I was impressed by yesterday's photo of the anemone; I had been trying for a shot of that column for some time, and it was always just a blur of green. Working from a RAW file, the detail came out clearer even than I see it in the tank, with my magnifying lens.
So I did a small experiment today. I set the camera to record both in RAW and jpeg, and took a photo of a watercolour painting that hangs on my wall. Then I processed both copies minimally, cropping them down to a small section of the painting, which gave me 100% zoom on my processing program screen with the jpeg. (The RAW file can be zoomed in quite a bit more.) With the actual painting in front of me, I adjusted lighting to match on both, and on the jpeg, colour balance. Both got identical sharpening.
Can you tell which is which?
The top one is the jpeg, the bottom RAW.
- The second one has more definition; no blurring of brush strokes.
- The colours are truer in the second. I fiddled with the jpeg for a while, trying to adjust the colours to match the painting; it was never right.
- Even though processing the RAW file takes two separate sets of controls, and the jpeg only one, the RAW file was faster, because it needed less fine tuning at the final stage.
- For the same area of the painting, the RAW file gives me more pixels, which means I can zoom in even more without losing anything.
- Right click on each one, and open the link in a new tab. The jpeg is a small photo; the second one has over twice the area, so that much more detail. In this one, even the texture of the paper shows up.
That did it. I switched the camera over to RAW alone. (It takes about 10 times the memory, so I may need the space that the second copy would take.)
About the painting: it's a watercolour by a local artist, signed AA Brooke, 1954. His father had been a professional artist, and told young A.A. not to go that route, because he'd never make a decent living. As far as I know, the son became a farmer. When I knew him, in the early 1950s, he was in his eighties, long retired, and had a garden full of roses that he was hybridizing.
Every summer, he would take his wife and camera to Switzerland and take a bunch of photos. The rest of the year, he painted from those photos. He made one for me, a small cottage on a mountainside. I kept it for decades, and then it was stolen in a move.
This one, I inherited from my aunt, and whenever I move, it goes with me in the car.