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The Media Your Rights Online

Reuters Bans RAW Photo Format (petapixel.com) 206

grcumb writes: Reuters is the latest agency to join the ranks of the technically clueless who think that ethical problems can be solved using technical means. They recently issued a circular to their contributors, stating in part: "In future, please don't send photos to Reuters that were processed from RAW or CR2 files. If you want to shoot raw images that's fine, just take JPEGs at the same time. Only send us the photos that were originally JPEGs, with minimal processing...." The problem they claim to be addressing is doctored images, but they don't explain how they plan to ensure that the JPEGs weren't simply exported from RAW files with their EXIF data altered, or heck, just altered as JPEG. They also assert that getting JPEG files straight from the camera is quicker, which is fair enough. Lots of professionals shoot with RAW+JPEG at newsworthy events. They can send the JPEGs off quickly to meet the first deadline, then process the RAW files at leisure for higher quality publications.
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Reuters Bans RAW Photo Format

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  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @07:29PM (#50966387) Homepage Journal
    A lot of executive decisions boil down to demands to solve a problem (e.g. photos may be doctored) and an executive deciding he has to "do something", else when it does blow up he did NOT do "something". For example, if an unknown terrorist might strike, it doesn't matter whether the action (ban refugees at a state level) actually matters, it's insurance that when something did happen that you demonstrated precaution. CYA
    • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @07:35PM (#50966409)
      And it's an insult to my intelligence. What makes it more galling is the number of people this kind of ass covering pacifies. When a doctored photo slips through they'll say, "see, we did something but it happened anyway!" as though it's relevant. People are fucking retarded sometimes.
      • People are fucking retarded sometimes.

        That's a bit harsh. Everyone knows you can't edit jpg's, so problem solved.

      • One only needs to look at the US presidential election to see this in progress. Candidates spout "we'll do something" promises regardless of whether that will actually work (or whether it would even be legal to do) and those candidates' poll numbers increase. They are seen as men of action and people on the other side are criticized for "not doing anything" even if they are doing something, but their action is more measured. Big bold actions get people's attention regardless of effectiveness.

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      They are a news agency. This is no doubt about reassuring their customers more than it is about solving an actual problem.
    • "Something must be done! This is something! Therefore, this must be done!"

      • "Something must be done! This is something! Therefore, this must be done!"

        Also the followup: "You oppose doing this something? Obviously, you don't want to fix this problem at all? Why do you want this problem to remain unfixed?"

        Add in a "why do you hate America" if said problem is political in nature.

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @01:56AM (#50967811)
      Every single photo is doctored. Any photographer will only publish what he believes is the best light, best composition, taken with the right lens, etc.
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @03:32AM (#50968001) Homepage

        You don't even need to post-process anything to make a fake photo.
        Just choose the right position to hide context from the photo, the right angle for emotional effect or simply ask people to do something or rearrange some objects.
        One could say that by even merely being present, a photographer influences the content of his photos.

        • Just choose the right position to hide context from the photo, the right angle for emotional effect or simply ask people to do something or rearrange some objects.

          Obligatory Calvin and Hobbes: http://filmmakeriq.com/images/calvin-hobbes-cameras-lie/

          Also, I'm guilty of this. Taking photos of my boys and carefully making sure the mess of toys isn't in the frame so that our house doesn't look like the mess it is.

        • One could say that by even merely being present, a photographer influences the content of his photos.

          Especially with cat photos.

        • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

          True. I have a picture of a sign at a farm that advertises "Certified Weed." Then another picture taken two steps forward, where something no longer blocks the rest of the message, and you can see it says they're actually selling "Certified Weed Free Hay."

  • by Zymergy ( 803632 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @07:39PM (#50966431)
    As a former photojournalist, I can saw that you simply blacklist them and/or fire them from being a contributor/stringer/staffer at that image bureau. There are ethical standards in the professional photography world, and it is nothing bad to those of us who upheld our high ethical standards to see someone get fired for unethically altering images and cheating and breaking the rules. I doubt this is as much a problem from a "who altered their photos?" problem as it is the photographers are submitting larger files (even if lossy down converted into JPG from RAW) and Reuters is having problems handling so many large files in their infrastructure and pushing photos out in distribution to their newsroom client "on the wire" servers. I know in my past when dealing with AP, if you uploaded a file that was too large they either rejected it, or WORSE, applied their lossy compression using whatever software they saw fit. When what your image looks like is everything to a shooter, and when a perfect images is ruined by crap third party compression due to file size, the lesson is hard learned and PJ folks are pretty savvy getting the best bang per MB.
    • So, if you really want to shoot RAW and process it, now you just have to be savvy enough to know how to doctor the metadata (which, simply knowing that metadata in your photos exists + Google should be a short exercise to teach yourself.)

