Process Raw or Shoot JPEG? - Dreamstime
Happy New Year Everyone!
I often pondered this question and write this because I have a sneaky feeling that I may not be the only one to have faced this dilemma.
Like some other people out there, I thought the choice was simple. You either do everything in camera - like I suppose the professionals out there do - or you shot in RAW and process letter. Surely it was better not to process at all - so I thought the answer was obvious. If I shot in JPEG my photographs will be original and will never be processed – making me more like a pro. Right? Actually, wrong...
The simple truth is that our JPEG photographs are ALWAYS processed – “automatically” by the in-built software in our digital cameras, e.g., DSLR cameras, compact cameras, mirror-less cameras, etc. So the decision we face is actually a slightly different one.
The question is, should we let the camera guess the best way to process our shots or should we take full control of our processing ourselves? If you chose to take control - especially if your desire is to accurately recreate the image you originally captured - then shooting RAW is a very compelling option.
If your camera has the option of shooting RAW files, this format would save the full dynamic range of data captured by your camera's sensor. This would allow you make all the required adjustments to get the image looking like you saw it at the scene (or as your would creatively prefer it to look) - using either proprietary software (like Adobe’s Light-room) or free stuff (like software shipped with your camera on a DVD or CD).
It is obviously true that JPEG files can be adjusted to a certain degree but they certainly do not offer the same level of flexibility. This is because JPEG is a compressed file format. Given this constraint, what the camera software does is to select the data required to process the image you capture - using the presets in your camera settings - and discard all the remaining data.
There are however some downsides to shooting RAW (yes there are some - ha ha). First, RAW files are a lot bigger than JPEG and so they would require more space on memory carding (meaning you either need more memory to take the same number of shots or you would only be able to capture fewer shots). Second, it could be slightly slower and so if you were in a situation where you required the quickest continuous shooting speed your camera can offer (e.g., at a sporting event or whilst capturing dynamic wildlife), then RAW may not be appropriate for those situations.
I hope this helps!
Thanks for listening!
Photo credits: Edosaodaro.
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