Raw vs Jpeg

Raw vs Jpeg

Almost all new digital camera owners often face the raw vs jpeg scenario.  should I be shooting raw or jpeg? what is a raw file? the following information is designed to help you decide which file type is best for you.

raw vs jpeg

What is a Raw file?

To obtain the best results out of your digital camera, capture your images using the raw file format.  This file type is available on most digital cameras including compact and DSLR cameras.  The raw file format is native to each camera manufacturer in regards to the file build up and data saved within the file.  Raw files are often described as a digital negative.  The raw option is often the preferred file type used by professional photographers.

Processing a Raw FileRaw files are not processed in camera and will require software compatible with the file type to later process the image on a computer.  Raw files are compressed using a lossless process which enables the file to retain 100% of the information originally captured by the camera sensor.  Due to the amount of data that is saved within the raw file its physical size can be considerably larger. Shooting raw allows the photographer greater control with post processing, meaning adjustments such as exposure, contrast, white balance, saturation and sharpness can be made easily using compatible software.

Once an image has been completely processed it is usually converted to a Jpeg file to allow printing, sharing, emailing etc..

Reasons to shoot Raw

  • You want the greatest image quality and results from your camera
  • you want flexible image control and for greater creative editing
  • You intend to print your images above 8 inch x 10 inch

What is a Jpeg file?

Jpeg files are produced by the majority of cameras as standard.  The image data is processed and compressed within the camera using the cameras pre installed software.  As the image is processed within the camera the amount of data saved within the file is less than that of a raw file resulting in far less control over the images within post processing software.

Reasons to shoot Jpeg:

  • You do not want to spend time enhancing photographs in image processing software.
  • Image file sizes are considerably smaller meaning you can save more images within the space limitations you may have on memory cards and hard drives
  • Images are easier to share with others as they will not require special software to open the file

Raw vs Jpeg – The best of both

Some cameras offer the option to capture Jpeg and raw files simultaneously.  My Nikon D7100 has 2 memory cars slots which saves files in the raw format to slot 1 and jpeg files to slot 2.  This gives me excellent flexibility as I can instantly share the image captured in jpeg and process the raw file once I have more time.

Why I Shoot Raw

I almost always shoot raw.  I use Adobe Lightroom to process my images and love the control I from the data saved within the raw file.  If you are new to digital photography I would suggest shooting jpeg until you are used to your new camera and understand how it works in regards to exposure and getting things right in camera.  Once you are confident with your images then think about switching to raw however remember you are  completely responsible for processing the final image.  Remember image processing takes time and most photographers would rather be out shooting than sitting behind a computer screen processing images.

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  1. pwdoc
    8th June 2019

    Nice article Mat, i like every single reason which you mention in this article, and those reasons helps me to choose better format 🙂 , thank you for this beautiful post.

    1. Matt Boxley
      8th June 2019

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog. I am happy you found interest in the article and that you have found it helpful in your own photography journey


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