information about the two RAW compression schemesit's interesting information. My point is about why Nikon would bother providing a RAW compression option that reduces the file size by a mere 7% (from 12, 753 to 11,827). Of course JPEG represents a big saving in file size. That's the main reason for using it..

Bob..

Comment #17

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

Robert Deutsch wrote:.

..."Resolution" and "Compression" arerelevant only to JPEG; all RAW files represent the information as itcomes from the sensor..

As an example, I took a test shot and thelossless compressed size was 12,753KB, the compressed size was11,827KB.

That's a *very* small difference. Why would anyone bother with it?.

I bothered with it to give YOU information. I normally use the RAWlossless compressed setting. Besides, like most compression schemes,the size of the reduction is dependent on the data. I'm sure that Icould have taken a pic with a different subject and settings andfound a bigger reduction ratio..

And the JPEG-fine size was 7,573KB..

Your point? I assume you are implying that the 40% saving in filesize is so insignificant that it's not worth bothering with?.

Perhaps I wasn't quite clear. I have no problem with the fact thatyou provided this information about the two RAW compressionschemesit's interesting information. My point is about why Nikonwould bother providing a RAW compression option that reduces the filesize by a mere 7% (from 12, 753 to 11,827). Of course JPEGrepresents a big saving in file size. That's the main reason forusing it..

I'll tell you again...the compression ratio depends on the data! Nikon says that the compression ratio will vary from 1.25 to 1.67 with Lossless Compressed NEF and from 1.25 to 2.22 with Lossy Compressed NEF. Some files will compress more than my test file (which had quite a bit of noise)..

It doesn't cost much for Nikon to offer an option like this..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #18

Typically, acedemic licenses specifically prohibit use in a professional setting where you'll be making a money..

James Arnold 1971 wrote:.

Just a thought about the Adobe deal. I agree with what others havesaid about LR or PSE. But that deal on the Adobe Software might haveadded value if they are giving you a full license, meaning that afterschool you can use it professionally, and get the upgrades withoutever paying the full hit (I think it's like $1700 for the designsuite?). Some companies do this to get their hooks in you while youare a student..

Before you buy it read the License agreement and see what you aregetting..

James..

Comment #19

Ecdeboer wrote:.

My question is this: is it worth it to buy Photoshop, or Capture NX?And Is shooting in the RAW format necessary for an amateur/hobbyist?.

- Yes to both!.

Http://lordofthelens.co.nz/..

Comment #20

I purchased Photoshop 3.0 back when I did a short stint in post grad. I purchased it at the university book store for a song. I suppose it was educationally priced..

Anyway, I learned to use it and have upgraded it about every other version. It's a wonderful piece of software, and if you can buy it educationally, do so. You can then inexpensively upgrade it for many years to come. If you decide that photography is a lifelong hobby, you'll find Photoshop indispensible as the darkroom was when I got started in the late 50s..

Photoshop is the definitive software must for post processing in this day and age. I own other raw converters like Capture NX, but Photoshop is a must..

If you wont spring for Photoshop, even at that wonderful educational price, try Photoshop Elements. Its about 85% of the real Photoshop and if you decide to move up, the learning curve wont be so bad than if you bought some other editing software. Elements also shares the same wonderful raw converter. I think Elements sells educationally for around $65...

Comment #21

I'm a college student so I can get the CS3 design suite for $329 from my school..

It's a great program and a great price but...be careful, Adobe doesn't support "academic sotware."Brian..

Comment #22

Actually, if you take the time to learn your camera and how to expose properly, you'll find that you will have little need for Photoshop!.

I have Photoshop 7, but use it so rarely that I just can't justify upgrading just to have the latest version..

Photoshop is just one tool of a photographer.just as RAW files are another tool.to be used 'when needed'..

In the digital age, far too many rely on photo software to make all of their images as opposed to learning how to get it right in the first place..

In the camera..

Neither way is really right or wrong.it is up to you to decide if you want to be a photographer, or a Photoshopper..

Personally.I prefer to spend my time behind the camera instead of in front of my computer monitor adjusting color, contrast, unsharp masking and manipulating all of my shots!.

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Remember.always keep your receipt, the box, and everything that came in it!..

Comment #23

I tend to think that the most prudent use of the raw format is to shoot any special, irreplaceable or careful setup images in raw (selectively) because you can get it now but never again. Because of the size of the raw file however, I wouldn't use it all the time because it can be just a waste of space. The Jpeg format in modern cams is really getting good and most of the time raw is just overkill. However, I have pics from years ago when I was learning that I now really wish I had in raw so that I could really tweak them up now that I understand the technology better...

Comment #24

MusicDoctorDJ wrote:.

Actually, if you take the time to learn your camera and how to exposeproperly, you'll find that you will have little need for Photoshop!.

In the digital age, far too many rely on photo software to make allof their images as opposed to learning how to get it right in thefirst place..

In the camera..

Neither way is really right or wrong.it is up to you to decideif you want to be a photographer, or a Photoshopper..

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Remember.always keep your receipt, the box, and everything thatcame in it!.

Wow! I totally agree with that. Just like in the old days when people spent time in the darkroom and invested in enlargers and such. Post processing has always been a waste of time. Color correcting, dodging and burning, and whatever means youre a poor photographer. Just like the Photoshoppers of today, they were ridiculed for being Darkroomers in the past generation. I lift my nose at Ansel Adams and the like, adjusting their images instead of doing it in the camera.



Yep, I trust the J-Peg algorithms of my camera to do the post processing. I'm sure that software is far superior to Adobe's. Same with Nikon. I bet the post processing software in a D40 is far better than that stupid Cature NX. Just like iin the old days, I did all the work in the camera and trusted the drug store to do the processing and printing. Now, I trust the software in the camera to do the processing..

Anyway, I agree. Peace!..

Comment #25

While I'm certainly not in a position to comment from a photographer's perspective, I am very knowledable on computers and related technology. I continuously hear the argument to not shoot in RAW due to file size. Media is so cheap now that I have a hard time agreeing with this. Hard drive space on the computer is even cheaper! I do understand that if you're on a trip or shoot and can't offload the images to a computer that it might be necessary to shoot in a compressed format (jpeg). But most of the time, it's easy to copy pictures off of the memory card, or simply pop another in. Again, we're talking $30 (US) for a 2-4GB card which will hold quite a few RAW pictures..

I completely agree that *at the minimum* you should shoot RAW if it's a special event that won't/can't be reproduced (graduation, safari, wedding, school play, etc., etc.).

Just my $0.02  .

Roger99 wrote:.

I tend to think that the most prudent use of the raw format is toshoot any special, irreplaceable or careful setup images in raw(selectively) because you can get it now but never again. Because ofthe size of the raw file however, I wouldn't use it all the timebecause it can be just a waste of space. The Jpeg format in moderncams is really getting good and most of the time raw is justoverkill. However, I have pics from years ago when I was learningthat I now really wish I had in raw so that I could really tweak themup now that I understand the technology better...

Comment #26

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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