12 Answers To Your Burning Questions About Shooting Raw

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Who ever thought that something called raw would be so scandalous?

When we wrote the very simple article, 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Shooting RAW, we had no idea what was in store for us. Over the past couple years it’s turned into a giant, and gets the most views and comments and debates of any post on our entire site! Crazy.

And while it has helped a lot of folks learn all about shooting in the raw format, and get better quality images from their cameras, it has also opened up some questions. So today I’ll be going over some of the most frequently asked questions and hopefully filling in the gaps about shooting in the raw format.

Now I have a terrible confession to make before we even begin. With that first post I made a tragic mistake and have contributed to spreading lies far throughout the photography world.

I called it RAW.

See, it’s actually raw (all lowercase) and not RAW (it’s not an acronym).

I knew this detail before writing the original article. I knew it in my bones. But since it is popularly known as RAW, and the article and title would be more recognizable if I capitalized it that way, I caved and wrote it the wrong way.

Please forgive me. And start writing raw.

And as a fascinating side note, the raw format is so named because it’s an image format in which your camera captures the full, unprocessed, image data collected by your camera’s sensor. The raw data, that is.

Each time you take a picture when shooting in the raw format, your camera saves a raw file to the memory card. The raw format is an alternative to shooting in the JPEG format (which is a processed and highly compressed image format) – though it is possible to shoot in both raw + JPEG capturing both formats simultaneously.

Ok, now to those burning questions!

Frequently Asked Questions About Raw

Now some of the following FAQs are addressed in the original article, but I’m rephrasing them here to hopefully help clarify them.

1. How is raw non-destructive?

When you’re editing a JPEG file (for example adjusting exposure, white balance, or contrast) it is possible to save your adjustments over your original file. This means you could never go back to how the original image looked. Uh oh!

This could be quite a disaster if you make a mistake and save over the original file (especially if you don’t have a backup of the original).

How easy is it to make a mistake? Maybe you crop an image, convert it to black and white, or resize it – and then save the image. All of those adjustments would be irreversible. This is known as destructive editing – where the editing cannot be undone. TIP: When working with JPEGS always make sure to choose “Save as” and create a new separate file from the original.

Now, when editing a raw file it’s actually impossible to save over your raw file. You can export a new file (like a JPEG or TIFF) that contains the adjustments you made to the raw file. You can also save the adjustments you’ve made to the raw file as a separate “instructions” file known as an XMP. But you cannot save over the original raw file.

This means that you always have the original data to work with. Because the original image data is always preserved, this is known as non-destructive editing. (And it’s a good thing.)

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2. I’ve set my camera to raw and taken some photos, now what?

Good work! Now you’ll need to copy the photos to your computer.

You can do this by connecting your camera to your computer or you can take the memory card out of your camera and insert it into a memory card reader that you plug into your computer (the faster method which we recommend).

Once the raw files are on your computer you can use a program like Lightroom to edit them, and once you’re finished editing you can then export the ones you would like to share or print as JPEGs.

3. Can I print a raw file?

The short answer is Yes and No.

Not all software programs will allow you to print raw files directly. If you’re working with an editing program like Lightroom it is possible to print your raw files directly from Lightroom.

The bigger issue is printing from third parties. Most consumer photo labs will not print raw files. Professional labs also do not print from raw files.

The acceptable file format for print is high resolution JPEG or in some cases TIFF – both of which you can easily export copies of from your raw files.

4. How big are raw files compared to JPEG?

The file size of raw files are 3-4 times as large as JPEGs. Raw files are larger because they contain a lot more information compared to JPEG files. JPEG is a compressed file format. That means that in order to get that smaller file size your camera is literally throwing away information. Uncool.

Keep in mind that storage space is cheap, and the benefits of shooting raw far out weigh the larger file size.

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5. Do I need to convert my photos out of raw?

No, you can store your original raw files in the raw format. You only need to export your raw files as JPEGs when you want to print them, or share them.

It is possible to convert your raw files to an open source raw format known as DNG.

6. What do I do with my JPEG photos now that I’m shooting in raw?

Your older JPEG photos are still worth keeping! You cannot convert them to raw (bummer), but you can still edit them in programs like Lightroom.

While it’s possible to make all the same adjustments to a JPEG file that you can to a raw file, the amount of adjustments a JPEG file can handle without a huge loss in image quality is far less than a raw file is capable of handling.

7. What about shooting in sRaw and mRaw?

Some cameras are capable of shooting in different size raw formats known as sRaw and mRaw. These are essentially advertised as reduced resolution raw formats. So instead of having a 6000×4000 pixel image you would have a 3000×2000 pixel image.

The benefit of this would be a smaller file size with a smaller sized photo. From the brief amount of research I’ve done these options seems like a marketing gimmick that should be avoided.

At the time you take the photo you may not be sure how large you want to eventually display it, so you really should be capturing photos in the largest size your camera is capable of. Also, it seems that these sRaw and mRaw formats may be applying some compression to the photo file and so even though it’s labeled as a raw file you may not be able to make the same high quality adjustments you could make to a full sized raw file.

8. How do you do black and white photography with raw?

The raw format and black and white photography are an excellent combination! Fine choice!

