Just about every DSLR camera will give you the option of shooting in Raw or Jpeg file formats. In this tutorial we’re going to explain the differences between Raw format versus Jpeg.
There are quite a few major differences with the two modes and Raw photos will take up more of your camera’s memory since the files aren’t compressed. The Raw format requires software to view the images and you’ll get all of the data for the image directly from the sensor of the camera. The dynamic range is higher than Jpeg as it shows shadows and highlights better, but at the same time, the contrast is lower and the photos can sometimes look a little flat. In addition, the images aren’t usually as sharp and you can’t print them directly from your camera or without post processing them. The files are basically ‘read only’ as all changes are kept in another file or format.
Most people are more familiar with Jpeg images as they’re pretty standard and can be opened and viewed by many different programs. These are smaller files since they can be compressed. The images are generally sharper and have more contrast than Raw, but the dynamic range is lower. These shots can be instantly shared, printed, and posted to a website. They don’t require much post processing, if any at all, but they can easily be edited and manipulated if you choose. Each time you make an edit though you’ll lose a little of the original file.
If you’re concerned about taking a greater number of photos then you’re better off with Jpeg as you’ll be able to take two to three times more shots in this formant. It’s also a good option if you plan on sharing the images pretty easily and quickly after capturing them. If image capacity isn’t a problem you could actually shoot in Raw and Jpeg. This will allow you to keep the jpeg shots if you want to use them without any post processing work. If you would like to produce the best image possible and print it later you should consider Raw. But remember, you will need to take the time to post process the photos.
Shooting in Raw Format
When shooting in Raw, it’s actually your computer that will do the data processing rather than the camera. You’ll be able to control the final output better as you’ll be able to correct any mistakes you may have made when taking the shots. To do this though, you’ll need a software program to process the Raw images and convert them to Tiff or Jpeg files when you’re done. There are some good programs on the market and it’s a good idea to read a few reviews on some of the options. Some of the programs allow you to control contrast, white balance, saturation, exposure, and color calibration. This means you can take a washed-out Raw file and produce a sharp and rich finished product. When you load a Raw file into a software program it will automatically apply contrast, brightness, white balance, and sharpening, etc. and may be able to batch process them.
Shooting in Jpeg Format
When taking shots in Jpeg the camera will process all the information needed and process it quickly before saving it as a file. You may lose some resolution and color since Jpegs produce a little more noise. You may also lose other raw information from the camera sensor during this process and it’s gone forever. However, a DSLR camera will produce better quality Jpegs than a point and shoot model and if the camera has the capability to shoot continuously it will be able to take3 more mages than Raw since it takes longer to save Raw images.
Some of the leading types of software programs to use in combination with Raw images include: Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP; Adobe Photoshop CS and CS2; Adobe RawShooter Premium; ACD See; Portfolio Extensis 8; Microsoft iView Media Pro; Picasa; BreezeBrowser Pro; Adobe Lightroom; Capture One; IrfanView; DXO Optics Pro; Picture Window Pro
The software that came with the camera may also be just as good. If you want to print the photos and make sure you have all 12-bits of color in a Raw file as opposed to eight bits in a Jpeg then the image should be stored as a Tiff file. If you’ve never tried shooting in the Raw format you may want to experiment a bit to see if you prefer the results when compared to shooting in Jpeg. If your camera allows you to shoot in Raw and Jpeg at the same time it’s a good way to do some comparing.
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