      Question out of curiosity: Do Reuters et.al. accept formats like .PNG?

  • Terrible summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @07:59PM (#50966495)

    They're not trying to prevent "doctored" images.

    The original memo reads:

    I’d like to pass on a note of request to our freelance contributors due to a worldwide policy change.. In future, please don’t send photos to Reuters that were processed from RAW or CR2 files. If you want to shoot raw images that’s fine, just take JPEGs at the same time. Only send us the photos that were originally JPEGs, with minimal processing (cropping, correcting levels, etc).

    And a follow-up quote reads

    While we aim for photography of the highest aesthetic quality, our goal is not to artistically interpret the news. [...] Speed is also very important to us. We have therefore asked our photographers to skip labour and time consuming processes to get our pictures to our clients faster.

    Which doesn't mean they're trying to prevent people from faking photos; as that line is clearly referring to the "minimal editing" part of the above guidelines, and the "JPG not RAW" is just for workflow-related reasons.

    • by ZipK ( 1051658 )

      and the "JPG not RAW" is just for workflow-related reasons.

      But it's not "JPG not RAW," it's "originally JPG." If it's workflow-related, and the input to Reuters needs to be JPG, why would they care whether the JPG conversion took place in the camera or in off-camera RAW-to-JPG software?

    • Re:Terrible summary (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @08:19PM (#50966593) Homepage Journal

      While we aim for photography of the highest aesthetic quality, our goal is not to artistically interpret the news. [...] Speed is also very important to us. We have therefore asked our photographers to skip labour and time consuming processes to get our pictures to our clients faster.

      Which doesn't mean they're trying to prevent people from faking photos; as that line is clearly referring to the "minimal editing" part of the above guidelines, and the "JPG not RAW" is just for workflow-related reasons.

      Yes, they're being euphemistic and mashing over-processing in with outright manipulation, because I doubt Reuters would win a lot of friends among the professional photography establishment if they implied that their contributors were a bunch of crooks.

      But the point of the thing is that 'minimal editing' has nothing to do with the format you capture your images in. And furthermore, it's easier to track 'minimal editing' with RAW than it is in JPEG, because editing tools actually maintain an audit trail of sorts. The bottom line is that the measure does nothing to get them where they want to go, except in the minds of a few not-so-sophisticated editors.

      Full disclosure: I'm media director of the newspaper of record in a small country, a news photographer who has contributed to wire services, and a geek. I also wrote this submission. And I do not find it one iota easier to manage JPEG files than RAW in our newspaper's workflow. In fact, JPEG is a pain the ass compared to RAW, especially when you're targeting multiple media with the same image. Because the shot you upload to your website is going to be significantly different in size, colour and compression from the one that goes to pre-press. If you take them both from the same canonical source (or Nikonical source, if that's your poison), then life is much, much easier.

      • "I'm media director of the newspaper of record in a small country, a news photographer who has contributed to wire services, and a geek"

        Ok, then. So, asking to the geek, I understand "raw" means "unprocessed". Does all cameras spit out the same raw format? Or by "raw" you don't really mean "raw" but "whatever happens to be Canon's or Nikon's native format; don't bring me any other than that"? Because if it's the second option you, as a geek, already know that kind of lock in is always a bad advise, don'

        • by hjf ( 703092 )

          Does all cameras spit out the same raw format?

          Oh no. God no. GOD DAMN IT no. Every fucking camera puts out a different RAW file. That's why Adobe Lightroom has a new version every week: to keep up with manufacturers' new camera releases.

          • aaaand quite a few of them don't even contain metadata that says what camera they were taken with so you have to pull down the right one from a menu, and in certain cases guess what camera the photographer used.

            I could understand an editor who wouldn't want to deal with this crap.

            But in this case it's a bit different. The photographer sends you a nice JPEG. And you say "nope, it was made from RAW with Lightroom, we don't want it. Send us the JPEG your camera created directly."

