Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shooting RAW+JPG or JPG - and considering space constraints

Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon].
When I first got a dSLR I shot in JPG, then did some RAW, and probably shot mostly in JPG with that camera.

In March 2006 I sent my D70 in for repair and a few days later got a D200. With that I shot a lot of RAW+JPG. Occassionally I'd shoot just jpg. I got stuck on a location and time that didn't offer much good light, and was almost always shooting at long distance (Eagles at Great Falls, MD in the evening). It was very hard to get a good image here. I went over 20 times afer June 11th 2005 (and before July 22nd) but a single day stands out, June 18th, 200. The light was great, I was there mid-day, not just later, and I saw some great action. I shot almost all of these trips in RAW+JPG, maybe 30 or 40 GBs of pix/files.

In regards to shooting in JPG only, I shot the above Osprey in JPG, and shot that day in JUST JPG all day. The light was perfect, and the encounters kept on coming.

RAW can help, but there is no making up for conditions and encounters. I've also learned to tweak my camera and adjust for a lot, some of which the RAW format allows for after the shooting, like exposure comp. With these Osprey and good light I lowered my ISO a good bit. When I was on the boat I raised it some to avoid having the motion of the boat blurring every image. Half way through that boat ride, it was so good, I switched to RAW+JPG.

After nearly a year of shooting, almost 70,000 pictures between my D70 and D200, space has become a problem on my computer and DVDs that I make backups to. I think I've got about 300+GBs of pix. I've made about 100 DVDs of backup copies and keep two copies on HDDs when I am caught up in all my steps for backups.

Disk space being what it is, and the curve I've been on for learning, I think it might be time to start deleting at least some copies of images I've taken. I don't need 3 copies of the 20 pix it took to get the one good shot, or the 100 it took to get the 1 good shot.

To put it bluntly, the quality of an image is not determined by the format it is recorded in, be it JPG or RAW. Sure you can crop and enhance much better from a RAW file, but if the light is poor, subjects far off, is it worth it to take tens or hundreds of pix at RAW+JPG and keep buying DVDs and HDDs to protect this data?

I'm currently of the mind that I can now shoot 90% of the time in JPG only and get the best (or nearly the best) results I can and still keep my storage loads to a modest amount. When a spot is rockin' I will switch to RAW+JPG, but otherwise I don't think I will.


1 comment:

Sailor said...

I am reading the book, "Camera RAW", by Rob Sheppard. He makes your same argument. The most important element is proper exposure.

I'm shooting exclusively in RAW now, because I want to learn how to use the format. I plan to do portraits as a sideline in the future and the manipulation factor demands RAW.

I shoot with a D70s and Olympus E500. The differences in 2 are befuddling at times. The E500 as inherient noise problems in RAW, the jpg images are flawless. Go figure.