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RAW in a Point and Shoot

Alemar Calambro , Jan 31, 2009; 10:24 p.m.

I have a Canon powershoot SD500 and going to upgrade in a couple of weeks. I want to get a P&S that has raw but one of my freinds said there is no point in getting a camera that has raw because its image sensor is to small to make a diffrence on the image and that jpeg is good enough in a P&S. I know when useing jpeg the camera does all the settings autmaticaly and RAW is better so I could do all the tuning manualy. I also have a dslr for my main camera I just want a camera that I could put in my pocket when going out at night. So does RAW make a diffrence in a P&S or is it just a wast of money? I am thinking of getting a Canon G10 or Panasonic for its lense, the Nikon looks good with the geo tag and all but it draines the battery to fast and sometimes it can't get your location.


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Rob Bernhard , Jan 31, 2009; 11:07 p.m.

Your SD500 can already shoot in RAW, b.t.w:


Steve Solomon , Jan 31, 2009; 11:52 p.m.

Greetings! Well, IMHO, the option to shoot RAW would be useful on most any digital camera, irresptive of sensor size. In fact, it would be the very small sensor of a P&S that might benefit the *most* from the ability to capture in RAW format, without the camera's processing engine interfering with the subject data. Also, it is my experience that a good P&S camera can produce decent quality jpegs as well, quite suitable for web graphics, small prints and the like. As for your suggestion of the Canon G10, it is an excellent camera with high-quality 28-140mm zoom lens, a myriad of customizable features, important functions located on the body as opposed to in menus, rugged construction, and versatile, but not quite "shirt-pocketable" in size. The Panny Lumix DMC-LX3 on the other hand, is "shirt-pocketable", has several similar features to the G10, but lower resolution, and different ergonomics. Plus, for your "night shooting", it supposedly has a bit better low-light (high ISO) noise characteristics than the G10. Check the reviews, and better, handle each in person, to see which one is a better "fit" for you and your shooting style.
Good luck!
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Yoshio Tanaka , Feb 01, 2009; 04:00 a.m.

excuse me, but your friend is not highly informed, it is exactly the opposite. Because a camera has RAW that will benefit most. By having RAW you can get better images from the same camera sensor. Look at the examples on DPreview. You will see much difference in the noise in the red and blue channels when the camera uses RAW compared to its JPG.

It is true that many cameras have developed their in-camera processing, but RAW processing on your computer is still more powerful. You have tools such as PTLens (for fixing many aberrations of lens) and Photomatix for making quick tone mapping images (not all need to look like a surreal painting) to enhance your image. These tools are not available to a final post processed (from the RAW) in-camera jpg (although PTlens will work on a JPG it might be better to work on a TIF to avoid resaving JPG and extra losses).

The only advantage in using JPG in camera is often that it allows the camera to take more images faster than can RAW because the write time to the media card is slower than the processing + write time of the now compressed JPG.

Eric Merrill , Feb 01, 2009; 06:22 a.m.


For the most part, you'd be hard pressed to see a difference in a print. RAW will certainly help with highlight recovery.

I downloaded some jpegs and RAW files from the LX3 awhile back. Played around with them. What I discovered is that the jpegs are already pretty well optimized. There's not as much room to play around with the raw files as there is from the bigger cameras.

That said, there's still some room. The Canon G10 and Panasonic LX3 are the two contenders I'm looking at for my next P&S. I keep switching back and forth. I'm leaning toward the G10 at this point.


Sarah Fox , Feb 01, 2009; 09:58 a.m.

If you can shoot your JPEGs with perfect exposures 100% of the time, and if you are satisfied with the color, contrast, and overall appearance of 100% of your photos right out of the camera, and if you don't mind the JPEG compression artifacts, then there is absolutely no reason for RAW.

For the rest of us, RAW is invaluable for editing the photos after they come out of the camera. It's important not only for highlight recovery, but also more continuous tones, better shadow detail, and better color representation. After you edit, then you can save in JPEG.

Of course if you want something that looks infinitely better than JPEGs, try saving in TIFF. TIFF format uses lossless compression. Files will be big, but you won't have all those ugly JPEG artifacts (e.g. checkering).

JC Uknz , Feb 01, 2009; 01:10 p.m.

My reaction is that it is not the size of the sensor but the subject matter you plan to shoot with the P&S camera.   Is the material you plan to shoot with it worth the effort of RAW post processing would be the question I'd ask.
Surely Sarah the checkering comes from lack of resolution not compression? :-) In any case it was found long ago, with a Nikon 5000 anyway, that FINE, a 1:4 compression lost so little as using tiff was not worth the effort. [Larry N Bolch]

Alemar Calambro , Feb 01, 2009; 08:56 p.m.

Rob I know about the app for the canon to make the photos RAW. I need a new camera that has IS on it too.
Sarah I to like to edit my photos in a computer to my liking. I did not know if you make jpg to tiff it makes it better. I thought it only help with the save compression.
Even thought my friend is one of those photographer that say it does not mater about the camera to take a good picture it is the operator and he thought ma allot of tricks. It just seem iffy what my friend told me about RAW in a P&S.
Thanks for all the response.

Sarah Fox , Feb 01, 2009; 10:29 p.m.

Alemar, once a photograph is compressed into JPEG, you've irreversably lost data/resolution. Converting to TIFF from that point will improve nothing. My workflow is from RAW to 16 bit TIFF, using rough contrast curves in DPP. Then I fine tune my color, contrast, etc. in Paintshop Pro (similar to PhotoShop) and convert to 8 bit. I carry out my final manipulations (e.g. cloning and other touch-up operations) in 8-bit and save into 8 bit TIFF. I print from the TIFF file. However, I also do a JPEG conversion of a vastly scaled down image for display on the Internet or for other use.

JC, checkering occurs mostly around contrasty edges and is an artifact of JPEG compression. It has little to do with the resolution of a camera. In fact I can create a graphic entirely without a camera, convert it to JPEG, and end up with (lots of) checkering. Of course the higher the compression ratio, the greater the checkering.

The biggest pitfall of JPEG encoding out of the camera is the 8 bit color depth. RAW files have far more than 8 bits color depth. If you raise the contrast of an 8 bit image and re-map to 8 bit, there will be numerous levels that are not represented, and there will be far fewer than 255 output levels. If you lower the contrast, you'll compress 255 levels into fewer levels and end up with unrepresented levels on the extremes of the output. Either way, if you manipulate almost anything having to do with brightness, contrast, or even saturation, you'll end up with fewer than 255 distinct levels in any given channel. If the 8 bit conversion occurs after color/contrast manipulation of a RAW image, then you'll probably end up with 255 distinct levels in each channel after 8 bit conversion, hence better color and detail.

But again, if your intent is not to manipulate the images, JPEG only has the limitations of compression artifacts, which can be bad -- or not -- depending on how much you blow the images up.

Bill Tuthill , Feb 01, 2009; 10:58 p.m.

Alemar, do you save and edit RAW images from your DSLR? If not, then why would you take the time and effort to do this for a P&S camera? RAW images take longer to save, use more space on your memory card, require extra labor when you get home, and improve only a fraction of images, depending on your style. It is good to have a RAW capable camera, but JPEG works too. By the way, I do not believe any of the cameras you are considering (G10, LX3) can write TIFF. If you took images in JPEG, there is little to no point converting them to TIFF.

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