Do You Need to Shoot Raw or Will JPEG Suffice?

Modern sensors are quite remarkable, and pretty much any newer camera can produce good-looking JPEGs so long as you properly expose. With that in mind, you might wonder if you really need to shoot raw files all the time, or if you can go with the ease and convenience of JPEG. This great video will answer that question for you.

Coming to you from The Snap Chick, this helpful video takes a look at the issue of shooting JPEGs versus shooting raw files. The nice thing about JPEGs is that they are much smaller in size and more manageable, particularly as sensor resolutions continue to balloon, creating larger and larger raw files. And while the cost of storage is always coming down, that may still make them a draw for you. On the other hand, they contain less data than a raw file, and thus, they will give you less latitude to work with when editing. Still, there may be situations in which you do not plan to push the file very far and are just looking for a solution that is a bit more convenient and space-saving, particularly if you are bringing home thousands of images. Check out the video above for more. 

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52 Comments

Jerome Brill's picture

"If you want to shoot in Raw and use all manual all the time SUPER, you do you." in a very condescending tone.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Eh, I think you're reading into it too much. You're ignoring the 2 other things she mentioned right before that quote.

Arthur Morgan's picture

With foul thought and constricted stupidity like this you have a long way to mature enough to become an artist.

Arthur Morgan's picture

"Off" as in tasty Brie cheese is expected ( or is it essential?), "off" as in putrified snot should be kept in the parental house.

you just described "lefties" in one sentence. couldnt have done that better myself.

Stuart Carver's picture

I take it you haven’t taken much notice of Dali and Picasso if you think foul thoughts stop you being an artist.

Jerome Brill's picture

Maybe I'm destined to be a comedian more than a photographer? Regardless, maturity has nothing to do with the ability to have a vision. We're all on this earth to have a good time.

Dan Howell's picture

Odd she doesn't mention the concept of non-destructive editing which for me is the cornerstone of raw workflow.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

You can do non-destructive editing on jpgs as well.

Also, she was using Lightroom. Unless they've made changes lately, that in itself is non-destructive.

Dan Howell's picture

yes, but its still a jpg and things like changing colorspace will lose data.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

In what scenario would you change the colorspace? If you where to shoot jpg from the get-go, you have most likely set your camera to sRGB.

Dan Howell's picture

Some print and reproduction devices prefer Adobe RGB. Adobe RGB more closely matches CMYK. Web prefers SRGB. I have output formulas in Capture One for both ARGB and SRGB depending on where the image is going. One of many reasons I shoot raw.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

For your needs, no doubt you would set it up the way you need to. But, I'll wager most prints out there are via sRGB.

In the snap chick's favor she was not wearing a baseball backwards and saying "Hi Guys!"

But this storage war thing is just silly. It is not the 90s anymore, I can buy 2 Tb drive at Best buy for like $59 and a 64 GB SD card for $18.
The point and shoot camera she is reviewing is $1000 so maybe not a push here dummy camera and the user may be interested in more than SOOC.
The statement that she said about the edited raw and the edited jpeg being "nearly identical" is just plain wrong, they aren't and I don't know if it's because of her edit or ?
I use an a7R2 so it has a pretty darn good sensor (as does do most cameras today) but the flexibility in grading a raw is a good thing to have, especially for beginners. Just shoot raw and jpeg, the cost difference is pennies.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Ken Rockwell, is that you?

Fritz Asuro's picture

How about this, You can think of RAW as an unprocessed JPEG that just needs to go one more step before it becomes one plus the benefit of pulling out better dynamic range, color data, and much much more....

Oh wait...

Steven Hille's picture

My opinion is RAW is just way more forgiving in post processing. Saved my bacon many times in over or underexposed and even too much noise situations.

Wolfgang Post's picture

What's the point of having a great sensor, going out there in the morning, taking time for composition etc if one trows away 80% of the data? The differences between Raw and JPEG in this landscape shot are more than obvious and should make it quite clear why JPEG is simply a No-Go for anything that goes beyond snapshots.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Exactly. Plus shooting volume of frames to retain only a few interesting ones is not a good process in the first place. May be for sports where action is non stop, but then she choose the wrong picture to illustrate this.
She is yet another one who should post her RAW and Jpeg so we can evaluate if what she says has any merit. What comes to my mind right now are those car shows and home remodeling shows that only work well because we don't see the behind the scene and of course the deleted scenes that may show the imperfections and unfinished rooms.

Deleted Account's picture

I love RAW because lI can just gun away all day knowing that it can be fixed in post.

I am absolutely not clicking on one more of these photo rickrolls. I know many news photographers who have to shoot jpeg for deadline and the amount of work they have to do to "fix" any issues with white balance or exposure or hot highlights is painful to watch. Especially those anemic gray areas that were burnt in but look weird because there is no RAW highlight data to "burn" in.

As the other person mentioned hard drives are dirt cheap compared to when I switched to digital in 2000. I now just buy 4-5tb for external mobile drives and 8tb drives for home. I quickly tag and later delete really out of focus pictures during an initial edit in Photomechanic but do not delete anything else. Doing so would take too much time and time is money.

Timothy Turner's picture

Nothing new under the sun

Mike Yamin's picture

Almost every image ends up as a JPEG, so it's less a matter of quality than whether or not my camera can produce JPEGs that I like. When I take a photo, I don't always know how I'll want to process it, and shooting raw more easily allows me to decide that later.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I think for those that like to edit minimally and want a simplified workflow, jpgs can work.

on the 5th of december they posted an article about loosing quality on jpgs, quality degradation on jpgs over time. contradicting articles,. great.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Contradicting articles? No, totally different topics.

rewatch the video. editing jpgs,. and than she rambles about tens of thousands of images. raw 20mb jpg being 12 mb, that means 800mb difference per thousand images. i doubt she has tens of thousands or keeper images. but lets say she does. the size difference for 10 thousand images would be 80 gigabyte, 100.000 images would be a size difference of 800gigs. a 4tb drive cost 90$ and holds 500.000 images in size difference. relating to the other story. if you edit jpgs you loose image quality on your keeper images, on your Raw files you dont. are your keeper images worth 90$ or not.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

-- "relating to the other story. if you edit jpgs you loose image quality on your keeper images"

What do you edit with, MS Paint?

If you edit in Capture One Pro or Lightroom for instance, you do not lose discernible quality on your original jpgs because the edits are non-destructive.

If you edit in Photoshop or Affinity Photo, as long as you save to their native format (.psd, .afphoto) or a .tif, you do not lose discernible quality when export back to a jpg.

However, you lose quality if you continue to edit and save the same jpg file multiple multiple times; or if you edit and save as jpg1. Then, edit jpg1 and save as jpg2. Then, edit jpg2 and save as jpg3. And so on and on.

While it's technically non destructive, that only means what you're doing is undoable - it doesn't mean the quality of the edit is the same as it is with a raw file. Cause it really, really ain't.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

There's no denying editing a jpg is not as good as editing a raw. That's not the argument here. What he's saying is jpg degrades over time. What I'm saying is it doesn't have to.

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