Monday, June 6, 2016

The Importance of Post-Processing: LG G4 - Comparing RAW with Out-of-Camera JPEGs

I've seen lately a number of different photographers and aspiring photographers express that they prefer out-of-camera JPEGs over editing their images. There is nothing wrong with this if the exposure matches the photographer's vision. However, if it's a case of being lazy, well, laziness is an enemy of creativity, which means it's an enemy of art.

To illustrate the importance of post-processing your images, I captured an image (using my new LG G4) in RAW + JPEG. So let's take a look at the out-of-camera JPEG vs the RAW file post-processed using Alien Skin Exposure X.
Creek Blossom - Layton, Utah
Out of camera JPEG.
Creek Blossom - Layton, Utah
RAW file post-processed using Alien Skin Exposure X.
The out-of-camera JPEG isn't bad, but it didn't quite fit my vision of how the image should look. First, the white balance is too cool in the JPEG (it's not inaccurate, but not what I wanted). The shadows are a bit too deep and the image doesn't have enough saturation to fit my vision. The JPEG is also too clean (because of the noise reduction that was automatically applied to the JPEG).

I like my photos to look more film-like and less digital-like. That's a part of my vision. It takes some tweaking to get the images to look "right" to me.

Here's a close-up crop of the JPEG and edited RAW photographs:
RAW Crop
None of this is to suggest that one should shoot in RAW instead of JPEG. I use JPEGs often, and I use RAW often--it just depends on the situation. JPEGs have room for manipulation, just not quite as much as RAW files. I could have edited the JPEG file and made a finished photograph that would have looked pretty close to the edited RAW file.

The point of this post is to advice against laziness at the expense of vision. I have no issues with shortcuts--I like saving time--but if you have to compromise the final image you should certainly think twice.

A secondary point is the comparison between edited RAW and out-of-camera JPEGs from the LG-G4. There's a big difference, but the difference could be significantly smaller simply by editing the JPEG image. So it isn't so much RAW vs JPEG, but post-processed vs un-post-processed.


  1. In the case of the G4, I've found in some situations the jpegs can be quite bad in terms of exposure and colour, especially skies. Fortunately the dual capture helps and you can now edit the RAW in camera with snapseed and get something corrected pretty quickly.
    I've had a few shots where the JPEG is blown out but the RAW is fine.

    On my Nokia 808, I've never felt the need for RAW (the files would be HUGE) because the Jpegs are good enough to work with in the first place.

    1. I've only had the LG G4 for a few days, but I much prefer the RAW files over the JPEGs, which is no surprise since it has such a small sensor.

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