Is the RAW mode in D80 inferior?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by zan_barrage, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. I had just about made up my mind to buy the D80 when I read somewhere that the
    RAW output (equivilan to RAW as Nikon does not do RAW) on the D80 is inferior.
    Is there any truth to this info? Please help as this will be a deal breaker for
    me. I would rather go with a lower level A100 or XTI and get RAW than get half
    RAW with this excellent camera.
  2. Nikon NEF uses a compressed raw format. It's not a problem. In fact, it's better. It saves space while still allowing people to use raw for what people use raw for. :).
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Every Nikon DSLR model produced so far supports the RAW format, which is called Nikon Electronic Format (NEF).

    On the higher-end models such as D2, D3, D200 and D300, the user can choose between straight RAW and compressed RAW. I have the D2X and D200, where RAW compression reduces file sizes by roughly 50%. I have made careful comparisons between RAW and compressed RAW files under various shooting conditions. So far I am unable to tell any difference between the two in terms of image quality.

    On the D80, the NEF files are always compressed. I wouldn't worry about it.

    For more information, see this:
  4. As long as it is a losless compressed RAW format it is nothing to worry about. There was a recent thread about Canon RAW, that was the first time I realised/read that it is a compressed format so switching to other brands makes no difference.
  5. The only difference I've noticed between compressed and uncompressed NEFs from my D2H are that the compressed NEFs take longer to process. This is significant enough with my ancient 800 MHz Pentium III with 512 MB RAM that I don't used compressed NEFs. It won't be a factor with a faster computer. Even on a modest P4 system the compressed NEFs process much faster.
  6. Like Shun says, don't worry about Nikon's compressed NEF. I also only shoot compressed NEF. It is lossy, but not visibly so. Nikon uses some sort of trick to do more compression in highlights where it's not as noticeable than with shadows where compression could cause significant difference.

    Battery life with compressed NEF is also improved as fewer bytes need to be written to the memory card. (The power used writing to the memory card is much larger than the power calculating the NEF compression.)
  7. This factor is insignificant. Nikon cameras are just as capable when it comes to "raw" images
    as others in their range.

    It should not, imho, be your "deal breaker". Your decision should be based on which camera
    feels best in your hands and has features laid out the way you think you will want them and
    which system has lenses you want, because the image quality is about the same and the
    optics available are about the same in quality now.
  8. Thank you all for your excellent answers. I do feel a bit better about the compressed NEF, but what I am wondering is are all the experiments really testing the compressed NEF V/S the NEF, or are they testing the software capability of discerning the difference. I don't mean to be picky, but there is an important difference in interpreting the results.
  9. Aa I recall, according to Thom Hogan's book on the D80, the only potentially "lossy" part of the D80 NEF compression is in the highlights. He says Nikon uses a compression curve that approximates the human eye's ability to see variations in brightness at the high end of the scale, so it should be visually undetectable. In the dark and midtones, it uses lossless compression. It also does this compression at 12 bits, so even subtle differences that may be detectable by software (as opposed to by looking at the image) in the highlights would likely be wiped out when the image is reduced to 8 bits for printing.

    So, again, unless you are shooting images where retaining all invisible-to-the-eye data in the highlights is critical, and you will be using this data at 12 bits, it seems unlikely you will ever detect a difference.
  10. The magazines and stock agency I submit to tell me they see no quality difference between the D80 & D200 files. I know I have never lost a sale because of what camera I use. Here's a link to a discussion that goes into it. There are some Nikon technicians involved the answers. It will be more important to decide what NEF converter you will use--something no one has mentioned, surprisingly. That's where you will see differences.

    Kent in SD
  11. Thank you all for your helpful notes. YOu guys are great!
  12. Here's another reference. Thom Hogan makes mention of compressed NEF format here, wherein he states:
    this works without penalty unless you make large changes to highlight data. Where I see small, resolvable differences is in something like a wedding dress detail after large amounts of post processing and sharpening are applied.​
    So, you'd have to have a photo with lots of bright subject matter, then do lots of alteration/sharpening to see minimal differences.

Share This Page