Build complex toys and simple tools
by Tony Karp

Raw vs JPEG with the P30 Pro's super-wide camera
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 - Raw vs JPEG with the P30 Pro's super-wide camera -   - Raw vs JPEG with the Huawei P30 Pro's super-wide camera - - Tony Karp, design, art, photography, techno-impressionist, techno-impressionism, aerial photography , drone , drones , dji , mavic pro , video , 3D printing - Books - - Raw vs JPEG with the P30 Pro's super-wide camera -   - Raw vs JPEG with the Huawei P30 Pro's super-wide camera - - Tony Karp, design, art, photography, techno-impressionist, techno-impressionism, aerial photography , drone , drones , dji , mavic pro , video , 3D printing - Books -
This what a raw file looks like, straight from the P30 Pro's ultrawide camera, before any corrections have been made.
--- Click on the picture above to see the JPEG, straight from the camera ---

A favorite exercise of the raw enthusiasts is to show a comparison between a straight-from-the camera JPEG and a tarted-up, well-processed raw of the same scene. In most cases, the JPEG looks terrible, either poorly exposed, or with incorrect white balance, while the processed raw is breathtakingly gorgeous. This has always seemed like an unfair comparison.

Now for something completely different. Why not compare a straight-from-the-camera JPEG to a straight-from-the-camera raw? Sounds like a better comparison.

That's just what I did in this test, comparing a JPEG vs a raw, both of them straight from the Huawei P30 Pro's super-wide camera. I used the P30 Pro's Raw + JPEG setting to capture both files.

You can't view a raw file directly, so I developed the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. I used the default settings, so I could see how it compared to the JPEG. The picture above is what raw looks like straight from the P30 Pro's ultra-wide camera.

What's happening in the raw picture above? Why is it okay in the center, but dark at the sides? This is called vignetting. In this case, it's because it's a really wide lens. Light has to travel farther to reach the corners of the image sensor and it falls off the farther it has to travel. You probably won't see this in a normal focal length lens, but the P30 Pro's super-wide lens is an extreme case.

If you click on the image, you can switch back and forth between the raw and the JPEG. How come the JPEG doesn't have the same vignetting as the raw? The answer is software, using computer power to fix problems with the camera's lens or image sensor.

I first noticed this when I tried to shoot raw with one of my earlier Panasonic cameras. In the raw images, the lens had a lot of barrel distortion, but it didn't show up in the JPEGs. Panasonic had added software to fix the lens problem, in the camera, before it created the JPEG file. Using software in this way, camera manufacturers can create cameras that make great pictures while still being affordable.

So Huawei added software to the P30 Pro to transparently fix the vignetting on its super-wide lens. In addition, they've added software to improve the overall image quality and add new features.

All of this is bad news for the raw shooters. If you look at the raw image above, you can see it'll take a lot more work to get a usable image than just your basic raw processing. And this is just one of the P30 Pro's three raw-shooting cameras.

Philosophical reasons for not shooting raw on P30 Pro:

+ Huawei doesn't want you to shoot raw. Other than handing you the raw files, there's no support from Huawei, or any third-party vendor, for the three raw-enabled cameras in the P30 Pro.

+ You'll miss all the fun. Many of the camera's features are crippled or turned off entirely if you enable raw files. You should be playing with the interesting features of this phone, rather than running a science experiment.

+ My P30 Pro is less than a month old, and I've already shot over 6,000 pictures with it. This is what you have to do to really learn how to use a camera. How to hold the camera. How to operate the controls. How to choose the best settings. Situations where you can trust the auto features and the times when you can't. And remember, the P30 Pro has three separate cameras, so it's even more of a challenge.

Technical reasons for not shooting raw on the P30 Pro:

+ There are three separate raw-enabled cameras on the P30 Pro. Each has its own lens and its own image sensor and each requires different raw processing software, adjustments, and techniques. It's like buying three new cameras at the same time. Good luck with this.

+ Huawei regularly provides upgrades to their camera software. The latest, from just yesterday, gives an improvement in image quality. For JPEG shooters only.

Note: Sixty years ago, I spent a lot of time in the darkroom. It was a real pain, and I wished I had more time to shoot pictures. Now, with digital cameras, I do. Why would I want to return to the past?

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