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Exploring image format and size

From: Shooting with the Nikon D800

Video: Exploring image format and size

By default your camera shoots in JPEG format. Established by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, JPEG is a compressed image format; that is, it takes the original image data that your camera captures and it crunches it down so that it takes up far less storage. JPEG compression is a lossy compression scheme; that is, there is a loss of quality when JPEG compression is applied to an image. So the more compression you apply, the more your image is degraded. Most cameras give you a few different JPEG conversion choices. Some of those choices compress more than others and therefore degrade your image more than others.

Exploring image format and size

By default your camera shoots in JPEG format. Established by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, JPEG is a compressed image format; that is, it takes the original image data that your camera captures and it crunches it down so that it takes up far less storage. JPEG compression is a lossy compression scheme; that is, there is a loss of quality when JPEG compression is applied to an image. So the more compression you apply, the more your image is degraded. Most cameras give you a few different JPEG conversion choices. Some of those choices compress more than others and therefore degrade your image more than others.

Your camera also captures a certain number of pixels. When shooting JPEG images, most cameras give you the choice of shooting at lower pixel counts, so you might be able to save an image that's only half size, for example. This is another way of saving space on your storage card. Finally, some cameras also give you the option to shoot in Raw mode, a non-compressed format that offers a lot of editing advantages over JPEGs. There are two ways to set image quality and size on the D800: you can use the Quality button here on the top of the camera or you can do it through the menus.

I'm going to start with the menus because everything is spelled out very clearly there. In the Shooting menu, down at the bottom of the first page, you'll see Image quality and Image size. Image size defaults to Large. And if I open that up, I can see that Large is the full pixel count of the D800 sensor, 7360 x 4912 for a 36.2 megapixel image. I can also go down to a Medium image, which is 20 megapixels, or a Small image, which is 9. So I'm going to leave this set on the Large size.

With any size I can choose different levels of JPEG compression, if I'm shooting JPEG; the default is a normal level of compression. It's a nice trade-off between image quality and file size--it gives you a lot of images on the card-- but I might want to go for better quality and bump up to Fine, or if I really need to cram a lot of images onto my card, I could drop it down to Basic quality. I can also choose to shoot a TIFF file by choosing TIFF (RGB) right here. This is going to look exactly like a JPEG file, but it's not going to have any JPEG compression that might have been introduced.

It's an 8-bit TIFF file, so I'm still going to have the same kind of smaller editing latitude that I get from a JPEG file, as opposed to a RAW. Also, it's going to be a larger file than a RAW file, so it's not the most efficient use of disk space. But if you don't want to hassle with RAW workflow, but you don't want JPEG compression, then go with the TIFF. RAW is, in my opinion and the opinion of many other people, the best way to be shooting. It is uncompressed like TIFF in JPEG, but it's got a higher bit depth.

You're probably going to get 14 bits, 12-14 bits per pixel out of your camera, and that's going to give you much more editing latitude. You're also going to get some editing controls that you simply can't get with JPEG and TIFF, such as the ability to change white balance after the fact and the ability to sometimes recover overexposed highlights. Finally, I can choose to shoot both a RAW and a JPEG, and I have three different compression settings for JPEG. This is handy for times when you need to deliver a JPEG file to a client and you need to work quickly, so you just want to shoot JPEG so you can pull them out of the camera and ship them off.

But maybe you're shooting somewhere where it's a difficult exposure situation or where white balance might be a problem, so you want a RAW backup for those times where there's maybe an image that just needs a little bit of a white balance tweak or a little bit of highlight recovery. You will be able to fall back on the RAW and make that adjustment. Now, note that if I choose to shoot in RAW, I give up my ability to shoot at different sizes. RAW files are always the large size. There's no way to make a smaller RAW file. Also, if I choose to shoot in RAW, I have some additional parameters that I can configure.

