Many people sing the praises of the in-camera JPEG from Fujifilm, but as a long time raw shooter I wasn’t easy to convince. Having recently upgraded from the XT1 to the XT2 I was keen to test this out, and the XT2 having two card slots made it easy.
I got my XT2 just a few days before going to Skye, and set up the camera to record raw files to the 32GB card in slot 1 and jpeg to the 16GB card in slot 2 for the whole trip. It made getting files ready for social media use, from the comfort of the hotel room, much easier. If you get your shots right, in-camera, there is no reason not to be able to use the excellent jpegs for your own social media use and I used mine for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. So, would I do with my social media contract clients? Yes, I realised, this was an excellent option too. Although I am still shooting raw alongside, because you never know when you’ll need a bit extra latitude. Supposing they ask for one of those images a print later on? With two slots, two file formats, I can now do both without having the difficulties of downloading and sorting it from one card.
The downside is, of course, that you can only perform minimal edits to the jpeg before degrading the image. And, you also have to decide what you want from the final image at the time of shooting; if you want black and white then you need to set it for that, if you want soft colours or bright loud colours, you need to choose now too, or you will be faced with degrading your jpeg, whatever anyone claims.
With my social media contract for a local development company, this decision making, isn’t largely an issue. They want site shots of the development, as it progresses, for regular updates on their social media platforms. They want it to look good, but also to look as the development actually looks.
So, I am on site, the day after Storm Doris. I have to shoot for the conditions. I select Velvia to compensate for the dull lighting and bring out the colours that would, in sunshine, be much brighter. I then get back to the office, import the images into Lightroom, correct the perspective (who needs a shift lens?) and save to file as printable images up to A3. I then create a smaller jpeg for uploading to their sites and pages, in a way that ensures it loads quickly on phones, tablets, and computers. I shoot this work in sRGB so that you get the colour balance for screen (RGB) use rather than complex print uses, and use my er..hum..25 years of photographic experience to interpret the scene at the time of shooting. On a brighter day Velvia would have overcooked the colours, and I would have selected Provia instead.
Understanding where Fuji colours come from, by having those decades of experience with their film emulsions, means I know what it’s going to look like before I make that choice. When shooting straight to jpeg, you choose your look, you choose your settings, and you make a commitment – just like working with slide film!
Being on site means watching where you are and what you’re doing. It also means that you probably can’t get where you want to go or the angle that is best for the shot. You have to work with what you’ve got in the time you have. That is the essence of a commercial shoot – get in, get the shots, get out. They don’t have time for you to mess about or get in their way, they have deadlines to work to, and so do you.
Not having the extra processing time reduces what you charge, which keeps the costs down for the client, and that’s not bad thing, especially if you want an on-going relationship with the client.
And, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun and explore things outside of the ‘box’ either:
Fuji in-camera jpegs? Well, they make certain jobs easier but I will still keep the raw files because I don’t know if the client might want to publish these in print at a later date, and I don’t want to loose a sale by not being able to provide the best file possible for the best output possible.
Would I shoot my landscape work in jpeg? Yes, I already have, for my social media. Would I shoot exclusively in jpeg? No way! I may want to sell those images as black and white, as full colour prints fine art prints, and also as converted files for difference print processes such as newsprint, magazine, or even for digital media. I need as much information in my file to play with as possible, to enable me to adapt the file and get the best quality out of it for the circumstance it is being used in. This is the advantage of digital, we have many more usage options that we did with film. With film we were tied to the uses we could put the film to in post production, and we were tied to the film in the camera at the time we shot. Often I would go out with three or more camera bodies, each loaded with a different film. Now I don’t need to. And my back and bank balance loves that.