I should probably start with "What is the difference between RAW and JPEG?"
With JPEG, the camera is producing a 'finished' photograph based on all the parameters set on the camera at the time the shutter release was pressed. With RAW, you are doing the following:
- Saving the raw data collected by the cameras imaging sensor
- Saving the parameters that were used at the time of capture, including Picture Style, white-balance, saturation, contrast, Exposure compensation, etc.
- You can then 'tweak' all these parameters on a computer before you produce a 'finished' JPEG or TIFF file.
I shoot in RAW because:
I can change Picture Style, white balance, exposure compensation, contrast, sharpness and noise reduction all after the photo has been taken. These are very easily changed when processing the RAW file. When shooting JPEG I find it more difficult to 'mimic' various white-balance and picture-styles using Photoshop (or something similar.)Although you can't change shutter-speed or aperture in the RAW converter, you can 'tweak' most of the significant parameters related to the photo in your RAW converter. Very handy in my opinion. Sometimes, using a new technique or new RAW tools I can do a substantially better job processing a RAW file now, then at the date I capture the image (perhaps years ago).I find my post-processing skills improve significantly over the years (I cringe when I look at some of my early post-processing -- why did I feel the need to over-sharpen and over-saturate everything?). In addition, RAW processing tools improve over the years. I suspect that in the future I will be able to do a superior job processing the RAW files I capture today.
There are additional reasons other folks choose to shoot in RAW, but these are the reasons I shoot in RAW.
There are a bunch of different RAW conversion tools, including: Adobe Photoshop, ACR, BreezeBrowser, Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP), Adobe Light Room, Apple Aperture, Capture One, etc.
I use Canon
- You can change picture style during RAW conversion (not all RAW tools allow this. 'Picture Style' is a very Canon specific parameter.)
- It does a good job
- It's free with most (if not all) Canon DSLR's
I concede that I have not tried all the different RAW converters. I found one I like (which is free) and I have stuck with it.
Most RAW converters also allow you to crop the image.
Once I process an image from RAW to JPEG, I don't typically do any additional modifications in Photoshop (a 'fine art' photograph being the exception.)
- larger file size than JPEG (approx. 10 MB vs. approx. 3 MB)
requires larger memory cards requires larger hard drive requires larger backup medium RAW photos must be 'processed'. Depending on your work-flow, this may increase your post-processing time per photo.
Here are the different file formats that modern Canon DSLR support:
- RAW + JPEG (the camera saves the file in both RAW and JPEG)
I've shared why I shoot in RAW, but others may find that shooting in JPEG or RAW+JPEG works better for them. I concede there are many different ways to manage a digital photo work-flow, mine is one of many acceptable work-flows (with it's own pros & cons.)
If you have any questions, please post them.