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Does a RAW file *have* to be processed?

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  • Does a RAW file *have* to be processed?

    Hi,

    I'm pretty new to this photography lark and have been shooting in RAW almost since day one, since everyone says you have so much more opportunity to alter the photograph afterwards than with a jpeg.

    My question is, though, do you *have* to post-process a RAW picture? Maybe it's because I'm so new to all this that I'm not seeing the full potential of my photographs, but when I look at it on the screen I'm usually happy with the way it's turned out. Maybe I should be posting more photos to the critique section!

    Are you more often than not happy with the way your pictures look SOOC, or do you do some post-processing to each and every one of them?

    As a little aside, if I'm going to be reducing a photo to 800px for inclusion in the assignments, is it worth thinking about sharpening it at all, or is sharpening only really needed if you're going to be getting a proper print made up?

    Cheers,

    Daniel
    Nikon D40, 18-55 lens, 55-200VR lens

    My photo gallery and Project 365 for 2010

  • #2
    Well, I'm sure someone else will come along and explain it better but a RAW file is just a file containing the unprocessed raw data captured by the sensor of the camera. The RAW file does not contain the image really; it has to be converted. Camera settings for color space, sharpness, saturation, and white balance are not in the RAW file. So yes, you have to process the RAW file parameters. I shoot in RAW and always process my images.

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    • #3
      so what happens if one were to shoot 1300 RAW photos in one day, does each one have to be converted? or can u do them as a big bunch, and go back to the RAW file if the need arises ?
      Body Canon 5D mkII
      Lenses Canon 24-105 F/4L - 24-70 F/2.8L - 70-200 F/2.8L II IS
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      • #4
        Well, I do mine one by one but they can be batch processed (not sure what program you are using) depending on the images if they are similar. I don't necessary do mine all at the same time; you can always go back and process what you need. They will always be there in their RAW state; well, unless you delete them.

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        • #5
          Sorry to hijack this thread but I have also recentrly been using RAW.
          I notice that when I look at the CF card afterwards there are two files of every picture.
          One is the RAW file (CR2) and the other JPG.
          I assume that the Jpeg is what Id normally get if I were in JPEG only mode.
          I have been opening up the RAW files using Photoshope CS3.
          Pretty much Like Daniel, I find in most cases I like how they come from the camera although occasionally its nice to add some extra exposure or vibrance.
          Is it normal to get both foramts or is that a setting I should turn off in the camera?

          Carl
          Canon 40D, EFS 10-22mm, 24-105 ef l & EF 85mm f/1.8-Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod.
          My flickr

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          • #6
            Well my Canon has a setting that shoots RAW and jpeg both. Is that what yours is set for. You can change it. It's not normal to get both.

            Well, it's kind of defeating the purpose to take images in RAW and not process...because they really aren't processed. They are unprocessed in every way...no white balance, no sharpening, no nothing. They always have to be processed. You will notice if you process what a difference between the "raw" file and a processed one.

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            • #7
              The short answer is yes. Raw files are designed to be as neutral as possible, so they aren't going to have much contrast or color; without toning they aren't going to pop. If you use something like Lightroom, it can apply baseline settings, which you can then change (or not change) as you see fit. You can create your own baseline, or use their default settings, and apply different presents on import however you like.
              JamieDePould.com + OneYearPhoto.com
              Nikon D300, D700, Sony NEX5n
              Zeiss 2/25; 1.4/50; 1.4/85

              Please read the rules before posting a critique thread. Rules here.

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              • #8
                I would say the answer is Yes and No. All RAW files need to be 'developed' into image files (normally JPEG), you can do this development step either by processing all of your files individually or by converting them all at once using the default parameters. A usefull analogy would be that processing them one at a time is like having your own darkroom, batch processing is like sending your films to Walmart/Boots. With the Walmart/Boots option you still have the negatives if required. Shooting straignt to JPEG could be analogous to Polariod but that may be stretching it too far!
                Fletch

                << blog >> - flickr
                Olympus E510 - Ok to edit and re-post on DPS only

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dirt_Bike_Ryda View Post
                  so what happens if one were to shoot 1300 RAW photos in one day...
                  Ryda - you'd use a lot of memory cards!

                  Daniel - FYI...
                  I am assuming that different makes of camera will still produce raw files of roughly the same sizes, depending on the number of mega-pixels (give or take a bit...) A 10MP image in raw format (on a Nikon D40x) uses something like 9Mb, whereas even the highest quality JPG file for a 10MP image is only about half that size. Each subsequent drop in JPG quality halves the file size again. The figures Nikon quote are 9Mb (Raw), 4.8 Mb (Fine JPG), 2.4Mb (Normal JPG), and 1.2Mb (Basic JPG) for a full 10MP image.

