Canon EOS JPEG quality
Yesterday I commented that “Canon EOS JPEGs are crap”, which really miffed one reader, who interpreted my factual comment as a thoughtless insult:
Don't you think that rating anything non Nikon D3x as crap is a little bit thoughtless on your part? Very few could afford the price of a Mercedes with the latest technology, while a common GM product served the purpose at a more realistic price - and eventually GM ended up with head rests, four wheel disc brakes, fuel injection etc. It was not so long ago that guys were cussing at their D2x while I was shooting with my Mark 3 bodies, leaving the Nikons in the dust. Who knows, will you be insulting the D3x users after the Mark 4 comes out - you know that they are constantly leapfrogging each other. Aside from that, why insult the majority of your readers who don't even dare to dream about a Nikon D3x, or as far as that goes either of my two Mark 3 bodies?
Even though I've been in photography one way or another for over 40 years, and must say I actually learned a bit from the odd article of yours, this thoughtless ranting of yours turns me off - and I doubt it that I am the only one.
(Didn’t GM eventually end up with bankruptcy and handouts from the Feds?)
Dare to dream. Why the hell not? It’s free. I can’t afford a PhaseOne P65, but I can dream about one.
I’m not sure why people get worked up over facts and consider them insults. I take it to heart though, not everything written is always explained clearly.
Back in March, I tested both Nikon and Canon in-camera JPEGs at max quality and compared both to JPEGs from their respective RAW converters. The Canon EOS max-quality JPEGs (5DM2, 1DsM3) were mediocre— visibly smearing fine detail versus the JPEG from RAW. This was not the case with Nikon. Test it yourself and see, using a lens capable of delivering to 21MP.
The take-away point is this: the Canon 5D Mark II is a superb value, but shooting in-camera JPEGs does not deliver the quality the camera is capable of. Rejoice in a 21MP camera at a reasonable price, and shoot RAW.
And last time I checked, the Nikon D700 was about the same price as the Canon 5D Mark II, and the 1Ds Mark III differs trivially in price from the D3x at B&H Photo.
Update: here’s what reader James N has to say about his experience with Canon JPEG vs RAW:
I'm still shooting with my Canon 20D after 5 years and the pictures that I get today shooting everything in RAW and processing with DXO software with exactly the same equipment that I started with are an order of magnitude better than what I got several years ago when I still shot everything in JPEG as processed by the camera.
"Visibly smearing the detail" is a correct statement. I've gone back to several of these earlier jpegs and run them through the latest version of DXO and noticed a remarkable improvement in quality and properly rendered detail on the resulting photos, but nothing can restore the missing extra f stop of latitude that shooting in RAW gives as opposed to shooting as JPEGs, and nothing can add back the detail that might have been visible in the original capture but lost during in-camera processing. — James N