RAW vs JPEG file formats and the advantages of RAW format

I was looking at the advantages of RAW vs JPEG file formats and the following may prove interesting or usefull to other submitters.

The first advantage is in a RAW file's ability to be used and re-used without damage.

The beauty of working on RAW files is that you don't actually change the file data when you work on it. Each RAW file has a text file embedded into it that contains the instructions for how you want to VIEW that image. When you make changes to the appearance of that RAW file, the instructions in the text file are all you've really changed. If you come back later and want to change it again, all the original data is still there. You can make changes to RAW files indefinitely without altering the original data one bit.

In contrast, if you are working on a Jpeg file and let's say you want to make it black & white. When you do this, you delete the color information permanently. The only way to keep the original data is to make new copies every time you want to make a change. If you ever change your original, that change is permanent.

The second advantage is in a RAW file's ability to allow very large changes.

Raw files contain so much data that you can make HUGE changes to the exposure brightness, color saturation, contrast, white balance and sharpness (among other things). In fact, the only things about your photo that you can't change after-the-fact are fixed things like the shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings that you used when you originally shot the image. So for example, if you shot the image too bright or if you used the wrong color balance setting - you can easily correct this in the RAW file without any degradation of the image whatsoever.

Being able to make so many changes after-the-fact, basically gives us photographers a big insurance policy, and gives the potential buyer the assurance that should the coloring, exposure settings or other settings applied to the uploaded photograph not be exactly to their liking, they have the RAW format to make changes to the image, as they would prefer them.

Although a perfectly good file type, JPEG has limitations that can be overcome by using the RAW file format, just as an example, the tonal variations of these formats is shown below.

256 tones of brightness for JPEG vs 4096 tones of brightness for RAW files.

That means a RAW file has 16X the amount of data that can be contained in a JPEG file therefore allowing for much more control over changes to brightness, color balance, sharpness, saturation, contrast and noise control etc… That said, it is therefore beneficial to both photographer (to take images in RAW format) and upload the additional file format on submissions and to the intended buyers who will have the ability to make changes to the purchased images should they deem this necessary.

Photo credits: Fultonsphoto.

Your article must be written in English

January 31, 2009


learned a lot from yours^^

December 30, 2008



I have read thru all the comments here and can say that perhaps there may be more interest in uploading RAW formats, if image banks [DT included] would not allow the downloading of an artists copyrighted materials via SUBS pricing … It just leaves a really sour taste when one sees that your hard work and extra efforts are not reworded in a compensatory manor.

For more info seek out more comments on this matter in the thread: — Is uploading RAW worth the effort? — which can be found under the section — Day dreaming >

Perhaps there are many more comments there that may aid in helping to make a final choice about the uploading format of choice.

As far as shooting … Well that's a no brainier! ALWAYS shoot in RAW. Why on earth would you want to loose any more than what you are already loosing, buy shooting digitally — rather than the old school film formats. We all know, that digital camera's have still got a LONG way to go before they will effectively replace their older siblings.

December 10, 2008


Hi Aughty, like yourself, I too shoot in both formats but have only recently started submitting both formats to DT, as I still believe that the added benefits to buyers will be to my advantage (ill do anything for some sales :0) Although I agree that the RAW format does require considerably more storage space, for me somehow the advantages are starting to outweigh the disadvantages. As for equipment and or software and the editing of RAW files go, today with most decent makes of editing software (photoshop etc) there is a built in tool for editing these files, and I must admit, after using it, RAW files are much easier to edit than JPEG because of the number of variations available. The edited RAW file is saved as a JPEG file and this is the file that is first uploaded, the RAW original unedited copy is uploaded as the additional format so the prospective buyer gets the JPEG file as I see how it should be edited, but has the flexibility and comfort of knowing that the original version of the image is available for them to make changes that they would not necessarily be able to do on the edited JPEG image purchased. Again, I agree, it is not for everyone, and there are definately restrictions with shooting in this format, but as I upload the RAW format as well as the JPEG file for my next couple of submissions, time will tell if this is actually of any benefit to the buyer as it should be seen in the possible sales of some of these images. I will keep you posted if it actually does make any difference to the buyer...

December 10, 2008


Raw is the way to go if you strive for perfection. It's like a fine wine, taste great but not for everyone. I shoot both because they do serve an important purpose and that is to record the capture image. If you do have extra memory cards, large HD or/and equipment to process RAW then go for the gusto. If not, don't worry JPEG's are the norm and are accepted throughout the world not RAW. RAW files require extra software for processing provide by the camera manufacture before they can become any use to us. If your exposures are constantly correct shoot JPEG and use that extra processing time for capturing images.

December 09, 2008


Hi David, I agree that the Jpeg file format is good enough, for the most part, and to the naked eye, but as far as what can be done to enhance a photo, it seems RAW is the way to go. That said, it does tax the memory cards etc somewhat, but the advantages to the photographer, and to the possible buyer, may be worthwhile. I have resorted to DVD backups to alleviate the external HDD space issue, as I find no matter whether JPEG or RAW, I still manage to run out of space rather quickly.

December 09, 2008


I see your point about RAW superiority but so far I've decided not to go the RAW route for a couple of reasons. I find RAW files use so much space on both my memory cards & on my PC that they become couner-productive. Also, I've noticed that for a novice like me, it is quite difficult to tell the difference between a RAW file & a jpeg with the naked eye. However, I've no doubt that working with RAW creates many advantages unavailable to jpeggers such as myself. My plan for next year is to start working in RAW, slowly at first so it's not too much of a shock to my external hard drive!

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