RAW vs. JPEG, How to Choose?

RAW vs. JPEG-Which Image Format Is Right for You, and Why?

If you’re a photo shooter, then you understand the dilemma of choosing between RAW and JPEG image format. This article provides insight on both image formats to help you make your choice easily.

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Aug 11, 2021 • Filed to: Photo/Video/Audio Solutions • Proven solutions

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Most of the cameras available today can shoot pictures in two formats - RAW and JPEG. There's a widespread debate about which format is best to use, and many people have shared their opinions. There's a need to be subjective about this question and learn the differences. Instead of asking which option is the best, you should be asking which image format is suitable for you and why. To help you efficiently answer this question, we'll be exploring the features, pros, and cons of each image format to help you make your decision. Now that you know what to expect, let's dive right in.


Part 1: Raw vs. JPEG, What Is the Different?

What Does JPEG Mean?

an image shot and edited in raw image format

Raw is also referred to as a digital negative. It is an image file that contains unprocessed data or data with minimal processing from a camera sensor. Just like when dealing with food ingredients, you need to process it after shooting before you can print a RAW image. Because they are unprocessed, RAW images are usually large and uncompressed. Because they are unprocessed, you get to capture a high amount of image data. You cannot efficiently process RAW images on any editing software; they are usually tied to your camera's model. However, they can sometimes be processed using robust programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, and more.

Pros

  1. More color range
  2. Better control and adjustment potential
  3. They use lossless compression
  4. Allows you to adjust color space after capturing the image
  5. Better sharpening quality

Cons

  1. Needs post-processing
  2. Utilizes more storage space
  3. The camera's software can only modify it
  4. Difficult to share
  5. Longer backup

What Does JPEG Mean?

a picture in jpeg image format

JPEG differs extensively from RAW images. They make use of lossy compression to store and also display pictures. Because of its high compression feature, it's no surprise that JPEG is a popular image format today. Most display devices and image processing software can read JPEG images. JPEG images usually come with low quality and size than RAW images. Most people prefer JPEG format when they're uploading images on the web. This preference is because the small size and high compression allow for faster uploads and downloads at different internet speeds.

Pros

  1. No need for processing
  2. Small image size
  3. Compatible with many devices and software
  4. You can modify the compression level
  5. Easy upload/Download on the internet

Cons

  1. Uses lossy compression
  2. Low quality after compression
  3. Limited recovery options
  4. Camera settings strongly affect JPEG images

Part 2: Should I Shoot in RAW or JPEG or Both?

Now, to the most crucial question of the day - should I shoot in RAW or JPEG format for my photography? It is vital to note that you don't necessarily have to pick and stick with one. More importantly, you should know when it is appropriate to use RAW and when JPEG is necessary. Knowing the difference, cons, and pros of both options will help you understand the situation when one is better than the other. To assist you with choices, below are some situations when each image format is right for you.

Option 1: Pick JPEG for Quick and Easy Shots

JPEG is your best option when you're taking casual photos or need to take quick shots in an informal setting. JPEG format allows you to take several images immediately and share them just as quickly. They do not need post-processing, so you get to save time right there. Since it also has a high compression rate, JPEGs come in small sizes and gives you ample space to take as many pictures as you want. For profile pictures and documenting your day on social media platforms, JPEG images are your go-to image format. If you also need to shoot several photos in a fast-paced environment like a fashion show or sports event, you can also use JPEG format. However, you need to know your exposure well enough to do this.

jpeg for quick and easy photos

Option 2: Go RAW for Detailed, Stylized Shots

The best time to use RAW is when you're taking professional photos. RAW is perfect when you have intentions to edit the images later. When you're taking pictures and want a lot of details and color, you should opt for RAW format. It is also a great option when you plan to tweak the light and shadow after shooting images. If you want well-detailed photos for your photography site or portfolio, your best option would always be a RAW format. The RAW format allows you to adjust the color, balance, tone, and other features till you're satisfied. They are best for creative and commercial works because you can tweak the images to possess the same vision and style.

use raw for more detailed shots

Option 3: Match Your Format with Your Needs

As pointed out earlier, you don't necessarily have to pick a particular format for all your photography sessions. You just need to find the format that's ideal for your goal. When making your choice, focus on the use, and it will be easier to find the format that fits. This means you can use both formats; your choice depends on how you want the pictures to turn out. You should use both formats regularly to help you get great shots at all times. Today, many professional photographers use both formats to shoot different image types like food, travel, black and white, and many more. You simply need to match your format with your needs, and you'll get excellent results.

