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Author Topic: Camera RAW  (Read 4696 times)


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Camera RAW
« on: June 25, 2013, 07:14:09 AM »
Hi. My most used setup is the Canon 70-300L and the 60D. I am now learning as I go and next is shooting in RAW. However the more I try the more confused I get when trying to adjust using the different sliders in camera RAW. How ever much I try when I finish it always looks unnatural.
Do you always shoot RAW and do you use generally the same settings? at the moment I am just taking "normal" pictures and want to improve on what I get when shooting in JPEG.
Problem is at the moment I am just getting more and more frustrated. Hope I am not the only one who feels like this :-(

Thanks in advance for any feedback or suggestions.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 07:15:55 AM by CanonMan »

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Camera RAW
« on: June 25, 2013, 07:14:09 AM »


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 09:58:42 PM »
Always shoot RAW.  It leaves much more room for post processing.  What tweaks you use in Camera RAW/Lightroom will vary depend on what kind of shot you're editing and what your personal preferences are.  For example, when I do black and white portraits I like to drop the blacks and raise the whites which I think gives it more of a dramatic look.

Here's an example of a shot that was awful in camera but I think was saved by tweaking the sliders:

Beach before by Joe Beckwith, on Flickr

Beach after by Joe Beckwith, on Flickr

In the end it's all about personal preference.  There's no right way or wrong way to adjust sliders.
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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2013, 10:12:28 PM »
What software are you using? IF it is DPP then you have the option to choose any of the in camera jpeg renderings post capture.

Lightroom and ACR offer similar settings too. Just go to the Camera Calibration panel in the Develop module adn click on the triangle across from Profile, you will get this box and these settings are very close approximations to your out of camera jpegs, choose one and then make small adjustments from there.

Here is the panel.
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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2013, 10:22:23 PM »
There are a lot of tutorials online. Try, etc. I am sure that you will get a lot of inspirations there.


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 10:41:41 PM »
Every advanced and professional photographer will tell you to shoot RAW.  That is, all of them except me.  I am going to get lambasted for saying this, but I think it is a waste of time and memory space.  After happily shooting JPEG for over two years and constantly reading that I was missing something (even though I did not feel as if I was), I switched to RAW plus JPEG for about six months.  Honestly I could not see much (if any) difference.  Even the online tutorials I read, where they had side by side comparisons explaining how the RAW file looks so much better - most of the side by side images look the same to me.  I have since switched back to JPEG only.

Certainly you do have A LITTLE BIT more adjustment room with RAW, but nowhere near the amount that people claim.  It is probably the most overblown facet of digital photography.

Now everyone else is going to jump in and tell you to ignore me.  The honest truth is, the only way to tell if you really need it is to do what I did - shoot RAW plus JPEG for a period of time and see if the adjusted RAW files are consistently better.  If so, then go RAW all the way but if not, you may choose the route I took.


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2013, 11:00:18 PM »
Allow me to second MrFotoFool's position.

From what you've written, I would recommend you stay away from RAW until you've really nailed composition, exposure, and white balance.

The purpose of RAW is to provide the best (raw) material for post processing (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc).  Which means you need an additional set of skills to achieve anything worthwhile.  On the other hand, if you have great composition, exposure, and white balance, there is little to no need for post processing.

Once you've really mastered the basics, you'll be able to get something out of post processing if you want to explore that route.  Until then, all it will do is frustrate you and distract you from the real goal, great images.

Maybe it is because I've been doing this for over 40 years, and still have a film based philosophy, but I find no enjoyment in post processing.  So I strive to get the best possible results out of the camera so I don't have to sit in front of the computer for hours.


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2013, 11:26:31 PM »
Doesn't have to be difficult. In Adobe Camera Raw on the basic menu there is an "auto" button. Hit that and see if it improves your picture. If not, hit the default button to go back to your original shot.

Then, work your way down the various sliders, starting with exposure. Work in the order they are stacked. Make slight modifications with each one to improve the shot.  After you've gone down the list, go back to exposure or any of the other sliders in case you need to tweak them a bit.

After you've gotten comfortable with the basic menu, then you can start experimenting with the various adjustment tools and other menus, but really, about 90% of your work can be done from the basic menu.

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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2013, 11:26:31 PM »


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 12:00:04 AM »
I can tell my path to RAW.

Coming from P&S, my first SLR I started with JPEG. Everyone kept telling me to switch to RAW, mostly for 2 reasons:

-Editing RAW doesn't destroy the original, you can always revert back
-You don't need to worry about WB

Because of these comments, I stayed longer on JPEG than I would have otherwise. The first comment is just insanely stupid, if you really care about original, or course you make folder to keep the original files, and edit only copies. Which I was doing anyway. And I could count (totally) missed WB shots with my one hand fingers.

