Snapshots to Photographs: RAW vs JPEG

This episode of Mark's Photography Spot is the third in a series of videos I'm doing to help you get your camera out of "Auto" mode. I call the series "Snapshots to Photographs" This episode addresses the "big debate" in digital photography, RAW vs JPEG:

I have a definite opinion on this and that opinion is: "Shoot RAW when you want to get the most out of your image and shoot JPEG when you want to be able to quickly share an image or don't have the desire (or need) to actively post process the image".

In terms of my photography that equates to me shooting RAW about 90-95% of the time and JPEG the rest. In terms of your photography, only you know what those percentages will be.

Here is why I shoot RAW the majority of the time, and why I recommend that you do the same:

If you are new to photography and want to take the best images possible I would encourage you to shoot RAW as much as possible and use software (Lightroom, for example) to fine tune the image out of the camera.The reason is because RAW files are essentially a "digital negative" and have pretty much all the information that is available for any one particular image. You, as the photographer, will have a lot more latitude to adjust and refine the RAW file to create the final image that you can then save as a JPEG or other format. Shooting JPEG's, on the other hand, results in a file that is created using in-camera processing. This process often times sacrifices quality for speed, smaller file size and portability. Once the camera creates it's interpretation of the image and writes that to your memory card as a JPEG file, there is no going back. You won't be able to recapture the original image and make anything more than basic adjustments. That's the biggest downside of JPEG files.

Now that you know to shoot RAW whenever you want to get the most out of your photography, stay tuned for the next videos in this series as I dig a little deeper into Aperture and Shutter Speed.

You'll be able to find all the videos in this series in the playlist "Snapshots to Photographs".

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Photography Poll: Which Format Do You Shoot, RAW or JPEG

OK, it's been a while since the last post but I have a great excuse, we were out West for a week long vacation. We spent time in Death Valley and Zion National Parks with stopovers in Las Vegas while coming and going between the two. It was a great trip and I shot a lot of images. I'm hopeful that I can get through them in the next few days and start sharing our experiences. Stay tuned... I met a lot of other photographers while on the trip (some extremely serious and some more casual) and it got me thinking, "What format do people shoot, RAW or JPEG?" So this photography poll asks that exact question. In the age of digital cameras that seems to be a question that comes up just about every time photographers get together. It's a question that's almost as old as "Canon or Nikon?", although the question has really only been asked for the last 10 years or so. That question is "Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?".

Please note that I didn't say "shoot in the RAW...", that's a personal decision that is the subject of another, completely different, poll :-)

As for my personal experience with this, in the short time that I've been back into photography, I've been asked this question several times. There are people on both sides of this "issue". The RAW purists don't want anything at all to corrupt their images, and they want total control over the photo. JPEG shooters on the other hand seem to be fine with the slight loss of control over the image because of the reduced time needed and the smaller, more portable file sizes.

For me it's pretty much RAW all the time. I figure I'm trying to get the best image possible and RAW gives me the most flexibility in terms of adjusting and tweaking the image.

So, what is it for you, RAW or JPEG?

[poll id="2"]