A dedicated image processor, I don't mean like Picture Styles, I mean a real hardware processor like DIGIC in Canon cameras. If you ever notice, such dedicated image processor is a lot faster than our home PCs in term of processing the image in whole: capturing, processing, saving. In less than a second, capturing megapixel raw data from the sensor, and then applying noise reduction + white balance + sharpening, etc., and finally saving it. Try do that yourself with your PC.
And then, you talk about ACR, DCRAW, or else, put those SOFTWAREs in your computer. You carefully notice differences of each clipped channel datas between in-camera jpegs and raws. You see numerical deviations in each R, G, and B, and correct them into what's called "numerically correct", which is: "zero deviation" or "deviation: 0%".
Let me put again my point: "I want my in-camera jpeg to be as close as or be exactly like what I can do my jpeg by post processing my raw files. That's because I believe camera makers are not trying hard enough in making the most optimum quality as a standard. I want it badly because we have paid them so much, paid for what we think is providing the best".
Now with the term of "numerical measurement", all computers are made for doing computations, and also numerical measurements. If you visually perceive a "clipped highlight, clipped shadow" and explain it as a "deviation R=2.2% G=1.2% B=0.5%", then computers should do just fine in defining such visual quality and numerical values.
How would you compare your brain's agile speed vs that of DIGIC's?
A DIGIC can draw megapixel data from sensor, apply in-camera processings I've mentioned above, and save it in just under a blink of your eyes.
And what if the DIGIC fed with a new extra processing algorithm to simulate just like what you do in your SOFTWAREs and your RAW files? The DIGIC will slow down about... maybe a little bit more than half blink of an eye...
Whatever your term is, processing your raw files, exploiting the raw, using the raw, or another words you may say, they all come from one thing: "PROCESSING". By processing, you turn the sliders right or left. In other word, you are applying algorithms onto the file. Good or bad the processing results are depend on your PROCESSING METHOD.
That's why I think that camera makers make those in-camera jpegs decent but not that good since they can squeeze more of it with a better method.
And, again, please notice that THIS IS NOT ABOUT RAW vs JPEG. It may be hard to discern since I use a thread title that "attacks" raw files. But I never intended it to be.
Yes jpeg is an industry standard not made by any camera makers, but the way they choose processing method make the output jpeg different from each other.
For example, in the same scene Panasonic's jpeg would smear heavily on the color while Nikon's or Canon's don't.
Raw lovers should humbly admit that:
1. no matter what, jpeg is a standard in all cameras, it is the main output intended
2. no matter what, raw workflow is not instant
3. when jpegs are ok, there's no further need in editing the raw
Jpeg lovers should humbly admit that:
1. it's not as flexible as raw, in term of extensive editability and data bit depth retention
2. it's mostly not as good as post-processed raw's jpeg
3. it is not good, since it can be squeezed more with better methods
Shoot raw, shoot jpeg, it's not a religion, it's a preference based on particular conditions. When you consider it as a religion, then you can't shoot otherwise for the whole of your life. No reasons for things like this heated again and again (I guess being in both sides, I'd make enemies in each...)
It's just about how camera makers should be able to push further their in-camera jpeg processing quality, and not leaving most quality processing to the user. That's why I said "gimmick", that unsatisfied picky people of their in-camera jpegs can still dig more from the raw. But like I said in "raw admission #3", if jpegs are ok, no further need of digging more. And how to "ok"-ing the jpegs?? I'll get dizzy explaining it again and again and again.
Huuuge responses... really exciting