RAW: Editing for Professional Use

RAW format is an excellent choice if you want to shoot some professional images. When using a JPEG format, the shadows do not have enough information to use. Due to this, it is challenging to brighten images like you can with a RAW image format. A RAW image format improves the recovery potentials and allows you to boost shadows. This is more advantageous when you're shooting landscape photos. This is because you will need minor details to be captured, even the clouds. When working on files, you only have to zoom in entirely for false colors and noise to appear in the shadow. When using editing software to edit underexposed pictures, RAW files tend to cope better with the exposure change than JPEGs.

a heavily underexposed long exposure image

fully recovered image in raw image format

JPEG

You can use JPEGs for several purposes, including:

Online Sharing: You can use the JPEG format to shoot photos you want to upload on a website or share on social media platforms. Some of these platforms include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

Printing: JPEG is also a good option if you want to print cards, posters, and many other high-resolution photos.

Emails: When you intend to email images, photos in JPEG formats are a better option to use. It is also preferred because it is effortless and fast even with slow internet speed.

Transfer: In scenarios when you need to copy, download or transfer images, JPEGs are much faster than RAW files because of the lesser file size.

Storing More Number of Photos: Because of the compression feature of the JPEG format, it comes with small file size. This feature allows you to store more photos on your PC, mobile devices, SD cards, and other storage spaces.


Part 3: Tips for Photo Shooters

Below are some vital tips that will help you become a better photo shooter and create excellent images at all times.

Tip 1: Choose an Image Format Flexibly

Knowing when to use each image format when shooting photos is critical. You need to learn and master the rules of photography. You will need to master many camera settings, and the only way to do this is with practice. Also, learn when you need to shoot in RAW format and export in JPEG format. Shooting in RAW format is best if you have plans to edit the photos in the future. You can also shoot RAW for easy printing and learn how to convert to JPEG format for printing, transferring, downloading, and uploading on online platforms. This way, you can keep the RAW format for later, just in case.

Tip 2: Prepare Enough Storage Space

When you're shooting professional photos, your best option is the RAW image format. This format captures detailed files and helps you retain the high quality of the images. However, they are uncompressed and tend to consume more space than JPEGs. To avoid issues while shooting, you need to make sure that there's enough storage space for your photos. It is best to purchase an external hard drive to store your photos. You can also purchase extra memory cards to take along whenever you shoot.

Tip 3: Repair Corrupt or Damaged Photos

If you want to edit an image without compromising the image quality, the right choice would be the RAW format. However, it can be heartbreaking when you lose RAW photos. This is because many repair software support does not support this camera format, unlike JPEG formats. As a photo shooter, you need to learn how to repair corrupt or damaged photos. An advanced repair tool you can always turn to for your repair needs is Wondershare Repairit Photo Repair Tool. It works on RAW files across different camera brands and will help you repair corrupt, damaged, inaccessible, or distorted RAW camera files. It also supports JPEG image formats from any camera type and will ensure you never lose a picture again. Here is the download button for you to have a try.

powerful photo repair software

Bonus:

Click here to get more information of photo repair:


Conclusion

In the end, there is no format better than the other. The RAW format offers uncompressed images and therefore provides higher image quality, while JPEGs are the pest for quick and easy shots. What you need to do with them is simply choose the format that best suits your needs.

Besides, the best part about it all is that you never get to lose a picture again with Repairit Photo Repair Tool within reach. All your damaged or corrupted pictures can be recovered within few minutes whether it's RAW or JPEG image format. So, click here to have a try right now!

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