Good Morning Everybody,
I love the people in this part of the world – and their Barbeque! Once again we had a great crowd last night in Charlotte, NC, one of the loudest and most enthusiastic anyway;~)
Today we make the short trip to Columbia, SC. The weather and the scenery has been a joy to behold on our trip south. It’s sort of like we are extending the fall colors for another few weeks as we move through the southern states. Most of the trees in Charlotte haven’t even dropped their leaves yet. We’ve never been to Columbia so we’re looking forward to the visit. Looking forward to seeing everyone this evening.
Today’s post is going to take a slightly different tack than usual. Give it a read below and let me know what you think.
So Is It Worth It To Shoot RAW?
You know, this question keeps popping up for me. I was a JPEG shooter for 7 1/2 years of my 9 years of shooting digital. And, I was a very happy camper.
I was always able to “nail the exposure” with my tried and true metering methods better know as the Ziser “blinkie” method. I usually shot in larger JPEG but at a tighter compression giving me files in the 1- 2 meg range. I was able to back up a job in no more that 1-2 DVD’s. I got great images with several on display up to 24x36 inches, many of these images are on display on my DWUC tour. Life was good.
It was Lightroom 2 that convinced me to convert to shooting RAW. I was a custom color and B&W printer back in the mid ‘70’s and loved the localized density control I could manage over each print. Lightroom 2 now gave me that same capability with it’s adjustment brush. I was sold.
There was another issue too. When I imported the images into Lightroom 2, the RAW images never looked as good as my JPEGS. The images would load up, look good, and quickly switch to some kind of anemic looking image that was never as brilliant and full of life as what my JPEGS were giving me.
The root of the explanation lay in the fact that the JPEG was processed in the camera to the presets I had programmed into the camera. The RAW import process stripped all those settings away from my images leaving me just the RAW data – sort of like the King with no clothes – not a pretty site.
After installing Adobe’s camera profile presets into Lightroom, things improved. But there were still a number of adjustments to make to hundreds/thousands of wedding images that took hours of time. Import presets and processing presets did help ease the process.
After installing Lightroom 3 and working with it these last few weeks, some of my frustrations have returned since the camera profiles have gone south. I know, I know, LR3 is in BETA. I guess I’m just noting a little of my impatience here. I’m confident that the shipping version will be just fine.
I installed Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software on my Canon 7D RAW images and, boy, did the look great. They actually looked exactly like they looked in the viewfinder of the camera – a very good thing. Several of my DWUC attendees have told me they have had the same good results with the Nikon Capture NX software.
The reason for this is the fact that the software from these respective camera manufacturers, and I’m sure others too, are able to read ALL the EXIF data in the RAW file and create a preview that matches exactly what you see on the back of the camera. It sure would be nice if LR3 could incorporate the translation of that same data when importing the RAW images. What a time saver that would be! All we can do is hope.
But that’s still only half the problem. The other issue is the amount of hard drive real estate we encounter when shooting exclusively RAW files. It’s going through the roof these days!!! As a wedding shooter, do I really need to shoot every last candid image – 1000’s of them - in RAW mode just so I have to tweak them a bit more in Lightroom or any other RAW conversion software?
I’m thinking not. Why add to my processing production overhead time and costs and why chew up “gobs” of hard drive space for images that mostly are going to be no larger that 4x6 or 5x7 size in a wedding album!?
I think the answer to his dilemma is for all of us to consider what the subject matter is and to shoot accordingly. If you are a landscape photographer and need to elicit every last nuance of detail out of that image, than RAW is it. That would be true for the commercial shooter too. And, I would say it’s also true for the portrait photographer that is considering producing larger wall portraits.
But for us wedding guys, I’m suggesting a different scenario. Let’s just shoot the “high profile” wedding images in RAW. Those images would include the “altar return images, the groups, the special images of the bride and groom, and the key candids at the wedding reception – cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss, etc.
All the rest of the 100’s or even 1000’s of candids could be shot in JPEG mode saving tons of time in processing and gobs of hard drive real estate. Do we really need to put the “ultimate” tweak on each of those images? Working in JPEG mode still gives us plenty of control over the final result without all the RAW production overhead.
The newest cameras make it easy to switch from one set up to the next. We just need to make the effort to do so. Maybe I’m “howling at the moon”, but I think we, as wedding photographers – the guys who shoot tons of images on the job, need to rethink how we do that shooting and how we process those images. Something tells me that we could reduce studio costs considerably if we DON’T buy into the fact that EVERYTHING needs to shot in RAW.
Food For Thought --
Hey Gang, That’s it for me today. We are southbound and pedal down to Columbia. See ya’ there tonight! Ol’ Barbeque lips, -David