Having great respect to Vern' photography skills, over the years I learned to trust implicitly when he says something, and use it as opportunity to learn something. But I found this statement surprising (specially as one of Vern' commandments used to be "shoot RAW"). So I thought I'd test this (I shoot exclusively RAW for years). So here are results:
[Photo 1: JPG, straight from the camera. No editing of ANY sort, except for cropping and resizing]
[Photo 2: RAW, with about 5 minutes worth of post-processing in PS - including highlights/shadows adjustment, vibrance filter, contrast enhancement, warming filter, Levels layer for the sky, Color balance filter for whole background. Smart sharpening. At the end same cropping/resizing as for photo 1]
Which photo looks better? I don't know -- I was surprised how good non-processed JPG coming out of camera looks. Lens profile correction was included (something I always have to do in Camera RAW), and color balance looked really well -- possibly better than what eye saw while shooting.
I will leave final verdict to judgement of audience, but I think shooting RAW+JPG makes most sense. So for 90% of photos from the hike, JPGs will be more than sufficient, with lots of time saved. But for these really special ones, with great light, worth investing extra time in post-processing (to produce great print perhaps) it is worth having RAW as well.
This is really interesting. Both photos look great. I agree that the post-processed RAW photo is slightly better, but that's a lot of effort for a 5% improvement.
Granted, if you're going to print it, publish it, or use it to showcase your skills, that 5% makes a difference. Differences for me? The sparkly water reflection, the extra detail in the really dark trees, and even the size of the sun's orb itself.