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Friday, June 1, 2007


Layer Masks

JPEG Quality Choices

raw vs jpg raw vs jpg

When shooting JPEG files, you have a choice of JPEG settings, which will change both resolution and compression. Low-quality JPEG settings have low resolution and high compression—these may work for record shots, but they really aren’t appropriate for most photographs.

To make big, high-quality prints or have enough resolution for a print publication, you need to shoot at the highest-resolution JPEG setting with the least compression. Resolution is often listed as low, medium and high, while compression may be Normal, Fine and Superfine. Use the highest compression settings, such as Fine or Superfine.

These two images of a hawk show the difference between shooting at the low and high setting. As you can see, at the low setting, the image is pixilated. That’s something you don’t want to see in a print or on a Website.

The Contrast Factor
I always shoot RAW files because I like to process my images in Adobe Camera Raw so that I have total control over image processing. However, if a scene doesn’t have a lot of contrast, such as this butterfly resting on some flowers, you might not be able to tell the difference between a JPEG file and a RAW file of the same scene. raw vs jpg

When a scene does have a lot of contrast and bright highlights, such as this red and white flower against a black background, shooting RAW is a must if you want to retain all the details in the scene, and if you want to make a large print or an enlargement from only part of the scene. RAW files, which have wider exposure latitude than JPEG files, capture more data to be processed in the computer.

raw vs jpgRAW Forgiveness
When it comes to exposure, RAW files are more forgiving than JPEG files: you can recover up to one stop of an overexposed area in Adobe Camera Raw and other RAW-processing programs. That’s what I did to rescue the overexposed neck area of the caracara that I photographed in southern Florida. As with my flower picture, this scene had a wide brightness range, in this case between the dark and light feathers.

RAW files also avoid any potential problems with JPEG artifacts and offer potentially greater dynamic range because of the high bit-depth of color information (which can be helpful in tricky lighting situations).


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