Micro Four-thirds – RAW vs JPEG

I’ve been a RAW file shooter ever since I bought my first Nikon D70 many years ago. I love the control that I have over exposure and white balance when I bring the RAW files into Adobe Lightroom. When I’m forced to shoot JPEG files on a point and shoot camera I always feel like I’m missing something.

GH3-RAW-ISO-test

Now that I’m shooting with the Panasonic Lumix GH3 I’m having my doubts. As part of my job for Panasonic I decided to shoot my own RAW vs. JPEG test files. I do this for every new camera I receive so I can give an honest opinion on how high an ISO you can actually shoot a given camera at without sacrificing image quality

GH3-JPG-ISO-test

GH3-Needle-ISO1600I shot the test files that you see here by setting the camera to shoot a RAW and large JPEG file at the same time. This isn’t a scientific test; I shot these handheld in a mall in downtown Seattle. The files can be downloaded from my blog site so you can see them for yourself at full size.

I was surprised at the quality of the in-camera noise processing of the JPEG files. I had trouble reducing the noise in the RAW files in Lightroom to achieve the same results. I found almost identical results with the Olympus OM-D.

I’m still trying to decide how to use what I’ve learned. I still like RAW files for the white balance control and recovering highlights and shadows, but I’m starting to shoot all of my high ISO images as JPEG files instead of RAW.  Shooting RAW+JPEG files is just too many files to deal with.

Note: For Joe’s take on the whole RAW vs JPEG issue, visit this site on Friday

© Mark Toal, self-portraitMark Toal works for Panasonic as a training representative in Portland, Oregon. His views on this blog are his own and do not represent Panasonic. You can see more of Mark’s photos on his photo blog at www.mtoal.wordpress.com or at www.mtoallumiximages.wordpress.com. Mark can be contacted at marktoalphotography@gmail.com

Author: Joe Farace

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