The advantages of shooting with RAW versus JPEG

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The advantages of shooting with RAW versus JPEG

When you first pick up a camera out of the box, there are many default settings you should change. One of the main parameters to change is the type of file format the camera will be recording images in.

Out of the box, JPEG is the default image mode. However, there is a better setting called RAW that needs to be understood before the configuration is selected.

RAW is an uncompressed file format that provides an image file that contains more detail. When changing to this setting, there are many benefits over JPEG, and the majority of them are to do with image quality. If you want to take your photography to the next level, changing to this file format is a must.


Here are 3 advantages of shooting in RAW:

  1. The first advantage of RAW is its ability to retain all the shadow, midtone and highlight information in the image. Collectively this is called dynamic range. As a comparison, JPEG is only able to record a clipped dynamic range, which can result in an over or underexposed image that contains less detail in highlight or shadow areas. With RAW selected, in post-processing, you will have the added ability to adjust shadow and highlight areas to reveal greater detail.
  2. The second advantage of RAW is the ability to change your White Balance in post-processing. This setting can be convenient if you find yourself shooting in tricky lighting conditions. In comparison, if you are photographing with JPEG selected, you only can go with the white balance chosen at the time. You can change your white balance later, however with only limited results that are nowhere the same in quality when compared to RAW.
  3. The third reason to change your camera to shoot RAW is all to do with image quality. As a ‘rule of thumb,’ it can be said that for every JPEG image captured, you lose two out of three pixels, whereas when shooting RAW you can utilise all the pixels to achieve a higher image quality. Pictures will appear sharper and retain much more detail. The added benefit of this is you can also edit non-destructively without destructing the original image file. You can’t achieve this when shooting in JPEG mode.

As you can see these three advantages outweigh what JPEG can deliver. We encourage you to do a practice shoot in RAW mode and edit the image files in a RAW converter (software that converts an edited RAW file into a TIFF or JPEG file format), like Adobe Lightroom.

The results should be much better than you expected!

Photo by Domenico Loia

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