RAW VS. JPEG
I know the title of this article “RAW vs. JPEG” will turn off some of you…especially those who love the convenience of shooting an image and then share it on social media networks instantaneously.
RAW files simply involve simply too much work to get them ready for sharing. After all, who would want to shoot and then have to spend hours editing their images? JPEGs are a lot less hassle to work with and require less space to store as well. However, JPEGs can never hope to reach the quality which RAW images can.
# 1 – More Data to Work with
To start off, RAW files are unprocessed data that is captured by the sensor. This data is ready to be further processed, meaning, you have a free hand to adjust the white balance, tonal range, exposure, clarity, and vibrancy.
# 2 – Higher Dynamic Range
Because RAW is a loss-less compression it combines a much higher dynamic range than JPEGs.
Dynamic range is the ratio between the highest and lowest intensity of the light spectrum from pure white to pure black. That means an image with a higher dynamic range will have more color tone between full black and full white. When converting a RAW image into JPEG on your computer you can retain a higher extent of that dynamic range because you control the processing workflow.
Related Post: Most Important Photography Terms
# 3 – Best for a Professional Workflow
If the only way you are ever going to share your images is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you don’t need RAW; and for that matter, you don’t even need a DSLR either.
But if you are thinking about making an extra buck or two by using your skills as a photographer you will need to pick up some editing skills as well and that means using RAW format.
After all, if you re commissioned to shoot a wedding you would be required to deliver professional quality images that are color-balanced, sharpened and adjusted for exposure and contrast. Whether you like it or not RAW is the way to go!
# 4 – Noise Reduction
One of the things that you will have to take care of especially when shooting in low light conditions is noise. Noise is when the pixels pick up less image data and more of visual distortion. Noise becomes evident when you shoot with a higher ISO in low light conditions.
The camera tries to rectify the problem of low light by boosting the signal and in the process of introducing noise. When the image is processed in-camera, this noise is not subdued. The camera’s processing engine is nowhere near as good as software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
This is why JPEGs produced in low light photos have so much noise. When you shoot in RAW you reserve that option for you.
# 5 – Correct Aberrations, Vignetting, and Distortions
JPEG images produced in camera does not undergo lens profile correction. If there are chromatic aberrations or vignetting or even any form of distortion those are left uncorrected.
Some cameras, however, do offer some corrections, professionals prefer to have control over the process. JPEG images are difficult to be corrected for chromatic aberrations, and other distortions once they leave the camera. RAW images, on the other hand, can be easily corrected using adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
Watch this RAW vs. JPEG Video by Tony Northrup:
Tony Northrup is the author of “Stunning Digital Photography” – a great book if you want to learn Photography and become a better Photographer!