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What’s “real” and what’s “virtual” on a (digital) camera?

There are some things that can be adjusted in post-production (starting from RAW or JPEG) and some that have to be proper set when shooting. Some other things can be edited only partially in postproduction.

For example: in postprocessing I can blur my photo, but I can only partially focus the image, in particular the focusing should be done when shooting. The exposure can be changed in postproduction, but only with small variations without saturation problems.

Can you clarify what can be completely adjusted in postproduction, what must be perfectly set when I am shooting. Can you try to list them? For example what about white balance? Can it be completely corrected in post production?

  • I think you need to specific if this is in regards to RAW or JPEG. They are very different animals, and to keep the answers to a reasonable length should only cover one or the other. I also think that we have this already covered very well for RAW all over this site.
    – dpollitt
    Jan 20 '13 at 23:52
  • two questions: from JPEG or from RAW Jan 20 '13 at 23:56
  • Same question phrased differently: What's "real" and what's "virtual" on a (digital) camera?
    – mattdm
    Jan 21 '13 at 0:20

White balance / color temperature. If you're shooting direct to JPEG or TIFF, it is critical to choose a correct color temperature, because the color correction is baked into the file with only 8 bits per color channel. If you shoot the scene with the wrong color temperature selected, the red or blue channel may well be blown and unfixable in post. If you're shooting RAW, then color temperature is fully adjustable after shooting.

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