RAW vs Jpeg
A friend of mine who is quite experienced with digital cameras recommended getting one that has the raw format. I just read an article saying that Jpeg can be just as good especially for someone who isn't esperienced. One of his points being was that every picture in a raw file has to be worked on where as Jpeg does some( or all of) of the work for you. What are other's thoughts? If you followed the previous thread, I am looking for a good point and shoot. Emily..

Comments (8)


I agree with the article. And, I agree with your friend, except that he or she has made an assumption. (that you will be eager to do editing.) If you don't want to work on an image with an image editor, don't shoot in RAW. If you do want to work on an image to get the very best possible result, working on a RAW file with an editor is a good way (but not the only way) to go. However you will have to learn how to do this and you should enjoy doing it or it won't happen. You can do a lot of work on a jpeg image with an editor - you don't need to have RAW to do most editing.

It all depends on where you want to go with your digital photography. I suggest that you should know before you purchase that you will want to do image editing before you make RAW a specific requirement for a new camera. If, however, you happen to get RAW in a camera that you would prefer without it, then that is a plus. Even if you get RAW, chances are that you will only occasionally use it. Perhaps you are trying to plan too far ahead...

Maybe a simpler camera now with some image editing experience to see if you like it will tell you whether you want to get involved in image editing or just enjoy your photos as they come out of the camera...

Comment #1

Emily, I have a camera that has both JPEG and uncompressed TIFF. Uncompressed TIFF is the same as RAW to the extent that you get a true representation of the RGB (red, green, blue) values of each pixel. When I use that mode, it does not mean that I need to do extensive editing on the picture. But it means that if I do, even simple editing such as cropping, the picture will not degrade "at all". On the other hand, my JPEGs are more than satisfactory. But I must limit my changes to a one-time editing session, as editing/saving of a JPEG introduces unwanted artifacts.

I happen to be very happy with the JPEG pictures taken with my camera. From comparisons on my computer, it would appear that the compression factor is about 10. That is still relatively good quality for a JPEG. But if you happen to buy a camera that, to claim to take more pictures for the memory, compresses to a lower quality (and they may not tell you that) then simple editing like cropping can result in pretty degraded pictures. With RAW or any other uncompressed format, YOU have all the options open to you.

The best possible option is probably as Linus said. If you find a camera that has everything you want (good luck!) and happens to have RAW (or any uncompressed format) included, then your problem is solved. Mike..

Comment #2

Sorry, but RAW and TIFF aren't even close. TIFF is just an uncompressed version of JPEG. RAW is a very different thing. RAW has all the info captured from the CCD/CMOS in umprocessed form, with all the parameters used by the camera recorded as data, to be used (or not) by the RAW converter during conversion. It's like the negative (or even the undeveloped negative, as you can correct exposure). Both TIFF and JPEG are final images with all the processing parameters applied, including contrast curves, saturation levels, white balance and sharpening, so t's like a paper copy of the original negative instead of the negative itself.

Also, as RAW stores the data before color interpolation, it uses less memory than TIFF, even using more bits. So, in RAW you can correct exposure, white balance, saturation, sharpening or even using different color profiles to have a more faithful color than the original one provided by the camera, or wider colorspaces as ProPhotoRGB during conversion, and store the converted image as a 16-bit TIFF for postprocessing. You can't do none of that in JPEG or TIFF. Of course if you don't want to postprocess, you can generate final JPEG images, or even use the default parameters stored by the camera and have the same JPEGs as if you shooted in JPEG. Or you can use RAW+JPEG if the camera support it (most recent DSLRs do) and have both formats..

Comment #3

Hello again Emily! to be honest I haven't really used RAW format. For that you need special software (actually there is free software available at the moment from Pixmantic - RawShooter it's called - it seems to be considered good) With JPEG, use the least compressed JPEG setting on your camera (avoid interpolated settings where they artifically increase size of image incamera), & maybe reduce sharpening settings slightly; you will have an image you can work on afterwards in some graphics software & comfortably enlarge to A4 with a 5MP camera. I find with most images it helps to tweak them a little afterwards. I used to think that was cause I not so good at taking photos but it seems most people do it - it's a bit like darkroom printing where you can mess around a bit with the image. good luck with new camera.


Comment #4

"Digital darkroom" is not just a crutch - it's an accepted part of optimizing digital images. Plenty of articles such as those on Norman Koren's site or at talk about the darkroom aspects - and why digitally-derived imagery has it's own requirements as well. And everything Guillermo says above is true. Not all cameras can save in RAW, but one can still leverage much of the potential in an image that has been saved in jpeg, especially if the file was saved in the higher/est jpeg settings available. RAW is a real asset (largely because of bit depth), but ther is no need to feel pressured to upgrade JUST for that feature unless you have begun to feel that you have brushed up against the limitations of jpeg-saved images. BTW, don't re-save in jpeg for master images: the jpeg errors are cumulative.

Always have a master on hand in a lossless format to build versions for specific purposes from...

Comment #5

I did point out that I was talking about the fact that TIFF, as opposed to JPEG, in an uncompressed format, does contain real RGB, and sometimes Y data, for each pixel. I agree that RAW data may contain the camera settings to help modify the output. But there is nothing that prevents you from changing parameters on a TIFF image either. TIFF images, depending on the camera I suppose, will contain 8-, 12- or 14-bit data, per color component. Applying changes that are not normally possible on 8-bit data, and certainly not available on JPEG data, without bottoming out or saturating is certainly possible on TIFF data. It does go without saying that it is better to work with native, RAW data.

My point was that you don't absolutely need RAW data to be able to do editing without degradation of the image. Mike..

Comment #6

Hi Mike, I don't think most cameras save TIFF data beyond 8/24-bit. TIFF as saved on cameras is merely the same data the jpeg chip gets, and therefore before the jpeg compression. All the data is real RGB data once it has been interpolated from the RAW data the camera first collects/makes if one chooses to save in TIFF or JPEG. JPEG compression at very high quality settings is very close to the TIFF data in terms of accuracy, but it behooves one not to save a massaged master file again and again in jpeg as the errors [and crosshatching] become cumulative - xerox of a xerox of a xerox, so to speak. {...} does contain real RGB, and sometimes Y data, for each pixel. Well, if you are referring to luminance as Y as one does in the video world, all RBG files have Y.

If you mean *Yellow* - no, I don't believe that is stored in TIFF as a separate value. After all, that is R and G anyway. There is very little difference between 24-bit tiff and 24-bit extra-high-quality jpeg (say, saved at 4:1 or 6:1) - either one can be massaged to about the same results, as many of us were doing prior to affordable digital cameras. RAW is like an undeveloped negative, or the light captured by the sensor, is deeper in interpolated bits - enough in fact to rescue many images that were shot under/over-exposed or poorly white balanced to save the file without any penalties that one finds when trying to do the same on a saved 24-bit jpeg or tiff image. That's why RAW has been a big deal to high-end digital SLR guys for years now, and has filtered down to even some consumer cameras, and why RAW convertors are all the rage..

Comment #7

Hi greenboy, No, did not mean Yellow! I re-read some specs on RAW, and understand fully what you and Guillermo are saying. And YES was wrong into thinking that RAW was RGB. Also re-read specs on TIFF. And you're right. Camera is restricted to 8-bit/channel. So yes, very restricted as far as altering contents of RGB channels.

And yes, I was trained on video signals. Which seems to make all the difference. Thanks for the lesson. Mike..

Comment #8

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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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