We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
There are two file formats to choose from when taking pictures with a DSLR. The two formats are JPEG and RAW. JPEG format is the most common used among amateurs. It requires little to no post processing and can be viewed and printed instantly. If you are satisfied with your photos and shoot in JPEG and do not want to edit or enhance your images, GREAT! Keep on doing what you are doing. If not, then try RAW. If you want to take your photos one step further with creative edits, then RAW gives you so much more wiggle room.
What is a JPEG?
When JPEG format is set in your camera settings, the camera automatically adds edits for you. The camera takes the file and adds blacks, contrast, brightness, noise reduction and sharpens the image. It then compresses the file and gets rid of any unwanted information and produces a much smaller image. You will not have to do much processing to the image because it has been done for you. Now, if you are like me and constantly chasing the kids for that “one” shot and can’t change your camera settings while running around, then you may lose a lot of good images that could be recovered if shot in RAW. You can only do so much tweaking (very little) to a JPEG file before it starts to look wonky.
What is RAW?
Is the RAW data of an image. When this format is chosen, the camera records the whole range of light and detail of the image. It is uncompressed and a much larger file. It has no added enhancements and must be processed. You will now be able to recover highlights, shadows, exposure and white balance, giving you another chance to get it right. However, you will need some sort of a RAW file processor. You should have received a software with your camera for RAW processing. ( You know the one. You know the one that is still in the box ;P ) Or you could use LIGHTROOM or PHOTOSHOP. I strongly recommend using these photo processors. I have been using PHOTOSHOP myself for the past 9 years. With these two soft wares, all you have to do is pull the images into the program and start editing. FANTASTIC!
Do you ever shoot in JPEG?
Of course I do! When I am at a family gathering or a party. Even on vacation! They are easier and quicker to upload and share. I try to set aside and plan a time that I want to do special portraits while on vacation so I can have great portraits to hang on my wall. But for the most part, I am just documenting moments and enjoying our time, so I switch to JPEG. (Because face it, I am not going to process 500+ images 😉 ) I am not going to lie, I used JPEG for years before I switched to RAW. Boy! Can I ever tell the difference in my work!
When do you shoot in RAW?
All the time! I know I just said I shoot some in JPEG. My camera stays on RAW 97% of the time. We hardly go on vacation….lol. Truth! My husband is a work-aholic and I am a home body. I shoot in RAW because even though I feel like I am pretty good at getting it right in camera the first time, i’m not. I can’t tell you how many times I adored an image because of the expression on my daughter’s face but it was over exposed. Thankfully I was able to recover it in Photoshop. I had that second chance to get it right and was in control of the final look of my image.
So if you are just documenting your everyday life then JPEG is probably what you would want to choose. If you want to enhance or create unique portraits, give RAW a try. You will be glad you did. Trust me, I am.
What mode do you shoot in?
Want to learn how to take your camera off of Auto is 4 simple steps? Read this.