50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Editing, Photography

RAW or JPEG?

Raw or JEG? For photographers that can be a question that leads to a fist fight.  Well, except that might mean that a camera would get damaged, so maybe we can just agree to disagree or something more civil.  If you take photos, chances are that you are aware of the debate I am talking about.  A few weeks ago I was talking with Kirk author of the aptly named, Conversation is an Engine, blog about the raw vs. jpeg question.  I gave him the short version answer, which is that I shoot both.  It did make me think though about my workflow and why I do what I do.

Part of the reason I shoot both is that I have one DSLR camera that I use for both my professional work and my personal photos.  I keep it set to jpeg and raw in part so I don’t accidentally forget to reset for raw when I am working.  Setting the camera that way does create a lot of files and take up a lot of space on my machine.  Because I choose to shoot this way, I have to be disciplined about throwing away files I don’t need.  For me, most of my family snapshots I will only ever need a 4×6 print, jpeg is fine for that.  Here is an example of a photo I would keep only in jpeg:

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/5

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/5

Some would argue that I should have kept the Raw version, that I might want to edit it more in the future.  That is a pretty good argument, and it is true that extra space doesn’t cost that much.  I guess I’m just pretty sure I won’t ever need a Raw version.

Here is one that I shot in Raw, and kept the Raw version:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/400

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/400

I shot this one in Raw because I knew that I would be making this into an HDR image and I wanted as much detail as possible, so it was worth the space on my computer to save the larger file.

How about you? Raw? JPEG? both?  feel free to leave a comment below.  If you have written a blog post about it, leave a link if you would like.

Cheers!

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10 thoughts on “RAW or JPEG?

  1. I shoot both. The jpeg is for quick viewing whilst the raw is for editing iI choose to do so. Storage is cheap. and who knows, jpeg or raw might not exist or be compatible down the track so best to keep both.

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    • You make a very good argument for keeping both. There are a lot of reasons for shooting and keeping one or the other or both, but your points about storage and compatibility are pretty important considerations. Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

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  2. kirkistan says:

    Thanks for taking this up again. You’ve convinced me to do the same. Shooting in RAW+JPEG is making me more disciplined in at least two ways: taking care to toss the stuff I’ll never use (I still barely have courage for this) and to revisit and tweak photos. Tweaking my photos is really instrumental in helping me understand what I like and what works/doesn’t work and what I should try more of. Your commentary on the mechanics of the Photoshop process helped me see that I could try it too. And sometimes it even works! Thanks for your helpful posts! By the way–I love that tombstone.

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    • Thank you for making me think my process through. I think it is helpful to review workflow every once in awhile just to evaluate if it is still working for you. In my case, it is working right now. You might want to revisit the comments section at some point because there are some very good reasons not to throw out anything that another photographer commented on. I’m glad you find my posts helpful, that really makes my day. I love that tombstone also, it is so intricate, just a real work of art in my opinion.

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  3. Interesting thoughts. I only shoot in RAW!
    It has been advised to me ever since from so many semipro that one day I started and I’d never go back to JPEG.
    Love Dina

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  4. I use both. I have a setting that shoots both at once, but it takes an extra moment to write to memory. I can turn to dial to Mode, which I usually leave on “Sports” because it shoots quickly. That does JPEG only and I need the speed when a subject is moving. It’s more likely geese than sports though.

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