Most DSLRs can shoot RAW and JPG format files. So what is RAW format? What is the difference between RAW and JPG? Should we use RAW or JPG to store photos? Let us take a closer look!


Difference between RAW and JPG

A RAW file is basically an original file without any image processing. It originally records all the information captured by the camera locally, and has not made information due to image processing (such as sharpening, increasing color contrast) and compression. Lost, but you need to use special software to open these files.

Another commonly used format is JPG. The camera will first perform certain image processing according to the user’s settings, and then compress (the degree depends on the quality of the photos adjusted in the camera) and save the photos.

Why shoot RAW?

RAW is a format commonly used by professional photographers because it can save information locally, allowing photographers to greatly post-process photos, such as adjusting white balance, exposure, and color contrast settings. It is also particularly suitable for novice recovery shooting Failed photos. And no matter what changes are made in post-production, the photos can be restored to the original state without damage, and you are not afraid of losing the photos due to accidental storage.

[Updated on 15/5/2009]

RAW also has a benefit, such as Canon DPP software can correct lens loss, distortion and so on.

(Thanks Jackywong for the guidance)

What are the advantages of JPG?

JPG is a very popular photo format. Almost all modern digital cameras can use this format. Most of the computers can also open JPG files. Users can adjust the compression level to preserve the image quality (the best JPG quality is very close to RAW), it is a very convenient format.

Should I shoot RAW or JPG?

Before discussing this issue, let’s see what are the disadvantages of the RAW format:

  1. Because RAW files need to retain all details and information, the file size is much larger than JPG, so it takes longer and longer to store or transfer photos to the computer, and it requires more storage capacity;
  2. RAW files need to be opened with special software so that they cannot be opened without software on the computer;
  3. It is assumed that once 10 years later, that specific software cannot be installed, and the photos taken before cannot be opened;
  4. It takes a long time for the software to open RAW. It takes 8 or 9 seconds for fast, and 20 seconds for slow.
  5. Different software have different ways to “translate” RAW files, so a RAW file may look different in Photoshop and Nikon Capture NX;
  6. The price of special software sold by manufacturers is not low.

After clearing the shortcomings of RAW, we can take a look. In different situations, you should choose RAW and JPG:

  • If you need to take a large number of photos , you should consider using JPG, because its capacity requirements are relatively small, you can save the time for post-production and convert photos to JPG;
  • If you use for commercial shooting or like post-production , you should use RAW, this post-production space increases;
  • If you are doing travel photography , you can consider using RAW or RAW + JPG, because the places you travel may not go often, using RAW gives you a greater chance to remedy if the shooting fails;


I usually shoot RAW when I am serious about shooting on my own, but if it ’s just snap shots, or taking pictures with friends, most of them will use high-quality JPG to save post-production time (Of course, you need to pay attention to exposure and white balance Wait for the settings to be correct). Of course, shooting RAW when traveling, the post-production time will be longer.


In fact, Photoshop is very powerful. For JPG files, you can also adjust the exposure, white balance, color contrast, etc. by level or curve. If you need to make large adjustments, RAW files are more suitable.

Image source: internet / flickr.com ( yoshiko314 )


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Author: Alex Tam