I know so many people who have DSLR cameras that not only use the ‘automatic’ mode all the time but will also only capture JPEG photos – they can’t be bothered with RAW files. Now I know JPEGs are much quicker to deal with as they are web ready and can be seen right away in your Windows Explorer as with RAW files, you’ll need a software like Digital Photo Professional to view them and then you’ll have to individually save them as a JPEG file if you have any plan to share them with anyone. I’ll admit, that sometimes is just too much trouble. That’s why I suggest that you choose when it’s time to shoot RAW and when it’s time to shoot JPEG. Better yet, on most DSLR cameras, you have the option to actually capture both formats. If you are not worried about the RAW files eating your memory on your card, that’s perhaps a solution you can go with.
Why I Mostly Shoot Raw
If you have a DSLR camera it is because you just don’t want to take photos, you want to take GREAT photos right? You have a passion for photography and you are always looking for that “great shot”. Well that great shot can happen at any time, at a family picnic, at the beach, at the zoo, while hiking, walking downtown, etc… you never know. Shooting Raw will actually allow you to significantly optimize that already great photo in post production.
A RAW file contains so much more information than a JPEG file and that include the so important ‘dynamic range’ information. A greater dynamic range means greater details in the highlights and shadows, in other words, less blown highlights or black shadows. When you shoot RAW, you can much more effectively perform shadow & highlight recovery without destroying your image.
What else can you correct more effectively if you shoot raw?
White balance, exposure, contrast, sharpness, colors and noise reduction.
Another great thing about shooting RAW is it is actually EASIER for a beginners to shoot that way. Yes, you read that correctly. The reason is because when you shoot RAW, you can, AFTER you took the photo, change the ‘Picture Style’ and the white balance in a completely non-destructive way! So you can make mistakes and get away with it! As mentioned above, you can even correct, to a certain extent, the exposure if it wasn’t perfect when you took the picture.
Lastly, to get the most out of your best photos, post-processing them in Lightroom or Photoshop’s Camera Raw is what the pros do to achieve great results. You know, what you see is not what came out of their camera, they worked on their photos using photo editing software and using RAW file is the “secret” to achieve great results.
When and Why I Sometimes Shoot JPEG
Basically, it’s when I know I’ll be shooting a lot of photos that I plan on uploading on the web and don’t care about capturing a masterpiece. For example, we went to the amusement park this summer and wanted photos to remember the day but didn’t feel like spending any effort trying to get “great” photos, so the JPEG mode was the option I chose.
How To Change The Photo Quality To RAW on a Canon DSLR
Just click on the MENU button, select ‘Quality’ and press the SET button, then choose either RAW or RAW + L which means RAW + large JPEG. This way, you’ll simultaneously save on your card a RAW photo + a top quality JPEG photo. See the image below: