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  • Raw Files

    A little background, I'm an avid hiker that many years ago started bringing along a camera. First a Nikon FE with several lenses when I was young and didn't care about the bulk and weight. I'm now much older, still an avid hiker, and I've ground through several digital point and shoot cameras with decent results. I wanted to stick with a compact digital point and shoot camera but would still like to use a quality camera. To that end I recently bought a camera that will save an image in the Raw format. Presently I save each image as a Raw file and a .jpg file. To deal with the Raw file my research pointed me to Photoshop (which I'm aware of). It was always a bit pricey but powerful. Now I find you have to buy it as a subscription. Over $100 annually. I was willing to buy it for a couple of hundred dollars but an annual fee of over $100 is a bit of a nab. So my question is; what are other serious amateur photographers doing? Are you paying Adobe annually for Photoshop and Lightroom or are there other acceptable options? I appreciate all responces.


  • #2
    I have had and been using a full version of Photoshop for many years. I still use an older version that I actually own. I refused to "upgrade'" to the subscription service version of PS. Not expert in all the nuances it is capable of, at my level the old version does all I need it to do. My daughter is employed as a professional graphic artist and she gives me tips when I get stuck on a task. There are other applications available that will read and convert raw photo files. MS Office has the same subscription problem and I have the same solution to that.
    "Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do you will be certain to find something you have never seen before." - Alexander Graham Bell


    • #3
      I have an old version of PS Elements and probably use less than 10% of its capabilities. My workflow is pretty simple.I was under the impression that you had a choice of buying and renting. Maybe no more. I'm upgrading my PC now that Win 7 is no longer supported and was thinking of getting Lightroom just to see how I like it. I'm hoping for more powerful and refined selection capabilities.
      As for RAW files, which you can work on in PSE and which uses an entirely different set of controls, I don't have the patience. And at 100 Meg per picture I would need a giant-sized hard drive.


      • Hear the Footsteps
        Hear the Footsteps commented
        Editing a comment
        You can buy Photoshop Elements. I bought PE 2020 late last year. I was upgrading from PE 8. It was on sale as an upgrade for $69; or just about $75 w/NY tax. Got from BH Photo and Free shipping. Software is installed from a DVD. Had to open an Adobe account. W/ PE 8 that was not necessary. That must be the copy control mechanism.

    • #4
      Advanced amateur hiking photo guy/pro sport photographer here. Raw files aren't worth it. The best photos are usually never perfect anyway.

      Anyway, I'm with you -- I just dumped my annual subscription to Lightroom. I haven't committed yet but I'm going to try Darktable, it's open source and completely free.

      ADK 46/46W + MacNaughton, Grid 273/552
      Photos & Stuff


      • #5
        I never considered taking a picture in RAW until this thread. And besides I never thought to get the tools to load and modify the RAW files.

        Checking some of the ideas about RAW in my birding forums. They recommend RAW because having the RAW will allow adjustments in the editor because the data is there.

        So I proved it this morning.

        Cardinals are birds that often arrive to a feeder too early and too late. And this often is in less than Ideal lighting. This morning I took a picture of a Female Cardinal. My camera was set for best quality picture producing a JPG and RAW file pair.

        And sorry for picture it did turn out grainy. I had the camera set at 400 MAX ISO. But tripod and Lower MAX ISO is often out of the question because the birds don't stay long enough.

        The Photoshop Elements 2020 is capable of importing and adjusting the RAW files. All I did was adjust the lighting. In JPG it's Adjust Lighting and in RAW Adjust exposure. Compare the JPG to the RAW. The JPG is just wrong and won't be helped by any amount of effort.

        So my conclusion is consider taking an image RAW when shooting in less than desirable lighting rather than JPG. Later on I might be glad I did.

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        Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 02-15-2020, 05:27 PM.


        • #6
          Sorry for the late response, but no. I have yet to see an example of a great photograph which was NOT great if shot as a jpeg. RAW is only important to people who want to inspect technical, not visual or aesthetic, qualities of a digital file. People looking at images don't care about that stuff.
          • RAW files takes up a huge amount of space. Drives are cheap, yes, but they still fill up and sit in a closet/cloud server somewhere.
          • If you decide in the future to simplify your photo collection, all those RAW files are going to be a huge pain. (Speaking from experience here.)
          • If the photo is worth keeping, it isn't because of the format in which it was shot.
          • Film isn't perfect either, and that's why people like it and make digital emulations of it.
          ADK 46/46W + MacNaughton, Grid 273/552
          Photos & Stuff


