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Yes camera raw files are still the best, as jpegs hold only 8 bits/channel of data where as camera raw files might have 12 bits/channel (often more) of data.
Your giving up an awful lot of editing headroom by shooting just jpeg.
I use raw for everything unless the camera doesn't support it.
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There are several stops of highlight headroom in the RAW files compared to JPGs, unless the camera is doing automatic HDR-type toning to push most all the sensor dynamic range into the JPG. I’d rather do it myself.
White balance in JPGs is already backed in, whereas with RAWs you set it in post processing, which allows synchronizing the same WB for several photos in the same lighting, and not having to worry about getting it right in camera before you shoot. You only have relative WB adjustments available for JPGs, not absolute temp and tint as with RAWs.
Lastly, I like to adjust my noise-reduction relative to the textures in the scene, rather than relying on the one-size-fits-all approach of the camera. The NR in Adobe products keeps more grain than the in-camera NR, and I prefer seeing a little grain to know I have not suppressed any details unnecessarily.
If you don’t adjust WB, nor adjust NR, nor shoot high-dynamic range outdoor images to pull details from the highlights, then maybe you can get by with JPGs for most things.
"which allows synchronizing the same WB for several photos"
thanks, SS, can't you adjust one jpeg in Raw and then synchronize the rest as you do with Raws?
I'm wondering, with the advent of being able to process jpegs in Camera Raw, what is the benefit for shooting Raw?
You're kidding, right?
How about the ability (in PV 2012 in LR4 and Ps CS6) to control the dynamic range? Shooting a JPEG auto-limits the ability to do highlight recover since by definition, the JPEG has a baked in 8 bit (actually slightly less) rendered image. A raw file allows 12-14 bit of bit depth flexibility...you choose.
It's all very well to try to get the best capture at shooting, but limiting yourself to pre-baked JPEGs is, well, limiting yourself to only mild adjustments after capture.
As far as post capture JPEG adjustments, don't be fooled by the fact you can adjust a JPEG in LR/ACR. Yes, you can do relatively mild adjustments to a JPEG in ACR/LR but not NEARLY to the degree you can accomplish using a raw file as the starting point.
Maybe you can "get by" by shooting JPEGs, is that really what you want to do? Get by? Shooting raw still allows optimal image quality, JPEGs only allow just barely good enough image quality. Your choice...
Thanks Jeff, I needed a provocative subject line for this!
I'm glad you and the others pointed those things out because I always thought the main point of Raw was the ability to use camera raw to adjust.
To the more novice user like myself (compared to you and others) , I "think"... it seems like I'm recovering highlight -- but maybe that's just an illusion. I see the recover slider there... but I guess the jpegs are not really recovering...? (because it's only 8 bit?)
Have to be honest -- for many types of people consumer/ retail work, it's very rare that the clients are that discerning or the lighting or color will be so off as to need Raw. (Advertising, editorial, fine art is another animal of client for sure....) But I'm glad I posted this as it gets the wheels turning.
My information, from high end commercial photog buddies, is that clients are getting MORE fussy nowadays. They expect the likes of Hasselblad and Phase One, which are going to set you back around US$40,000 each. But what is surprising me, is how many people actually own kit like this. I use a Canon 1DsMK3 for most of my work, and a 1DMK4 for video and the occassional sports shoot. But if I added up all my gear including studio lighting, lots of grip gear, lens etc etc, I doubt it would come to to US$40,000.
Then again, I know at least a dozen people who call themselves wedding photographers, and use little prosumer bodies. Low end prosumer bodies at that.