Those of youse who been following my blog'll know I ain't the kinda photoshop geek who loves to spend his whole life playing around on his computer. No sir. I'd rather be out snappin', actually using my Fuji gear to capture the wonderful world around me! My mobile JPEG based workflow is what allows me to minimize time spent processing images. But that little voice in my head just don't give up: "wouldn't RAW still have been better?". Please read on if you're interested in the answer!
This image seems to be an appropriate guinea-pig: lots of contrast & lovely gradations of grey in-between! I always shoot RAW+JPEG, so I import:
- The JPEG's to my iPad, for mobile development using Lightroom CC Mobile, Snapseed, and
- Selected RAW's to my MacBook Pro, for desktop processing using Capture One Pro 11
Mobile development’s really fast, hey just 30secs max per image (only tweaking of curves & highlights / shadows). And really good results to boot (OK no sweat, everybody knows about the amazing quality of Fuji ACROS JPEG’s, which are mostly more than enough to get the job done!). This significantly speeds up my workflow & I can limit the more time consuming RAW development at a later point of time for those images where I really need the RAW file´s increased highlight headroom, see below the same image as above developed from RAW in Capture One Pro 11:
And here some crops from the above images. Gotta say that the Fuji ACROS JPEG's are good. Really good! Can't really see a big difference between the two. OK, so the Capture One RAW has maybe a bit more definition but you really gotta do serious nitpickin' to identify it:
But what if you wanna do that serious nitpickin' (aka pixelpeepin')? Like what about the grain? Yes, GRAIN! People grown up in the digital age don't know nothin' about it. This is what makes our images come alive, giving them character and emotion. Harking back to those magic days & (especially) nights in darkrooms, where images materialized from a blank piece of paper in the developer tray under the light of a red darkroom sun. Let's just take a look at that grain for a minute now (200% crops):
My adjusted Capture One Style BW-15 on the left (grain dialed down from 80 to 60) does quite a good job, but I gotta admit it don't hold up to the magic Fuji´s ACROS film simulation is doing on the JPEG (right picture). Not at All! As you can see Fuji somehow manage to vary the strength of the grain depending on tonal values, reducing the effect in the highlights and accentuating it in the darker tones (just as silver halide films do). See here an interesting article explaining how this works!
Please decide for y´self what you prefer, but for me it´s really a difficult choice. So difficult I often I print my fine-art prints off slightly tweaked Fuji ACROS JPEG´s to retain this magic film-like grain effect. I can't get that from any RAW processor! Somehow a print off a "digital" looking RAW file don't seem to create that emotional connection for me (much like music played off vinyl records comparing to a CD). Call me old fashioned but I'm afraid that's how it is ;-)
Just so y'all don't get too bored looking at the same image for the umpteenth time, I added another pic I took in a Marriott hotel lobby in a far away place:
So now I'm curious what you think! Did I make a convincing pitch to use JPEG´s with Fuji´s fantastic ACROS film simulation, or d´you still prefer doctoring around for long hours glued to computer screens with your RAW´s? Hey, think of it. If that extra time spent don't deliver significantly better results it´s time lost, can't ever get it back! Ain't it better to spend that extra time out taking photos? It´s up to you. With that somewhat philosophical closing line I´ll let y'all go - Hey, at the end it´s YOUR decision ;-)
Look forward to your opinions & comments - please leave me a message & I´ll answer ASAP, many thanks for your attention & for visiting! Here's to wishing you great images & a great weekend!
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