RAW & JPEG are two different types of electronic file
The principal differences between the two types are:
- RAW files are literally the raw data as produced by the camera at the moment of pressing the shutter
- They have no ‘built in’ file format
- You are then free to adjust this data through Photoshop or a similar application on a computer
- You can change; exposure, white balance, contrast, brightness, etc
- You can return all settings to the start point and begin again
- A RAW file is, in effect, a digital negative
- JPEG’s are generated by the camera after exposure & are written onto the memory card
- Preset data for exposure, white balance, etc will be embedded in the file & can never be removed
- The parameters are decided by you in advance
- Your latitude to change & make alterations afterwards are very limited
- The file will be compressed & this is achieved by discarding information that can never be retrieved
If you are working digitally then having a camera that will allow you to shoot in RAW format as well as JPEG can be an advantage.
However a JPEG that is produced by the camera at the same time as a RAW is not as satisfactory as one that you generate yourself from the RAW file during post-production.
Many DSLR’s will do both RAW & JPEG at the same time but this will reduce storage capacity.
Why shoot RAW?
- When creating digital prints of the highest exhibition quality & size
- Shooting high ISO values in low light
- When you want to make high quality monochrome conversions
- Photographing a subject with a high dynamic range
- When you are uncertain about the colour temperature of the subject
Why shoot JPEG?
- When the end result is for small scale or low quality output
- If you need fast workflow
- When you need low res images for web or onscreen use
- When you need to shoot quickly
- When the end result requires minimal post-production