Zenfolio | Leigh MILLER | RAW vs JPEG | WORKFLOW


May 21, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

Fujifilm X-Pro2 W/XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR | 400mm F5.6 1/2000 ISO200

The debate rages on...

As cameras get better with each iteration the need to worry about shooting RAW or JPEG still remains for one simple reason: The camera can only do so much and only you can tell it exactly how you want an image to be captured. If we are talking about casual photography then who really cares...if you miss a shot or your exposure/focus is off, big deal. Professionals have different concerns as poorly captured images can have serious consequences.

I shot the image above nearly two (2) years ago to the day. (RAW capture on the left)

The assignment was simple enough..."evaluate the X-Pro2 and XF100-400mm lens and give us your honest feedback". Although there was no implicit request for sample images I'm always conscious of the possibility that the manufacturer may want them. Also I may be able to license the image out for use in editorials etc. As such I typically shoot RAW in order to give myself maximum flexibility.

The scene itself was extremely high contrast with the sun high above in the early afternoon. Then we have a subject which is much darker than the background/foreground, and partially in shadow. This is a nightmare in most cases. Expose for the shadows and blow the highlights, do that in reverse and your shadow detail is lost. In the case of the X-Pro2, the shadows may appear black but it retains a lot of detail which can be pushed several stops in editing. If I had taken the shot with my camera set to JPEG I might have gotten something that works well enough but limited in editing ability as the results are mostly baked-in. Shooting RAW allowed me to make maximum use of the X-Pro2's dynamic range so that I could push/pull the exposure during editing. While I'm at it, the white balance and color of selected areas were tweaked. Unless the aim to is to capture accurate color, I'll usually settle for something pleasing.

Finally, sharpening is critical here and if this is a serious assignment I won't trust that to the camera. With this example I sharpened the surfer and selective areas of the water independently.

For me shooting RAW vs JPEG is a matter of "WHY & HOW"...as in why would I give myself a ton of after-work (Conversion and Editing) if I'm shooting RAW and how the image is intended to be used. It's a personal choice I think...I've seen plenty of professionals/enthusiast work shot in JPEG. If you are good enough to capture the intended result without the cushion RAW files provide, go for it. I'm not so good...I like the cushion :-)


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