shooting in raw or jpeg

Firstly, when it comes to working in RAW or JPEG there is no wrong or right way to shoot, it is all up to you and the way you work. A few people have asked me why I shoot in RAW lately though, or what the difference is or if its just the same, so I thought I'd write up a short & sweet blog post telling you what I know.

Below is my test image. It is an overexposed photo of a cloudy sky shot in RAW. I then made a second copy, converting it to JPEG so I can edit both files exactly the same and see what happens.

I selected both the RAW and JPEG file and pulled down the exposure the exact same amount and that is all:




After seeing the results, you can see there is a massive difference between RAW and JPEG, but whether or not you like to be able to fix images to this extent is up to you. Here is a very quick and simple overview of the two file types:

RAW images are larger files, but they contain a lot more information. This means, if you accidentally over or under expose a photo, there is more of a chance that you can correct it and save the photo. For example, if I had shot the above photo in JPEG, when I pull down the exposure to try and fix the image, all the information in the middle of the picture would be lost (all the white left in the middle of the photo).

The downside to shooting RAW is almost the same as the upside - the file size. You can shoot less photos while on a shoot unless you invest in a few more memory cards. It also takes up lots of storage space on your computer and external harddrives, and even more if you backup all your files.

JPEG files are a lot smaller, however contain a lot less information. As you can see in the image example above, I tried pulling down the expose to fix the image, but the JPEG file could not find the information it needed to do this. 

While you can take countless photos in JPEG on a shoot, the downside is if you take a few amazing photos and they happen to be over or under exposed, there is a lot less a chance that you will be able to save them.

So there is my little two cents on shooting RAW and JPEG. I always shoot in raw because I just like the comfort in knowing that I can have the most possible control over my images, and that if I do happen to take an amazing photo and it is slightly overexposed, I can bring down the settings and it won't have any JPEG compression damage.

I hope I haven't confused anyone too much! If anyone has any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them.


  1. Nice of you to post about this. I've been trying to explain the same thing to people who are interested in photography. It's cool that they are also developing the raw video-format!

    The main downside on raw-format is that there's a limited amount of programs that can open it and work with it. And for example if you buy a brand new camera with a new raw-format even those few programs might not recognize it before they add an update. Also there are some concerns that softwares might abandon the older raw-formats. In that case you couldn't open them anymore. That's why it's always good to save jpg-file of the best images or order a print.

    I really liked you post about prepping for a shoot too.

  2. Nice post :) like your blog :)
    kisses, Anni <3

  3. thanks everyone, glad you found it helpful. emilia, you are completely right! it was so annoying when i got my new camera and i had to update everything just to read the raw files.

    there is something you can do for that - when you are downloading your raw images in bridge, convert them to dng. that is a raw file that all programs that can read raw files can open, and it is a smaller file size.

  4. This post has actually been super helpful. Thank you so much. Look forward to seeing more of your work!

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  6. Thank you so much. I never really understood the difference until now. So yeah, I should probably start shooting in RAW.

  7. That makes so much sense - thank you for spelling it out for us!

  8. I think I'm gonna start shooting in RAW, the thing with overexposed pretty pictures happends alot with me :(

  9. That was a great explanation,and I liked being able to benefit from seeing the benefit, rather than just reading about it. How do you shoot in RAW?

  10. sally, look in your camera settings. there should be an option to shoot either jpeg or raw. there is also a jpeg AND raw option, but i think it's pointless to have two of the same picture!

  11. so helpful. thank you so much. the visual example was so great.