The age-old question remains “Should I be shooting my images in RAW or JPEG?”. The answer to that question really boils down to your end goal. If you are taking your camera out with the intent to capture high-quality imagery for printing purposes, RAW should always be your go-to.
What is RAW?
RAW and JPEG are file format options in your camera. The difference being that RAW is able to capture all of the image data recorded by the sensor without compressing your file. However, the information in JPEG images ARE compressed and with this, details can become easily lost.
Correcting minor flaws and enhancing even the smallest of details becomes possible while editing RAW files. A few post-processing examples being, pulling dark shadows by “exposing” more light into your image or correcting an overexposed image by minimizing the “highlights” to show greater detail in certain areas. The benefit always coming back to, the no loss of detail during this process. The cleaner the details in your image, the cleaner your print will appear once blown up to a larger size.
The differences between unedited RAW vs. JPEG file are immediately visible when you compare the two together on your computer screen. The JPEG image will appear much more appealing, as it will have higher contrast, richer color, and an overall cleaner look. While it’s apparent that the RAW file preserves greater detail, it will appear much duller in its current state. You will have to put in some extra time and effort into editing the RAW image to achieve the desired “polished” look that the JPEG image naturally has.
Once the image is edited to your liking and all of the details are perfectly intact, you can now magnify your photograph into print and be proud to display your final result.
Camera File Format Options:
There is an option on your camera to shoot JPEG + RAW. It will save two files of the same image to your memory card. That way, if you’d like to explore your options and analyze the differences between the two formats on your computer, you can do so. It is something to note that shooting in RAW + JPEG can take up a hefty amount of space on your memory cards due to the file sizes being so large. But, it is worth exploring.
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