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Format - RAW vs JPEG vs TIFF?

5792 Views 16 Replies Latest reply: Jul 18, 2010 7:33 PM by Network 23 RSS
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WilliamL Level 3 Level 3 (590 points)
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Apr 23, 2010 10:18 AM
I am new to Aperture and I received a Nikon D3000 for Christmas. I am NOT a professional photographer. I just take pictures of my family and places we go. I would appreciate suggestions as to what format might be best for me. Thanks.
Mac Pro 2.66 Ghz 8-core, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,550 points)
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    Apr 23, 2010 10:40 AM (in response to WilliamL)
    Hi -- welcome to the forum.

    Your question is really beyond the focus of the forum, but ...

    If you have any interest in photography as a craft, art, or business, shoot raw only and learn how to use Aperture to store, develop, and publish your shots. (By "publish" I mean to output in any way, be it a digital image file (raw is sensor data, it is not an image format), a print, etc.) It's not hard, and it's a skill worth having.

    If your only interest is in snapshots (nothing wrong with that), shoot JPG and use iPhoto.

    There are many resources on the Web for learning what raw is and how to understand it. I recommend the older Adobe whitepaper, "Understanding Digital RAW Capture", and anything you find on the sites Cambridge Color and Luminous Landscape. These are not meant to be exclusive -- there is a lot of good information out there.

    http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/pdfs/understanding_digitalrawcapture.pdf
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/RAW-file-format.htm
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/

    Given the good raw conversion built into Aperture, the one option I can't see using unless you have some specific need is "raw+jpeg".

    Again, welcome. And good luck.

    My two cents.
    MacBook Pro 13", Mac OS X (10.6.3), 4 G / 500 G
  • gocuk2@yahoo. Level 2 Level 2 (485 points)
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    Apr 23, 2010 12:03 PM (in response to WilliamL)
    This question is real easy to answer. Raw.
    There are a few reasons to use jpeg but you will generally speaking get far better results from raw.
    A jpeg put very simply just puts most of the information the camera is able to record to trash.
    A Tiff is able to save all the original data but the way it saves data in image file is not very efficient and will take up more space than raw. Allan
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,630 points)
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    Apr 23, 2010 12:36 PM (in response to gocuk2@yahoo.)
    This question is real easy to answer.


    Yes, depending on what you want to do.

    Want to take snapshots of the kids and holidays. Don't want to have think about processing them, editing them, just want to load them into the mac and look at them? Shoot Jpeg - it really is "good enough" for this kind of work. Your camera will have a really good automatic setting that will produce good quality images for just this purpose. Use iPhoto on your Mac. It really is "good enough" for just this kind of work.

    Shooting Raw means work. Using Aperture means learning. If you're interested in photography in learning, in the challenge of trying to maximise the abilities of yourself, your camera and your Mac. If you want to put in time and effort, then shoot raw and use Aperture.

    Regards

    TD
    MacBook Pro 15 2.4 C2D / iMac 20" 2.66 C2D, Mac OS X (10.6), 4 gig RAM/ 4 gig RAM
  • Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,500 points)
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    Apr 23, 2010 12:48 PM (in response to WilliamL)
    Since you have a good Nikon SLR, it's going to produce very nice JPEGs. For your purposes you should concentrate on getting the picture right in the camera and continue to shoot JPEG for now.

    JPEG = Your photos come out of the camera pretty good and you don't need to touch them up much, or you aren't very good at post-processing yet. Or you want to maximize space on your camera cards and hard drives, or shoot at a higher frame rate.

    Raw = You need the absolute most control over your image, you're willing to store much larger photo files to get there, and willing to train yourself on the intricacies of how to edit an image so that it's better than the camera's JPEG.

    TIFF = You're probably not going to use this very often. Mostly for use when you need to take it beyond Aperture into Photoshop and save your deep pixel-based/layer-based edits without the degradation of JPEG compression.