If I come down here to NEF (RAW) recording-- NEF is simply Nikon's name for their RAW file. That's the file extension that your RAW files will have. I've got two different things I can configure here. First of all, bit depth: 14-bit or 12-bit. 14-bit is going to give you more editing latitude. And I have a Type here. I can choose a Lossless compressed RAW, a Compressed, or an Uncompressed. Compressed is something Nikon introduced a while ago and never really gave anyone a clear proof that there wasn't an image quality loss in it.

They said there wasn't, but other people found that there was, and so no one's really clear what it means. So they've left that there and given you a Lossless compressed option. So if you've got Lossless compressed, why do you need Uncompressed? The only thing I can figure is that people still don't trust them, so they've got all three options here. Whatever you want to use is probably going to work out fine. I've never seen proof that Compressed really yields any visible loss of data. Lossless compressed definitely makes smaller files. That's the default value, and I think you'll find that you get great image quality out of it.

I'm going to leave it set there. JPEG compression gives me the option of, during the JPEG process, saying within the JPEG quality that I've selected for, either skew more towards size or more towards quality. They're skewing more toward size. The Fine quality JPEG is a really great level of quality for a JPEG file, so you'll probably be fine there. Now, as I mentioned before, you can also change image quality and size on the outside of the camera without digging into the menus.

When you press the Quality button, and right here you can see that I'm currently set for a RAW file. That's where I left it off in the menu. If I turn the main dial, I cycle through Large TIFF, Fine quality JPEG at Large size, Normal quality JPEG at Large, Basic quality JPEG at Large, and then I get a RAW file with a Large Fine quality JPEG, Normal quality JPEG, Basic quality JPEG, and now here I am back to just a RAW file.

So I can cycle through all of these different combinations. If there's a combination that you want that you don't find in here, you're going to have to dial that in from the menu, but most of the things you'll use the most often you can find right there. Once I've chosen the one I want, I just half-press the shutter and now I'm set for RAW shooting or JPEG or whatever I want.

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This video is part of

Image for Shooting with the Nikon D800
Shooting with the Nikon D800

107 video lessons · 14030 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 9m 28s
    1. Welcome
      2m 16s
    2. What is an SLR?
      5m 18s
    3. Using this course
      1m 54s
  2. 30m 59s
    1. Exploring basic camera anatomy
      6m 34s
    2. Attaching a lens
      3m 28s
    3. Inserting media cards and a battery
      6m 14s
    4. Powering up
      2m 8s
    5. Working with menu navigation and factory defaults
      3m 1s
    6. Setting the date and time
      1m 50s
    7. Setting the language
      1m 20s
    8. Formatting the media card
      2m 15s
    9. Holding the camera
      4m 9s
  3. 26m 35s
    1. What are shooting modes?
      2m 11s
    2. Exploring the viewfinder display
      4m 41s
    3. Using the LCD screen protector
      46s
    4. Autofocus basics
      2m 42s
    5. Metering basics
      1m 31s
    6. Reviewing images
      2m 21s
    7. Working with image playback
      7m 16s
    8. Adjusting beeps and timers
      1m 52s
    9. Changing button behavior
      2m 2s
    10. Using screen tips
      1m 13s
  4. 26m 58s
    1. Exploring Program mode
      50s
    2. Working with exposure compensation
      4m 16s
    3. Changing ISO
      2m 30s
    4. Using auto ISO
      4m 25s
    5. Exploring Flexible Program
      2m 49s
    6. Exploring image format and size
      6m 18s
    7. Setting a virtual horizon
      2m 17s
    8. Setting the color space
      1m 22s
    9. Configuring multiple media cards
      2m 11s
  5. 12m 49s
    1. Exploring focus modes
      2m 6s
    2. Exploring autofocus area modes
      4m 50s
    3. Using focus points
      1m 57s
    4. Using manual focus
      3m 56s
  6. 9m 57s
    1. Using auto white balance
      1m 1s
    2. Working with white balance presets
      3m 8s
    3. Adjusting white balance manually
      5m 48s
  7. 11m 54s
    1. Exploring Continuous mode
      5m 56s
    2. Exploring Quiet mode
      53s
    3. Using the self-timer
      3m 26s
    4. Locking the mirror up
      1m 39s
  8. 34m 40s
    1. Exploring metering modes
      3m 4s
    2. Using the auto exposure lock
      4m 35s
    3. Exploring Aperture Priority mode
      3m 3s
    4. Using depth of field preview
      2m 50s
    5. Exploring Shutter Priority mode
      2m 32s
    6. Working in Manual mode
      2m 40s
    7. Exposure bracketing
      6m 40s
    8. Using Active D-Lighting
      1m 19s
    9. Using the Vignette Control feature
      1m 6s
    10. Using the Auto Distortion Control feature
      58s
    11. Using long exposure noise reduction
      1m 41s
    12. Using high ISO noise reduction
      1m 22s
    13. Using the Bulb setting in Manual mode
      1m 2s
    14. Using the Info button
      1m 48s
  9. 19m 54s
    1. Adjusting LCD brightness
      2m 31s
    2. Protecting and deleting images
      4m 43s
    3. Hiding images
      1m 35s
    4. Toggling the Rotate Tall feature on and off
      50s
    5. File naming
      1m 21s
    6. Creating a file number sequence
      2m 35s
    7. Creating storage folders
      2m 3s
    8. Adding copyright info
      1m 50s
    9. Using in-camera retouching
      2m 26s
  10. 7m 14s
    1. Using the fill flash
      1m 48s
    2. Using Flash mode
      3m 18s
    3. Working with flash exposure compensation
      2m 8s
  11. 22m 25s
    1. Understanding high-dynamic range (HDR)
      5m 38s
    2. Creating multiple exposures
      3m 38s
    3. Using the interval timer
      5m 42s
    4. Shooting time-lapse photography
      1m 19s
    5. Working with the image area
      4m 25s
    6. Using the remote control
      1m 43s
  12. 8m 33s
    1. Defining picture controls
      2m 7s
    2. Selecting a picture control
      1m 38s
    3. Modifying a picture control
      2m 38s
    4. Using the monochrome picture control
      2m 10s
  13. 15m 42s
    1. Activating Live View
      8m 9s
    2. Focusing in Live View
      5m 27s
    3. Reviewing some Live View drawbacks
      2m 6s
  14. 17m 27s
    1. Configuring and activating video
      4m 34s
    2. Focusing and working with exposure
      7m 11s
    3. Using Playback mode
      3m 17s
    4. Customizing movie controls
      2m 25s
  15. 12m 44s
    1. Using menu banks
      3m 31s
    2. Using the My Menu feature
      2m 12s
    3. Customizing controls
      4m 0s
    4. Autofocus fine-tuning
      1m 25s
    5. Saving and loading settings
      1m 36s
  16. 14m 5s
    1. Working with custom settings
      51s
    2. Using the Focus Priority feature
      2m 15s
    3. Using the AF Activation feature
      1m 34s
    4. Controlling the number of focus points
      36s
    5. Using ISO sensitivity step value
      1m 8s
    6. Working with EV steps for exposure control
      1m 7s
    7. Using exposure flash compensation step value
      1m 1s
    8. Turning on easy exposure compensation
      1m 31s
    9. Using Exposure Delay mode
      1m 20s
    10. Using the Assign FN button
      2m 42s
  17. 6m 45s
    1. Camera sensor cleaning
      3m 29s
    2. Exploring operating conditions and temperatures
      1m 57s
    3. Getting firmware updates
      1m 19s
  18. 15m 43s
    1. Exploring focus and composition
      4m 55s
    2. Using an exposure strategy
      6m 50s
    3. Controlling exposure through Program mode
      3m 58s
  19. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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