RAW vs JPG, the constant debate! This is a simple brief guide for people who are confused by the other in depth articles on why you should/shouldnt use the RAW format….

When you take a picture in JPG mode on you camera, be it your DLSR or compact the following happens:
Developed from RAW
1. The camera takes the shot and holds it in it’s brain in it’s most binary format….

2. The camera then runs through your ‘settings’ on you camera (such as: white balance, saturation, sharpness, etc) and then ‘applies’ these settings to the binary format image… and saves it to your memory card as a JPG. So this JPG is now ‘set’ in it’s ways, and can’t be manipulated further….and if you do, you are losing quality every time you do.

When you take a picture in RAW mode the following happens:

1. The same as before – The camera takes the shot and holds it in it’s brain in it’s most binary format….

2. The camera applies NO settings at all, it just saves the binary file just the same – and this is called the RAW file, because it’s err practically raw!

BUT – with RAW, you need to add the rest of the settings yourself, you would do this with your RAW convertor, or Photoshop, or Lightroom or similar.

So, RAW is great if you want to be able to apply your own settings to your pictures – to get the best possible result, but the downsides are that it can take longer for a novice RAW user to ‘process’ the images.. but once you get used to it, you can apply your usual settings to a batch of images.

If you are a point and click shooter, and not too worried about the final outcome, OR if you are happy with the results you get (As you can modify your JPGs settings ‘on camera’ – there are still many pro photographers who only shoot JPG) or you are worried about the speed it writes to the camera (If you are shooting high speed stuff) then use JPG.

It’s not a case of one is ‘better’ than the other, it’s a case of how much effort, and how much control you want to have over your final image. With RAW you can take the digital negative and tweak it as many times as you want without losing any quality.. whereas saving and editing and resaving a JPG you are going to lose quality.

So if using RAW, in Photoshop/Lightroom etc you can manually adjust your white balance, exposure (a couple of stops up and down without losing quality like JPG), sharpness, etc etc.

You can see why the majority of Pro’s shoot RAW, it just offers MORE control basically. But, as with most things, there is no right or wrong way of doing it – but if you have RAW functionality I do recommend at least having a little play with it!