Monday, March 11, 2013

RAW vs JPEG.. The epic battle

Hello fellow Amateur Photographers. How is the learning process going? Over the last few months, I have posted the most basic information, techniques, tips etc in this blog. So, I was kind of thinking, why not write about something today which packs enough ammunition to start a bloody fist between steadfast believers of either group. Yes friends I am today going to write about RAW vs Jpeg, one of the most epic battles in the world of Digital Photography (The other two being Canon vs Nikon and Processing vs Natural). And face it, both have firm believers not without a reason.

I would like to start from my choice. I prefer RAW and I shoot RAW. Ya, I know, its cumbersome, its heavy, it requires lots of post processing, it drains the battery of your camera, it requires photoshop and what not. But its worth it. Its worth taking the extra trouble of Post Processing. You may ask why? As an amateur, we simply shoot and store. Why should you take the extra trouble of adding a cumbersome layer of post processing in the equation. Read on, to find why.

First we must understand, what is RAW? Its not a single image type like Jpeg. In fact there is no .raw extension. RAW means the equivalent to digital negative. Different camera manufacturers use different formats for their RAW files. Nikon uses .NEF, Canon uses .CR2 and .CRW, Olympus uses .ORF etc. RAW files are named so because it contains the RAW data captured from the image sensor without (or with minimal) processing. Thats why the RAW files are so large. It contains each and every bit of information that the sensor captures. Its equivalent to Negative from the film days. So many people also refer to RAW as the digital negative.

On the other hand, jpeg or jpg is just an image format that has been adopted widely. No camera captures jpeg files. Thats simply not possible. All the digital cameras (even our mobile phones) capture some sort of RAW file. Then the camera processes that file as per some preset algorithm and gives us the jpeg file. (Thats why people say Canon cameras give more saturated colour or Nikon Cameras give more natural colours. Its the way Canon and Nikon process their RAW files in camera). So jpeg is basically nothing but processed RAW files. In case of most of the campact cameras or mobile phones, they do the processing as per preset algorithm and we can not access the RAW files. But in some modern Compact cameras and DSLRs, we can access the RAW files.

Now again one question arises. Why do the processing work when the camera itself does this. I would like to explain this in a bit lengthy discussion (with illustrations) in my next post. So stay tuned and Happy shooting. :)


  1. Hello there. I stumbled across your blog while searching for something in Google. It seems you are quite amateur and self taught. Anyways, I strongly disagree with you. See shooting in RAW is simply a pain in the a**. You spend more time in front of a computer then actually shooting outside. Besides, shooting RAW only gives you more chance to manipulate your images. Thats not photography and you are not a photographer. At best you can call yourself a photo manipulator. Get over it, start doing real photography. Jpeg is what actually the camera sees, and I don't like manipulating my photos.


  2. Hi Adams, welcome to my blog. Thank you for commenting your opinion. I thought it would be more appropriate if I replied you in detail. Thats why I have written the reply at the end of my next post. Read and revert back if you want. Cheers..


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