How I shoot
I shoot both raw and JPG for those rare exposure mistakes, but as of the last 1.5 seasons, I have been only using the JPG files. I run them through in bulk with a photoshop action that resizes, levels, reduces a bit of noise, and sharpens them according, and then submit them onwards to the office and online. The results are used for posters, marketing material, etc.
I have every single factor dialed into the camera for this venue, though, it is not a different venue night after night. That helps. The latest bodies like the 5D4 and 7D2 provide very little advantage with the raw. I have taken countless raws and processed them, even at high ISO, then taken the out of camera JPG to compare. The only way to see any real difference is to zoom in at 80% or more. When doing poster prints, that kind of zoom isn't realized, so the gain for shooting raw simply isn't there. Again, though, I have the raw should there be an exposure issue of any kind.
Some of the pics are sent to the media center right off the floor using wifi over to the phone and then sent off. I don't even get a chance to post process those JPGs, but I get to select which ones which again helps. Only the best make it over during the game, they have to wait for the rest.
As to getting right in the camera, absolutely it's possible. If you shoot the same sport a number of times, you get a feel for what the framing should be for that keeper. I also set up a custom WB right on the floor before the game, so no worries there. I shoot at 1/2000th, and I have no color casting in my shots. I set up a custom picture style, and have even considered editing a completely new picture style and uploading it to the camera using the Canon tools. At this point after almost 2 seasons of shooting JPG, I have rarely ever needed the raw to fix something. The cost savings now has been outstanding, I am taking more shots per game (almost twice as many) and getting them through in about the same time.
I also know for a fact that during pro games, a number of the shooters are shooting JPG, and if they aren't transmitting via Wifi, they have card runners. Raw simply takes too much time. I have seen this personally. However I cannot tell you if they are shooting both or not, I have never made it to the processors' booth to see if both are on the cards.
If you want examples of these OOC JPGs that were processed in bulk with CS5, just ask, I have thousands!
Time and Resource Concerns
As to why raw takes longer, at least for me:
- DPP produces superior JPG from Raw right out of the gate, as it uses camera settings. To do the same in LR, I have to create a default set of filters that try to mimic what I want from the camera settings, and then if I change settings mid-game, those files are going to need special attention.
- My custom NR and post processing steps are stored in an ATN file for photoshop.
- I would have to run raw files to DPP, do any mass bulk changes if needed, then convert to JPG.
- I run a bulk "Basketball" action on the JPG in Photoshop, this creates the files ready to be submitted.
- I run through the final JPGs and see if any need cropped for composition.
The line in bold is where time was wasted in the past for me personally. I have used LR, and I can show you time and time again that DPP honoring in-camera settings (provided you took time to set up everything from a custom WB to a picture style) will produce results better than relying on a default set of tweaks that LR will apply on raw files imported. LR's strength is in its cataloging more than its imaging processing. I don't need that cataloging. The subset of imaging tools in LR is already in Photoshop along with others. I use those there.
Today, I only run the last 2 bullets. But Wait, You Don't Shoot Raw Ever?
The caveat to all of this though is:
- Shooting a consistent venue affords this luxury, shooting different venues all over the place and if the conditions are very poor, raw would be my choice.
- The newer bodies, starting with the 7D2, 5D4, 80D, 1DX, 1DX2, etc produce very nice JPG files. Older models did not, the JPG engine was terrible and Canon finally updated that sometime around the introduction of the SL1, I believe. Any other models, like the 1DX, 1D3, etc I had to shoot raw, the JPG was atrocious.
So my answer depends on the conditions of the scene of the sporting activity, my familiarity and experience with the sport, how the files will be utilized, and what equipment I am using.