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Why use JPEG instead of NEF?

Christophe Suzor , Jul 03, 2005; 10:26 a.m.

It's been just a week with the D70 18-70, and now I exclusively use NEF format. The photos are imported in photoshop elements, requiring just an extra step (and <10s) to edit (but they can visualised as .nef).

When I see what the camera would have produced as a JPEG for many of these shots (mostly family shots under difficult lighting conditions), I am happy to be able to tweak the good images (mostly temperature, overall exposure, luminosity, contrast, but other settings are also changeable). I am sure if I bothered to balance white correctly, or concentrate on getting the right exposure, I could get decent JPEG directly, but now I can concentrate on shooting and not the technique.

Given the ease of use of NEF now, why would you choose JPEG? For a factor 2 storage space? A bigger card would be better... For fewer steps in post-processing? converting to JPEG takes <10s... Other?

I used to shoot Canon RAW, and convert, and it was slow and painful, so I used JPEG and just adjusted the images... now I adjust during conversion from NEF to JPEG, the results are much better.

Responses


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Brian Tilley , Jul 03, 2005; 10:33 a.m.

Christophe,

I'm in the other camp. As a long-time transparency shooter who is just getting to grips with digital capture, I'd rather get the exposure, white balance and contrast right in-camera. As such, I've not yet felt the need to shoot RAW. The smaller file sizes and simpler workflow are by-products.

Tim Holte , Jul 03, 2005; 10:44 a.m.

Storage is a factor and I take so many shots I would be completely bogged down shooting NEF all the time. I may be wrong, but I can't see that big a difference between the best JPEG and NEF. The key is good light, proper exposure and focusing. If I were a pro or someone who tried to make money in photography, I may be singing a different tune.

Dmitriy Kostyuchenko , Jul 03, 2005; 11:05 a.m.

After trying both, I'm kind of surprised to see all these people making a fully informed choice to shoot JPEG. I've come to be completely reliant on Adobe Camera Raw for global adjustments, and I can't imagine making my routine tweaks on 8-bit, linearized sRGB files.

Also, I don't see how being a professional makes a difference here. Whether it's your job or your hobby, photography is about making the best images you can and shooting in raw makes it easier.

Storage is cheap and JPEG conversion, if needed, can be automated. I really have no good reasons not to shoot NEF.

Shun Cheung , Jul 03, 2005; 11:13 a.m.

I too was mainly a slide shooter before switching over to digital. Regardless of which medium you use, it is always important to get the exposure correct to begin with. If you never edit your images, JPEG may be ok. If you do edit, there is a major difference between shooting RAW vs. JPEG. For those who are really interested in the issues involved, I highly recommend Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2by Bruce Fraser. He explains the differences very well in Chapers 1 and 2.

Greg Barringer , Jul 03, 2005; 11:28 a.m.

I shoot NEF + jpeg. If you buy Nikon Cature and download the latest free upgrade, most of the same controls on the camera can be adjusted using the software. This means you can shoot at default settings and adjust: tone compensation, color mode, saturation, white balance, sharpening, exposure compensation, hue adjsutment, etc. With jpeg, I often wondered how the shot would look if I had change some of these settings, now I can, and it's the same as camera would had changed it.

When shooting jpeg, Capture will not allow the above changes. NEF can always be edited and changed back to the original, including crops, even after saving.

I adjust camera settings in Capture and then edit in Photoshop, it works for me as a good combination.

Todd Peach , Jul 03, 2005; 12:35 p.m.

I am slow to embrace digital. I have plenty of reasons, but one of them is that between being a computing professional and running a (mostly non-photo) website on the side, spending more time in front of a keyboard is not attractive to me.

For a given photo 'project', I try to decide first what the output is, and if it's webshots or a CD, I of course shoot digital. For a recent example, I spent a day shooting the Special Olympics Summer Games for Washington state. The organization wanted just 40 shots on a CD, but the atheletes / coaches / parents want a chance to look at all the shots. It's easy for me to push 2,000 JPEG images up to a web fulfillment service like Kodak (used to be ofoto.com). All I'm doing is mass 'rotates', discard the ones of zero interest (perhaps 3-5% where eyes are closed, focus is blown, or subject is halfway departed the frame) and upload. I would not want to spend even 10 seconds per (what is that, like 5 1/2 hours?) on post-proc.

And yeah, more images on a card is a nice bonus.

KL IX , Jul 03, 2005; 01:13 p.m.

Snapshots at a party -- using a card reader, I load the images directly to a non-photog friend's PC or laptop, and they can take the images directly to Walmart or Costco.

For my own images(especially those that I will enlarge), that I know I will be tweaking in Photoshop, then yes, I shoot NEF.

Steve Muntz , Jul 03, 2005; 01:41 p.m.

Actually I know pros who shoot nothing but jpeg - for the reasons that Tim mentioned. Making everything a little bit quicker when you're dealing with hundreds of shots is a lifesaver. With event photography, it might just be a case of burn a CD and you're done.

Now fine art prints are a different matter... Personally, I shoot both - but probably more RAW - and it depends on the situation.

Lex Jenkins , Jul 03, 2005; 06:22 p.m.

I have a couple of reasons for routinely shooting only JPEGs. When I do it's always maximum quality JPEGs.

Since I've been using my D2H primarily for action oriented stuff I can burn through a 1 GB card pretty quickly. I have a pair of these cards now and until I buy more and/or larger capacity cards, I need to maximize what I've got.

I don't like to spend a lot of time on post-processing. I know that these files will be printed directly via a Frontier machine, a DIY Kodak kiosk, etc. So in-camera prepping - color space, sharpening, etc. - works for me in many cases.

Several times I've taken NEFs and JPEGs simultaneously. When I compare them at high magnification I can't see much, if any, difference. So unless I anticipate needing the advantages of NEF files I don't bother.


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