I have gotten so many questions about RAW vs JPEG and I know Courtney has too and I’m here to help you understand it a bit more. All you need is an open mind and a little patience and you’ll end up loving it! So let’s begin.
RAW vs JPEG
Let’s talk about the negative of RAW.
- The biggest drawback for most people is the file size. The file size is important for RAW files. Every piece of light and detail that hits your sensor is recorded and saved when shooting RAW which is why they’re big.
- The second drawback for most people is that you do have to edit RAW files. You wouldn’t serve your family a raw steak would you? No, you’d season it and cook it to perfection. Same with a RAW file, it’s just that, raw and needs to be altered to your desired perfection.
- You must save the photo as a JPEG so you can print. If you are editing in ACR (Adobe Canon Raw) only, it’ll remain a RAW file. You must do a file>save as to get it ready to print. No lab will take RAW files.
- RAW files do require editing software such as Photoshop Elements, Photoshop or Lightroom. There is free software like Picasa that will open your RAW files, so don’t feel like you have to go buy the newest most expensive software for your RAW photos.
Now let’s move onto the positives of RAW.
- Every piece of light and detail is recorded! This is amazing if you accidently blow an area of a shirt when properly exposing your skin. Use that little recovery slider in ACR and it’ll bring it back. However this does not work in extreme cases, so if you completely blow out parts of your photos, RAW won’t “fix” it.
- The photo is completely raw! The camera adds nothing to it. When you shoot in JPEG, your camera adds contrast, saturation, sharpening, etc. and even throws out some of the colors and details to compress the file and make it smaller and ready for print.
- The WB is never set in stone. If you leave your white balance on tungsten and head out side and don’t change your settings, you can completely change the setting in ACR. You can also manually adjust your WB with the tint and temperature slider in ACR. JPEG doesn’t have this feature. You can change it slightly but not to the extent of RAW.
Switching to RAW is as easy as going into your menu and changing your settings and you’re set! That easy!
Below are two examples of what a RAW vs. JPEG look like when uploaded to the computer. Do you see the brightness in the RAW file verses the JPEG file? That is your larger tonal range working for you in your RAW photo.
NOTE: I did not fix my white balance on these photos because I wanted you to see them SOOC.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on RAW vs. JPEG. I encourage you to go out and research the topic because this is only the beginning. I also think it’s important to know that the topic of shooting in RAW vs. JPEG is the same as shooting Canon vs. Nikon. Everyone is going to have an opinion about it and there will always be someone who likes one over the other. To me it’s a personal decision and what suits your style. If at the end you still feel JPEG is the best for you, that is great. There are some amazing photographers out there that do shoot JPEG. But I would love for everyone to try RAW and see all of its capabilities!
Tell us! Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG? Why?