If you’re an avid photographer or even a novice, you have likely heard that shooting Raw vs jpeg format is the better approach. Why is that so? What does shooting in Raw mean for your images? We are going to talk about the benefits of shooting raw vs jpeg.
Shooting in Raw does not mean you need to give up shooting JPEGs. There are often benefits to shooting JPEGs over Raw. You should probably know a thing or two about these kinds of photography files and what they mean. Each one will likely have an impact on the photography you do. You can then go into editing software like Adobe Photoshop for post-processing and photo editing and produce the most high-quality final images.
RAW vs JPEG format is an ongoing debate in the digital photography industry. While you will notice many photographers say shooting RAW is the way to go, others prefer JPEG for image quality post-production. It’s all about knowing the file formats and their differences before you make your decision. Let’s go over the benefits and disadvantages of Raw vs JPEG photography.
What is Raw?
Think of a Raw image as a digital negative. A Raw file format is one that records ALL of the data that the sensor captures when you take a photo. Think of raw food or raw wood. It hasn’t been cooked or primed for use just yet. Raw format is just the same. It would be best if you had post-processing software before the image can be printed or shared digitally. But JPEG images can be opened, viewed, and printed right off the memory card. JPEG format is a little easier that way. But a Raw photo produces a more excellent quality photo because the image is not compressed file size. And Raw format is basically on specific camera models and camera manufacturers. And the photo editing software must be compatible with Raw image formats. All of the photo’s goodness is kept intact in Raw data. Image size is much bigger shooting raw vs jpeg format. When you do post-processing with Raw images, you get a more significant dynamic range. You’ll get better posterization, high-quality highlights, and shadow recovery. You’ll also get some top-notch color space, saturation, and finer detail. But don’t worry if you’re wondering if your camera manufacturer or digital camera shoots Raw. Practically every DSLR camera settings shoot Raw photos these days, including point and shoot cameras.
Raw files come with three integral parts:
- There’s Raw data from your digital camera’s image sensor.
- There’s a processed full-size JPEG preview along with a thumbnail image.
- There is a header and metadata information.
Digital cameras have to display the recorded image on the LCD or viewfinder in camera-processed JPEG. The image header information and metadata components are utilized to understand sensor image data using Raw conversion software. Metadata information like exposure settings, camera model, lens model, date, time, and more are used for sorting images using your Raw Camera settings.
What is JPEG?
Pronounced” jay-peg” and written as “JPG,” JPEG images are a type of photograph that’s optimized and compressed for use on the internet and social media. People use JPEGs because they’re easier to send in an email to people or share over the internet. JPEG format is the most popular image format that we see everywhere. To compress Raw image pixels into JPG, percentages in quality are applied. Then, the quality and final size of the image are lower in quality. When the image is of lower quality, there are higher compression rates, a smaller file size, and compression artifacts. Though you save the image with a higher quality setting, you are more likely to take up more storage space.
Benefits of Shooting Raw vs JPEG format?
There are a ton of benefits to shooting Raw vs jpeg format. The reasons exceed expectations for the following for Raw images:
Since you are getting all of the data that the camera sensor captures, you get everything. Getting everything means a more precise shot. It represents an overall better quality shot with Raw images. You will be able to get the picture that is closer to what your brain wants to convey.
JPEg images can’t hold up to color. While a JPEG could hold 16.8 million colors at 8-bit, a Raw image can contain 68.7 billion colors at 12-bit. Raw images increase to 4.4 trillion colors at 14-bit Raw. Some higher-end cameras can even record 16-bit Raw images, giving you 281 TRILLION colors. If you do the math, you’re getting 16.8 million times more color with Raw images.
Brighter Image Levels
The number of steps from black explains brightness in photography to white in an image. With Raw, you’re getting 4,096 to 16,384 levels of brightness. Think about that for a moment. The more levels of brightness you have, the more adjustments you can make with everything else.
Wider Dynamic Range
When comparing Raw vs JPEG format, you see a wider dynamic range and color gamut with Raw formats.
Correct Under and Over-Exposed photos
You also get far more recovery of underexposed images or overexposed images with Raw. You are getting more information in your image than with a JPEG. This is going to give you more to work with here, too. You can now correct the image without jeopardizing the quality of the image.
With Raw, you can work with sharpening and noise algorithms while editing with software more powerful than those found in your camera. So, you get far better noise reduction.
Adjusts White Balance
With Raw, the white balance is recorded, but having more data makes it easy and fast to adjust. And we all know white balance is essential when creating a beautiful image.
