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JPEG vs RAW – Let’s Settle it With a Single Example:

PinExt JPEG vs RAW   Lets Settle it With a Single Example:

by Gavin Seim. Updated 06/23/12: It’s been a common debate, though much less so as pro’s learn that RAW is a no brainier. I deal with both the JPEG and RAW side quite often because the tools I make on Seim Effects. I’ve seen the value of RAW and once you do there’s no going back. Some photographers that still use JPEG, use a reason like… “I nail my exposure, so there’s no reason for me to use RAW”. I think when this happens it’s one of two things.

  • Showmanship. For some, I think showing everyone how spot on your exposure comes out is a great way to show off when making a presentation. OK I get that, we all like to show our proficiency, but I’d rather not toss away quality on my clients images to get expert points on the minds of my peers.
  • The most common reason however. I think some still have a mental block about RAW and don’t want to address it. I remember being in that spot years back. Somehow the larger files size and RAW data seems daunting. In reality it was not big deal at all. I know because I went thru it. If you’re in this camp just move beyond it and you’ll be glad you did.

This idea is simple and that’s why this article will be short. JPEG tosses out information that you might need later in order to make a smaller file. It keeps that the camera “thinks” it needs. RAW keeps it all. And with today’s direct RAW editing and localized adjustments using software like Lightroom, the power of using RAW data has become crystal clear. Let’s skip the banter however and settle this. I could make up a bunch of examples for you, but this one photo proves my reasoning, so I’ll keep this short.

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1: Here is an outdoor wedding scene from a 5D MK2 unedited other than being cropped. Yes it’s a bit under exposed, but had it been correctly exposed I would have lost even more detail in the sky area. Now at a glace, this photo seems like no matter what we do it will be pretty bland. Lets look.

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Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review

PinExt Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review

NOTE: This article is a few years old. Most of the products mentioned here have newer refined versions. They arr all viable options. Look over our review. But also check out the latest offerings from each company and see what they offer.

by Gavin Seim. Updated 04/2010: Even with cameras getting amazing at high ISO, low noise images, there’s still room in our kits for good noise reduction software. It allows us to push the limits and keep our images clean and vivid. Nearly every serious photographer should have a good noise reduction tool in his arsenal. That said I don’t think we need to use NR all the time like we did in the past. A little noise is not always bad, especially the more appealing grain like noise coming from today’s cameras. I keep various NR tools on hand however so if I want to reduce, their ready to go.

Today the showdown has come. I see lots of talk about what’s the best noise reduction software, but mostly it’s all talk. Rather than just talk, I’ve made comparisons. Lots of comparisons. I’ll give you examples with various products, images, cameras and ISO settings, including some HDR. At the end I’ll give my final opinions of each product and let you decide for yourself. Let’s get started.

The Contenders:
Neat Image VS Noise Ninja VS Noiseware VS Dfine VS Lightroom VS Topaz Denoise VS Photoshop:

All tests were made using the Photoshop plugin versions of the products but some are available as standalone apps. Settings varied, but I used mostly default settings and automatic profiles, with occasional tweaks to get the results I felt looked best. This means these images represent the results you would get with a single pass and minimal hassle.

Often I found that one product maybe great on one image, while another product may work better on the next. Tweaking the settings would perhaps improve results a little depending on the image, however I wanted a real feel of the results we’ll get everyday. You can click any image for a large view, but some results are similar so you may want to download the large image bundle linked below.

Download all HR Images in bundle

1 4 5d2 3200 ninja 300x244 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review

1 1 5d2 3200 none 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review 1 2 5d2 3200 dfine 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review 1 3 5d2 3200 neat 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review 1 5 5d2 3200 topaz 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review

1 6 5d2 3200 noiseware 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review 1 7 5d2 3200 cs4 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review 1 8 5d2 3200 lr 150x150 Noise Reduction Shootout: Straight Dope Comparison Review

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