                  If you have the camera set to produce raw & JPG together (as Carl mentioned in his post), then (mercifully) the D40x stores the JPG at the lowest resolution (on the basis, I guess, that if you want anything other than basic, you'll get it from the raw file), so the two together take about 10Mb.

                  So, uhm... 1300 images @ 10Mb each = err... 13Gb? About 3 DVDs worth of data! That's a lot of photos to even LOOK AT, let alone process!! Good luck with THAT one, Ryda!!

                  But Daniel, back to your original question, I'd say that if you don't have specific post-processing or publication needs that require raw format, I'd suggest setting the camera to JPG Normal or High resolution, and just using Photoshop or even GIMP for your everyday PP needs. Picasa does a damn good job for just general tidying up or cropping, with a very simple interface, if Photoshop scares you as much as it scares me.

                  Good luck.

                  Grumby
                  Last edited by Grumby; 06-01-2009, 01:19 PM.
                  My gear: Nikon D3000, 18-55 & 55-200 (kit), 50mm f/1.8, Fuji Finepix F20 P&S
                  My blog: My D3000 Diaries
                  My flickr Grumby and his D3000

                  They say the camera never lies - so it's obviously the world that is out of focus, not my photos...

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for the comments guys. To clarify, I don't count opening a RAW image and just saving it again as a jpeg to be "processing" the image, to me processing means adjusting white balance, contrast, tone and so on. Even cropping isn't really post-processing in terms of what I was originally asking!

                    I'll set the camera into RAW + JPG for a few weeks and compare the two files that come out. Of course there's no guarantee that the jpg that comes out of the camera is any more "correct" than the RAW, but at the moment I'm not that experienced in looking at a picture and realising that it needs more contrast, or less exposure, or "if I increase the saturation it'll really make the sky stand out" - that sort of thing.
                    Nikon D40, 18-55 lens, 55-200VR lens

                    My photo gallery and Project 365 for 2010

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jdepould View Post
                      The short answer is yes. Raw files are designed to be as neutral as possible, so they aren't going to have much contrast or color; without toning they aren't going to pop.
                      The secret is learning how to make the image pop without ruining it, or making it look obvious that it's been tweaked
                      Nikon D40, 18-55 lens, 55-200VR lens

                      My photo gallery and Project 365 for 2010

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dirt_Bike_Ryda View Post
                        so what happens if one were to shoot 1300 RAW photos in one day, does each one have to be converted? or can u do them as a big bunch, and go back to the RAW file if the need arises ?
                        In Photoshop Elements 7, if you have a batch of photos taken at about the same time of day, or at least in the same lighting conditions, you can apply the same basic processing to them in a batch. One of the advantages of RAW is that all the changes you make are stored in a separate file, so you can always undo them and/or go back to the original RAW file if you need to.
                        Nikon D40, 18-55 lens, 55-200VR lens

                        My photo gallery and Project 365 for 2010

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                        • #13
                          In most programs you can also set a variety of automatic modes, and let the software take it's best guess. A third option, if you don't intend to pixel peep or make exceedingly large prints, is to use one of the many tools that can extra the built in jpeg thumbnail most (all?) raw formats have incorporated. That'll typically be slightly smaller than the highest quality jpeg setting and be done with whatever settings were on your camera at the time, as if the camera was in jpeg mode.

                          But Mom, Pentax IS rebellious
                          Pentax K-7, K20D
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                          • #14
                            Since you shoot Nikon, you can use ViewNX to batch covert all of your NEF files to JPGs using whatever the camera settings were. The resulting JPGs are nearly identical to what you would get if you shot JPGs in camera. The advantage of this is that you don't need to shoot RAW+JPG unless you really need to get to the images fast (the program is slow), plus you can output higher quality JPGs than you could with your D40, since it doesn't do RAW+JPG Fine/Large. You can also output tiffs 8bit or 16bit, and adjust many of the raw settings like exposure compensation, white balance, color mode, etc. It's not the best RAW processor, but if you want the flexibility of shooting RAW, but still want your images to look exactly like they do on your LCD, it's a good option to consider. Plus it's a free download from Nikon, so it doesn't really hurt to try it as part of your workflow.

                            http://support.nikontech.com/app/ans...il/a_id/16370/
                            [ԯ] marcus
                            photoblog | Facebook | flickr | 5∞ px | G+

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                            • #15
                              I am pretty new to the whole RAW thing too, and my canon saves in RAW + jpeg. I use the digital photo professional software that came with the camera to tweak the photos as I am very scared of photoshop right now.

                              Any hints that could benefit me? Should I use a different program? Should I set to shoot in only raw?
                              Canon Rebel XSi - EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 - EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6
                              ----------------------------
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