Still Evaluating Shooting RAW Photography vs. JPG?

My journey of taking all my photographs in JPG format is over. After experimenting with photo editing between the two formats I will always shoot my RAW photography format  (RAW +jpeg setting) photos. I have much more creativity range once I get to the editing or photo processing phase.

One thing I love about Spring in Nebraska is the blooming of spring flowers. I sometimes get so excited about the sun and colors I forget to meter my camera to the new lighting caused by the bright sun. I’m either over exposing or under exposing.

So  how do we fix what could be a wonderful picture.  If you have a RAW option in your camera you can easily adjust the exposure without causing image degradation or artifacts. If not using Photoshop and adjusting the levels might be your only option. But be warned it doesn’t work on all photos as you can see below.

Did you know that every time you open a jpg file you lose a little bit of digital information in the image? After a few times you don’t notice a difference, but work and rework that file and pixel by pixel it loses detail. (I’m learning just a little bit more and more)

Think of a RAW file as an undeveloped photo, much like film. In a RAW photo editing program you can adjust the exposure, without destroying pixels or the detail.

How to Fix an Underexposed Photo in RAW photography

I know, it’s not sharp either, darned Nebraska wind.

Below is an example of how messy adjusting jpg files can become. In most pictures there is enough texture to “hide” the destruction, but in this night sky the gradient colors quickly become degraded. “Banding” occurs in the color gradients detracting from the night image. With RAW photography files the gradients are smooth.

Over processing destroys jpg images, shoot in RAW when you can

Ideally I would get the right exposure the first time and not have to adjust, but I’m not quite there yet. Many will argue that every digital image needs some post production to perfect it. What do you think? Do you shoot RAW?

Since I took this shot I have started using Adobe Lightroom to process my RAW images. The program is extremely powerful, yet economical in cost and user friendly.

If you want to learn more about why people take pictures in RAW this photography forum thread is worth reading

Learn About RAW Photography

Black and White Digital Photography Photo WorkshopUnderstanding RAW Photography (Expanded Guides – Techniques)Camera Raw with Photoshop For DummiesCamera RAW 101: Better Photos with Photoshop, Elements,The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom,Lexar Professional 1100x 64GB XQD Card (LXQD64GCTBNA1100) Size:

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19 thoughts on “Still Evaluating Shooting RAW Photography vs. JPG?

  1. I shoot only raw and if image quality is paramount, then thats the way to go. I would suggest you start learning how to shoot on manual, then you have total control over your result. It is really quite simple, when you break it down. You have shutter speeds, aperture and existing light. Put your camera on manual, and adjust one or both of the above till the meter says proper exposure and fire a shot. if it looks wrong, your meter was fooled by either something too light or dark. to fix the problem,adjust your shutter speed or aperture open or closed to override the mislead meter. So to simplify, say your white flower shot was taken at f11 at 250th of a sec on manual, and it looks underexposed, go to your controls and either slow the shutter speed to let more light in, or open your aperture to let more light in. even if the meter does not agree,thats fine, because they are incorrect many times. get a photo gray card,and meter the flowers first and watch the suggested meter reading,then put the gray card in the same light and you will see a totally different result. the camera wants to make your white or black subject a midtone, hence the underexposed white. hope that was not too much info to digest.

    1. Nope, not too much information. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to “think” about the settings and shots. Parked by the side of the road getting the tree I’m more worried about getting hit by a car.

      I use Aperture priority most of the time with auto iso, but have experimented with various settings, exposures, etc,…when I DO have the time. I’m just not there yet where it comes automatically and second nature. Thanks for the input. Greatly appreciated

      1. Thanks. I hate to hear when someone sees something truly amazing and they miss it because they dont know how to alter exposure to get the shot. sounds like you are fairly capable and sometimes its hard to grasp something by just reading it, so hopefully you can test out my ideas and get a firm grasp on things when you need to incorporate an exposure change. good luck.

        1. My son gave me his old Rebel and I think I need to go back to the manual to see where the “warning” sensor is for over exposure etc. I’m really not liking his camera, although I was jealous of it before.

