Do you usually shoot in RAW, JPEG, or both?

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  • RAW

  • JPEG

  • BOTH


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Joined
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Mike Peters
I shoot for a living, and for my own personal pleasure, and I shoot a lot of frames each month as I work for a university and produce all of the stills for their marketing, advertising, editorial and web usage. I also shoot performances and events and it's not unusual at a big one to come back with 3-4 thousand images! And I shoot all of them raw.

The bottom line for me is I prefer to make images look the way I want them to look. I have a set point in my mind that I want to see in the final image, and I cannot get there with jpegs. Plus every situation is different and often sub-optimal, so there needs to be a tweak here and there to bring out what I think should be there. I blame it on my decades of darkroom work where I made prints my way and I never liked lab prints. No matter what a jpeg gives you, it's about 20% of the information that is left after the camera bakes in the changes. The other 80% is tossed out, and you're left with the aftermath of compression and compromise, and all the artifacts of sharpening.

The other truly refreshing part of raw format is that I can mostly just shoot away in the moment without regard for things like being very specific about white balance, and I can set the contrast and tweak the tonal range to better match the needs of the scene later. With a jpeg you get what you get. My job it to deliver great images, for my client and also for myself. It's a bit of extra time and work, but so very worth it in the end. I'm not interested in good enough, I want more than that for my images.

And also, as other posters have pointed out, having the raw files means you can always take old files and make them so much better. I do that all the time.
 

Hendrik

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Both, but it's complicated. On single card bodies, I usually shoot raw only. On two card bodies I shoot raw + jpg, but I almost never use the jpgs (LSF) for anything other than in-camera review. The exception is the odd circumstance when the raw card fills up first. (This happened two weeks ago thanks to several inadvertent presses of the somewhat squishy 1.3 shutter button while using Pro-Cap, despite a recently formatted raw card - ugh.)
 

Jonynek

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Are you backing up both files? Or just modified jpegs? For the backup, I really try to choose only photos that are worth it ... it's quite difficult.
 
Joined
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Chris
I shoot jpgs almost exclusively and only shoot RAW on special occassions. All of the 20+ enlargements hanging around my home are from jpgs and I am not certain anyone could tell the difference if they were processed from RAW. Do I lose a few to poor exposure, sure. Life goes by fast for me so I like to keep it simple.
 

GBarrington

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Raw only, after I shoot a photo, I have to let it "rest" before I can figure out what I want to do with it. It isn't common, but I have let some photos 'rest' for years before, I see what needs to be done. Raw allows me the maximum amount of flexibility.
 

doady

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Storage is cheap. So don't permanently delete files unless there is obvious flaw like missed focus. Photo might seem worthless at first glance but you return one year later you realize the potential of it.

That's the main thing about RAW, having the ability to realize a photo's full potential in the long term. JPEG is better for that first glance, for the short term, but even if you prefer JPEG there's little reason not to also have RAW file that you can revisit, especially when storage is so cheap.
 

Armoured

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Raw only, after I shoot a photo, I have to let it "rest" before I can figure out what I want to do with it. It isn't common, but I have let some photos 'rest' for years before, I see what needs to be done. Raw allows me the maximum amount of flexibility.
I don't specifically have the plan of letting them rest, but I do find I go back not infrequently and edit older photos that didn't grab me when I first looked at them but now have something I want or like.

Plus I'm kind of rubbish at post (to be honest) and as I learn techniques, sometimes I find I can do something with older photos that really makes them work.

Another admission - I have mostly shoot nikon and still do, and I still haven't quite cracked the code for Olympus raw. I know I'll end up going back as I experiment to improve those files. I'm going to Crack the code eventually.

But I still shoot both. I don't use the jpegs much but occasionally they're useful. The space is cheap. I don't usually keep the jpegs for long term though.
 
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Dinobe

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Thinking about this, this would be an interesting experiment: put the camera in RAW+JPEG, go on a shoot, come home, don't look at the jpegs, start processing the RAWs, export your images, find the corresponding SOOC jpegs, give them the same crop + straitening.

Then mix the SOOCs with my processed RAWs and then pick or let somebody else pick 1 of each photo...

I'll soon find out of it's worth all my effort...
 

Armoured

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Then mix the SOOCs with my processed RAWs and then pick or let somebody else pick 1 of each photo...

I'll soon find out of it's worth all my effort...
Although I'm sure this is philosophically / scientifically correct, I refuse to carry out this experiment; the danger is too high that it will demonstrate that I am not a useful or essential element of the process.
 
Joined
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I shoot JPEGs exclusively. I do not have a computer system capable of handling RAWs in any quantity, and as I don't do anything with my photos other than look at them on my laptop (social media and this forum), I see little need to do much more than adjust basic parameters to make them palatable. Life is too short for processing pictures that no one else looks at, :D

If I printed them then I would probably take more care, but that would not only mean finding a printer, some better glass, a better camera, AND shooting in RAW, but it would also mean trying to find space to hang them somewhere. With artists on both sides of the family the wall-space in the house is filled with some pretty nice stuff already - it's certainly better than a couple of insect photos, no matter how lovely I think they are... sigh
 

mauve

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I shoot Jpeg + Raw ; when a picture looks good, I post-process it from raw. For social consumption, most of the time jpeg is good enough, but I still archive Raw, because who knows where the technology will be in 10 or 20 years time ? Then maybe the 12 bits depth of the Raw will be useful. Currently the screen technology is at best 8 bits in an sRGB colourspace, but Jpeg will look dreadful whenever we will achieve 12 bits colour depth in AdobeRGB space.
 

WT21

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Both (by which I mean RAW+JPEG), because otherwise it's more difficult to judge sharpness in camera (because when only shooting RAW, it uses the low-resolution JPEG preview inside the RAW).
Exactly this. Shoot both just to get the better jpg in camera, but only download and work in RAW unless in a mood to shoot only black and white, which I do sometimes.

i shoot raw to applying certain standard settings that my camera doesn’t really support. Also localized stuff like dodging, burning, and some localized sharpening.
 

Ross the fiddler

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When I first started I shot both, but very quickly learned the advantages of RAW file editing and the disadvantages of culling large numbers of photos. Haven't bothered to shoot anything but RAW since 2014.
Storage is cheap, so why cull large numbers of photos unless they’re rubbish? Adjusting the camera for the best jpeg will minimise raw editing & the jpeg is a worthwhile reference.
 

Ross the fiddler

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I save both & sometimes just use the jpeg, but is essential to also have the raw file for editing, especially when highlights need some recovery or shadows lifted etc (in Capture One), but the jpeg is a good reference to have too though. I only delete rubbish photos & like to go to back to files for occasions & re-edit the raw file in the latest software.
 

D7k1

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The only reason I shoot both is that the builtin preview in Panasonic RAW sucks. I use the JPEG only for quick review, they never make it to my hard drive.
 

BDR-529

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Raw only, after I shoot a photo, I have to let it "rest" before I can figure out what I want to do with it. It isn't common, but I have let some photos 'rest' for years before, I see what needs to be done. Raw allows me the maximum amount of flexibility.

Now that AI tools (denoise, upscaling, sharpening) have finally matured, I have discovered - to my horror - that the decision to shoot RAW since the first DSLR I ever purchased, has left me with a TB worth of RAW images that I could process to a glory I didn't believe was possible back in the day. Assuming of course that I don't take new photos for a couple of years or so. Or do anything else than post processing for that matter.

Since I live in the north, lack of proper light has always been a problem but luckily I saved all those old RAW files even though they were next to unusable due to noise and loss of contrast/saturation caused by high ISO. In-camera jpegs were so bad that I discarded those and archived only RAWs. Apply just AI denoise to those and results are astonishing compared what was possible back then.

So who knows what AI Software can do in 2030 to RAW images taken today. AI development has gone ballistic during last couple of years.
 

ex machina

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Storage is cheap, so why cull large numbers of photos unless they’re rubbish? Adjusting the camera for the best jpeg will minimise raw editing & the jpeg is a worthwhile reference.
Storage is cheap, but time is not. The more photos you have the longer it takes to transfer, sort through, load, tag, flag, etc.. It's an attentional cost I found had little value for me as I hardly ever used the JPGs. I rarely bother deleting anything unless it was a mistake, or, as you say, rubbish.
 
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