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Shooting RAW or JPEG

Illustration ©LightRoomLabs.com


Online photography message boards across the worldwide web always have at least one discussion about shooting in RAW vs JPEG formats. Sometimes the discussions get quite heated.

As with everything in photography, from camera models to memory card size, it's a matter of personal preference.
 




Before you can really decide what's best for your shooting style you should consider what a RAW or JPEG file is. 


Think of the RAW file as a digital negative. All the data from the picture is captured in it's entirety along with the image's metadata (camera's settings, the lens and more). The information is then written to your memory card.

The benefit of producing RAW file beauties is that there is no in-camera processing done before it's sent to your memory card. "Just the facts" as it were.
Once you've downloaded your RAW files from your memory card into a program such as Adobe Photoshop, the fun begins. You can change the values of the color hue, saturation, white balance and lots more. Hopefully creating a better picture than you started out with. Meanwhile you retain the original RAW data file. After editing you can save it as a JPEG, GIF, PNG  to print or publish. 

The benefit of a JPEG file is that it's been processed by the camera and is a much smaller size that is sent to your memory card. As you can see from the illustration above, the values you had fun playing with in a RAW file are set (defined) first before going to the memory card. There are a various qualities of JPEG's from fine to normal depending on camera makes and models.
You can still edit your JPEG images in editing programs and save as a new photo file but you cannot adjust the original data. 


In very tricky lighting situations like dark rides, fireworks shows or those once in a lifetime moments you may want to consider shooting in RAW format or a combination JPEG Fine and RAW. 
What do you think? Do you shoot RAW or a combination RAW/JPEG?



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