A question we’ve all heard asked a million times… “Do you shoot raw or jpeg”? The answer to which is generally answered by the questions, “yes”, “no” and “both”. Numerous polls conducted over the years show between the yes and no camp, it’s around 50/50, so, how important is it to photograph using raw instead of or instead of jpeg?
There are many reasons why you would choose either raw or jpeg (why you’d shoot in jpeg can be found here and why you’d shoot raw here), personal preference being the main reason. However, photographing in raw can have an affect on your image.
This isn’t about what you should choose to photograph in though, it’s about how important it is to shoot in raw. For many of us, we shoot raw and jpeg, so cover all options, and having the raw file has come in handy more than once.
Up until I swapped to Fujifilm from Nikon, I used to use raw most of the time. I left Nikon and because of Fujifilm’s amazing colour science, I used the jpegs more than I ever had before. I lived by the motto of “get it right in camera”, and while I still love by that, I’ve gone back to editing raw files once again. All my jpegs are stored though, as I like to always keep the images from my camera for viewing on the future, and they sit alongside the few that I edit.
How important is it to photograph in raw instead of jpeg?
This is the big one. If you’re going to edit a jpeg for any reason, you may as well just edit the raw file, and that is the conclusion I think many people come to. It’s really not hard to edit a raw file, load it into your raw editor, adjust your exposure, highlights, shadows and horizon, and usually that’s more than enough, and it already looks better than a jpeg. Of course, use some colour grading and you take the image to a whole new level.
But there’s more than that, how many times have you blown highlights? Or recovered shadows and they’ve given you a coloured mess? Yes, there’s more dynamic range to play with in raw files, but, I’m sure we all know that. But, there’s another reason shoot and edit raw files that many forget about.
Because you can see the amount of data you can recover, and because you’re concentrating more on the image while editing, you’ll see and understand your composition more. Editing the raw file has you more invested in your image, and it makes you think about future images.
Being invested in your images makes you care for them more. While there’s a great feeling of getting a jpeg right in camera, deep inside you’ll know it’ll never be as good as an edited raw file. Each image becomes your little creation.
At the end of the day, you can of course photograph in whichever way you want. I never preach to you to change your way. However, think about this reason. The investment of time into your images. Being invested makes you improve. And the more you practise, the better you really get!