So there’s this age old argument among photographers between choosing RAW over JPEG. As a professional photographer, you should know the differences. After all, this craft is your bread and butter and it really does pay to be in the know. So to start off, what does RAW and JPEG mean, exactly? Well, they’re basically file formats.
What is RAW format?
RAW is the image format initially captured by the sensors when you shoot a photo. This means that all the elements and components are still there and are practically untouched. So if you are keen on the little details such as the lighting, the subtle focus and out of focus effects, feathering on the outline, among other things which really make a world of difference for the photos; then you should keep it RAW.
The issue with the JPEG format that professional photographers sort of detest is the fact that is it compressed and most of the information is either hidden or lost. If you shoot your pictures in the JPEG format, you might end up with sub-par quality photos that don’t necessarily capture the essence of the moments you wanted to immortalize.
What is a JPEG format?
Shooting in RAW means you get to glean all of the information you shoot and get them into the photo. This is a really big deal considering so many things are happening in a photo all at once. On top of that, you are guaranteed the highest quality of pictures, which is really a prerequisite if you are actually shooting professionally. It provides you the liberty of processing your pictures yourself, deciding on how they should be altered, instead of having the camera do it for you which is what happens when you shoot with a JPEG format.
Comparison between RAW and JPEG
You also get to play with more light or brightness options when you shoot in RAW. I’m not gonna delve into the math here but just to give you an idea, shooting RAW over JPEG gives you a minimum of 3,700 levels of brightness more. That changes the whole ball game especially when it comes to playing up the shadows, how the light hits your subjects, exposure, contrast, and so much more! You also get to avoid posterization, which refers to the hazy spectrum effect brought on by light, much more easily when you shoot in RAW because the photos are pretty much unprocessed on untouched.
It’s so easy to correct overexposed or underexposed images in RAW. Again, we go back to the fact that you have all the info intact so you can easily alter them and correct them without sacrificing the quality of the photo.
Your prints will also look so much better when you shoot in RAW. The resolution and the gradation are finer and more focused so they come out really good looking when put in print. Although we are in the digital age, you have to keep in mind that clients may still want their prints, for posterity.
Well, these basic reasons alone should already put you on the bandwagon rallying for the RAW format but overall, as you see, this is just the professional choice. Your clients pay a pretty penny for great and high quality pictures – and they deserve no less.