This exercise is to compare the qualities of Raw images to JPEG images from the camera – showing the advantages of Raw but in perspective; the exercise states the higher quality of Raw is often over-praised.
I took three images, recorded by the camera as Raw and highest quality JPEG simultaneously. The images required were of the following types of scenes:
- Artificial Light
- High Dynamic Range
The next steps is to process each image to make the best of them and then compare the versions.
Before getting on with that, my first observation was that the camera’s processing was evident on the JPEG images, so the images immediately looked different after import in to Lightroom; highlights were reduced and dark tones brightened by comparison, as the examples and histograms below demonstrate:
Grounds – Unedited Raw
Grounds – Unedited JPEG
Daylight Scene – Grounds Edits and Observations
I made adjustments to slightly reduce the colour temperature. I increased the exposure slider and applied recovery and fill light. I increased saturation and sharpened the image.
Most of the changes were similar, however the in-camera processing had already effected the JPEG’s tones; I therefore had to apply less recover and fill light to the image. I also increased the saturation more.
Apart from the differences due to the camera’s processing, the main differences seem to be processing detail; the JPEG has a smudged look which is very evident when zoomed in. I’ve shown this in the side-by-side below:
Artificially lit scene – Thermometer Edits and Observations
I boosted the exposure, added some fill light and reduced the colour temperature.
Again less adjustment was required to the brightness of this image. The white balance set by the camera and recorded in the JPEG was closer to the result I was happy with, but I still needed to make a small adjustment.
White balance needed less adjustment on the JPEG. In the shadow area noise is apparent in the Raw, while the JPEG is more blotchy. The gradient for light to dark is also smoother in the Raw. I experimented with noise reduction and the Raw result was better than the JPEG out of the camera – which was applying some noise reduction:
High Dynamic Range – Control
I reduced the colour temperature, increased the fill light, reduced exposure and applied recovery.
A slight reduction in colour temperature and increase in fill light. Applying recovery resulted in a clear, low quality, gradient in the recovery areas which severely detracted from the image’s appearance.
The JPEG is less forgiving of the dynamic range – so less adjustments can be made without having a severe effect on the quality. The image below shows the results of applying recovery to the JPEG: