Compacted vs Uncompressed vs Lossless Compacted RAW Options

When you go through camera menu choices, you might come across a number of different options which are related to the way your RAW pictures are saved. One of those options is normally the type of compression that is applied to ORGANIC files. There are several reasons why camera producers provide RAW file compression choices, but the most basic one is to save room. Let’ s take a look at file data compresion options and explore differences in between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compacted RAW files in more detail.

Why Shrink RAW Files?

So why is there a need for UNCOOKED file compression? Isn’ t compression setting for JPEG files only? Nicely, any file has a chance of getting duplicates of information, and it does not matter when it is a JPEG or a RAW document in terms of compression potential. That’ t why it is beneficial to have the option in order to compress RAW images in every digital camera, as there is direct potential within reduction of file sizes. Plus depending on whether you want to preserve every data (lossless), or parts of this (lossy), those space savings might be very significant. Below are the main explanations why manufacturers provide options for RAW data compresion:

  • In order to save Space – this is actually the main reason, as the primary benefit of any kind of compression is, first and foremost, space financial savings. Since compression allows RAW pictures to be smaller in size, more images may fit into the same memory card. Keep in mind that decrease in space affects the whole photography workflow , since you will end up with smaller files on your pc and your photo storage, which in turn, furthermore makes your backup workflow more effective.
  • To Write plus Transfer Files Faster – when RAW images are usually physically smaller due to compression, your own camera can write them quicker to memory cards. In addition , the quantity of time it takes to transfer individuals same images to your computer or even your storage is also cut, occasionally significantly.
  • To improve Continuous Shooting Time – when files are smaller sized, they also take up less space inside your camera’ s buffer, which can possibly increase the length of time you can shoot continually. However , this is not always the case. For instance , on older cameras with reduced processors, applying RAW compression really slowed down the camera’ s constant shooting speed, because RAW compression is really a processor-intensive task.
  • To Reduce Resolution – some cameras have options to lessen the actual resolution of RAW pictures either through sensor cropping, or via image resizing / down-sampling (which is known as “ Small RAW” or even simple “ sRAW” ). As the former is not related to RAW compression setting, the latter is done with RAW compression setting in mind. In fact , as detailed within our sRAW Structure Explained article, this kind of compression levels can be rather severe, resulting in significant losses of important data.

Compressed vs Lossless Compressed vs Uncompressed

Let’ s take a look at a variety of RAW file compression options in more detail. Depending on your camera’ s brand name, you might have different options, but these are the most typical choices available:

  1. Compressed – by default, “ compressed” means that a few of the data in the RAW image is certainly thrown away, so we can also label this as “ Lossy Compressed”. Based on how lossy compression is performed by camera, you might be losing some useful data that will limit your post-processing capabilities. For example , Sony cameras automatically apply lossy compression to ORGANIC images, which can result in artifacts showing up around objects, as seen beneath:
    Unless you don’ t thoughts losing some of the data in your pictures, it is often best to avoid lossy data compresion.
  2. Lossless Compacted – as the title implies, lossless compression means that the RAW file is compressed as an archive file without any loss of information. Once a losslessly compressed image will be processed by post-processing software, the information is first decompressed, similar to what happens in order to archived data contained in a SCOOT file. Lossless compression is the ideal selection, because all the data is completely preserved and yet the image takes up a lot less space.
  3. Uncompressed – an uncompressed RAW file contains all the information, but without any sort of compression formula applied to it. Unless you do not have the particular Lossless Compressed option, you should always prevent selecting the Uncompressed option, since it results in huge image sizes.

On every digital camera I shoot with, I always arrears to Lossless Compression, because it is one of the most efficient way to store RAW pictures. There is no benefit of shooting Uncompressed UNCOOKED and Lossy Compression results in lack of potentially valuable data, which I may need to recover shadow / highlight information in images.

