RAW Image vs. JPEG Image
Ever wonder why everyone says to shoot in RAW image instead of JPEG? Or Why your camera offers both options?
Let’s first start by defining what a RAW image is. It is a file format that captures ALL image data recorded by the sensor inside of your camera when you take a photo. Due to no information being compressed in this file format, it produces higher quality images. It also can correct “problem images” that might be unrecoverable if you had shot in JPEG. The JPEG file format does compress some of the information unlike the RAW file format.
I once heard it best described as “digital negatives” and this was so spot on.
That could definitely sum up this entire post. But allow me to spell out (even more) the benefits of shooting in RAW.
You will get the highest level of quality. You also have more control over how the image will look, ultimately producing much better results.
You can more easily correct over- and underexposed images. We know that sometimes things just happen and we mistakenly over or underexpose our images. If you are shooting in RAW, the file has additional information to correct the image without dramatically losing the quality.
When shooting in RAW, the white balance might be recorded. Because you have so much MORE information within the RAW file, it’s easier to adjust when post-processing and correcting. If you were shooting in JPEG and messed up the white balance, it’s more difficult to just “choose another white balance option”
If you images are in a RAW file format, you will have access to more sharpening in Adobe Lightroom that are much better than what is in your camera. So you can really spruce up those RAW images and make them even more clear than you could a JPEG file.
Embedded inside of the RAW images you have evidence of your ownership of the image and copyright and authenticity. All of this information is inside of the RAW image and cannot be easily changed as it could be on a JPEG image.
RAW files are larger. Considering the amount of data that is held within each image, one can determine that it takes up more storage space than a JPEG image. It will fill up your computer hard drive much quicker. They’re around 2 – 3 times larger than JPEGs. With the above mentioned, this does also mean it will fill up your SD cards quicker than JPEG images do as well.
If you are serious about your photography and going down the professional photography route, then you should seriously consider giving up shooting in JPEG and shoot RAW every time you touch the camera. You are going to get much better results at the end of the day, and produce a quality of image that JPEG just can’t get close to.
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Magan Ward is a photographer, wife, mom of 3, and educator to fellow photographers. She has an unhealthy obsession with Chick-Fil-A mac and cheese, and has a bit of a love affair with dry shampoo – something she tried to avoid for years until the pandemic of 2020 occurred rendering her dependent upon the waterless revelation that saves her time, something now used to instead apply nutella to waffles for tiny humans.
Putting that Masters in Education to good use, Magan enjoys teaching her fellow photographers and online entrepreneurs the ins and outs of building a business that they love…and occasionally sprinkles in some encouragement for Mamas, because life with littles is just plum hard sometimes.
You can grab her free list of favorite tools for entrepreneurs here.