Perhaps one of the very most commonly asked questions in digital photography is just about which file type to utilize when shooting – JPEG or RAW file format. Don't worry if you don't know much about both of these formats or whether your camera supports them. My goal, by the end of this information, is to help you know what both of these types are and help you select the one that is right for you.
RAW Versus JPEGAt the basic level, both JPEG and RAW are types of files that the camera produces as its output. Most of the newer cameras today have both these options and also a few others like M-RAW, S-RAW, Large format JPEG, Small format JPEG, etc. – that determines the size of the last output file.
The simplest way to see which file formats are supported by your camera is to examine your camera user manual – choose a section on file formats. Or you are able to have the menu options of one's camera and select Quality (for Nikon) or Image Quality (Canon) to pick the file format.
Each file format has its advantages and disadvantages so choose the best option that is most effective for you. JPEGs are, in reality, RAW files that are processed in camera and compressed into that format. A few of the decisions the camera makes in processing the image might be difficult to improve later, however the JPEG file sizes tend to be much smaller.
Let's consider the advantages and disadvantages of both these file formats in greater detail.
Advantages RAW files
- It is simpler to improve exposure mistakes with RAW files than with JPEGs and overexposed highlights can occasionally be rescued. For people like me who tend to always photograph at the very least 1/2 stop to 1 stop overexposed (based on my style of photography), this really is really beneficial in saving many great images in post-production.
- The higher dynamic range means better power to preserve both highlights and shadow details in a higher contrast scene when the image has been recorded.
- White Balance corrections are simpler to make.
- Decisions about sharpening, contrast, and saturation could be deferred before the image is processed on the computer.
- All the original image data is preserved. In fact, when RAW files are opened in post-production software like Lightroom, an electronic copy is made and used. Edits are made in a non-destructive format so the original RAW file is obviously readily available for changes at a later stage. This is invaluable when you want to edit images in different ways at differing times in your photographic career.
Disadvantages of RAW files
- RAW files tend to be much larger in proportions in comparison to JPEGs thereby requiring more storage, not merely in camera but additionally on external storage devices or your computer hard drives.
- RAW images take longer to publish to your storage device which means shorter bursts of continuous shooting. As an example, my Canon 5D MIII can reveal 12 RAW files continuously and about 30+ JPEG files in the continuous (burst) shooting mode. Check your camera manual for specifics around your personal camera's burst mode (a.k.a continuous photography mode).
- Not all programs can read RAW files. This used to be an issue, however now there are lots of great programs that may work directly with Raw files such as Adobe Lightroom, Canon's Camera RAW, Luminar, On1 Raw, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate, and other such programs.
Advantages of JPEGs
- JPEG files are much smaller in size in comparison to RAW files and hence need less storage space – both in camera memory and on your computer hard drives.
- JPEG images write to disk quicker which means longer bursts of continuous shooting opportunities especially during wildlife photography, fast action sports, as well as working with little kids which can be always on the move.
- These JPEG files can be instantly viewed with many programs including common web browsers, powerpoint, and other such common applications.
Disadvantages of JPEG files
- It's harder to correct exposure mistakes in post-production with JPEG files.
- JPEG files generally have a smaller dynamic range of information that is stored and this often means less power to preserve both highlights and shadow details in the image.
- White Balance corrections are more difficult with JPEG files.
- Decisions about sharpness, contrast, and saturation are occur the camera itself and in most cases, these are difficult to change later in post- production without destroying the image quality.
- Since a JPEG image is basically a RAW image compressed in-camera, the camera's computer makes decisions about what data to retain and which to toss out when compressing the file.
Which format to choose?Now that you understand the difference between RAW and JPEG images, deciding what type to use is dependent on a couple of different factors.
- Do you wish to spend amount of time in post-processing your images to your taste and photography style?
- Exist any problems with limited space on your camera's memory card and/or computer hard disks?
- Are you experiencing software and/or editing programs that'll read RAW files easily?
- Do you wish to print your images as well as share images online in a specialist capacity?
Even everyday snapshots are shot in RAW now due to the great flexibility I have in correcting any mistakes that I make. One of the very most common mistakes that numerous photographers make is about image exposure and that is relatively easy to correct with RAW files.
It's getting easier to use RAW filesTraditionally the 2 main problems with RAW files be seemingly fading every day:
- The expense of memory to store or backup these RAW files is getting cheaper and cheaper by the day.
- Software that can read RAW files is more readily available. Actually, there is even inexpensive and free software that can read these RAW files now.
One more thing to see is that all the newer cameras have the ability to capture both JPEG and RAW images at the exact same time. But this occupies even more storage space and mightn't be the most effective usage of memory. You're better off just picking one option and keeping that.