Wednesday, October 2, 2013

RAW or Jpeg??

Hello Everyone, I just want to start off by saying hello again! I am writing this morning about a subject I feel many have trouble with for one reason or another. Whether to shoot RAW of .jpg? To the professional photographer there is only one way to photograph, and that is in RAW. The reason for this choice is because of the limitless options you have after the shoot to manipulate the photograph into something more like what you envisioned when you were taking the picture. When you shoot in RAW, the options (editable options) are much more available to you than when you work with .jpg files. I am not saying don’t use .jpg, but as a professional, you won't see a lot of .jpg shooting on a daily basis by the professional photographer. Let me talk about RAW for a minute. When you hear the term, RAW, it makes you think of open, not restricted, untouched, mass, and anything that is "as is." To the photographer, professional or otherwise, the use of an open, non-compressed, file format such as RAW helps to make your photographic vision more of a reality by offering you the full range of manipulative adjustments that only a RAW file could bring. When using the non-compressed RAW file, you have light, shadow, exposure, contrast, white-point, black-point, and many more options in a much wider gamut than any other type of file. So if your picture isn't perfect, which they rarely are, you have some latitude of correction in post to make it more like what you envisioned. Let me talk about .jpg for a minute. The file type .jpg is a universally accepted file type that is easily read by most computers and applications, no matter what software you are trying to use it with. So I could take a .jpg file and run down to my favorite kiosk printer, and pop a CD/DVD or memory card in, and start printing photographs in the .jpg format without skipping a beat. (The converse of that is that you can't do that with a RAW file, most systems are not meant to read the RAW file type for mass printing, they have to be converted to .jpg files to use them in a mass market printer system.) The .jpg file is fully acceptable by most people as a working solution for their photography needs, just not mine, or most professional photographers. The .jpg file is a compressed version of what you saw when you were viewing your photograph through your camera. When I say compressed, I mean the picture that was saved to your camera has been mathematically manipulated to be restricted within a certain file size, depending on the way you set your camera up before taking the photographs. So, because of your settings, the picture saved has to fit in a certain amount of space. The amount of space determines what the camera will save and what the camera will discard as non-usable information, that is where the manipulative factor (editable information) comes in. When the camera can only keep so much information, it has to pick and choose what it will save, based on the file size and quality settings you made initially before photographing. The .jpg file is usually much smaller and has a lesser range of light, shadow, exposure, contrast, white-point, black-point, and fewer options in a much narrower gamut than RAW. They each have their uses, skill levels, and ability to be manipulated if needed. RAW or .jpg? You decide what you are going to do with the photographs, and that will usually help you decide how you are going to save your files, for me, RAW is the only way to go. If you are just starting out .jpg may be what you want to start with, and then move to RAW after you gain experience with your camera and software. Just to give you an idea of file size, when I shoot RAW (.NEF for Nikon), I can get 700 pictures on a 64 GB card. If I switch to high quality .jpg's, I can get around 3000 photographs on the same card. Those numbers, to me, show me what I would lose in the ability to edit and manipulate my photographs if I switched to .jpg all the time. I don't want to rough anybody up over the subject; it is a preferential choice as to what you want to do with your photographs, and what your end goal is with the images you shoot. Have a great week and keep photographing, Les Owner/Photographer

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