Finally I need to compare the two versions paying particular attention to dynamic range, white balance and colour and local adjustment of any kind.
Do I notice any differences between the raw and jpeg?
High Dynamic Range RAW
This image was taken in Covent Garden of a street performer "juggling" a bike. The bright sky, stalls and white brickwork and his dark shirt has provided the high contrast needed to experiment with recovering any details.
This is a comparison of a selected area of both final images. The jpeg is on the left. Where I had altered the blacks in RAW the hat looks a little more blue which in fact it should not something to pay attention to in future, but the main comparison was for coloured artifacts. They are more visible in the jpeg image but I had to increase the magnification to 600% to really see it. You can see the difference more on my screen than you can in the uploaded jpegs, although the effects can be seen in both the hat and the shade in the balcony.
Several adjustments were made in ACR, exposure was increased slightly, a custom white balance was applied, temperature 2650 to obtain the correct colour of the Christmas decoration, slight sharpening and as there was a hint of lens flare from a Christmas tree light the clone tool was used to remove this and a distracting glint in the top lefthand corner. A tones curve was used to alter some of the shadows. Finally local adjustments were made with the exposure brush to the blue bauble in the background.
|Using the Clone Tool|
Using some of the tools at the moment is quite tricky. Having never used the clone tool before it took me a few attempts to work out which circle was the target site and which was picking up the source. Moving the circles around was also an interesting experience but I gradually got the hang of it. In this instance the clone tool worked more efficiently than the spot healing tool. Once mastered I can see that it could be more area specific and adjustable than using Photoshop, although the Photoshop clone tool with an adjustment layer is very easy to apply and amend after. Finding I learn through experimentation as much as reading I wish I had checked the Adobe site first this time ;o)
Adobe Photoshop CS4 * Remove spots in Camera Raw
The final processed image is properly exposed with very little clipping in either highlights or shadows. The adjustments made to the white balance and colours has rendered a photograph very close to the actual scene. Local adjustments were easy to make (once I stopped arguing with the adjustment brushes) and made for subtle amendments.
Artificial Light JPEG
On first inspection the colour cast is more pronounced in the jpeg and the shadows also appear much deeper.
With Photoshop there are several options available to adjust the image. Using the clone tool I corrected minor problem areas. I found using the Photoshop clone tool much easier but this is probably due to familiarity.
|Various layers applied|
Although I was able to recover some of the detail and colour and the final result is fairly accurate I am not as pleased with the jpeg as with the raw file.
|Side by Side for comparison|
In conclusion I have found that whilst RAW conversion will take a little getting used to as the tools are not as familiar the results it gives makes it a worth while exercise. The level of control offered and subtley of the results you can achieve compared to the jpeg file is quite impressive especially when trying to correct colour balance and recover highlight/shadow clipping. If the levels of adjustment required is fairly low then a high resolution correctly exposed jpeg file will probably still return high quality results, I started this exercise being in favour of RAW conversion but was prepared to have an open mind as to the level of advantages offered, now I have completed it I am more convinced than ever that RAW is a fantastic tool to have in my photography tool kit.