Many photographers say Jpeg is a good image format, some others say RAW is the best one. It becomes very difficult to understand which is the best option as everyone has his own valid motivations, according to their experience. Beyond all opinions, which remain opinions and nothing more, what is actually the real differences between RAW and Jpeg?
When do we should choose to shoot in RAW and when is it better to shoot in JPEG?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAW AND JPEG?
The RAW is (the word says it all) a “raw” file, and it contains absolutely all the data the sensor of your camera has collected and interpreted when you take a picture.
Is a “flat” file that has no adjustments of any kind: no white balance, no contrast, no tones, no color. Nothing is optimized in a RAW file.
For this reason it cannot be used in its “native” version, which means you cannot print it or publish it.
The RAW needs an adjustment before being published, what we call “development”, and the conversion into another type of file: tiff, jpeg or other.
The RAW, being flat and containing a large amount of information, allows you a lot of freedom working on the picture and gives you the possibility to recover problematic files: overexposed or underexposed shots, images with strong color dominants, very noisy images and many others.
The JPEG is instead a compressed file, which contains much less data, because these are already “skimmed” by the software of your camera.
The Jpeg also undergoes adjustment in the machine and therefore already has a sort of “development” incorporated.
The Jpeg can be used immediately, without further adjustments and without any conversion.
The Jpeg however, containing significantly less information and being already pre-regulated, does not give you great possibilities. if you have an overexposed jpeg, it is overexposed and there is nothing you can do about it .
It is also true that with the new “big fat” jpegs that, especially new mirrorless like the Sony A7III produce, you have a bit of margin for eventual corrections, but nothing compared to what you can do with a RAW file.
So, remember that a Jpeg is just a Jpeg, which means you keep what comes out of the camera with less chances to recover problematic files
(I took this picture in Cuba. This is the RAW file before and after my corrections)
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SO, WHEN IT IS BETTER TO SHOOT IN RAW AND WHEN IN JPEG?
DO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOOT IN RAW AND AMATEUR IN JPEG?
I know professional photographers that always shoot in Jpeg, they are predominantly photojournalists or sports photographers. Especially photojournalists for ethical reasons cannot retouch their photos, or at least they shouldn’t and that is the reason why they shoot most of the times in Jpeg.
But If you plan to even adjust exposure and white balance only then you MUST shoot in RAW!
If you take landscapes, portraits, fashion, street, reportage and at least and you want to be in control of, at least, color and contrast a color and contrast you MUST shoot in RAW!
If you want to use Photoshop you MUST shoot in RAW!
If instead you have no intention or time to touch the photos, if you simply keep them without any modification then the Jpeg is fine!
Remember also that if you decide to shoot in RAW, you will need to spend some time developing and you’ll need an extra hard drive on which to store your files because RAW files are big and need lot of space.
In short, better RAW or Jpeg?
Well, if you want a professional quality post there is no doubt that only RAW image format is the perfect choice.
If , on the other hand, you have to deliver the photos immediately, maybe with the wi-fi of the machine and the mobile phone to send them, and if you don’t intend to do any kind of correction, then the Jpeg is fine.
Good work and have fun with your Time Machine!
Pictures in the article are from www.marcocirone.com