RAW vs JPG / by Joel Bramley

With my last camera (an Olympus E-420) I was always shooting RAW but when I got my EM-5 I learnt that the Adobe Camera Raw software that's compatible with Photoshop Elements 9 doesn't support the RAW files from the EM-5 so I was left with a few options. 
  1. Purchase the next version of PSE so I can continue to shoot RAW
  2. Continue to shoot RAW but use Olympus Viewer 2 as the ORF processor then go to PSE
  3. Change my workflow from RAW to JPG
I did look into 1 & 2 but ended up doing 3 as I felt the JPG  quality from the EM-5 is excellent already and the dynamic range is excellent. It's been a little over 14 months since I did this and the want to shoot RAW again which never went away came back and got me to do some research on how to get around the limitations with PSE and ACR.

As it turns out it was pretty easy, I use Adobe Digital Negative Converter (Adobe DNG) to convert my ORF files that PSE/ACR cannot read into a format that it can then start doing my old RAW workflow but this time I have a better grasp on tools in PSE9 due to the JPG workflow that I did before getting the EM-5.

I set the camera to RAW + JPG and took a couple of sample shots to compare each format/workflow.

JPG


RAW

JPG

RAW

What I have confirmed is that the noise is much better handled when starting from RAW which is a nice thing to get back and that the JPG images tend to have what looks like a little more saturation but it's nothing I can't add to the RAW version and getting back white balance, clarification, vibrancy sliders is a huge plus!

Only problem is my almost 5 year old computer which had a HDD upgrade to 500GB is down to 65GB and shooting RAW again is going to chew this up fast. 

This process does require me to manually remove the ORF files from my cameras card as PSE complains that it cannot read the files so besides not including into the organiser it cannot remove from the card, it does copy however which is the important part. I also have to manually remove the ORF files from my machine after I've converted them into a compatible DNG format.