You’ve probably heard over or some pro photographer(s) would have suggested you to go with RAW image format. So you would have been wondering JPEG or RAW: When and Why?
Firstly, What is RAW?
RAW are set of image formats which contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of your DSLR. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited with a bitmap graphics editor. Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives.
Filename extension: .3fr, .ari, .arw, .bay, .crw, .cr2, .cap, .dcs, .dcr, .dng, .drf, .eip, .erf, .fff, .iiq, .k25, .kdc, .mdc, .mef, .mos, .mrw, .nef, .nrw, .obm, .orf, .pef, .ptx, .pxn, .r3d, .raf, .raw, .rwl, .rw2, .rwz, .sr2, .srf, .srw, .x3f.
Now you have understood what is RAW. Below comparison would clear your concept how RAW differs from JPEG.
4 Major Reasons Why you should shoot in RAW:
1. Highest level of image quality
Technically your DSLR shoots RAW (highest image quality level) processes it to JPEG as it is universal and size efficient format. While processing into JPEG lots of data is lost resulting in much lower image quality than RAW.
However, your camera is nowhere near as smart as your brain, nor is it as powerful as your computer. When you shoot RAW, you’re able to do that processing yourself. You can make the decisions on how the image should look, and produce way better results.
2. Huge levels of brightness
Number of steps an image can go from black to white are said levels of brightness. The more you have, the smoother the transitions of tones. Smooth is better as you can process more efficiently.
What does bits represent here? JPEG records 256 levels of brightness, and RAW records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels. This is described with the term “bit”. JPEG captures in 8 bit, and RAW is either 12 bit or 14 bit.
The effect this has on your images is huge. Those additional steps of brightness let you make more adjustments (exposure, blacks, fill-light, recovery, contrast, brightness) to your image without a significant reduction of quality, because there’s more levels to work with.
3. Correcting Under or Over exposed image
Photography is all about that fraction of seconds you want to capture. Definitely its difficult to achieve required exposure. With RAW you have additional information in the file, so it’s much easier to correct the image without a drastic reduction in quality. You can also recover more blown highlights and clipped shadows. Cool right!
4. Better White Balance adjustment
Similarly, you can adjust white balance more efficiently as you have more data in RAW. If the white balance is off I have found that it is much more easier to fix using the Camera Raw screen than loading the JPEG and manipulating that – the end result is much better as well.
JPEG or RAW: When and Why?
Their are very few reasons to shoot in JPEG format like:
1. If you are in short of storage space in your DSLR’s SD card.
2. If you don’t have any plans to post process your photos.
Otherwise, go with RAW!
Software for RAW processing:
- Picasa (It is freely available and good option for beginners)
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Lightroom
- Capture One