My Fuji cameras create wonderful JPGs. I can select a film simulation mode in camera that mimics the look of Fuji analog films like Acros (B/W), Velvia or Astia. Especially when I want to have B/W images, using e.g. the “Acros” mode helps to judge whether the image works in B/W, because the image in the viewfinder is already monochrom.

Saturday we made a hike to the Kenzenhütte (German Alps) and I used my X-Pro2 in Acros mode. I like contrasty B/W images and Acros delivers what I want. I used the camera in JPG+RAW mode. Some examples (JPGs):

JPG has some disadvantages compared to RAW. That’s why I typically shoot RAW.

  • Lower dynamic range
  • Compressed image date with sometimes artifacts
  • Only limited ability to adjust white balance

I don’t want to dig into technical details but show an example where RAW is a better choice over JPG: Subjects with high dynamic range.  A RAW file contains a lot more information that helps to recover details in darks and higlights. A RAW converter like Adobe Lightroom is needed to work on the files. With just a few clicks I optimized the below image to get closer to what the human can see. Our eyes have a dynamic range perception of 20 EV, the RAW file of a high class DSLR 12-14 EV, while a JPG has only about 9 EV.

On top the JPG SOOC, below the RAW modified in Lightroom:

The dynamic range of the RAW file is depending in the quality of the camera and sensor.

Another option to cope with high dynamic range and high contrasts is bracketing: The camera shoots a series of 3, 5 or more images with different exposure settings.

These shots can be combined in e.g. Lightroom to an HDR image. While HDR images nowadays have a pretty bad reputation due to their unreal look, oversaturated colours, halos etc. Overdone HDR images look don’t look “right”. But used in the right way one can achieve natural looking results:

Why not stick with RAW? Seems there are only advantages. Right, almost. RAW files from my X-Pro2 are a lot bigger (50 MB) vs. JPGs (16 MB). Then there is the vast amount of options in post that sometimes are overwhelming. I might tend to develop a laiz-affair style while shooting because almost everything can be correct later:

“fix it in post”

You don’t take care to set the correct exposure settings, frame right. Time in front the computer get’s more and more.

While I like to work with the computer and LR or PS, I’d rather go out with my camera, take more pictures. I want to

“get it right in camera”

Thus JPG. Self-restraint, self-dicipline, not always, depending on motif and project.

Since a while I also shoot film again. The options to manipulate the image to a better in post are very limited. If you set the focus wrong, you’ll see it earliest after the film is developed and scanned. On top shooting film is more expensive than shooting digital. But I disgress from the subject. More about shooting film in a future post.

Following some images from my hike. The first one RAW, all others SOOC JPGs.