Gear Talk > EOS Bodies - For Stills

Convince me to shoot in RAW

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Now, I had always known there were distinct advantages to RAW, but hadn't thought about it much until recently since I was only a hobbyist on a Rebel XT for five years. I upgraded to a 50D two years ago and tried RAW once or twice but still didn't have much knowledge about photography.

Now, I've been doing photography professionally for several months, have learned a crazy amount, and am pushing to get the absolute best out of my 50D until I can save up for the MkIII.

This article:
Finally made it stupidly obvious to me why RAW will always be a higher quality then the camera-JPEG equivalent. Somehow I didn't realize until now that there is quite a bit more tonal data in a RAW file.

So I would really like to be shooting in RAW, but a few things are holding me back:

1) Data management.
I don't have the budget for a bunch of HDD's, especially while saving every penny for the MkIII. This is not my biggest concern, but it will be a greater task trying to back up 800 RAW files instead of JPEGs. I know there has got to be a way to delete all images in a folder not chosen for import when using lightroom. If someone could explain that to me or if anyone knows of a workaround, data management wouldn't concern me as much. I always import more than I truly end up with, and I don't want to add to my workflow time by deleting all the out of focus images outside of lightroom before starting the import process.

2) Workflow time with only RAW files.
I know I'll figure out the speediest way for me once I actually start taking on the beast, but some advice on getting started would be greatly appreciated. I advertise a photo-journalistic style for weddings, so I often come home with over a thousand images expecting to choose about half of them to process. Part of this is needing to be more selective in shooting, but I still feel much safer taking three shots of the same pose using the 50D and shallow DoF as there is such a razor thin margin for getting critical areas in focus.

Does lightroom handle RAW files in an efficient manner? With so many images per session, I'd prefer to keep all my work within lightroom. I'm just worried that processing RAW and then processing all the produced images will prove to be too time consuming. It may not be a problem if I did photography full time, but it is currently a weekend job on top of my normal full time job. Business is starting to pick up for me, and time management is starting to become a real issue.

Help please  ;D
If you are doing "photography professionally for several months", you should have figured the advantages of RAW out by yourself a long time ago.

I will try to wrap it up anyway, it's not very hard to understand. There is a reason why RAW files are that big. They simply hold much, much more information than your standard compressed JPEG Image, thus allowing you to cover wider ranges of possibilities in post-processing. For example, is your picture too dark? No problem, brighten it to levels where your JPEG would throw out artifacts already. Wedding sounds like often indoors to me, so light would be a thing to keep in mind here and a RAW just grants you more space to get the picture you want later.

If you use Lightroom, then you probably know that it's not only an editing, but also an archiving tool. I don't really see why it would consume more time to look through RAW files instead of JPEGs, except if you got a low class computer that cannot access these files in an acceptable timespan.

When it's coming to backups, I also don't see a problem. I only shoot in raw, which grants me about 300 pictures on my 16GB SD Card in the 5D Mark III, and when processed, I save them as high quality JPEG. You probably wouldn't keep backups in RAW anyway, as it would eat your harddrive like crazy. When I am on vacation, I process the pics worth processing from RAW, the rest gets converted to JPEG via IrfanView without any processing at all.

Another problem for you would be the data speed of your camera. 1000 pics on one wedding? Sounds like burst mode to me. Your 50D won't be able to shoot more than 8 to 10 pics in a row without some room to breathe to save them first.

If you are going to switch to a 5D Mark III sometime in the future, the backup question would already be clear. Because it has got a CF and a SD card slot, you can shoot RAW and JPEG simultaneously and save RAW on the CF, and JPEG on the SD, that even crosses out the need to convert them later but allows you to process the much better RAWs in the first place.

For Lightroom: after the import (actually after the first 10-20 images have loaded), i check in the "previous import" every pic and use pick [ p ] and reject [ x ] while having a first look at the pictures. everything that is obviously bad gets trashed.
then i select via attributes (top middle in the catalogue window) either all rejected pic or, depending on the projet, all that are not picked and the rejected. Then its easy: selet all, delete (also from disk).

Woosh, and you have only the pictures left on your drive that are "good".

Then make a new collection and put everything that i wanna keep in it and then the real work begins and however so often another pic gets an [ x ] and sooner, but normally later (that point when only 50GB are left on the drive) it gets cleaned ;)

I work on a 2 year old mid-class notebook, previewing is normally fast (1sec per picture to get full resolution, 2sec max to change to develop).
On my desktop (which catches dust at my parents home), a 3 year old i7-920 then-high-end-gaming machine, there is no visible delay.
So your computer should be able to cope quite well with RAWs, as also jpegs need to be decoded.

In all practicality, if you do not feel the need for RAW, you do not need it.
If you are happy with JPEG, no need for RAW. It is generally an overkill and time consuming.

RAW is that back-up mechanism that lets you correct the missed manual EV stteing to compensate the black tux or that bright window behind your subject.

Oh, and dont hesitate to underexpose 1-2 stops to get a more reasonable shutterspeed 8)


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