      • Each time a new RAW format comes out, how many machines does your IT staff have to update? And how frequently does this happen?

      • If you take them both from the same canonical source (or Nikonical source, if that's your poison)

        It's barely 10:00 here and I'm already convinced this is the best thing I will read all day.

        Seriously. Thank you.

    • They are trying to prevent doctored images. From the article:

      "A Reuters spokesperson has confirmed this policy change with PetaPixel, and says that the decision was made to increase both ethics and speed."
      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
        you can doctor jpegs...
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          More to the point, you can't readily doctor RAWs. So if their goal is ethics, they should require a RAW file to be submitted with every JPEG, so that they can later verify that it really is possible to get that JPEG from that RAW file. If their goal is to doctor reality and distort the truth, then by all means, require photographers to submit only JPEG images that can be readily faked.

    • So basically if you want nice pictures, you go to National Geographic, if you want informative pics you go to Reuters.
    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      This is bs... What takes the most time for photogs is to select the pictures they will send out of the thousands they took...
  • There are already so many parameters that a photograph can use to tell their own story (framing, focal length, depth of field, ...) that a few touches such as correcting white balance or exposure would pale in comparison. In fact these touches can be used to make the picture actually more faithful, by removing camera artefacts.
    There is a good example somewhere where people complained against advertisers and as evidence submitted a picture taken with telephoto lens, making their city look cluttered with bill

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @08:13PM (#50966559)

    I am pretty sure the real issue is file size and standards, not doctoring. As manufacturers keep ridiculously upping sensor MP size, photo sizes continue to balloon to larger and larger sizes. RAW files are notoriously huge and non-standard. The extra processing they are referring to is probably just the need to convert those various RAW files back to JPEG, which takes/wastes time/energy by their staff.

    You would have to be a pretty big idiot to think that JPEG files are harder to doctor than RAW files. Any photo format can be used when exporting a doctored image... has nothing to do with how it is saved.

    • I'll be happy when my camera has enough gigapixels of resolution and terrabytes of storage that I can shoot 120fps lossless video through a fisheye lens and turn around and capture the equivalent of a 1000mm telephoto image on a 35mm film camera from anywhere in the lens view.

      Until then, (all else like noise, light sensitivity, color balance, etc. being equal) more pixels is better. My first digital camera had 320x240 resolution and could only shoot decently in full sunlight, but don't get the sun or a str

      • >Until then, (all else like noise, light sensitivity, color balance, etc. being equal) more pixels is better.

        But they are not equal, so that is the crux. Consumer ignorance has driven a megapixel craze at the expense of pixel *quality*. I am not opposed to increasing quality (and even number of pixels, as long as they are not at the expense of anything else).

        But again, there is no standard for RAW- every manufacturer does something different. So the news agency likely has to convert them all into so

        • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
          "pixel quality" is bs, a 50mpix picture is not meant to be seen at 1:1 on a monitor... though, at these size, lens start to get the quality bottleneck.
        • Yeah? Give me a high resolution over sampled image any day over a lower resolution sensor with higher pixels. Noise reduction works better on over sampled images and the idea of photon capture being critically better on larger pixel sizes died when they managed to significantly reduce the gaps between sensors.

          People like you were the ones who said camera manufacturers couldn't do what they have proven they were capable of. People like you were the ones who said cameras like the D800 would be outperformed by

    • Reuters also deals with video. Video files are so much larger than plain stills that worrying about such file sizes seems absurd. Next up: Reuters limits video files to 100 x 60 pixels?

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      You would have to be a pretty big idiot to think that JPEG files are harder to doctor than RAW files. Any photo format can be used when exporting a doctored image... has nothing to do with how it is saved.

      It is actually the other way around. Other than in-camera, although you can write image metadata to RAW files, it isn't possible to write modified image data (or at least libraries for doing so don't exist to the best of my knowledge). And even if that were not true, the format of RAW files is specific t

  • Most cameras will let you shoot both Raw & jpg at the same time. Some pro cameras even have dual memory cards which will allow you to store raw on one ( preferably the bigger / faster one ) and jpg on the other. Grab your shot, submit it quickly via .jpg and use your raw file to impress folks with your post production skills later on :D

    The format requirement change really only does two things:

    1) It cuts down storage requirements significantly. Full size 14-bit Raw image on my Nikon D4s is almost 20M

    • by grcumb ( 781340 )

