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RAW Or JPEG | What's Right For You?

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

 hope you enjoy this photo made at the Musee du Louvre in Paris. The original color image was made with my camera set to RAW. I make all my photographs in this way. The reason being that I want to have as much control as possible over the final look and quality of my images.

Unfortunately, photographing in JPEG mode would minimize the quality of my original files and, as a consequence, limit what I can do with them on the desktop.

Photography Is A Game Of Compromise

Now, I'm not saying that you must make all images in the same way that I do. Some areas of professional photography (e.g., sports, newspaper) are well suited to the speed and simplicity offered by setting your camera to JPEG. But, like anything else, photography is a game of compromise. 

If photography for you is making pictures in camera, and you have little or no desire to explore better quality and potentially more interesting rendering of your images by taking control of the processing of your original camera exposures on the desktop, then JPEG is for you.

White Balance With JPEG Files

However, if you choose the JPEG route, just make sure you pay attention to getting things right in the camera. In particular make sure you achieve desirable White Balance in camera, as adjusting white balance on the desktop can be far less satisfactory with JPEG's than it is with the original RAW files. Making minor tweaks is one thing, but major adjustments to white balance on a JPEG image are unlikely to prove successful. 


A beautiful stone carving , illuminated by warm light, at the Louvre in Paris, France .

A beautiful stone carving, illuminated by warm light, at the Louvre in Paris, France.

RAW Processing In Today's Digital Darkroom

If, however, the final image is what it's all about and you're prepared to accept the compromises associated with taking more responsibility for the processing and final look of your images, then you really should be making photos with your camera set to RAW.

The compromises I refer to involve a significant learning curve. In particular you'll need to invest considerably more time improving your images through applications such as Adobe Lightroom or Macphun Luminar. A willingness to play and also to think, more deeply, about your images can be a definite advantage when working on the desktop. 

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A display case showcasing stone tablets at the Louvre in Paris, France .

A display case showcasing stone tablets at the Louvre in Paris, France.

This is actually a very big topic and one of the most fundamental decisions that determines your approach to photography and, therefore, deserves careful consideration. I offer one-to-one and small group workshops in a range of image processing applications such as Adobe Lightroom, which I love.

If you need help understanding how to use your camera to make better photos, a one-to-one classes would be ideal. You'll find all the details by clicking on the link below.


JPEG OR RAW | Think Carefully

The decision as to whether to choose RAW or JPEG is of critical importance. Don't be swayed by someone who is simply trying to justify their own workflow. It's worth noting that it's not a question as to which of the two options is best. It's really a matter of which option is right for you and your own, individual circumstances.

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