Before we get into the technical side of operating a camera I need to set the damn record straight. There has been a ton of debate about this topic in the photography realm. Hopefully this post will end the debate with my loyal followers.
Some photographers insist on shooting photos in JPEG. Others maintain that raw is the way to go. It is a debate that will not be resolved anytime soon. However, in this article we highlight a few reasons why raw is the better of the two options.
Raw vs. JPEG: A Quick Review
Before we get into why raw is your best bet, let’s first review the difference between raw and JPEG.
The major difference between these formats is that raw collects all the data recorded by your camera’s sensor. Because of this, raw file sizes are quite large because they yield a much greater level of detail. Conversely, JPEG files are compressed because your camera processes them immediately. While this results in a much smaller file size, a lot of the image’s information and detail is lost and is not recoverable.
Get the Best Quality
Because raw captures all of your sensor’s data, it results in images that are incredibly detailed. Rather than relying on your camera to determine what data should and shouldn’t be kept, raw allows you to make those decisions yourself. The result is an image that is of much higher quality, and that is far more editable by you.
Edits are Non-Destructive
When you edit a raw image file, you don’t actually make any changes to the original data. Instead, whatever edits you make serve as instructions for your computer to create a new file, such as a JPEG or a TIFF. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about making unwanted changes to the original file, accidentally deleting it, or otherwise making a critical mistake that results in the loss of one of your images.
Dodge and Burn With Ease
Raw format allows you to recover more information from highlighted and shadowed areas. This is a critical adjustment to be able to make because seldom do we have the ability to shoot a perfectly exposed photograph every single time. Whether you’re shooting a sporting event, a wedding, or a landscape scene, the ability to shoot quickly while having the option to make adjustments later offers you good peace of mind.
It’s All in the Details
Raw format allows you to make adjustments to an image’s sharpness that are far more in-depth and powerful than those your camera can make. Sophisticated algorithms in programs like Lightroom bring out an incredible level of detail. Even better, these algorithms are always improving, giving you the option to revisit your raw images in the future and make even better adjustments.
Raw Gets You Better Prints
Raw images generate better prints, plain and simple. The increased gradation of colors and tones in raw files makes prints look much more realistic and smooth. The higher quality and detail and the expanded editing capabilities of raw format lets you create prints much more reflective of your vision.
While there are certainly situations in which JPEG is a better option, such as when you have limited storage space, raw is a much better choice from a quality standpoint. Raw puts you – not your camera – in control of what the final image looks like and affords you the flexibility you need to produce the best possible photos. Click here to read more about shooting raw vs jpeg.