• Daragh Casey

RAW vs JPEG (Pros & Cons)

You've probably heard over and over again that you should be shooting in RAW. You might be asking yourself questions like "what is RAW" and "how is it different to a JPEG file".


Well lets sort that out, shall we? Firstly....


What is RAW?


A RAW file stores all data captured by the cameras sensor.


When shooting a JPEG, the image is compressed and a lot of information is lost. This becomes very obvious in post production. You might find a lot of grain in the JPEG file whereas the RAW file will be much sharper.This will help you produce higher quality images that wouldn't be possible with a standard JPEG.


Thankfully, most if not all cameras these days can shoot in RAW. If yours can, you can start shooting in RAW right now.



How is it better?


There are a good few advantages to shooting in RAW. Lets list some of them out..


1.Higher Quality Images

I've already mentioned how JPEGs compress the image, but why is that?


JPEGs can record 256 levels of brightness, which certainly sounds like a lot. RAW files on the other hand can record anything from 4,096 to over 16,000 levels of brightness. This is because a JPEG is an 8bit file while RAW files can either be 12 or 14bit.


It may not be obvious right away, but you'll see the difference when you start editing them.


2. It's easier to recover over/under exposed images.

RAW files can be a life saver if your image ends up being under or over exposed.


All of those extra levels of brightness means you can recover shadows and highlights easily without a massive drop in quality like you would have with a JPEG. This is because unlike a JPEG, RAW files contain the information, it's just hidden.


So if you get an over or under exposed image, don't worry too much if you have a RAW file.

3. Easily Adjust White Balance

Good white balance and colour are essential for a great image


When you shoot JPEGs, white balance is automatically applied. so you're kind of stuck with it.

This can be easily adjusted in a RAW file because of all of the extra information.


4. Sharper Images

RAW files are easier to edit, and as a result they can be made sharper more easily than JPEGs.

Plus, these editing tools are getting better all the time, so you can revisit your RAW files if you want to.


5. Better Prints

If you're planning on selling your photos as prints, then RAW files are an absolute must. You'll get better prints due to the better quality of the photo itself.


You want to sell your customer the highest quality you have to offer, that way they're more likely to recommend you to a friend or buy from you again.


So they're the main advantages RAW files have over JPEGs, but like most things there are disadvantages too.


What are the disadvantages?

The biggest disadvantage I can think of is the size of the file.


RAW files tend to be about 30MB which can be a concern if you take a lot of photos, but hard drives have become incredibly affordable in the last few years.


It's the same with memory cards. So extra storage might be needed but it's affordable.


Remember, the files are that size because the image is a higher quality.



Final thoughts

So, RAW files are better quality and are easier to edit than JPEGs. They also take up more space. But that doesn't necessarily mean you need to use RAW files only.


If you're planning on selling your work, then you should definitely be using RAW files.

If you're just planning to put them up on Instagram or show friends then a RAW file might not be necessary. It ultimately comes down to what you want to do



I hope you found this helpful and that now you're able to improve your photos. If you have any questions at all you can email me or send me a message on Instagram.










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