Let’s get this one thing out of the way before we start. As you all know I always have my cameras set to shoot in jpeg and raw, so I have the best of both worlds, but I get a real kick about jpegs, even after all this time in photography. Here is why…
Reason 1: Instant results
I spend time making sure that my jpegs look exactly as I want them before I take the photograph. This means setting up the colour profile to a way that I like. Depending on my mood and camera, I will adjust the saturation, sharpness, highlights and shadows and even the white balance offset to get the look.
It means that more care needs to be taken when taking the photo, which in turn means that you have more invested time in your image, ensuring it is perfect at the press of the shutter button. You can then look at the image on the back of your screen, or on your computer, or even print it and you have the instant result you want, looking exactly as you wanted it to be without (or with little) editing.
Reason 2: Little to no editing involved.
As mentioned above, because you are more invested in your image, you’ll try harder to get everything right in camera, meaning little to no editing.
When you do need to edit your jpeg images, it’s a known fact that there is not as much latitude to play with as with raw files. However there is still plenty of play in jpeg files, more than enough to recover a few stops of light if needed. It won’t be as much as with a raw image, and it will have more noise, but you would have of course taken more time to get it right (plus you’ll have the raw file for those rare occasions things might go wrong when shooting in both jpeg and raw).
Usually, the most you may need to do to a jpeg file is correct the horizon, adjust exposure slightly or crop. But of course you can do a lot more if you need to, and you’ll have a great starting point with the jpeg image!
Reason 3: Free up time
A lot of people don’t like editing, and getting it right with the jpeg means you have a lot less work to do once you transfer the file from your camera.
You’ll be able to upload images to social media, or your website, print images and back up your images much quicker with the smaller file sizes. It’s a win win situation!
Reason 4: It feels like shooting film.
Because you have so much responsibility when using jpegs, there’s a strange, analogue feel to the whole process. In fact, there are huge communities that tweak their colour profiles to look like film, and they aim to replicate the film era as much as possible.
I like to add a diffusion filter to my lens when using jpegs, so the images are even more analogue in style! The light gets dispersed and it gives a result that is not so harsh as a usual digital image.
You also have the “just one chance” feeling when shooting in jpeg, especially if you only shoot in jpeg with no raw backup. A feeling we all too fondly remember about shooting film.
Reason 5: It’s just simple and fun!
Think about when photography was all about the 35mm film camera. You didn’t have to worry too much about anything. Your 35mm film of choice selected your ISO, you could then just select your aperture and shutter speed and take the photo. Your biggest involvement would be capturing the scene, getting everything right in the composition, pressing the button and you’re done.
For almost every single person during the film era, they would then send the roll of film off and enjoy the results. The same can be said with shooting jpeg. You concentrate on what really matters and enjoy the moment you’re in, press the shutter button and your camera develops the images into jpeg files!
I have loved photography for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen every argument under the sun about analogue vs digital, raw vs jpeg and so much more. In this day and age, where I want an image to be proud of, without the hassle of spending hours editing, I’ll use the jpeg for all the reasons mentioned above.
Of course I’ll still have the raw files, and in certain situations I’ll use the raw files (night time photography for example), but generally speaking, the jpeg is more than worthy. And of course, the thing that matters more than anything is that no one knows, or even cares if an image is only a jpeg if you get everything right and end up with a beautiful image.