Shooting JPEG, the white balance is applied to the image, and you cannot choose another option.
Editing is Not Destructed
Adjusting a Raw file does not do anything to the original data of your shot. Instead, you’re instructing how the other file format should be saved. A Raw image is its unmodified format, so you can make more changes when it comes to post-processing in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
With Raw vs jpeg, you don’t have to worry about losing the original file. You can reset and start over. Instead, with a JPEG format, you are losing quality every single time you open and make adjustments, then save. You’re losing out this way if you’re using a JPEG and not duplicating.
Prints Turn Out Better
With Raw vs jpeg, you’re getting a finer gradation of tones and colors. Your prints will then be better looking than the JPEG file.
Highly Efficient Workflow
You will find it easier to work through large batches of images when using an editing tool like Lightroom. They’re specifically designed for efficiently processing groups of Raw images.
It’s the Pro Go-To
Professionals Normally provide their clients with the highest quality of images. Typically, you see them using Raw vs jpeg format. Raw gives you the control, so minimal or zero mishaps occur under their management of the images. Hobbyists can take advantage of this as well to get better prints.
Cons of Using Raw Format Shooting
Raw Format Requires More Post-Production Time
No matter what, you always have to post-process Raw files then convert them to another format like jpg or DNG so they can be viewed. With post-processing, your workflow takes a hit, and you spend more time on your images. If you’re short on time, this may be a hindrance.
Raw Format Requires More File Storage Space
Raw images take up far more storage space than JPEG images. When using a memory card, you’ll only be able to store fewer images on one. Your camera’s buffer will quickly run out of space, too.
Shutter Speeds Affect Raw Photos
When you take a photo with longer shutter speeds, your image increases noise and hot pixels that are frozen and bright in the picture. The way to cure this in Raw is to use long exposure noise reduction.
Compatibility Issues with Raw Format
Raw files are not standard for camera manufacturers used across the software. When you use Nikon software, it will not read Canon Raw files. Canon software cannot read Nikon Raw files this way either. Ensure you know that the Raw files can be worked on with the software if you recently switched camera brands.
Sharing Raw Files is Hard
You must convert RAW files to compatible formats like JPEG, DNG, or TIFF since most people you’re sharing with do not have the viewing tools for Raw images.
More Files on Your Computer
Raw files are unable to be modified on third-party software. You’ll have to save two different file types along with post-processed images (JPG).
Backups are Time-Consuming
Since Raw files are more extensive, backing up your files will take a lot of time.
Shooting JPEG vs Raw?
There are also benefits if you shoot JPEG, though. The benefits include:
Time and Hard drive Space
If you don’t have the time for Raw, you should shoot in JPEG. You need to edit all of your Raw photos to put them up. Raw images also take up a lot of space. JPEG photos are also already compressed, so there’s no compressing needed.
Another downside to Raw files is that bigger images take a long time to buffer up after your shot. If you are not looking to spend much time with your camera, then use JPEG.
You Don’t Need Much Editing Done
If your camera gets “the shot,” you will be okay, not bulk editing all your photos. This is a rarity for most photographers, but we trust your judgment if this is the case.
Cons of Shooting JPEG Photos
Lossy Compression Issue
“Lossy” is an image compression algorithm issue that loses data from your photos. You can expect a loss of detail when highly compressed, resulting in posterization issues. You might also see artifacts around subjects while viewing the images.
The color possibilities are limited to JPEG images. You can expect to lose 16.8 million colors. These colors get thrown away when converted to JPG.
JPEG images have less data, meaning their dynamic range is limited, making recovery potential less. So, if you overexposed or underexposed images, you might not ever be able to recover the data.
Impacted Camera Settings
Cameras work to process when shooting JPEG fully. If your camera settings damage your image, you won’t be able to reverse it. If you sharpen your photos too much, you can’t go back and unsharp them.
When Shooting Raw vs JPEG
Most professional photographers will recommend you shoot Raw images 99.9% of the time. Again, you can rely on bulk editing tools such as Adobe Lightroom to help you through the process. It’s easier and faster to process RAW files, and you’ll be able to get the best quality out of those images that you just took. It will be worth it in the end.
You can easily compress your images to ensure their quality when done with Raw vs JPEG. It’s ultimately up to your needs to determine which type of image file you should shoot. Take these pros and cons as a guide to help you decide. In the end, you are sure to have some fantastic photos.