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Thread: Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

    The JPEG committee is steadily keeping its snail pace towards a new JPEG standard, for now called JPEG XR. We might see a finalized standard late 2009 or 2010.

    Why is this important? JPEG XR attempts to address limitations in JPEG, including pixel formats, precision, dynamic range, compression quality, lack of lossless compression. If what is currently is on the drawing table in the preparation committee passes, we will see an image format that will dramatically reduce the need to shoot RAW.

    Essentially, the XR format will support a large number of pixel formats from low-bitcount grayscale, through high bit integer and floating point RGB and multichannel formats.

    For example, a camera manufacturer might implement XR with a linear floating point RGB format, so that all highlight information is completely preserved while also keeping a high bit depth.

    Comparing RAW to XR then, the in-camera processing from RAW to XR would include:
    - Bayer pattern interpolation
    - Camera color space application (linearization, colorants)
    - White balance application (a simple R/G/B factor)
    In addition camera settings like sharpening, color tweaks etc could be applied, at the photographer's discretion.

    The images coming out of the camera would essentially contain all information available in the RAW data, while requiring much less or no post-processing in terms of development. XR files would have the same quality as RAW files, only in flexibility of tweaking the above processing steps would there be a difference.

    In addition, XR would offer higher compression ratio than JPEG, or higher quality at the same file size if you will. This flexibility to address virtually all camera makers' and photographers' needs except for the rare need for true RAW makes XR quite likely to become widespread in the industry.

    How will this change our world as photographers? I think we will see much less need for RAW developer softwares - essentially we will finally be able to get high quality WYSIWYG images out of the camera, that still contain enough information for edits. Post-shoot work will be much less time-consuming, so we can spend more time behind the camera (or marketing our work).

    XR is not poised to compete directly with DNG, since it is not a RAW format per se. However XR would dramatically reduce the demand for RAW image post-processing, thereby reducing the demand for DNG format.
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    Re: Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

    If the images out of camera were good enough then to be honest, switch sharpening off and shoot jpg, not in the future, now. The point of RAW is 12-14 bits of data and the ability to shoot with the post processing in mind.

    For example as a wedding photographer I shoot for mid tones and bring the highlights back in ACR 5 (whoever would have thought we would have been able to do that in the old DSLR days!). This maximises the low noise. Unless they can apply a film like highlight shoulder to the jpg processing, unless they can get the colour perfect in camera (never seen an AWB that didn't suck), you're going to be heading into LR or ACR anyway so you might as well have those extra bits..

    You seem to be saying that the only problem with jpg is that you don't have potential editing room should you want to change it. The problem is far more than that, out of camera output is just not good enough period unless the output is newspaper print. I can't see how that will change with a new jpg format. The equivelent of what you are saying is to shoot a job, apply a preset to all the RAW's and then hit print. Ouch.
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    Re: Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    You seem to be saying that the only problem with jpg is that you don't have potential editing room should you want to change it. The problem is far more than that, out of camera output is just not good enough period unless the output is newspaper print. I can't see how that will change with a new jpg format. The equivelent of what you are saying is to shoot a job, apply a preset to all the RAW's and then hit print. Ouch.
    No, not really. The limitations of the JPEG format itself is one thing, what the camera makers do to tweak the output for better or worse (often worse being your point above) is another problem. I think we have to keep those two issues separate in this context, even though the end result is what matters most.

    What camera makers have done with RAW is essentially taken the easy way out, saying "Here's the raw data, do whatever you want, we're not helping". With all the raw data available, less effort has gone into producing a good in-camera processing. Photographers have simply accepted that to get quality images you have to use a RAW workflow.

    In response to you post, XR removes more limitations than even TIFF format, while also (presumably) emerging an open format for final output as well. You can have an XR with lossless 32-bit floating point per channel, all data and all highlights preserved. Whitepoint, being just 3 multipliers for RGB, can then easily be tweaked later with essentially no data loss. XR can also be 8-bit/channel heavily compressed like JPEG, to the point that no post-processing is possible. Which compressions and pixel formats are available in-camera is up to camera makers.

    All this could have been achieved within the TIFF format. But TIFF is a highly fragmented "standard" today, with various non-standard extensions (actually hundreds of them) so it's no surprise that camera makers held off on using TIFF - it would have been a complete mess WRT compatibility. The JPEG group is tackling the compatibility issue by creating a reference software for validation of data.
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    Re: Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

    You think the camera makers will offer different flavours of jpg quality when they can provide RAW? Can't see them bothering, especially Nikon who charge for NX!
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    Re: Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    You think the camera makers will offer different flavours of jpg quality when they can provide RAW? Can't see them bothering, especially Nikon who charge for NX!
    To understand the potential of XR, you really have to throw your preconceptions about JPEG format out the window. XR is as much related to JPEG as TIFF is. JPEG was engineered 20 years ago, and it really needs to go (for the reasons we have discussed above).

    Nikon is a special case here, with its tendencies to try to be a software vendor and create a closed system.

    I think that providing a lossless XR format will be a competitive advantage for a camera maker, as it will save much time in post-processing for the photographer vs RAW. Combine that with XR being an open standard, and I think most camera makers will want to get on board (except for Nikon hehe).
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    Re: Looking ahead - JPEG XR vs RAW/DNG

    Sounds like a win to me. As long as the camera manufacturers do the in camera processing well it would make things a lot easier. Smaller file sizes would be appreciated!
    Charles - flickr

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