          I have an old Olympus digital (4mpg) that I think takes much higher quality images. That camera really forces me to think as there are NO prompts, in camera previews etc. but once I “get” it, amazing images in clarity.

          Sometimes I resort to “snapshot” mode and forget everything.

          1. 4 megapixel is really outdated, but if it suits your needs,thats all that matters. newer cameras have really made huge strides in high iso noise reduction in the last 2 years, so you might consider upgrading if money allows. higher megapixel also allows for easier cropping sometimes. knowing when you need more depth/aperture verses shutter speed is also something to learn, so you can blur the background or make it tack sharp,or freeze motion. it takes time to absorb the various nuances of photography, and even after 3o years of shooting,I still struggle sometimes. This weekend I tried panning motorcycle riders to get them sharp but the background streaked, and after 30 shots, I barely got one that was sharp enough of the rider. you must match you panning to the riders speed and It was very difficult. I even used a tripod,so all I had to do was pan the head left to right accurately. it was fun though.

          2. I know my Olympus is basically an antique, it was an “eBay find” I couldn’t pass up a little over 5 years ago. At the pro lab I work at I can make high quality prints up to 11×14. I just have to shoot in the frame.

            Take a look at this image on my old Olympus, I LOVE the vibrance and

            Both were straight out of camera. Been there, done that on the trial and error. We’re always learning aren’t we, that’s the great thing bout photography, learning from one another.

            I’ve had a digital camera since the early 1990’s, Before then was a DSLR Fjuica film camera. I think my first was a digital was a 2.3 mpg. Every 3 years I upgrade, but I can’t afford the real upgrade I want now. I have camera envy. Maybe one of my customers will sell me one of their “back-up” cameras for a steal.

          3. They look good. I actually remember my first digital used floppies. holy cow was that resolution terrible,but we thought wow, at the time.

          4. Lol I used one of those, didnt own it, at that time I knew my film camera was better. Thanks for sharing this has been fun!

  2. Really good thread. A slightly different analogy for you on JPG versus RAW. With a RAW image the pixels are already defined and can be damaged by manipulation, but if you keep the original you can always go back. Think of it more like the negative of an old photo. That’s the original item that you hope to be able to keep and go back to for differently manipulated prints from it. The JPG is a print from the original negative, in order to re-print it you either have to copy it or re-photograph it and therefore you lose, EVERY time.
    Don’t forget, whatever you learn is only the beginning. Always experiment and you’ll never be disappointed. Not every shot is perfect but at least with digital we are able to be more ruthless and dump what we think is a waste (not as expensive as throwing away film!)

    Wow that was a bit of a rant, sorry. Some great shots here by the way, keep it up.

    1. It’s not a rant, keep it up, I started this blog over a year ago with the purpose of learning more, and I do, every day! I appreciate the feedback and encourage more to join this thread.

      I’m always afraid of losing my original, so I do a save as in case I mess up an edit. Or, when I learn more about processing I can go back and get a “redo”. The result is several copies of the same image.

  3. I only shoot in RAW as well as the others, Dawn. Most of my tweaks are done in RAW as well before moving them into PS to watermark. I do feel safer having my original backed up as well!

      1. There’s a few nice little “point and shoot” cameras out there that have the RAW option… one thing about RAW tho, they are heaaavy images! I find it that Jpeg looks nicer than RAW if you are planning on shooting and not editing at all.

        1. Very much agree, RAW is unprocessed and will look “flat” but gives you 20 times the color gamut if you are doing prints and editing. I have my camera set for JPG and RAW that way I can just take the JPGs if I’m looking for “snapshots” Thanks for commenting and please come back and visit again.

          1. Keep in mind that the image on the camera screen is always JPEG. I don’t think they are the highest level of JPEG either.

            I try to keep my editing simple. I use Corel Paint Shop Pro because it’s dirt cheap and has most of the functions of LR or PS. In short I do most of my editing before I click the shutter.

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