Should You Shoot in JPG or RAW?

Should You Shoot in JPG or RAW? This was very confusing for me when I started out. I had no idea what the difference was except that one took a HUGE amount of disk space.

I eventually figured it all out and made the switch to RAW, but it wasn’t easy. 

Now I get asked this question a lot. So here is my answer to the question, should I shoot in JPG or RAW?

What is the Difference Between JPG and RAW?

Basically, the difference is the amount of information that is captured. Both JPG and RAW look very similar straight out of the camera, RAW is actually a bit washed out and I’ll explain why in a moment.

JPG has the least amount of information so the images don’t take up as much file size. You would normally shoot JPG if you do not plan on post-processing your images. So there is no need for that extra information anyway.

RAW has the most amount of information. It comes out a bit bland straight out of the camera because when you shoot in RAW, you are doing so with the intentions to process them later.

The RAW file has a much higher dynamic range so you can really pull out the details in the shadows and highlights and also have a lot more control over colors and exposure. Of course, this means that the file size is going to be bigger, much bigger!

Where JPG usually takes around 1.5mb per images, RAW files can take up to 45mb per image.

If you try to process a JPG you will notice right away that you just don’t have the ability to do very much to it.

So, again, In a nutshell, if you don’t plan on editing your images then shoot in JPG. If you do plan on editing your images shoot in RAW.

When to Shoot JPG

Like I said before, shoot JPG if you don’t plan on processing your images. That would usually consist of things like sports and journalism.

When to Shoot in RAW

Again, if you plan on processing your images, then shoot in RAW.

That can pretty much consist of anything! Portraits, landscapes, architecture, astrophotography, weddings etc.

How to Switch to RAW

When I realized I needed to start shooting in RAW I actually had a pretty heard time switching over.

I was concerned with file size for one thing. Also, I was having a hard time getting Photoshop to open my files. Apparently, I needed a special plugin or something in order for them to open. That isn’t always the case though. 

But once I kind of forced myself to only shoot in RAW, I got used to it and there was no turning back. Apparently, the headrest part was just making myself do it. And the file size is almost never an issue, I can still shoot well over 2,500 RAW images on a single 128gb disk.


Now I only ever shoot in RAW, even if it’s something I don’t think will require very much procession. Because if I had to, and sometimes I do, I can convert a RAW image to a JPG, but you cannot convert a JPG to a RAW.

Some people love the idea of never editing their images, which is fine. It’s all personal preference.

But post processing is an essential part of my process and I love it!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you did, please consider sharing it with your photography friends.

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