What is the difference between RAW and JPEG?
What is the difference and why and when would I use one over the other?Thanks..

Comments (14)

Kathleen clayton wrote:.

What is the difference and why and when would I use one over the other?Thanks.

My favorite on this topic is: the end of the page, you'll find answers..

Greetings,BogdanMy pictures are my memories

Comment #1

Raw is literally the raw data copied from the camera's sensor. Instead of being processed in the camera for colour, sharpening, contrast, noise reduction, etc., you process it on the computer instead..

To produce a JPEG file the camera processes the data from the sensor and then compresses it down to a smaller size before writing to the memory card. There will be some degredation of the data during the compression process, especially if the files are severely compressed..

The advantage of Raw over JPEG is that some adjustments, especially to exposure, cannot be made after the JPEG file has been written. With Raw files you have more latitude in making adjustments on the computer. However, Raw files do have to be processed before you can use them, for example for printing..

The advantages of JPEG are that the files are much small, typically 20%-60% of the size of raw files, and they can be used without any further processing..

If you do a search you will find many arguments about the relative advantages of Raw and JPEGs. The best advice that I can give to you is that since you have to ask the question you are almost certainly a beginner, so stick with JPEG until you have the knowledge to decide which is best for you. However, always save in the camera with the lowest possible compression.Chris R..

Comment #2

To draw an analogy to film, JPG is like the 4x6 print you get back from the lab, and RAW is like the actual negative - it contains raw, unprocessed data from the sensor, which allows you to manipulate it and edit it much more easily than JPG...

Comment #3

JPEG is a compressed format not very flexible for PP. RAW is whole info from your sensor, allowing much better quality in P and PP. I always shoot in RAW..


Comment #4

Chris R-UK wrote:.

However, always save in the camera with thelowest possible compression..

Just a link to an alternate take on image quality settings along with some sample images. These are specific to the D200 camera, in which the "basic" compression setting is only about 12:1. Other models might use much higher comression for their lowest quality setting (e.g., the K10D uses about 17:1 compression for their "basic"). The OP's XTi uses about 12:1 compression in it lower quality setting of "normal.".


Comment #5

I posted an earlier version of this a few months back, and it got a good reception, so here it is again:.

Put very simply, it (IMHO) comes down to this:.

Raw files are larger than jpgs. With the cost of storage these days, this is not an issue..

Raw files are a proprietary format that differs from maker to maker, and camera to camera. If your camera is a recent release and/or your editing software is older, you will probably need to upgrade your software and/or download the latest add-in for your software, in order to be able to read raw files..

Also, for archival purposes this means you may want to save your images in another format such as TIFF or jpg to remove reliance on software in years to come. (But this is a very small risk) And it means that you can't email or send raw files to other people and expect that they will be able to view them..

Raw files offer you greater latitude in correcting exposure, white balance etc. For well exposed images this is not necessarily a great advantage, however it does offer greater ability to rescue poor images (one of the big advantages for pros, who cannot afford to discard shots as much as us amateurs) and also, perhaps most importantly, it allows you to rescue blown highlights or restore shadow detail more easily than a jpg. I think this is particularly relevant for outdoor shots where the sky/clouds get blown out - etc. There's nothing you can do to get the correct exposure across all of such a high dynamic range scene, but a raw file makes it easier to process the result into a better image..

Raw files have not been compressed (at least, not with any loss of data), jpgs have. In theory this can gives you (or allow you to produce) higher quality images by working from the "original". For lab printing, this difference may be marginal because you have to convert to jpg anyway to send to the lab. For home printing, you may be able to take advantage of this difference by printing the (processed) raw image straight from your editing software..

You can't send a raw file to your lab for printing. You can print a jpg straight out of the camera..

A raw file probably won't look "good enough" for printing without at least some post processing. This processing can be done in batches - you don't have to process each file individually - but that involves applying the same process to all files in the batch which kind of negates the advantage of raw..

Raw files have more information in them - more bits, in simple terms. In a jpg some of this information has been removed. Some people will tell you this extra information is critical to image quality. Some will tell you it is in theory, but in practice it's not noticeable..

Bottom line - IMHO:.

- A well exposed, well (colour) balanced photo taken with a good DSLR will print just fine as a jpg. The more you vary from that, or the more post processing you want to apply, the more likely you are to get benefit from raw..

My advice to the raw beginner would be - don't just cut over to raw. Shoot raw + jpg (your camera should offer you the option of producing both a raw file and a jpg from the same shot). That way you have a jpg you can work with straight away, and you're not reliant on your editing skills to get an image out of the raw file (OK, that's not hard, don't get me wrong, but why just drop the jpg altogether unless and until you are 100% comfortable with raw processing?).

- You will want to drop/delete one or the other of the raw and jpg versions, theres no point in keeping both, but you should never delete the raw version of a really good keeper photo, even if you are happy with the jpg - it is your best original and you may find it useful one day when you go back to that photo..

Here's a test you should do - and repeat this test over time as you practice with raw:.

Shoot raw + jpg. Get a good, well exposed image. Print the jpg, unprocessed, to 8x10. Then process the raw file by applying the camera settings (ie the result should be pretty much the same as the jpg out of the camera) and print that to 8x10. Then do some more processing on the raw in an attempt to improve the image, and print that one..

Compare all 3 prints. What differences do you see?.

Then repeat the exercise with a photo that is "off" in exposure, or white balance, or whatever. Try the correction on the jpg, and also from the raw original. Do you get a better result from raw?.

Over time, you may/should find that youre getting more out of the raw image, because you are getting more skilled in your post processing and more demanding on the image quality. But dont assume that you should just jump in to raw exclusively early in the piece, just because thats what real photographers do and there is some immediately recognisable benefit...

Comment #6

Kathleen clayton wrote:.

What is the difference and why and when would I use one over the other?Thanks.

Understanding Digital RAW.

Press the Shutter Release in your camera, What Happens?.

1) Light strikes the CCD.

Light strikes the CCD when the shutter release is pressed. Raw data is produced by the CCD. (This CCD takes the place of film in the old film cameras)This RAW data from the CCD is not yet stored. (see Understanding Digital RAW).

2) A RAW data file is produced:.

If the Camera if set to RAW, then a raw data file is produced and stored in the camera. This file may contain the camera settings (ie: White Balance, Sharpening, Color Mode, Saturation, etc.) but these parameter settings have not been applied to the raw data file. They are stored in the file for reference only and called metadata. Changing these camera settings will not affect the raw data in the file. The amount of light falling on the sensor will change the raw data and therefore the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and lens filters will effect the raw data. This raw data file is a proprietary file type which is different for different manufacturers.

Jpg file produced in camera:.

If the Camera is set to jpg, then the computer in the camera uses the camera settings, of White Balance, Sharpening, Color Mode, Saturation, etc. to produce a jpg file on the fly from the raw data. This takes place right when the shutter release is pressed. The camera has it's own RAW conversion program, just not as versatile as the programs discussed in the next paragraph, below. Once the jpg file is produced in the camera, changing any in camera settings will only affect new pictures taken. The conversion from RAW to jpg can not be redone, as it can with the raw conversion programs discussed below..

3) Transfer the RAW file to computer for processing:.

Once the raw data file is transferred into your computer you can perform post processing of the RAW data and then save it into another format (tiff, jpg, etc), by using Nikon Capture NX (CNX) or Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), or any other raw conversion program. The conversion parameters you use in these programs can be changed and the conversion of the raw data performed as many times as you like. The raw file is not changed. Only the processing parameters are changed and saved. You can use the same parameters that were set in the camera if you like, but then you end up with the same jpg file that the camera would have produced. These programs instead, offer many more parameter changes and adjustments that are not available in the camera.

Transfer jpg file to computer for editing and processing..

If you selected a jpg file in camera, then you will transfer this file to your computer for editing, not for RAW data processing which has already been done in the camera. You will use editing/organizational programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge, (Capture NX also does some of this) etc. Each of these programs offers a different set of features and objectives. Some are more editing oriented, others more organizational, and some overlap in features. Some of these programs also accept files directly from the raw conversion programs. But these programs are not to be confused with the raw conversion programs themselves.

Note: as stated some programs like Capture NX may do both RAW conversion and some other editing features..

Some advantages in using raw data files.

1) RAW data is normally in 10 or 12 bit depth, where the converted jpeg file in the camera is 8bit..

2) Raw conversion programs offer many more and more detailed adjustments, than available in camera RAW conversion programs..

3) Conversions which can be applied to RAW data, can not be applied as successfully to RGB data files such as Tiff, jpeg, etc. You have more control over raw data resulting in better processing results..

4) Raw data conversion parameters can be changed and then applied again to the same raw data. If we are not satisfied with our results, we can just tweak the parameters and try once again..

5) The raw data in RAW data files is not altered. The conversion parameters are being changed and stored with the file (or in an associated file), but the raw data is left unchanged..

Some disadvantages in using raw data files.

1) Raw data files are 2-6 times larger than the corresponding jpeg files..

2) Post processing takes some extra time. How much really depends on your demands and criteria. Most raw conversion programs offer batch processing to speed things up when applying the same conversion parameters to multiple images..

SeeThom's Quick & Dirty Guide to RAW

See alsoThe Advantages and Disadvantages Explained.


Comment #7

Ed Grenzig wrote:.

Some disadvantages in using raw data files.

...2) Post processing takes some extra time. How much really depends onyour demands and criteria. Most raw conversion programs offer batchprocessing to speed things up when applying the same conversionparameters to multiple images..

I agree with this as a disadvantage. This is very important in choosing when to shoot raw - or at least, whether to shoot raw + jpg..

If you've got a bunch of raw files, and you just use batch processing to apply the same conversion to all of them, then - well, what is the advantage of raw? OK there are other advantages, I knowm but my point is - raw is at it's most useful when you are tailoring your processing to the needs of the image..

A while back someone on this forum was talking about going on an overseas trip, and shooting raw for the first time (with a camera he hadn't yet bought). So he's thinking of coming back from his trip with hundreds, possibly thousands, of photos hat he won't be able to print or even view (outside of his raw converter) until he has processed and converted them. Madness (IMHO)..

Shoot raw+jpg and you have immediate options. This is especially true with events like overseas trips, family occasions etc. I can't imagine how my wife would react if we came back from a trip, she wanted to see the photos, and I said "hang on honey, I just need to spend a few hours in front of the computer doing my raw processing"..

Shoot raw only when you are shooting "art for art's sake" and no-one else - including you - is breathing down your neck to see the results RIGHT NOW ..

Comment #8

So you've taken your RAW photo and fixed it up. Don't you still have to turn it into a JPEG for veiwing or printing?..

Comment #9

Gatedropper wrote:.

So you've taken your RAW photo and fixed it up. Don't you still haveto turn it into a JPEG for veiwing or printing?.

Yes. As an analogy, you can play around with the film negative all you want but you still have to make a print out of it at the end for anyone else to enjoy it..

However with digital this is as easy as clicking the "Convert to... JPG" button...

Comment #10

How hard is Capture NX to use for us Newbies?..

Comment #11

It all depends on how much you want to do with it..

Most of the "adjustments" are simply sliders - you can slide the bar up and down for more or less contrast, saturation, sharpening, etc..

The more advanced things - and the reason RAW is really powerful - is adjusting color balance and curves. They're nothing complicated about them specifically in RAW (it's just like if you adjusted them in Photoshop), but you need to know what curves and color balance are to achieve what you want..

You should have had a copy of CaptureNX bundled with your camera - just install it and give it a go - you'll pick it up pretty quicklly just from playing around...

Comment #12

There might have been a trial thing but I will probably purchase the real deal when I have gotten used to my camera.Thanks for the info...

Comment #13

Gatedropper wrote:.

There might have been a trial thing but I will probably purchase thereal deal when I have gotten used to my camera.Thanks for the info..

If you're using Photoshop / Elements, you can use Adobe Camera Raw, which is a free plugin - the latest version is bundled with the software when you buy it, and you can download later versions / updates from the Adobe website..

The latest version - 4.3.1 - seems to have all the functions the average learning photog would need - although I am sure there are packages out there with more features, I have been happy so far just using ACR..

I'd go to the trouble and expense of buying and using something else if I was convinced it was better (for me, that is) or if I felt that I had learned so much that ACR was limiting me, but in the meantime I'd start with Photoshop and ACR..

(But the catch with ACR is that the later versions are not compatible with earlier versions of Photoshop/Elements - so you've got to have at least PSE 5, for example, to use the latest version of ACR.).

I haven't even installed the trial of Capture NX...

Comment #14

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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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