RAW versus JPEG – What’s Best?

RAW versus JPEG – What’s Best? The answer is RAW!

Ok now that we got that out of the way lets back up a little and see if we can really simplify the raw vs jpg debate.

RAW vs JPEG Differences Simplified

Raw – a raw image is a picture that’s recorded EXACTLY as your camera saw it.
JPEG (jpg) – The JPEG is your cameras attempt to take what the camera saw and convert it to a presentable picture at a much file size.

RAW Pros and Cons Simplified

Pro – Think of the raw file as a perfect copy of the picture you took. It’s a one of a kind “Master File”. Compare it to a 35mm film negative. It’s always available as a source to edit as you see fit.
Con – Raw files need to be adjusted with software to look their best. Raw files are typically very large. Each camera manufacturer has their own raw format. Their is no standard.

JPEG Pros and Cons

Pro – a jpg image can be useable directly from the camera. Smaller file size. The JPEG is an industry standard for computers and internet. If the smallest jpg setting is chosen the pictures can be emailed without resizing
Con – Each time a jpg is edited in any way information is thrown away and picture quality is reduced. Have you ever seen the Michael Keaton movie multiplicity? Each time Michael was cloned the end result was a little less bright.

Which file format should you use?

This is easy. If you want to keep the picture forever as you might want to use it for years to come you must save it as a raw file. Think of it as an Archive copy or your very own Michelangelo painting.

If your just screwing around and going to email the pictures or maybe use them for a website or some internet photo site by all means if the jpg looks good to you use it.

If you want a little of both or are in a hurry set your camera to take both types. In fact for my websites I set my Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D90 to take large raw and small JPEGs. Often times the JPEG is sufficient for my sites but I have the raw to go back to should I want to use it at a later date for other purposes.

A note on using raw and JPEG together. You are now creating two pictures with every press of the shutter release. Your memory card will fill faster, your hard drive will fill faster. Lastly your ability to take multiple shots will be reduced.

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