Yet Another “Raw Is Best” Rant - NOT!
[ed note; Michael included a video demo with this post, and you’ll find it on the 2nd page—click the “More” button].
As a long time advocate (fanatic!) of shooting Raw format only, my most frequent response to the inevitable question of "why shoot raw all of the time?", is because you never know when the shot of a lifetime will jump into your viewfinder. And given that truth (if you accept it), one would surely want to capture that shot of a lifetime in the best quality format that their DSLR is capable of. And that, of course is raw. The reasons why have been well stated time and time again by Scott, me, and countless others. In fact, while many were still debating the efficacy of shooting raw at all, I created an entire DVD about how to shoot raw faster, better, and easier than shooting JPEG. In that DVD I touched on a subject that kept haunting me to the point where I needed to do something about it. That is why I created the free utility called Instant JPEG from Raw.
First Some Raw History
As many did, I resurrected my passion for photography back when convergence of technology brought together 3MP digital point-and-shoot cameras (in my case the Canon Powershot S20), along with the IBM MicroDisk (340MB), and the Epson 1270 printer. Finally one could go out and shoot several hundred photographs, work on them in the amazing digital darkroom called Photoshop, and print them such that people would think they were looking at a real photograph. It was a grand time of creative resurgence and discovery. This was followed by the biggest moment in the recent history of the digital SLR, the introduction of the Canon D30. It also was only 3 megapixels. But for the first time ever, those pixels were silken and magical, and at worst rivaled the quality of film, and according to many beat it when printed to 8×10 or smaller. It was also smaller, higher quality, and quite more affordable than the then reigning king of DSLRs, the Nikon D1.
Thankfully my wife was insightful enough to convince me to buy the D30 instead of the Canon G1 P&S which had also just been released She said to me that we could not afford the G1 ($1,000) and that I must buy the D30 ($3,200)! She knew in her ultimate wisdom, that a G1 purchase would only have satisfied my gear lust mentality for a week or 2, and would be followed by the inevitable D30 purchase for a total cost of $4,200. Hence we could not afford the G1 <g>. Thankfully it still applies today. D300 vs. D90 - 85 f1.8 vs.85 f1.4. "We cannot afford the cheaper one!" Have I mentioned how much I love my wife?
We only got to know the D30 by trial and error, as there was no authoritative documentation. The early adopters, along with Michael Reichmann and others, banded together to discover the mysteries that lay within this magical camera. Raw mode was one of those mysteries, but the only way to convert raw files (in fact the only way to even view raw files), was to develop/process/convert them in the then immature Canon raw software. One could view very small thumbs in the slow software, but to see the full size 3MP file, it would take about 2 minutes per file. Yup! Two+ minutes per file. No wonder people did not adopt raw early on. No way to even view your files, until after a several hour "conversion" session that completely tied up and/or crashed your computer. And that was just to view the files, before you edited or adjusted them. I went on record at DPReview saying that Raw was not ready for prime time (link). And it was not. But then the magic was discoveredâ¦
The Embedded JPEG.
The holy grail turned out to be that Canon thankfully had embedded a JPEG (more…)