Monday, July 1, 2013

RAW vs. JPEG

You all know I still have much to learn about photography. I can really only handle one new piece of information at a time, so the process is slow, but rewarding and delightful. What's the newest piece of information that I'm trying to put into practice? Shooting in RAW.

I never really understood what all the hype about shooting in RAW was about. I didn't believe it made that big of a difference. I figured there had to be a reason photographers recommended it, but I hadn't experienced it first-hand. To see what the difference is, it might be helpful to compare two images that were edited in the same exact way. So, here goes...

(Click on the image to flip back and forth between the two easily, for better comparison)


Top photo: originally from a RAW file.
Bottom photo: originally from a JPEG file.

Personally, things I noticed:
- Smoother colors and lines with RAW file
- Softer feel from RAW
- Darker colors and shadows in JPEG

Is it worth it to shoot in RAW? I think so! RAW files contain so much more original information from your camera's sensor. But that's only useful if you plan on editing the photos. RAW files cannot be printed (or posted), unless converted to JPEG. In fact, both of these files are now JPEG, but the difference is in when this photo was edited. JPEG's (straight from your camera) are automatically edited a little inside the camera, whereas the editing for RAW files must happen through a computer. 

One article stated this (and it makes sense to me!):

"Guess which has more processing power: your digital camera or your computer? Shooting in Raw will give you much more control over how your image looks and even be able to correct several sins you may have committed when you took the photograph, such as the exposure." 

I say, if you really care about how your edited photos look, shoot in RAW and  JPEG. And if an event is especially important to you, always shoot in RAW. If something went wrong in a picture, it's much easier to fix when you have the photo file in that format, not to mention, a large print will look better if the original file had more information.

You won't lose anything by shooting in RAW, and you might be really happy you did some day! The only thing you'll need is an external harddrive, because RAW files can take up quite a bit of space on your computer! You can also go through and pick your favorite RAW photos, edit them, and delete the rest of those huge files.

Happy photographing!

(Side note: If you use a point-and-shoot, I don't think you need to worry about this! Or really, if you just like taking pictures for memories, there's no need to complicate it with this stuff. It's just fun for me to learn about, and hopefully, it's helpful to you in some way...even just as a conversation point with somebody!) 

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