Travel Photography – RAW vs JPEG

Wasup our lovely click click photo Pandas!

So I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries asking about the difference between RAW files and JPEG files. We will dive into it but first I need to have a sit down with you guys about image quality.

Alright let’s talk about this whole image quality thing. I will list out pros and cons to each for you to make it super simple. However my personal opinion is that you absolutely should use RAW or ALWAYS use the max JPEG image quality available if RAW isn’t available to you. It’s pretty simple, why waste buying ¬†all this camera equipment or even if it’s a $400 camera and NOT get the absolute best results? Makes no sense. Everything now is digital and you can erase images as you see fit. Most memory cards are now are large enough for you to store a significant amount of pictures before even having to transfer them onto your computer. Speaking of computers, most laptops/desktops now also have ample storage available and if not, then portable hard drives are VERY affordable (2TB WD Passport at Costco is only $129.99).

What is RAW?

RAW is well…. raw… haha it’s the purest form of a digital image capture from the lens then onto your camera sensor then directly into your memory card for storage.

Why RAW?

RAW images/files contain more available information in a single file than JPEGs. This allows you to edit the images and have a bunch of data to manipulate.

RAW images also contain more dynamic range. This simple means that if there is a spot in the image that is dark and you would like to make it slightly brighter using Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop then you can still “bring” out those details without creating too much digital noise.

RAW gives you full creative control of how the image “should” look like based on your own artistic desires or style.

RAW gives you maximum data so that when you do decide to take your image to print on a large format, you will be able to retain a lot of detail in the image at the printing stage.

RAW images may be stored for future use. Meaning that right now, you may not have the necessary skills to edit the image the way you want but…. later on when you gain those skills, you may go back to the image and find all of that data available for you to do as you see fit.

What is JPEG?

JPEG is an image that been processed by your camera based on the settings you have set on the camera. Image is taken, then hits your sensor, then goes thru several stages of processing including white balance adjustments, colour saturation, contrast, sharpness, etc… THEN it registers into your memory card.

Why NOT JPEG?

JPEG will not give you all the details you desire and the dynamic range will be reduced

JPEG has already been processed by the camera which means the image is already gone thru some modification. You want to have the purest form of an image if possible, that is the goal.

Now let’s look at the Pros and Cons of each

RAW

Pros

  1. Raw state of an image
  2. Plenty of data to work with
  3. Allows you to go big print without having to lose detail/quality
  4. Full control of the end product when it comes to editing

Cons

  1. Big files, they usually take a lot more data than a JPEG. (RAW – 28-30mb/file) (JPEG – 5-8mb/file)
  2. If you don’t want to edit and just want to go direct to print, you need to convert it to a JPEG/TIFF before printing

JPEG

Pros

  1. Smaller file size than RAW which means easier storage and workflow
  2. Simple for those that are beginners and chose not to edit any images
  3. Can usually store 1500-3000 images on a single memory card EVEN at MAX JPEG quality
  4. Don’t need fancy pansy software like Lightroom or Photoshop to read the file, any basic already installed software can read it
  5. Smaller files means easier to share online with anyone

Cons

  1. You lose dynamic range
  2. You lose crucial data
  3. Can be used to edit but you will usually create more digital noise out of the editing process
  4. Limiting your own creative factor and personal touch to an image

That’s about it guys! I hope that clears things up a bit about image quality!

Cheers,

The Travel Pandas

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