20D (large, fine settings) vs RAW for weddings

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by David Bindle, Sep 7, 2005.

  1. David Bindle

    David Bindle Guest

    I've been doing 35mm weddings for about 15 years now. I'm looking at
    turning digital but I need to plan my workflow.
    My main camera will be a Canon 20D. I've heard some say that I should just
    shoot at the largest and finest jpeg settings and others that think I need
    to shoot everything RAW or RAW + jpeg. I think the best solution might be
    somewhere in between.
    If I choose to just shoot at the largest and finest jpeg can I still print a
    decent 11X14 or 16X20 or for those sizes, is the RAW file an absolute must.
    Of course, I wouldn't shoot the whole day with RAW but the formals...
    Upsampling options???
    99% of the work doesn't go beyond 8x10, but the odd one goes to 11X14 and
    even odder goes to 16X20

    Any advice from the experienced would be appreciated.
    David Bindle, Sep 7, 2005
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  2. David, the digital equivalent (I suppose terabytes) of many, many reams of
    information have been posted about this subject. I am only a semi-pro and
    almost all of my work is for my own amusement and gratification. I turn on
    RAW when I am in a situation where my instincts tell me that something
    special is available. For the few instances where I am supporting my
    money-making efforts, I never use RAW as those are technical shots (circuit
    boards, electronic equipment; all boring sh*t).

    RAW is sure nice for eeking out a touch more dynamic range and finely
    adjusting white balance and so on. I am not a wedding photographer but
    based on what I see as a consumer, RAW is overkill for much of that work.
    RAW adds an additional burden of mandatory post-shoot time to your efforts.
    If you are skilled enough to get it close to ideal when you take the shots,
    RAW might be a waste of time for you. If your shots are out of focus and
    badly exposed and poorly composed, RAW won't help enough.
    Charles Schuler, Sep 7, 2005
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  3. David Bindle

    Eatmorepies Guest

    I'm not experienced at weddings - I did the pictures for a friend's wedding
    3 weeks ago and they seemed to work. I have a 350D and some excellent
    lenses. I used best quality Jpeg and had no problem adjusting levels and
    stuff in Photoshop to get details in the highlights of the dress or to sort
    out loss of shadow details. The family are very pleased with the results.
    The evening wedding party produced some excellent grab shots at 800 ISO that
    have printed up into eye catching 8 x 10 (or A4 as I now call it).

    I do shoot in RAW but only when the shot seems to be in difficult
    conditions; in churches where flash is not allowed or for strongly back lit
    subjects. There are probably plenty of other places to use RAW but I only
    converted from film 5 months ago and have a lot to learn.

    As far as print size is concerned - 8 x 10 is easy peasy for the 350D and
    thus for its big brother. I have produced a couple of A3+ (13 x 19) that are
    quite impressive in their detail, tonal range and lack of noise. (I look
    forward to the sub £1000 full frame sensor body).

    Eatmorepies, Sep 7, 2005
  4. David Bindle

    Jim Townsend Guest

    As far as simple resolution, there is NO difference between RAW and Large
    Fine JPEG.. Both images will be 3504 pixels wide x 2336 pixels high.

    If you print either image 11 inches wide, you get 3504 / 11 = 318 DPI.

    JPEG does discard some color information in order to achieve the high
    compression ratio it is noted for, but the effect is so subtile
    that you can't see the difference between a TIFF derived from a RAW
    file or a Large Fine JPEG. NO pixels are discarded during JPEG compression.

    For other things, like white balance and highlight recovery, you CAN'T
    beat RAW.. If you use JPEG, you *have* to expose your images perfectly
    at the time.. With RAW you can do serious corrections after the fact.

    For this reason, if you're doing serious or important work, you should
    using RAW.
    Jim Townsend, Sep 7, 2005
  5. Jim, how many stops of exposure error do you think RAW will allow you to
    compensate for? I am not being argumentative, by the way, but personally
    have found this to be overblown by RAW zealots. I do shoot RAW, by the way,
    and have no strong bias on this subject.
    I'll agree with that, but only in the broadest sense. "Important work" can
    be judged by many parameters. If it's important too squeeze out every drop
    of "technical" quality that's possible, I'll agree. In the world of
    practical photography, that's seldom the case. Getting back to the OP,
    suppose he sits down with is customers and with his "proofs" do you really
    think they will see the difference?
    Charles Schuler, Sep 7, 2005
  6. David Bindle

    Jim Townsend Guest

    I'm not a RAW zealot either.. I shoot both RAW and JPEG :)

    I'm a Linux user so the best RAW processing software I can
    use is Bibble Lab's editing program.. It's much like
    Capture One.. Bibble was nice enough to port their software
    to Linux so they got my business.

