One of the questions that always comes up when I am teaching is “Do I use JPEG or RAW for shooting images in”? There is sooooo much information out there and most of it is either slightly off or very misleading.
Here is a quick rundown of the differences, If you have any additional questions feel free to ask!
So to start what is the difference between JPEG & RAW?
There are two big differences between shooting JPEG or RAW images. The first is that when you shoot your image and save it in JPEG it slightly compresses the image and you loose some of the data. Is it a lot? NO! If you are only doing prints up to say 24×36 today’s cameras are so high in MP (megapixels) that it is not needed to shoot RAW for this reason. Unless you are going very large or you are really cropping the image jpeg will be fine. I have many pictures on the wall at my Lethbridge studio that I can show you that were shot in JPEG and they look amazing.
The second difference (the biggest one that effects pictures today) is that when you shoot JPEG the camera applies an algorithm to the image before saving (contrast, saturation, white balance, sharpness, etc). RAW does not do this. If you are not able to get your image correctly exposed or properly in focus shooting in RAW may help. You can do more correction in the computer and you may be able to save the image when processed on your computer.
If the image is saved in JPEG you are able to correct the image but not as much as if it was saved in RAW. The biggest drawback is that with RAW you need to correct your images to make them look their best. This can be a lot of work if you have a lot of images to correct. One final difference between JPEG or RAW is that RAW takes up a lot more space when stored. With today’s relatively inexpensive high capacity storage mediums this should not be a huge issue.
One great thing about today’s cameras is that you can select either JPEG or RAW or RAW & JPEG. So you can cover all your basis if when shooting to allow you to select later which image to use. The only problem with shooting in JPEG & RAW is that it will use up a lot of storage space. Make sure you have big enough cards or multiple cards with you.
So with the above information what should you be shooting in JPEG or RAW?
If you are shooting everyday family images and don’t want to spend a lot of time processing your images then stay with JPEG. It will save you storage space and processing time. Yes some images may be beyond saving but you will save time.
If you have a chance to take a once in a lifetime picture then I suggest that you either shoot it in JPEG & RAW or just RAW. Sure you will need to edit it more but if there is no chance to reshoot it may be worth it.
**Remember that you can change the format you are shooting from picture to picture if you want. You do not have to shoot in only one setting.
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