JPG and RAW files...whats the difference?
Hi all,.

Yet another "newbie" question....

My camera (Canon D40) has the ability to shoot to either JPG or RAW files. Please tell me (besides MB size) what the differences are? What the advantages, disadvantages, so forth are in shooting with either? Or both (for different applications)..

As always, thank you all in advance,.


Comments (9)

The simple answer is that if you will post process your photos on a computer, then use RAW so that you have more "room" to work with. You can adjust things more drastically than JPEG, including exposure, white balance, contrast, sharpness, etc..

If you're not a computer person, and you must use JPEG. All photo printing services out there only accept JPEG, not RAW..

Much has been discussed about this topic. Like this one:.


Comment #1

Raw vs Jpeg.

Raw vs Jpeg with photo comparisonsLuminous Landscape

Bill,Jr'I kind of like the Earth, it's where I keep all my Stuff.'Website; Lake Wylie, SC..

Comment #2

So far, so good - you're getting some good information..

There comes a point at which this discussion can go (probably will go!) from "what is the difference, technically?" to "what is the difference, philosophically - which format SHOULD I use [if I am to be a serious photographer]?".

And that's where it starts getting a bit religious..

Here's a view from someone who thinks raw is a waste of time:

Now, Ken Rockwell is not popular with some people here, and there are many people who will howl disagreement with what he says in the above link..

And I'm not saying he is 100% right and you should follow his advice. But I do think it is a worthwhile read to put things in perspective, if you like, and start to make your decisions about how you work..

I do think you should not be swayed into thinking that the only way to produce great photos is to shoot raw..

For a start, I think shooting the family album shots in raw is a bit obsessive .

Personally, I've been shooting almost entirely jpg since I started with digital a year ago. I have tinkered with raw, and I intend to learn more. But I'm not at all unhappy with my results from jpg. I don't pretend that my photos are perfect, but on the other hand there's a lot of areas I need (and want) to learn about and improve on, raw might be one of them but my feeling is that it is not going to be the most productive..

I think you should start out by shooting raw + jpg. That way, you get a shot out of the camera (jpg) that will often be good enough, especially for the album shots, without having to do any serious pp, and also a raw equivalent to tinker with. And over time you will learn just how much improvement, if any, you can make with the raw..

There is no absolute answer to "which is best". What you can do is gather information, understand what at least the theoretical advantages are, and from that develop an understanding of how relevant those advantages are to you..

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Comment #3

I would add..

RAW is like shooting Negative film...That is: it has up to a 2.5 stop (+/-) EV margin of error if you blow the exposure. And it has slightly greater Dynamic Range too. (better separation of subtle tonality's if "Post"s done right)..

But the Noise IS NOT Reduced as in a JPG. So, you will need to learn how to reduce noise manually at higher ISO's....

It has advantages in some situations. but for general family stuff. JPG is plenty good. Today's DSLR Cams can and do produce fine JPGs..

Remember too...Shooting JPG needs exposures that are within 1/2 stop MAX.(better to be within 1/3 stop though)..Just like Slide Film.Peter .

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Enjoy your photography images, even if your wife doesn't ! ;-( in profile...

Comment #4

First I shoot jpeg all the time. I use a pentax *istD dslr. have tried raw and got no improvement in my pics, though before my little jpeg vs raw test I thought that there would be a difference. there wasn't FOR ME. the reason I concluded was that my pics as shot in the field require almost zero processing. the great rpt great rpt great advantage of raw is the amount and type of post processing the picture taker does in the pc.

I am currently pp about 5% of all jpegs I shoot. also, I currently crop in the pc 0% of what I shoot. I do it in the camera, it's called composition..

The two great areas that raw absolutely shine in is when you have no time to properly set up the shot. the other is when the lighting is so odd or undetermined that you have no idea what it is and you have to rely on pp to give you the proper color and white balance adjustments. a possible third necessity for post-processing would be that if the camera or scene has something that you have to correct for on virtually every picture..

In other words, it all depends on the quality of pictures you are delivering to the pc. if you consistedly shoot pics and they are such that the pc is used for sorting storage and printing, like me, then you can go to the convieniece of jpeg..

But, if you find yourself adjusting correcting or fixing the iso, exposure, white balance, color, and cropping THEN you should be using raw. only you know your photographic abilities and what type of pics you are taking. for this reason, the decision to shoot raw or jpegs is yours alone based on your needs..

For me jpegs work, BUT that might not work for others. raw for others could be the way to go..

The ONLY rpt only rpt only time the shot is a jpeg is when it is brought to the computer. it is either discarded or changed(i tend to have small tweaks) on the pc in some way, then it "save as" a tiff. the jpeg is never "save" or "save as" a jpeg ever. the original jpeg is stored in a jpeg folder that is a holdall.this keeps the as shot quality intact..

With a raw file you have to convert the file to jpeg or tiff to use it for any other purpose. you cannot print a raw file, for example. with jpegs they can be used immediately as soon as they are downloaded into the pc. as far.

As batch processing is concerned, yes it speeds up the raw conversion process, but it eliminates one of the advantages of the raw process. this is the individual care and effort an individual raw pic gets when it is not batch processed. the individual raw file gets the maxium care it needs to give it's best picture. with batch processing this is gone, you are not achieving the max from each shot. and this is the reason you are shooting raw in the first place. to me if you are batch processing, you might as well go with jpeg.yes, I have pe3 and cs2 and can use both..

