1. gernerttl's Avatar
    I wrote this post a few years ago for the Lumia Icon. Back then, the Lumia Icon was one of a handful of phones that were capable of RAW capture. Now we have several phones capable of RAW capture using the stock camera app, and there are several third-party apps that use RAW capture.
    Because the S8/S8+ (as well as many other phones) has built in RAW capture, I decided to pull this post out, dust it off, and update (mainly getting rid of Icon references) and repost here.

    The biggest update is that the S8/S8+ and a few other phones have expandable memory, where Icon does not.

    So without further ado, what is RAW capture and how does that differ from JPG capture? What are the advantages and disadvantages to RAW capture?

    To put it simply, RAW is the unprocessed, "lossless" image file format. The data is read off the sensor and saved in a file that is read by most, if not all RAW image processing apps, such as Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, etc. It first was introduced in DSLR and medium format SLR cameras. It gave professional photographers the ability to edit photos post capture in a non-destructive way; meaning any changes can be undone or changed again without affecting image quality. Of course, camera makers have proprietary RAW formats, CR2 (Canon), NEF (Nikon), etc. Enter the Adobe DNG standard. Adobe introduced the DNG, or digital negative format in Sep 2004. The intent was to provide an open standard for all still image capture. However, the major camera makers like Canon, Nikon, and a few others, continue to manufacture cameras using their own proprietary RAW formats. Several other camera makers though, have adopted DNG as their RAW capture format. Currently all DSLR, medium and large format cameras, and a select few point and shoot cameras and several smart phones allow you to capture images in RAW format.

    The JPG or JPEG format has been around for decades. It was designed to send efficiently send and receive image files via electronic means and by far the most used image file type. The JPG format is a "lossy" format meaning every time you open the file, edit it, and save it, you are degrading the image quality. Over time as the file is reopened and saved, you will see a noticeable degradation in quality. Additionally, you can increase compression to reduce file size; which degrades image quality. The higher the compression the lower the quality. Additionally, since it is a destructive format, any changes made to the image are permanent and once saved cannot be undone. All digital cameras allow you to capture images in the JPG format; and depending on camera/phone model you can change image quality and compression levels.

    So enough with the history lesson and let’s answer the question, “So why should you care? A photo is a photo right?” Well...yes…and…no.

    There are some advantages and disadvantages to each format and they pretty much depend on your photo needs and what you intend to do with them.

    Let’s start with RAW image capture.

    RAW Image capture advantages:

    - Greater post capture image editing options. Since RAW is non-destructive and lossless, you can make changes to your heart’s content without fear of permanently changing the original file. Any changes you make can be zeroed out and you can start from scratch. You also have the ability to change WB, exposure, saturation, sharpening, noise reduction etc. For example, Adobe Lightroom allows you to increase or decrease the exposure by up to 3 stops. Very handy for slightly over or under exposed photos.

    - You can export into any image file format that your RAW processing app supports; TIFF, JPG, PNG, whatever.

    - As RAW image processing apps improve, you can go back and reprocess the original file using newer algorithms. Even if it was taken 10 years ago. As long as it was shot in RAW, you can still edit it in modern RAW image processing apps.

    RAW Image capture disadvantages:

    - Larger image files. The DNG file can be over 20MB. Since some phones have fixed memory (i.e. Pixel), the phone’s storage can fill up quickly.

    - The need for a third party RAW image app such as Lightroom or Aperture. Currently, there are no WP apps that allow you to process RAW files on the phone (though Photoshop Express is coming to WP soon). Therefore, you have to download the images to a computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) before converting to JPG using a RAW image conversion app.

    - Cannot upload directly to social media, send via MMS. You must convert to JPG first.

    Now let’s talk JPG.

    JPG Image capture advantages:

    - Files are much smaller, half the size or smaller. With fixed 32GB of storage this can make a difference. This also allows you to auto upload to OneDrive without putting a huge dent in your data plan.

    - You can upload the file directly to social media and send via MMS to other people without having to convert the image.

    - Plenty of image editing apps for the phone, such as Nokia Glam Me or 4Blend HDR. You can make basic edits on phone.

    JPG Image capture disadvantages:

    - Limited post capture image editing options. The white balance, exposure, etc., is set by the camera and cannot be changed post capture.

    - Because JPG is a lossy, destructive file type. Any edits you do are permanent, and you can’t change it back once you saved the file. Additionally, increased file compression will degrade the image quality the more you compress it.

    So what format should you use?

    Well… that depends on your needs and what you intend to do with the photos post capture. If you primarily shoot photos to email, text, or upload to social media, then stick with JPG capture. You can still do some on phone editing and share with family and friends while saving space on your phone.

    If, however, you are like me, a photography geek who enjoys editing high resolution photos in Lightroom and making prints, then your best bet is to use RAW capture.

    The upshot, the S8/S+ allows you to capture in both DNG and JPG. So, if you want to play around with both, you can. Once you determine which type of image capture you like and suits your needs, you can stick with that mode and snap on.
    pinkvikchick likes this.
    05-10-2017 06:02 AM
  2. pinkvikchick's Avatar
    Thank you, I took photography classes way back before DSLRs were affordable (and better). I fumble with RAW images, and ultimately gave up and just set my DSLR to use the JPG format. Maybe I will give it another go.
    gernerttl likes this.
    05-10-2017 10:20 AM
  3. gernerttl's Avatar
    You're welcome. I use Lightroom (both mobile and desktop) to do my RAW processing. There are several choices out there, with a few of them free, or relatively low cost.
    05-10-2017 04:34 PM

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