“Do you shoot in RAW, or JPEG?”

Recently I’ve had quite a few budding, aspiring and young photographers messaging and emailing me for advice. I’ve even met up for a coffee to talk photos with a college student just before Christmas. A lot of the things people tend to ask are quite similar, so I’ve decided to post my answers and advise on here. That way everyone can benefit from it.

Do you shoot Jpeg or Raw?

The format I shoot in always depends entirely on the shoot. But I always recommend to shooting RAW if possible. But if you are unsure here are a few quick factors to take into account:

– Memory Space: RAW files are huge in comparison to JPEG and will fill up your memory cards much quicker. So if your limited for space and have a lot of shots to capture, you may need to shoot in JPEG. Alternatively you could purchase a couple of extra memory cards to boost your space.

– Post processing: Will you be retouching the images? Or do they need to be ready to send straight out the back of the camera?

Every project and assignment varies on what needs to be done after you have captured the images. For example a wedding will require some time post processing the images; minor tweaks, removing fire exits, checking for blinkers etc etc. That might not have been possible to accomplish in camera on the day. Where as a photograph for a newspaper, is all about time. The speed in which the photograph gets to the publisher. Making it a much more point and shoot style of photography.

This said JPEGS are much smaller, quicker to send and are ‘ready to use’ formats. Where as RAW files will need post processing in order to be readily used for publications etc.

Time: The factors above both inevitably contribute to the amount of time taken up, simply from transferring images off the camera and post processing them. When working at my residency at the studio, the shoots are very fast paced. I photograph up to 8 or 9 shoots a day and capture between 60 − 120 shots per hour shoot. Therefore timing is essential and I use JPEGS so that the images can be transferred and processed quickly ready for the client.

Other than those exceptions I always shoot in RAW. In simple terms a RAW files maintains quality of the images. Were as JPEGS, because they are a compressed format, image quality is reduced each time you save the file. A RAW file will also let you tweak practically every factor of the image (such as exposure, sharpness etc) without reducing the quality. This gives much more flexibility and creates a higher quality image after post processing.


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