My view. gary..

Comment #5

Whenever this subject is discussed on this forum, there are some common themes as to what the key advantages of raw are. The real question is, as I said in my other post, how relevant those advantages are to you and how much return you are going to get compared to improvements in other areas..

I'd like to summarise SOME (I stress, some - before anyone jumps on me!) of the advantages of raw, with a commentary on how relevant they might be. I am open to comment on my comments .

I should say that the one comment that applies to all of these is: "and if you can actually see the difference on your monitor or in the print". Because an advantage you can't see, is not an advantage..

1. Raw provides better quality jpg images (via the raw converter on your computer) than your camera..

COMMENT: Only true if your computer's raw converter is actually superior to your camera in this respect. May not be as true with the latest cameras as it might have been in the past..

TEST: Shoot raw+jpg. Open the raw in your raw converter, and apply the camera settings. Save as jpg at the highest quality. Compare with the jpg out of your camera..

2. Raw provides better quality images because you can post process straight to jpg, or use a lossless compression for intermediate files, with only one jpg save (at the end) needed (maybe) whereas with a jpg you start post processing witht he jpg and your final save is the SECOND jpg compression / save..

COMMENT: True, in theory. In practice, will you notice?.

TEST: Same as above..

3. Raw allows greater latitude for correcting exposure and white balance..

COMMENT: True. Good for rescuing bad shots, not so relevant if the changes you need are relatively small. Not so relevant if you're getting it right in the camera, you are bracketing, or you're prepared to discard bad shots..

4. Raw allows greater latitude for adjusting the lighting etc for artistic effect (as opposed to correction)..

COMMENT: True. Not so relevant if you're into realism. Not so relevant if the artistic effect is going to alter the IQ anyway (eg adding grain)..

5. Raw allows you greater options and latitude for noise correction..

COMMENT: True, but see 1. and 2. above. It depends..

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Comment #6

I always shot both JPG and RAW, that way I always have the option of optimum processing of the 'special' photo which I could enhance with Photoshop. Unless you have limitations on camera or computer memory, having the RAW file available just improves your ability to perform post-processing. I typically use the RAW file when I plan on producing a photo 8x10 or larger..

Regarding the debate JPG vs RAW. Learn, REALLY LEARN, photo processing software and judge for yourself. Also, regardless of which format you shot, the camera will never be able to produce a photo the way you can in post processing...

Comment #7

SullyC5R-427 wrote:.

... Also, regardless ofwhich format you shot, the camera will never be able to produce aphoto the way you can in post processing..

I was about to strongly disagree with that  but then I re-read it. So I'll comment further for the benefit of the OP, but not arguing with you, Sully:.

Yes, every image can benefit from even a small amount of pp - even when you've got it absolutely right in camera and the jpg is good. A little crop, a tiny adjustment to levels, a slight sharpen (it's conventional wisdom that almost every digital photo needs sharpening before printing - I don't think that's 100% true but it's certainly very common IMHO)..

So if that's the case, you might say raw is essential because of the need to edit and resave (as per my previous post). But again the question is - will you notice / need this difference?.

Me, I shoot jpg almost all the time and I treat raw as something I'll learn when I've got more time. I'm very happy most of the time producing 8x10 prints from jpg with a little post processing and so far just about every raw shot I have taken has needed pp just to get it as good ats the jpg so I'm not feeling a great incentive to devote time to learning raw processing (as opposed to all the other subjects I could focus on - it's a matter of priority and I would not advise a relative beginner to devote time to learning about raw at the expense of other things)..

I do not believe that the end result for most of my images would be better if I had started from raw. Occasionally I lose a shot because of error, when m aybe I could have rescued it (more) in raw. Such is life. Maybe I have lower standards than Sully and other raw users, maybe I have different standards (looking for different qualities in photos)..

Maybe one day when I really learn how to do raw, I'll have this major "Oh my God, why didn't I start doing this a year ago, think how much beter my prints would have been!" moment, although I doubt it. I expect it will be more like "OK, there's one more weapon in the photographic arsenal"..

So there you have it - my personal style and preference, compared to someone else's. Neither of us is right, but maybe it will help you work it out for yourself..

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Comment #8

Arrowman wrote:.

I was about to strongly disagree with that  but then I re-read it.So I'll comment further for the benefit of the OP, but not arguingwith you, Sully:.

Yes, every image can benefit from even a small amount of pp - evenwhen you've got it absolutely right in camera and the jpg is good. Alittle crop, a tiny adjustment to levels, a slight sharpen (it'sconventional wisdom that almost every digital photo needs sharpeningbefore printing - I don't think that's 100% true but it's certainlyvery common IMHO)..

So if that's the case, you might say raw is essential because of theneed to edit and resave (as per my previous post). But again thequestion is - will you notice / need this difference?.

I actually felt that way until I watched a video produced by a professional photographer. When I looked at his 'opening' photo, I thought 'I wish I could shoot like that.' Then in the video he proceeded to process his photo, occasionally comparing it to the original and the difference was amazing. Would I have been happy with the original? Yes. Was the processed photo better then the original? Absolutely! So I can understand and appreciate that you can achieve a good photo with minimal processing, but taking it to the next level can really enhance a good photo. The bottom line is, when the photo satisfies the image that the photographer wants to present, the processing is done. There is no right or wrong, just personal preference. ..

Comment #9

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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