    I don't find the highlight recovery extremely effective. Actually
    most of the time it makes little difference.. But I *have* pulled
    some detail from overexposed areas on occasion.. I would say
    it was good for no more than one stop..

    What REALLY impresses me with RAW is the ability to do custom
    white balance AFTER the fact.. I find correcting white balance in
    JPEGs can be a nightmare... It's a trivial matter with RAW.
    Nope.. If he is reasonably competent in exposing his shots, nobody
    will know whether they were taken in JPEG or RAW..
    Jim Townsend, Sep 7, 2005
  7. David Bindle

    MitchAlsup Guest

    If you never make an exposure mistake, then JPG is just fine. I,
    saddly, do not fall into this catagory, and use RAW to save my
    posterior when I get the exposure wrong. Since weddings have the
    property that you can't reshoot the event, you can't affort to make
    exposure mistakes. So either shoot RAW or watch the histogram like a

    The other advantage of RAW is you ge to fix white balance problems
    before the shadow data gets compressed (JPG), enabling you to save a
    shot that got taken under 'different' lighting circumstances than the
    rest. This is one of the reasons I only shoot RAW--I find just about
    every image needs some minor color correction, and it is much easier to
    do when you still ahve 12-bits of data than after JPG has compressed
    the image down to 8-bits.
    MitchAlsup, Sep 7, 2005
  8. When you change from film to digital you need to understand a few
    basics. Hopefully this will go over the way it's intended.

    You shoot film... Then you use chemicals to develop the image. What you
    do with those image after that is entirely your own personal method.

    So now you use a 20D. You shoot digital... Then you use a computer and
    software to develop the images. The benefit here is that you pass up on
    several steps unique to film and arrive at an image to be printed, even
    enlarged without much of the film's problems and all of digital's problems!

    Raw data is not an image. It is data recorded by the sensor which needs
    to be "developed" into an image before it has any value - nothing
    different to film, is it?

    For convenience, some people take their snapshots to a copy station and
    have more prints made of them. They will probably lose detail in the
    highlights but give you an instant copy of the picture.

    Shooting JPG is not much different. You get images immediately which can
    often be printed on a picture mate of similar without a computer being
    attached but the image will have been compromised during development in
    the camera. Blacked out shadows and white highlights will be less
    recoverable because of the compromises you had no say over.

    If you are serious, learn to use RAW exclusively and process it like you
    would film.
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 8, 2005
  9. David Bindle

    Mark² Guest

    RAW isn't as much about enlargement (although you can avoid artifacts) as
    much as it's about correction possibilities.

    You can literally SAVE images shot in RAW that would be worthlessly over or
    underexposed...or poorly color-balanced as jpegs. Shooting RAW allows 16
    bit corrections, and also means you get to "try again" with your original
    settings to the extent that the sensor can be pushed or pulled. I wouldn't
    ever shoot anything as critical as a wedding in anything other than RAW.
    Mark², Sep 8, 2005
  10. David Bindle

    Mark² Guest

    While that may be true about many highlights (which can easily be hopelessly
    blown beyond recovery) I find that up to a full 3 stops of UNDERexposure can
    be recovered, and often 1 1/2 to 2 stops can be recovered with OVERexp.
    I agree with that.
    Sharpening hair can be dicey with jpeg, as it tends to bring out jpeg
    RAW gives more possibilities to sharpen without as much suffering from them.
    Mark², Sep 8, 2005
  11. I would definitely go RAW.
    Randall Ainsworth, Sep 8, 2005
  12. David Bindle

    Don Guest

    Would have to agree with Jim on this. If you are worried about workflow
    then hook up to something like downloader pro and breezbrowser pro, shoot
    all raw, set some conversion parameters and then batch process to jpeg while
    you have a beer or three. However, where you find that one shot that is a
    killer but has a slight white balance problem etc then you can simply pull
    up the raw file and fix it. I love shooting raw as I am not the best
    photographer in the world but it has allowed me to fix shots that in the
    past I would have had to trash. Particularly those difficult exposure,
    mixed lighting scenarios etc.


    Don from Down Under
    Don, Sep 8, 2005
  13. David Bindle

    tzipple Guest


    For snaps, the web, many photo journalist needs jpg is fine. A wedding?
    You only get one chance to dl that and you need to make it count since
    the couple will demand the best.

    RAW has advantages (easy to find the list,many listed in this thread).
    Shoot WAR+the biggest jpg on the 20D and hane the best of both. All it
    costs is some memory cards or a drive like a 40 gig Epson 2000 that
    allows you downloan on the run. You get about 80 shots per gig of card.
    Cards are about $75 a gig. A P2000 is $500. Invest in some portable
    memory. A few cards and a p-2000 and you are golden, with capacity for
    3400 RAW+jpg shots. Seems like enough....
    tzipple, Sep 10, 2005
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