      The format requirement change really only does two things:

      1) It cuts down storage requirements significantly. Full size 14-bit Raw image on my Nikon D4s is almost 20MB. Full size .jpg at the fine setting is 8MB. ( The D4s only has a 16mp sensor. Crank that up a bit and the file sizes get rather ludicrous. )

      2) Separates the pros from the amateurs. A pro knows how to get a good shot without resorting to post to fix things they should have got right in the camera. ( like exposure and white balance )

      The first point is reasonable. The RAW files for my D800 are BIG. I can't keep more than about six months' shooting on my computer at any given time, and have to hive the rest off to external RAID. And I'm just one photographer who might shoot a couple thousand shots on a busy week. Reuters has slightly greater storage and archival issues than that. :-)

      BUT... when you insist on JPEG straight from the camera, you're also effectively discarding keyword tags, caption, title, and other key data about the file,

  • "[H]igher quality publications"... That would rule out Reuters. Granted, they're not the AP, but still...
  • Save as BMP (Score:4, Funny)

    by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @08:50PM (#50966721)
    Make them think it was doctored by a child.
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @08:55PM (#50966751)

    They have no idea how real photography works. JPG is a 'final' format. You capture an image on an SLR as RAW so you get all of the information the sensor can give you, and then you process it to pull the JPGs you want to give to the user of your shots. In journalism, many photographs are taken under marginal conditions, such as four stops below optimum in a sandstorm. Shooting RAW gives you the most latitude to recover usable images that might give us the ability to identify a terrorist. You can apply high dynamic range processing to a single RAW frame to show detail not recoverable any other way, and given a bracket of five RAW frames one stop apart, even handheld, you can postprocess them into a great picture.

    Yes, today's journalism photography is being done with many devices that shoot JPG as their native mode, and as any photographer will tell you, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. But anyone who prohibits high-detail RAW imagery is a person who does not deserve to be in journalism. Manufacturers have responded to the phone-photography challenge with formats like Micro Four Thirds, which gives you SLR versatility in a compact body and lens format that you can take to wherever the news is being made.

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      please stop with that "identify the terrorist" argument, it has become the new "save the children"...
  • They want a JPG so that they can get it up on the website and social media sites as fast as possible. It pays for them to be the first to get a picture or story out. They don't want a photographer to spend the time converting the image on their computer.

    But what is perfectly fine is to shoot in RAW + JPG and send in the JPG right away. Then after the event the photographer would take the best shot or two and do the minimal amount of adjustments allowed to make the image more appropriate for newspapers or

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:53PM (#50967061)

    The whole purpose of shooting raw images is to do advanced processing later. However, any such processing involves creative choice which alters the image to the taste of the person doing the processing. It's easy to alter the white point and have some journalistically important details lost in the shadows.

    Also in a high stakes case suspected forgery, it may be possible to detect forged images by looking at minute noise and encoding choices made by a particular camera model. Faking these details well enough to fool the experts would be beyond the expertise of most would-be forgers.

    Of course, Reuters could ask for RAW files themselves and have even more fidelity/authentication potential. But those files are huge, many journalists do not have a fast internet connection where they work, and the publisher would need expertise on RAW workflows.

    All in all, I think it's a reasonable decision and will be successful against unintentional/unconscious alterations and causual forgery.

    • Wrong. Jpeg *loses* important detail. There's a lot of information that is available in a 14-bit uncompressed file that is discarded in the conversion to an 8-bit file with lossy compression. You got that amazing once-in-a-lifetime shot but it was underexposed a stop or two. No problem in raw when jpeg might well be totally unusable. Too bad for Reuters.

      Every camera that a serious photojournalist would use has a myriad number of built-in features from HDR to monochrome to white-balance and many other color

  • Compression of RAW to JPEG and the alteration of JPEG images leaves a distinct signature in it's Error Level Analysis results. Using a simple utility like http://www.impulseadventure.co... [impulseadventure.com] to automatically prescreen images would relieve a huge burden from their shoulders. For authenticity, requesting the RAW after the JPEG to see if the compression gradients are uniform would work as a nice level of security as well.
  • I cannot fathom any explanation as to why they press so hard on presenting photos and video as is, but feel free to be as creative as possible with the text and words. My guess is that cameramen are considered second class citizens as opposed to the anchors, and they actively want to prevent them from doing anything creative.

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