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DPP: Part 3 ? Processing the Image: Exercise 11 ? Raw

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:

  • Daylight
  • 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 Raw

Grounds – Unedited Raw

Grounds – Unedited JPEG

Grounds - Unedited JPEG

Grounds – Unedited JPEG

Histograms

Histogram for Grounds Raw

Histogram for Grounds – Raw

Histogram Grounds - JPEG

Histogram for Grounds – JPEG

Daylight Scene – Grounds Edits and Observations

Raw

Grounds - Raw -

Grounds – Raw –

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.

JPEG

Grounds - JPEG -

Grounds – JPEG –

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.

Comparison Observations

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:

Raw on Left, JPEG on Right

Raw on Left, JPEG on Right

Artificially lit scene – Thermometer Edits and Observations

Raw

Thermostat - Raw

Thermostat – Raw

I boosted the exposure, added some fill light and reduced the colour temperature.

JPEG

Thermostat - JPEG

Thermostat – JPEG

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.

Comparison Observations

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:

Raw on Left, JPEG on Right

Raw on Left, JPEG on Right

High Dynamic Range – Control

Raw

Control - Raw

Control – Raw

I reduced the colour temperature, increased the fill light, reduced exposure and applied recovery.

JPEG

Control - JPEG -

Control – JPEG –

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.

Comparison Observations

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:

Control - JPEG Recovery

Control – JPEG Recovery

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