    Another way to look at it is in workflow.
    Raw = how the image starts, more of a *source format*
    JPEG = how the image is after being processed by the camera, or processed by Aperture and exported for distribution, more of an *output format*

    TIFF = more of an intermediate *storage format* when edits can't be stored in Raw
    Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iPhone 3GS, Mac OS X (10.5.8), PowerBook G4 15" Al, PowerBook G3 FireWire, PowerCenter Pro, PowerBook 160
  • gocuk2@yahoo. Level 2 Level 2 (485 points)
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    Apr 23, 2010 1:20 PM (in response to Network 23)
    Getting jpeg's to come out of the camera correct, is easier said than done and takes more skill and input at the camera than than it ever would in Aperture to do the same things. your other comments i agree are valid considerations. Allan
  • Tim Campbell1 Level 3 Level 3 (570 points)
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    Apr 23, 2010 1:35 PM (in response to WilliamL)
    JPEG is the simplest, smallest, probably offers best quality for someone who doesn't want to post-process the image themselves, but offers the least amount of control. When shooting in JPEG format, you can think of the computer inside the camera as being your own little photo-processing department. The camera will not only "capture" the image, it'll post process it by adjusting light levels, white balance, noise levels, sharpening, etc. It's all fully automatic.

    HOWEVER... it will ALSO compress the image substantially so that it doesn't take much space. When it does this, it'll decide to reduce the quality of the image in areas where the human eye probably wont notice. This is lost data that you can never really recover. The "problem" here is that if something is over-saturated, too bright, or too dark, etc. a JPEG will just "compress" all the pixels that seem to be "alike" by making them effectively identical. When you later try to adjust the image by editing saturation, highlights, or shadows, you'll discover that the JPEG has clipped off all the detail and the area of the image is flat. This would not happen if you had shot in RAW.

    RAW offers you the most control over your image. A RAW image is sort of like the "negative" in a film camera before it's been printed by the photo lab. The camera retains the original data as seen by the sensor at the time the image was captured and does not 2nd guess what the image was supposed to look like. It will make some adjustments, but it will not make any adjustments that are considered "destructive" to the original data. The files will not be compressed -- so the storage of each image will consume much more space on your memory card. Areas of an image that are too bright, too dark, saturated, or blown out and "appear" to be flat, may not actually be flat. You may actually be able to recover data by adjusting the photo -- this is because if too two pixels on the sensor appear to be nearly identical but are not actually identical, RAW will not compress them to be the same color (as JPEG would). It'll store the difference no matter how subtle. When you adjust the image, you may see the detail return.

    HOWEVER... some things you may take for granted with a point-and-shoot will NOT be performed on a RAW image. For example, the camera will not attempt to de-noise the image. If you shoot in both RAW and JPEG then compare the results (without doing anything to either image) you should notice that the JPEG actually looks better. But that's because the JPEG was already processed and the RAW was not. After processing the RAW image, you may find that the RAW looks better. RAW is particularly better when you know you'll need to adjusting the images.

    TIFF is non-lossy (like RAW) but unlike RAW, TIFF is a fixed standard. E.g. if you need to give someone a non-compressed non-lossy file so they can do more processing with it then you send them TIFF. If you send them RAW you're taking a chance that they wont have any software that can open the file. The "problem" with RAW is that it's more of a concept than a standard. Every model camera seems to have it's own variation on 'RAW' and that's why there's a delay in support from Apple & Adobe to add 'RAW' support for any new model that comes out.
    iMac 2.8 GHz Core i7 8GB / 17"MacBook Pro i7 2.66 GHz 8GB, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • JKMontana Calculating status...
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    Apr 23, 2010 3:31 PM (in response to WilliamL)
    If I may add a question to this subject. I do shoot a lot and some for sale, events, etc. I do shoot in Raw but have been using iPhoto to organize photos because of the faces feature. I still have some photos in jpeg and some Raw. I have Aperture but not the newest one with faces. Since I am shooting more Raw images should I start using Aperture for my organization and not iPhoto at all. I'm mainly using a MBPro so I'm having to keep photo files on external drive for size sake. Thanks for the help.

