The question whether to shoot in JPEG or RAW has been bantered around since the advent of digital photography.
Lets start by looking at what main differences are.
A RAW file captures all the image data recorded by the sensor when an image is taken.
A JPEG file is a compressed file and a lot of data is lost when taking an image.
Most new camera's offer you the choice of shooting in RAW or JPEG or both at the same time.
There are lots of advantages choosing to shoot in RAW so lets have a look at a few.
You will get the highest level of image quality possible
Keep better levels of brightness
More chance of recovering an image that is over or underexposed
Less need to set a Kelvin for your white balance as it can be changed in post processing. Though you should set your Kelvin in camera if you want the best image.
Usually the detail is kept in the image which allows you to sharpen and reduce any noise introduced into your image by high ISO's
The image file is non destructive meaning you can revert to the as taken shot and start your post processing again. You can do this over and over and it will still keep it's information.
More information in the image means better prints.
The choice to output to different colour spaces. If you are going to use the image on the internet, possibly for your website, export the file in the sRGB colour space. If you are going to print them, export them in the Adobe RGB colour space. If you want the most possible colour space, export them in ProPhoto RGB.
Some Disadvantages of RAW
Takes longer to write to your camera's memory and also as they are larger will fill up your camera's buffer faster when shooting in continuous mode.
You have to process them before you can print or share them. Most camera's come with software that will allow you to at least open a RAW file.
RAW files are large files and will fill up your camera's memory card faster not to mention your storage space at home or in the cloud. You can see the difference it makes by setting your camera to JPEG and then RAW making note of how many images are left to take on your screen.
The biggest advantage to jpeg is file size but at the expense of the advantages of the RAW format.
The only time I shoot in JPEG is when I'm shooting an event such as the Sunshine Coast Marathon, The Colour Run and the upcoming Relay for Life at the Sunshine Coast University which I will be covering. The reason for this is that the images will only used for publicity for the event and future events to go onto websites and Facebook. Also if it is a long event, organisers ask for images through out the event to put onto social media such as Facebook or Instagram. I may take a few in RAW of certain parts of the event so I can edit them give them a certain tone that suits the event after I get home.
Below is an image that was taken by Stephanie who was one of my workshop students and was shot in RAW. Stephanie kindly sent it to me and I gave it an edit in LR and as you can see I was able to get the colours back, drop the highlights and had control over the lights and dark's of the image.
The below 2 images were deliberately under exposed by 1.5 stops in RAW, to see how much I could pull back out of the image. As you can see there is still a lot of detail in the images even after the exposure has been increased and colour ones have been optimised.
All of my RAW images are shot a 1/3 of a stop or more underexposed as it is very hard to bring back the highlights from a blown out or overexposed part of the image.
The 2 main programs that I use for photo editing are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop with most of my editing done in Lightroom.
You can get both of these programs from Adobe creative cloud and pay a monthly subscription for the Photography package. This is the one I use and is good value and you can opt out after 12mths.
Well I hope you have enjoyed this read and let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.