          • #7
            IMO, RAW is absolutely the way to go. I shot in JPEG for years while I was trying to keep things simple, and edited with Picasa (googles old free JPEG/photo editor which I think you can still download but is no longer supported). About 3 years ago I decided to give RAW a shot. Picasa wasn't great for RAW, so I decided to invest in Lightroom. Back then you could still pay once and own that version of Lightroom forever (although they hid that option pretty deep on the Adobe website to try and encourage folks to pay for the subscription instead). There absolutely was a bit of a learning curve with Lighroom especially, but once I got the hang of it, there was no looking back. Zero regrets making the switch and now I shoot in RAW only. There's so much more detail saved in the images, and it's amazing the quality that I can pull out from what is seemingly pitch black or bright white upon first loading the image, with a lot fewer artifacts than with JPEG.

            I'm years behind getting some of my photos edited and uploaded- which is a bit frustrating because it's I'm still dealing with a bunch of old JPEG photos. After seeing the potential of RAW, JPEG feels limiting. I regret not having made the switch sooner.

            Sometime within the last year or so, Adobe removed the option to pay once for Lightroom- so it's subscription only from here on out. With my lifetime license, however, I can still de-active old installs, and download, install, and activate a new copy if needed (i.e, if I get a new computer). I plan on using the version that my license is for until it will no longer run- and then I'll evaluate my options for a new photo editor.

            Space can be an issue but it's not a major one. After editing and uploading, I move my images to an external hard drive (this can be done right from within Lightroom). Lightroom also has a few options for simplifying your collection- you can hide undesired images and batch delete them if you so choose. Alternatively, you can rank them on a 1 to 5 scale, then batch delete all the 1 and 2 images.

            Carl Heilman has an excellent pocket book on outdoor digital photography that I found to be pretty helpful. It's geared towards DSLRs but 90% of the book is relevant to any point and shoot that can shoot in RAW and also in partial or full manual mode.

            I'd also recommend checking the Humble Bundle online store every once in a while. They mostly sell video games but every once in a while they have a serious discount on image editing software.


            • #8
              Most pictures, when viewed on-line, or via e-mail have been so compressed (a 4G jpg may be reduced to 200k or even less) that most editing, whether in RAW or Jpg, makes little difference. Then there is the quality of the screen the viewer is using. An iPhone? Cheap tablet? High end but poorly calibrated conventional screen? Viewed with a band of harsh sunlight running across half the screen?
              So it boils down to what your intentions are for the image. Most of mine are probably viewed quickly then swiped from a dirty smart phone screen so I don't invest a lot of time in editing. About a minute per picture that I post. (one or more of crop, levels, increase/decrease saturation, contrast ) If I take 40 pictures on a hike I will keep between 10 and 15. When I view them at a later date I often think that 5 would have been better. I used to take a lot more but now I try to spend more time composing each shot and take less of the same one.

              With my P&S camera I nearly always shoot in manual mode with no "extras" (ie. no features such as vivid or warm or beach etc.). I figure this way that my jpg image will not be heavily processed by the camera before saving to the SD card.


              • #9
                I was into photography as a kid many decades ago (developing black and white in my father's tiny darkroom) Today, most of my photos are really quick point and shoot (usually with the rope wrapped around my arm so I can keep my partner on belay...). But I think I may get back more into photography in the future.

                I might want some kind of photo editing software, regardless of whether I'm shooting raw or jpg. I know this thread talks about Photoshop and Lightroom. I think I understand that Lightroom has more capability than Photoshop. So that's one comparison.

                I see Darktable mentioned above as a free alternative. I have also read about a free software called GNU Image Manipulation Program.

                Is there any good comparison review of all these out there?


                • Hear the Footsteps
                  Hear the Footsteps commented
                  Editing a comment
                  My work is like Neil's.

                  My all season camera only takes JPG.

                  I'd owned Photoshop Elements 8 for over a decade or so. This year I used up a $75 gift card and bought Photoshop Elements 2020(PSE 2020) on the box but shows 18.0 on the startup screen. You outright own PSE.

                  Features I like are adjusting dark and bright areas, adjusting color as many digital photos need it (Automatic option or Remove Colorcast). Infrequently I adjust Hue and Saturation. From what I've seen Smartphones do all these steps in the camera and that's why the images look nice and people just use them.

                  My camera sensor has a dust spec that shows up in extreme zoom. PSE has the Healing Brush that'll patch that up....but I use that infrequently.

                  For what I do PSE 2020 isn't all that different than PSE 8 with exception that it has filters for RAW files. That's why I bought it because I bought a camera that will take RAW images. And make sure the software does have the RAW filter for your camera. Adobe has a list will all the compatible cameras. I checked on that before I bought.