    JK
    iMac G5 & MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.8), Leopard on G5, Snow Leopard on MacBook Pro
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,630 points)
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    Apr 24, 2010 12:11 AM (in response to JKMontana)
    Since I am shooting more Raw images should I start using Aperture for my organization and not iPhoto at all.


    Are you happy with the Raw processing you get in iPhoto? If so, why move? If not then definitely.

    I'm mainly using a MBPro so I'm having to keep photo files on external drive for size sake.


    If you have the Library on your Mac and the photo files on the External then absolutely yes, move to Aperture. iPhoto is not good with referneced files, and especially with referenced files on a different volume. Aperture's tools in this area are much stronger.

    Regards

    TD
    MacBook Pro 15 2.4 C2D / iMac 20" 2.66 C2D, Mac OS X (10.6), 4 gig RAM/ 4 gig RAM
  • Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,500 points)
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    Apr 24, 2010 9:31 AM (in response to Terence Devlin)
    Terence Devlin wrote:
    If you have the Library on your Mac and the photo files on the External then absolutely yes, move to Aperture. iPhoto is not good with referneced files, and especially with referenced files on a different volume. Aperture's tools in this area are much stronger.


    I believe this is correct - even if you store images on another drive with referenced files turned on in iPhoto, I think that the automatically created edited dupes still go straight to the boot drive and I don't think there's a way to stop iPhoto from doing that.
    Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iPhone 3GS, Mac OS X (10.5.8), PowerBook G4 15" Al, PowerBook G3 FireWire, PowerCenter Pro, PowerBook 160
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 Level 10 (121,630 points)
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    Apr 24, 2010 12:02 PM (in response to Network 23)
    even if you store images on another drive with referenced files turned on in iPhoto, I think that the automatically created edited dupes still go straight to the boot drive


    The edited versions (by definition they're not dupes) are stored inside the iPhoto Library.

    But that's not the problem. To reference your files uses an alias in the Originals Folder that points to your file. This has all the strengths and weaknesses of any alias. If you move the file around on a volume it will track the move most of the time. However, should the path to a file on another volume change there is no way for the alias to resolve the change. In that scenario you could find yourself resolving aliases for +each photo in the Library+ one by one.

    Hence my comment that Aperture's tools for managing Referenced Files are much stronger.

    If you're using iPhoto and are concerned about disk space you're much better off running a +Managed Library+ from an external disk.

    Regards

    TD
    MacBook Pro 15 2.4 C2D / iMac 20" 2.66 C2D, Mac OS X (10.6), 4 gig RAM/ 4 gig RAM
  • Kojima24 Calculating status...
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    Apr 25, 2010 4:55 AM (in response to Network 23)
    Why don't use PSD instead of TIFF when editing in Photoshop?

    Regards
    Christoph
    iMac & MacBook (early 2009), Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,500 points)
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    Apr 25, 2010 1:46 PM (in response to Kojima24)
    Kojima24 wrote:
    Why don't use PSD instead of TIFF when editing in Photoshop?


    You can if you want, but PSD was not mentioned by the original poster.

    The reason I did not feel it necessary to mention PSD is because, in fact, if you wanted to you, could use TIF for almost all Photoshop file storage. TIF can store just about everything that a PSD can store, layers, effects, the lot. Try it. TIF is less proprietary as well, so other apps can see the file. It's often slower to save, though.
    Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iPhone 3GS, Mac OS X (10.5.8), PowerBook G4 15" Al, PowerBook G3 FireWire, PowerCenter Pro, PowerBook 160
  • Keith Barkley Level 5 Level 5 (5,140 points)
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    Apr 26, 2010 3:11 PM (in response to WilliamL)
    I am much like you. I keep the camera in JPEG most of the time, but switch to RAW for situations when I want more control, such as sunsets and "artistic" pictures.
    iMac FP 800 MHz, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
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