12-bit vs 14-bit vs 16-bit RAW

Along with different compression amounts, RAW images have the potential in order to store varying levels of tones for each channel, per pixel, which is referred to as “ bit depth”. By default, many cameras shoot in 12-bit NATURAL, which translates to 4, 096 shades per channel (red, green plus blue) per pixel. If you do the particular math (4096 x 4096 by 4096), this equals roughly 68. 72 billion tones per -pixel. When bit-depth is increased in order to 14-bit, the number of tones per station quadruples to 16, 384, amassing 4. 39 trillion colors for each pixel. And although most digital camera models today don’ t even have a choice for 16-bit RAW files, if this became available, you would be pushing over 281 trillion tones per pixel. That’ s a heck of a wide range of data to work with – you can just imagine how big those RAW pictures would get without any compression!

RAW Compression setting: File Size Comparisons

Talking about file size, let’ s check out a common RAW image shot using the Nikon D810 and see how big documents get relative to bit depth plus file compression options. Below is really a table showing differences in file dimensions:

Compression setting Level File Size (12-bit) Decrease in percent 1 File Size (14-bit) Difference in % 1
1 Decrease in percent is based on the Uncompressed 14-bit UNCOOKED file (76. 982 MB)
Compressed 30. 066 MB 60. 9% 37. 055 MEGABYTES 51. 9%
Lossless Compacted 32. 820 MEGABYTES 57. 4% 41. 829 MB 45. 7%
Uncompressed 58. 795 MB 23. 6% seventy six. 982 MB 0%

As you can see, there can be a pretty dramatic distinction in file sizes when choosing among 12-bit and 14-bit, as well as various compression levels. And these differences always add up quickly when you take tens of thousands of pictures into consideration. With a 60. 9% reduction in file size when shooting 12-bit compacted RAW, one might think that this is a good option to pick. However , it all depends upon your shooting technique, what you take and how much information you usually recover from highlights and shadows whenever post-processing images. For example , if I regularly exposed well when shooting pictures and my post-processing was extremely minimal, I would probably be just fine capturing 12-bit compressed RAW. However , merely wanted to maximize my highlight plus shadow recovery options when performing landscapes or astrophotography, I would really feel safer shooting 14-bit lossless compacted, since it would let me take a complete advantage of my camera sensor but still produce files that are practically fifty percent in size. That extra 15% associated with file size reduction isn’ t worthwhile in this case, especially if it limits any one of my recovery options in post-processing. Keep this in mind when considering bit depth and various RAW compression levels!

Also, it is important to point out that several cameras don’ t even provide you with the option to choose between different bit-depths plus compression levels, typically defaulting in order to either 12-bit lossy compressed ORGANIC (on most beginner-level cameras) or even 14-bit losslessly compressed RAW (on more advanced camera models).

Let’ s now go over a few of the options when going through different digital camera brands.

Nikon RAW File Choices

If you take a Nikon DSLR, bit level and RAW compression options will be different depending on camera model. On most basic and enthusiast-level cameras, you will just have the option to choose between 12-bit plus 14-bit depth with no RAW data compresion options. This means that these cameras consistently default to lossy compression. Upon high-end cameras, Nikon typically offers three options for RAW compression: Compacted, Lossless Compressed and Uncompressed, since seen below:

Canon RAW File Choices

Unfortunately, Cannon does not provide options in its digital camera menu to pick between different little bit depths or RAW file data compresion levels, so you will need to refer to the particular camera manual to find out what little bit depth and compression level your own camera shoots in. Most of Canon’ s entry-level cameras shoot within 12-bit lossless compressed RAW, while most of the higher-end models will take in 14-bit lossless compressed UNCOOKED.

Fuji RAW File Options

While the first era Fuji X-series cameras were restricted to 12-bit, all modern X-trans digital cameras shoot in 14-bit by default. Fuji does not allow changing bit level through the camera menu, but the lossless compressed option is supplied on some camera models:

Sony NATURAL File Options

Unfortunately, all current Sony cameras are limited to lossy 11 + 7 bit delta compression automatically. After many customer complaints, Sony added an option for Uncompressed ORGANIC on some of its cameras like the Sony A7R II, but that will obviously results in huge RAW data files, as explained above. To date, Sony has not added an option for Lossless Compressed RAW images on any one of its cameras.

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