14 Replies Latest reply on Sep 9, 2014 5:44 PM by alexkub

    JPEG vs. NEF

    alexkub

      Hello,

      I have recently started shooting in the NEF (RAW) format with my Nikon D7100. I literally consumed and swallowed the whole lot of articles regarding RAW vs. JPEG format and learned that RAW is better, RAW retains more data, RAW has more details, professionals use only RAW, etc. However, I took a few test shots of the same objects comparing NEF and 24 pixels JPEG and frankly after post-processing in Lightroom 5 was unable to see any significant difference between them. A few advantages of NEF (RAW) that I nevertheless can see are that LR has more editing options for RAW such as more options in WB editing, lens correction and camera calibration. Another possible advantage of RAW is that it does not require messing with WB, day light control and other initial camera set-up. Thus, my question is whether it is worth shooting in RAW given that is takes more space on a memory card and after alI I have to save the edited RAW file as JPEG on my hard drive? Does the edited RAW file lose data after exporting it on a hard drive as JPEG? I would appreciate it if anybody could share knowledge.

      Thanks and regards,

      Alex

        • 1. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
          ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          The camera is doing a raw conversion to JPG inside if itself.   Is any data lost, yes.

           

          The point of starting with raw is that you can make the decisions about WB and noise-reduction and sharpening and highlight recovery among other things, instead of the starting point of your adjustments being after the camera made all those decisions.

           

          The camera may do a better job than you in the beginning, but it doesn’t take too much practice and skill to do better than the camera most of the time, and you can make a virtual copy and do different processing for another copy.

          • 2. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
            alexkub Level 1

            I got it. I know that the camera initially shoots in RAW and then converts it into JPG, if this format is selected in it. However, the question remains: what picture retains more data after editing in LR - the one taken in 24 mgp JPG or in RAW format? It seems to me that ultimately this is not even a matter of data and/or quality because they are fairly comparable, but a matter of flexibility when editing a photo.

            Thank you.

            Alex

            • 3. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
              DdeGannes Adobe Community Professional

              The JPEG file is 8 bit and the RAW file is probably 14 bit and will be a lot larger. The RAW data is never changed when you export from Lightroom to JPEG data will be discarded when creating the JPEG file.

              You can reprocess the RAW file as often as necessary utilizing different settings or in the future when improvements are made to your processing software.

              • 4. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                elie-d Level 4

                First, regarding your final point about saving both Nefs and jpgs, there is no need to routinely automatically generate jpgs because all the editing required for the jpg is retained in LR's database and whenever you have a specific need for the jpg - for a website, email or to send to a print lab - you can create it in seconds, use it and delete it.

                 

                Second, as ssprengel said, it is YOUR processing, your taste and judgement rather than blindly accepting somebody else's decisions. Moreover, it is the first round of processing, not a second round to plaster over what wasn't good in the first round. Finally, Raw data is precise to 12 or 14 bits, jpgs are 8 bits per channel. Jpgs can encompass at best 7 stops of subject tonal range, more usually 5-6 stops, while some cameras can capture a (theoretical) 14 stops in Raw - the difference between white skies and/or black shadows in jpgs and fully detailed Raws. And that greater range can provide the latitude to repair exposure that was inaccurate.

                • 5. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                  dj_paige Level 9

                  However, the question remains: what picture retains more data after editing in LR - the one taken in 24 mgp JPG or in RAW format?

                  I don't think this is the right question. The RAW will always have more data when the capture is made, it has 14bits per pixel compared to 8bits per pixel with the JPG.

                   

                  The right question, in my opinion, regarding after editing is: which gives you a superior image once you have done the processing? The answer is that the RAW has the potential, if you do it properly, to provide a superior image. Often this benefits of RAW compared to JPG are most easily in the highlight and shadow areas, but certainly you could also see improvements elsewhere in the photo.

                  • 6. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                    Simon G E Garrett Level 2

                    If you don't do any significant editing on the image, and you don't need full dynamic range, jpeg is pretty much as good as raw.

                     

                    Advantages of raw:

                    • Raw can capture 3 - 4 stops more dynamic range, i.e. the range between the lightest and darkest parts of the picture
                    • Exposure latitude: raw can recover from much more over or under exposure without loss or damage to image information
                    • Much greater ability to alter colour and white balance in post processing.  More than minor wb adjustment in jpeg can result in unwanted hue changes or loss of image detail
                    • Much greater ability to alter tonal balace in post processing.

                     

                    But as you found, if you don't make any changes to the image then it will look pretty much the same raw or jpeg. 

                    • 7. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                      alexkub Level 1

                      Thank you, . This is a very good reason. Indeed, I shoot in 12 bit, no compression RAW. Thanks again

                      • 8. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                        alexkub Level 1

                        Thanks a lot, . Thus, it comes to having more flexibility/possibilities during processing given a 'zero' unaffected starting point. It's a very good reason, indeed.

                        Alex

                        • 9. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                          alexkub Level 1

                          I appreciate it, . Like the key word - more potential. I got it!

                          Alex

                          • 10. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                            alexkub Level 1

                            Thank you Simon. This is a very interesting and important information for me. Given all the above feedback including yours, I think I made up my mind in terms of choosing a format I will keep working with. I am proud to publicly announce it - this will be NEF (RAW)

                            Thanks again to everybody who responded my inquiry.

                            Alex

                            • 11. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                              thedigitaldog MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                              Not only does the raw have more data in terms of bit depth, it's got a much higher color gamut potential. If you shoot JPEG, best you can get is an Adobe RGB (1998) sized gamut from the processing. The camera has a far greater potential to capture the scene gamut than Adobe RGB (1998). In Adobe raw converters, it's using a ProPhoto RGB gamut for processing so anything but ProPhoto RGB from raw is potentially clipping color gamut you could render and output! Illustrated in this video:

                              High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/ColorGamut.mov

                              Low Res (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bxSD-Xx-Q

                              • 12. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                                areohbee Level 5

                                Simon G E Garrett wrote:

                                 

                                If you don't do any significant editing on the image, and you don't need full dynamic range, jpeg is pretty much as good as raw.

                                 

                                Advantages of raw:

                                • Raw can capture 3 - 4 stops more dynamic range, i.e. the range between the lightest and darkest parts of the picture
                                • Exposure latitude: raw can recover from much more over or under exposure without loss or damage to image information
                                • Much greater ability to alter colour and white balance in post processing.  More than minor wb adjustment in jpeg can result in unwanted hue changes or loss of image detail
                                • Much greater ability to alter tonal balace in post processing.

                                 

                                In addition to color and tone, there is also detail - you can't un-apply noise reduction (or sharpening) done to the jpeg, for example.

                                • 13. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                                  alexkub Level 1

                                  Hi Andrew,

                                  Thanks a lot. This was a very interesting info I will definitely keep in mind when shooting and post-processing my pictures.

                                  Regards,

                                  Alex

                                  • 14. Re: JPEG vs. NEF
                                    alexkub Level 1

                                    Got it Rob. Thanks I have already noticed difference in noise reduction between two formats.