So because I felt the reasons to switch were stupid, I didn't switch.

For a while I was testing RAW, but I tried PS CS2 (at the time the latest), and it was so confusing. Compared to how I edited JPEGs on PSP-X, I was able to get better results from JPEG with few minute editing (per photo), compared to long struggle with RAW in CS2.

So I gave up, went back to JPEG.

But reading more, there's dynamic range and lot of better editing options and such, so I wanted the RAW.

So I bought Bibble (4.x at the time, 5.x later), and it was sooooooo much easier than CS2, and I was happy to switch to RAW. Editing timewise was only slightly slower than JPEG, and results were much better. Few years of this, and I bought myself LR3 and later LR4. Last year I upgraded to CS6, although I do most edits still at LR4.

My conclusion: it depends on person, but stepping up to RAW should happen at some point of the learning curve. But using JPEG is just fine.

Of course there's special cases, like many sport/event shooters who use jpeg because:
-Basically unlimited buffer even at high fps
-One big card can store thousands of photos
-Quick turnaround if need to send pictures immediately to boss/magazine/web


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 12:41:48 AM »
I generally shoot RAW, but I have not always been able to get good results from it. It is something that you need to learn through experience what the benefits are, if any, for your style of shooting. For me, I generally use RAW in difficult lighting circumstances to get better dynamic range or where light temperatures may change rapidly. I will shoot JPG if I can see that I won't need to do much post processing to the image or if I don't plan on editing at all.

If your RAW editing leaves photos looking flat, try increasing the white slider if you decrease the highlights, and decrease the black slider if you increase shadows.
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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2013, 01:44:48 AM »
Started with JPEGs with my first point-and-shoot cameras then proceeded with JPEG then RAW in DSLR later.  I noticed that it's easier to adjust the highlights and shadows with RAW and it's not causing that much noise compared to JPEG.   Also, it's easier to adjust the WB in RAW without affecting the colors and saturation of the picture.  To OP, I think it's up to you but RAW gives you more headroom for mistakes than JPEG.  If you're sure you'll nail the WB, exposure and will be satisfied by the limited shadows/highlights adjustments offered by JPEG then go for JPEG.  It's much faster to process and is a lot smaller than RAW.

As for editors, I initially started with DPP and learned a lot from there.  Later on, I've moved to LR3 then LR4.  At first, I just want to try it but found it easier to edit a RAW file with LR than with DPP.  The only caveat is that there's an extra "import" step in LR which is quite slower when editing a lot of pictures.  As of now, I'm still learning my way through LR but I like what I'm seeing so far.  Also, try the LR presets.  Aside from the built-in presets, there are lots of other downloadable presets from web.,  You can start by applying presets and adjusting them to your liking.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 01:47:33 AM by verysimplejason »


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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2013, 10:58:05 AM »
Many thanks for all the replies. I guess my main issue is that the more I look at the changes I am making in Camera RAW (CS5) the more I don't know what looks good any more. I then compare to the same shot in JPEG and I can immediately see that the picture is not looking natural. Normally I manage to make the colors to bright.
I am not interested in changing much. Recovering over or underexposed areas is great but that is a simple recovery process. Two screens might help. One with the JPEG and one with the RAW so that I can see the differences.

Thanks for the advice so far.

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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2013, 12:05:27 PM »
Messing with exposure in a jpeg can leave "banding" where one color fades to another because there is less color info.  If youre bumping up lights and pushing down darks, a brighter white has to fade to a darker black over the same distance.  That transition is smoother when done in RAW.

This isnt my photo, but it's a quick example what happens editing in raw versus editing as a jpeg

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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2013, 11:01:55 PM »
not really sure why raw is such a big mystery. its fairly straight forward and you see what is happening instantly.

when i taught beginning students digital photography, their biggest hurdle was understanding what adjustments to make and how much. most were very clumsy and heavy handed with their adjustments...naturally their edited images ended up looking much worse than OOC.

this had nothing to do with a perceived complexity of raw but more to do with a lack of understanding about the aesthetic qualities of density, contrast, color balance, and tonal gradations. i came to understand that these concepts were better grasped while learning on film as you really needed to pay close attention to what you were doing or your results would be disastrous. it is almost too easy in digital to make adjustments.

i would end up giving demos to my students showing how subtle adjustments combined together could really make an image stand out while large heavy adjustments would end up looking awkward. it takes time to learn these subtleties and to employ them effectively but it is by far worth it. raw also doesn't negate the necessity to know what good lighting is and how to expose properly.

you may find that raw is not for you and that you get more enjoyment out of just shooting jpg, but don't be fooled...a large segment of photography is putting raw to use very effectively and find it necessary to get the results they cant get from jpg.   
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Re: Camera RAW
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2013, 11:01:55 PM »