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Using Nikon D5500 & Nikon ViewNX-i

When I first started taking photos I saved as JPG. After less than a month, received wisdom told me RAW was going to be a better, if larger, option & I've stuck with that ever since.

In discussions, though, people mention that 'photo software' of no particular description will show the JPG if it's saved in the RAW.
Thinking that for a quick scan through my new photos import folder after a session, this may just be a time-saver, I switched the Camera to RAW+JPG(Normal).

I expected that this would cleverly embed the JPG within the .NEF file structure so I could handle them as a single unit.

However, I was surprised to see it simply saved two separate files, so at import I now had twice as many things to scan through - negating any thoughts of expediency in this method.
I've switched JPG off again - I cannot see any benefit to this as a workflow at present.

I found the manual agrees with this...

enter image description here

Is this one of those situations where something like Lightroom is beneficial for this workflow, or am I just missing something in how the two may work together rather than just as they appear to me at the moment to be 'too much information' ?

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I expected that this would cleverly embed the JPG within the .NEF file structure so I could handle them as a single unit.

When you record a raw file, the camera almost always embeds a jpeg preview into the data within the raw image file. This happens whether or not you also save a JPEG as well as a raw file. JPEGs often have smaller thumbnail preview images embedded as well, though this is not nearly as universal as embedded jpeg previews in raw image files are.

Image files (raw or jpeg) usually also contain a lot of info besides the actual image data. EXIF Info and other metadata are included. One or more preview images can be included as well. Depending on the camera, embedded jpeg previews may or may not be lower resolution than the native resolution of the camera. Many cameras also include a very low resolution thumbnail jpeg. So even if you can extract a jpeg preview from a raw file, it might not be full resolution, it might be highly compressed, or it might have another quality that may be considered undesirable as a final image.

Is this one of those situations where something like Lightroom is beneficial for this workflow, or am I just missing something in how the two may work together rather than just as they appear to me at the moment to be 'too much information' ?

The advantage of using Raw+JPEG is that you don't have to go to the hassle of extracting preview images from the raw file container if you're happy with how the camera processed the shot. Most raw processing applications do not include the ability to extract the preview image(s) as standalone files.

Other than manufacturers' in house software, most raw processing applications do not apply the "in camera" settings to raw images. So even though the JPEG preview uses the camera's processing engine, and the raw conversion application might use the embedded jpeg to allow you to quickly preview the image, when you export an image derived from the raw image data, you won't get the same results as the embedded preview. It might be close or it might be radically different. It all depends on the default settings for the raw conversion application.

I don't use LR to review/cull images, so this is not a full answer to your question, but I'm pretty sure there are user configurable options within LR to link the two separate files when reviewing them. When you mark, for example, the JPEG as a "two star" image the corresponding raw file also gets marked with a "two star' rating. Canon's Digital Photo Professional offers such an option. I've never used Nikon's ViewNX, so I can't comment on what options it has available.

With LR, you also have selectable options whether, when previewing images, to view the embedded preview image (faster) or wait for LR to render the raw data using LRs current default development settings. Again, Canon's DPP also offers similar options for reviewing raw files, but I can't speak for ViewNX.

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    As I invariably process via ViewNX-i, which can & does mimic the camera's jpg preview, then I see I can just switch the jpgs off again. There's no benefit in my current workflow. Thanks. – Tetsujin May 7 '19 at 14:21
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Is there any benefit to RAW+JPG being two separate files... ?

  • The JPG can be used as-is with software that is incapable of processing raw files.
  • The raw file is available for processing should the "need" arise.

  • Some (possibly all) cameras do not reprocess raws when viewing previously taken images on LCD. They use the embedded low-res JPG preview. When a JPG file is present, it is displayed instead. This lets chimpers zoom in more to pixel peep.

I expected that this would cleverly embed the JPG within the .NEF file ...

If a camera had TIF+JPG or PNG+JPG modes, would you also expect the JPG to be embedded in the TIF or PNG files?

Is this one of those situations where something ... is beneficial for this workflow... ?

  • Some image managers can treat raw files as sidecars to JPGs.

... so at import I now had twice as many things to scan through - negating any thoughts of expediency in this method.

  • If you absolutely intend to process only raw or only JPG, wading through both filetypes will take longer than if you had saved only the intended format.
  • Viewing full-resolution JPGs is slower than viewing the low-res previews embedded in raw files. This includes marking and culling files on SD card because the full file is not read when viewing embedded previews.
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It's all a function of how you choose to roll.

RAW files:

Are larger than jpgs.

Require post processing.

When other people ask for a copy of your pictures, they assume you're blowing them off when you tell them you can't give them a copy until you process it, because that is counter to their experience.

Give you more latitude to adjust for difficult lighting.

JPGs:

Are smaller.

Do a good job in common lighting situations.

Allow less edit latitude.

Can be readily shared immediately.

Having both provides all of the options at the cost of:

Yet more memory use.

Reduced high speed shooting capabilities.

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    If I need to share a picture right now I use the in camera raw converter and mail them a copy. If the result is better when doing it in post process then I may send them the new copy also. But in my opinion it's not that big deal. Win 10 can even read raw files natively – Andreas May 7 '19 at 7:22
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    Many "raw readers" are actually just displaying the low resolution embedded jpg thumbnail. Raw files need processing to produce an acceptable image. I'm not familiar with an in-camera capability to post process a raw file? – user10216038 May 7 '19 at 14:58
  • @user10216038 FujiFilm X-Series cameras can process raw files in camera. Some Canon DSLRs can as well. There are likely others. – xiota May 7 '19 at 21:35
  • Interesting! My D7200 has that capability and I didn't realize it. It's mixed in with all the other in-camera edit controls that I never use because doing so on such a small screen seemed like an exercise in frustration. – user10216038 May 7 '19 at 22:15
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One benefit of having both files is that the jpeg is much smaller and faster to preview.

You could copy over the jpegs to your computer and browse through to see which pictures completely lack all hopes of saving.
If you then delete the files you don't want you then have a "blueprint" of which files you need as raw.

Because the files are quicker to copy from the memory card to the computer and faster for the computer to open, then you could save some time on this.

With some programming skills you could easily make a program that automatically copies the raw files.

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