Can jpgs. deliver quality images? - Part 2

All images - Panasonic GH3 Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens.

See previous post - HERE

Shooting test shots is all very well, but I wanted to shoot some pictures more typical of what I would take normally, to see if the camera jpgs. could be a solution for me.

The answer is yes they could under certain circumstances. But out of Camera jpgs. are obviously less flexible, all sorts of "decisions" having already been made and reversing those is never easy. For me the most important is the ability to capture a wide dynamic and tonal range. I like to make those decisions myself on a picture by picture basis and using the jpgs. takes that away from me. 

As I outlined in the previous post, I have the contrast and noise reduction set to minimum settings and that does help. But here is a blow up from the gate shot above. 

The colour is different, but that can be adjusted easily. The main problem is that by turning the noise reduction to minimum, in order to prevent excessive softening of the image, there is some colour noise in the jpg. Since all my stock images are viewed at 100% before being accepted, this needs to be removed, with a subsequent (slight) softening of the image. Also as you can see, I was able to get a sharp "clean" image with a more accurate colour balance from the raw file. So in this case using the jpg. file would actually result in more, rather than less work.

Now all of this is about MY workflow, and others will have different priorities. However every image I shoot is destined for sale, so any notion of "That will do" or "Near enough" is out of the question. And thats what jpgs. strike me as being. I don't like the camera, or the manufacturers software engineers, making the decisions as to what is the optimum way to reproduce the file, since it always seems to be a compromise. Not everyone works on each file individually, but I do. I have no need to get the shot and get it uploaded asap as press and sports photographers do, and the people who market and buy my work expect that I will "optimise" each image indivually. So maybe the idea of using the jpgs. isn't going to work fo me.

With care, and setting up the jpg. parameters, the results I achieved were better than I thought, but I'm not convinced its enough. And more importantly I'm not convinced that its going to save me time and result in less computer use, which was the object of the exercise in the first place. Whether or not I pursue it is probably doubtful, since checking jpgs. against raw files constantly is obviously more time consuming than just getting on with processing the raw files, which by now I can do very quickly and to a large extent I run on presets anyway. It doesn't take long to identify what particular cameras do in terms of colour balance, sharpness and levels and I have settings for all my current cameras. 

So in answer to the original question "Can jpgs, deliver quality images?" the answer is, as far as I'm concerned, Yes, but with reservations and under certain specific conditions, but Raw file conversion will always offer more possibilities and from my experience consistently better quality. And that applies to every camera I've ever used, not just the GH3.

Finally I thought I'd take some time to say how much I enjoyed using the GH3 and 75mm lens. Above all it was a pleasure to get out of the door into the fresh air and take advantage of that rare commodity in the UK recently - sunshine. Looking out of my window this morning the snow has finally gone and there is the promise of a sunny and warmer day in the forecast. 

The 75mm lens is a superb lens even at wide apertures and I've seen a few reviews recently that agree with me that this is probably the best m4/3 lens ever in terms of sharpness. The GH3 is also very nice to use and though I took another lens with me, I used the 75mm exclusively. Top class results from this combination and very sharp of course. 

Today I thought I might try the 35-100mm f/2.8 to see how it compares. My tests indicated that it was very close to the 75mm, so it will be interesting to see what I get.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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