RAWvsJPEG

Your digital camera can produce two types of files – Raw and JPEG.

One can be seen instantly, because it is already processed – JPEG. The other, needs to be processed to be seen – Raw.

Few people have actually seen what an unprocessed Raw file looks like. To be seen properly Raw files need to be rendered or changed. What you see on your camera’s LCD is a JPEG produced on the fly by your camera. What you see in programs like Adobe Lightroom or Bridge are previews made with their default renderings.

Raw files are curious things. They contain color, but not a color image – yet.


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Here are some commonly asked questions that, once answered, will demystify setting camera file format.

"Should I set my camera to JPEG, Raw, or JPEG and Raw?"

If you want to create files with the highest quality, set your camera to create Raw files. Raw files contain the widest color gamut, highest big depth, have flexible white point, can have highlight and shadow detail recovered, can be reprocessed infinitely, and are free of compression artifacts. Raw files are larger and require post-processing before presentation. They take up more room and they take longer to use.

If you want files to create files to share immediately without (or with minimal) post-processing, set you camera to create JPEG files. JPEGs are excellent for transmission, posting to the web, and print on demand. (Remember, the highest quality JPEGs are the ones created by post-processing Raw files, not the ones created by your camera.)

If you want both Raw and JPEG, set your camera to create both.

A camera creates a Raw file every time it makes an exposure. Setting a camera to create a JPEG file requires it to make a conversion to JPEG, which it does with incredible speed. If a camera is set to JPEG, it will replace the Raw file. If a camera is set to Raw, only a Raw file will be created. If a camera is set to Raw + JPEG it will create a JPEG copy in addition to the Raw file.


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