Are you confused about whether to shoot in RAW or JPEG? Not sure exactly what the difference is? Julie compares these two file formats in a short video, and recommends which you should be using.

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Video Transcript

Hi! It’s time for another two minute photo tip. I’m Julie from Ultimate Photo Tips, and I’m here today with a quick comparison of RAW versus JPEG. Which one should you be using? And what’s the difference, anyway?

RAW and JPEG are different file formats that the camera can use to store your images. I like to compare the RAW format to unbaked cookie dough. Shooting RAW is like taking a digital negative. Your camera stores all the data that it captures. That means that you can take your RAW data, and bake your cookie to any recipe you want. In other words, you have complete control over the final look of your image, in terms of white balance, contrast, brightness and much more. And in fact, you can take your same RAW data, and process it in multiple ways – like baking several kinds of cookies – to create different final looks to your image. Now, a RAW image straight out of the camera never looks very good. You must expect to do some post-processing on your images using software like Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture, or the RAW editor that comes free with your camera.

If RAW format is like unbaked cookie dough, then JPEG is a baked cookie. When you shoot in JPEG, the camera takes into account the picture modes that you have pre-selected, and then produces an image to those specifications, or a specific cookie recipe. Here’s the thing – JPEG is what’s known as a compressed file format. That means the final file is smaller than RAW (it’s been compressed down), but that’s because all the extra data not used in your recipe gets thrown away. Once you’ve made your choice, there’s no changing your mind, and re-processing the image. If you try to, every time you save the JPEG file, you will degrade the image and throw away more data.

If you are just starting out, I suggest that you concentrate on learning composition and exposure, and just shoot in JPEG. That way, your images are ready to send to print or the web without any more work. Figuring out post-processing software is a whole other learning curve!

If you are a more advanced photographer, and are ready to expand your creative control to include post-processing, then I encourage you to shoot in RAW for the best quality images, and the most flexibility and control.

Drop by ultimate-photo-tips.com for more information about raw versus jpeg file formats, as well as heaps more info and tips on other photography-related topics.

Happy shooting, and I’ll see you next time!

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