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Willnx2 and jpg from the camera produce the same image?

Discussion in 'Nikon Capture and View NX' started by dwind, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. dwind

    dwind Guest

    Shoot an image in raw with basic settings. Run the nef file through nx2 batch without changing anything and convert to jpg.
    Will the resulting image be any different from setting the qual to fine in the camera?
  2. That depends on the JPG quality setting you use, but the overall tonal values and sharpness should be the same.
  3. Good question. Compare the size (number of pixels in the length and width) of the in-camera JPG with the size of the converted NEF. If one is larger than the other, that larger size gives you more flexibility that you might be able to take advantage of in the future.
  4. This is an interesting question, and I don't think it has been answered yet.

    My initial thought is that a large, fine, jpeg from the camera should be identical to that produced on your computer with NX if you don't change the in-camera settings. On the other hand, your home computer should be much more powerful than the one in your camera, and Capture NX (or NX2) is surely a more sophisticated bit of software than could be loaded on the camera. Thus the RAW conversion in your home computer should be able to produce a better image. Better in what way I don't know.

    I think the only way to find out, other than picking the brain of a Nikon engineer, is to try it and compare carefully. I'm sure some pixel-peeking (and nitpicking) will be required!
  5. I think Jim is right. The overall look of the image should be exactly the same, but the fine detail should be better when the raw file is processed by the computer than when processed by the in-camera JPEG engine. Things like crispness and clarity could be improved. At worst, the JPEGs produced by the computer should be no worse than those produced by the cameras, which is a good reason to shoot in raw only (and batch convert on the computer), if storage is not an issue...
  6. If the computer renders a better quality JPEG than the camera, that news could send all the sports photographers who shoot JPEGs because of the increased speed into an uproar. My hunch is that though there may be some technical differences, there probably aren't any noticeable differences to anyone other than the pixel peepers.
  7. ...which is part of the point I was making.
  8. Well in various tests, of quite a few bodies. With a Nikon and Canon shot side by side in JPEG, the Canon produces a much nicer result. However, they're identical when shot RAW and converted on a PC.

    I'm not sure on the newer Nikon bodies, with the expeed processors, but I heard that Nikon still used a fairly old JPEG algorithm,
  9. Mike,

    Why would they be in an uproar? With the 24/7 online world, speed (both shooting and availability) is more of the essence, and I bet you that the shooters at the Olympics upload their JPEGs directly (via wireless, or by card runners to the press center) as immediately as they can, for web publication, etc... The point is, you wouldn't be able to tell on a web page where images are often less than 400px in the longest dimension... Also, don't forget that the D3 shooters at the Olympics probably already have their buffer upgraded, and they can easily get 30 frames from a single burst, in raw! :wink:

    If you worry about it, do the test yourself and judge with your own eyes. If not, don't. Personally, I am quite content to keep shooting in raw and let the computer do the best possible job now (and perhaps even better in the future with improved raw processing, which you won't be able to do with "baked" JPEGs), even for the occasional 8-9fps burst! :) 
  10. I was thinking of the sports photographers who shoot JPEGs so they can have longer bursts before filling up the buffer. I wasn't aware that the buffer could be enlarged.
  11. dwind

    dwind Guest

    So, why not shoot jpg for all but the worst lighting conditions?
  12. If I could be sure of getting a near-perfect exposure every time, I would shoot jpeg exclusively. But I often miss, and it's a lot easier to fix a bad exposure in a RAW file than a jpeg. In fact, I have found no effective way to fix an overexposed jpeg, while I can often recover much of the blown highlights in an overexposed NEF using Capture NX.

    There are some very good photographers on the Cafe who do shoot nothing but jpeg, and apparently get mostly keepers. Not me.:redface:
  13. jhwalker


    Jun 10, 2008
    United States
    My thoughts exactly - couldn't have said it better myself :wink:

    Agree with others that the Nikon in-camera JPEG engine is not as capable what is available via View or Capture NX. Colors and "tone" should be virtually identical, but sharpness / detail is substantially better when processed on your desktop (i.e., NEF > JPEG) vs. accepting what comes out of the camera (JPEG).
  14. OTOH, as a hypothetical, the jpeg conversion chip in the camera is a single very narrow purpose piece of circuitry vs. a much more complex hugely multi-purpose chip in a computer. As I recall, the main computer on Apollo Eleven had a massive 64 kilobytes of RAM.
  15. dwind

    dwind Guest

    The computer that guided the Apollo projects was called VERDAN for VErsitle Digital Analyzer. It also guided subs, aircraft carriers and airplanes including the one I worked on the RA5C. I worked on that computer and it's associated systems for 2+ years. If memory serves me correct it was programmed with boolean algebra and fed with mylar tape.
  16. Among other factors, it will depend on any auto settings used in NX (including ones you cannot see, buried in the code). I have read that Nikon's lower end bodies did have more modern jpg engines, and that these will be better at making jpgs than the D200 (this was before the D300/D3/D700 release).

    I feel the camera makers are flat out trying to make jpgs work better, because they know both ends of the market really want that format - news pros for frame rates and speed of delivery to media outlets, wedding pros for workflow of hundreds of images with a tight delivery deadline; and entry level shooters, neophytes who do not want to deal with the RAW-related intricacies we talk about in forums like this one.

    RAW is really for quality- and archive-concerned individuals, low volume shooters - enthusiasts, if you will.

    I cannot see the feeble processor of any camera body turning out a jpeg that matches in any way the quality of a well-worked RAW file, for a myriad of reasons: hardware, software and settings related. All it takes is one setting to be less than optimal for the in-camera file to be inferior, WB, tone curve, sharpening, NR, etc...and you only get one chance with it, with 8 bit jpgs, which are notorious for poor PP.

    I also have the hunch that the very process of file conversion will result in smoother, higher quality tonal transitions even if all parameters were turned off in the converter. Seems sensible, since we know all converters do a different job, even if one tries to hold all factors constant.

    Is the 'large, fine quality' jpeg the same as saving a RAW file down to the same file size with a 100% quality setting WRT IQ? - it seems unlikely if you look at the file close enough.

    Nikon are also very keen to offer a max quality RAW-compatible format in the recent bodies, witness the move to 14 bit files, and a new lossless compressed format, whereas the D200 offered a large uncompressed file and a compressed (presumably very slight, 'invisible' loss of high tone IQ) at smaller file size.

    Their support for NX appears to be strong, despite its niche market.
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