The first thing to mention is that you shouldn’t be using your camera’s built in black and white filters to shoot in black and white. Those filters can help give you an idea of what the photo might look like black and white but you’ll be able to do much better black and white editing to a photo once you have the photo on your computer and you’re using a program like Lightroom or Photoshop.

Also, the black and white filters on your camera often require you to shoot in the JPEG format. Which means you can never go back on that decision. (Remember when we talked about how raw is non-destructive?)

When you shoot in the raw format you’ll be able to decide after the fact whether a photo is best in colour or black and white or both! You’ll also be able to make more dramatic, higher quality black and white conversions when shooting in the raw format (since you’ll have more image data to work with compared to a compressed JPEG image).

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9. Should I deliver raw files to my client?

I wouldn’t recommend it. Just like with your JPEG photos, you’ll want to do some editing to your raw photos to make sure they look their best before giving them to your client.

You could give your client the raw files with the adjustments you’ve done (giving them the associated .xmp files) – but unless your clients are photographers themselves then they probably won’t find the raw files very useful (they won’t be able to print them easily, and they probably won’t know how to adjust them).

Instead it’s better to give your clients high resolution JPEGs which they’ll be able to print (it’s also nice to give your clients a version of low-resolution JPEGs which are easier to share online).

10. When Should I Shoot Raw?

Whether you are an amateur or professional you should be shooting in the raw format.

Pretty much all DSLRs offer the ability to shoot in raw, and most advanced point and shoot cameras also shoot raw. Raw is the highest possible quality your camera is capable of capturing, so you should be taking advantage of it. On top of that, you usually also have the option to shoot in raw+JPEG. So if you’re scared to start shooting in raw, try shooting in the raw+JPEG mode – you have nothing to lose!

I want quickly chat about the main objections people had to shooting in raw:

“Shooting raw takes up too much space” – It does take up more space – 3-4x as much space. It’s worth considering what “too much” space means. For the quality you get with raw files it’s worth the additional storage space. And as I mentioned in 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Shooting RAW hard drive storage space is cheap!

“Shooting raw is for amateurs, professionals get it right in camera” – Shooting raw is for anyone who cares about the quality of their images. I’d actually wager that the vast majority of professionals shoot in raw, not in JPEG.

Now, lest you think I’m on some vendetta against JPEG shooters, that’s not the case at all. I personally know JPEG-only professional photographers, and I deeply respect their work. It’s their decision to shoot JPEG-only and I know their clients are thrilled with the results.

This is not a do or die situation.

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But it does have everything to do with quality of images, and nothing to do with “pro vs. amateur”.

I’m actually a little confused by the suggestion that pros should shoot in JPEG and get it right in camera. Yes, you can (and should) get your settings as close as possible in camera to your intended look and it’s always important to have a great starting point. Raw is not an excuse for sloppy work.

But by shooting raw you have a lot more flexibility on how you can improve the photo with processing. For example being able to control a raw file’s white balance in post processing is alone reason enough to shoot in raw. Good luck trying to adjust the white balance of a JPEG… and white balance is just one of the many adjustments that you have more flexibility with when shooting raw.

Professionals are humans. Not cyborg’s who get things perfect every single time (although that would be cool!). Robot dreams aside, the point I’m making is that pros make mistakes. All pros. The difference between a pro’s mistake and an amateur’s mistake is usually just that the pro has a lot more riding on those images. Upset clients, and a bad business reputation could be the result of a missed shot.

When you shoot raw you also have a lot more latitude to fix a missed shot. I personally have been able to recover images that I would have otherwise had to throw out, had I not been shooting raw.

In that regard, it makes more sense for a pro to shoot raw. It’s a safety net, just in case things go wrong.

“My clients won’t know the difference between raw and JPEG” – It’s true your clients probably won’t know the difference (especially if you deliver JPEG files to them at the end).

The important thing to note here is that, as the professional photographer, you will know the difference between raw and JPEG. You’ll know if you’ve over or under exposed a shot that could have been saved shooting raw. You’ll know whether an image is as good as it can be – or if it could have been better. Your clients rely on you as the professional photographer to have their best interest in mind.

“I can’t get the same skin tones with raw files that I can with JPEGs” – With a JPEG file, settings like sharpness, white balance, and contrast get “cooked” into the image file, meaning you can’t as easily adjust those settings after the fact.

With a raw file you have control over those settings by adjusting them in a program like Lightroom. The raw files often look a lot flatter right from the start because they need additional processing in order to look their best. With a bit of practice you’ll be to get better skin tones with your raw files.

“The workflow for raw files takes longer than JPEGs” – Regardless of whether you’re shooting in raw or JPEG the workflow can be as long or as quick as you would like.

I don’t know of any professional photographers who shoot in JPEG and give their clients completely unedited photos directly off their memory cards – that would be the only scenario where shooting in JPEG would be faster than shooting in raw.

Even photographers who shoot in JPEG edit their photos – and if you’re spending time editing your photos you might as well be working with raw to get the highest quality possible.

Using Lightroom, you can batch edit raw files (Lightroom also works with JPEGs). Batch editing allows you to select multiple raw photos at once and make adjustments to all the photos simultaneously. You can even create presets that apply multiple adjustments at once. The workflow using Lightroom is fast! It’s also super easy to batch export JPEGs from your raw files.

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11. When Should I shoot JPEG?

A few people have commented about a perfect time to shoot JPEG, and that is when you need to shoot in burst mode. Because JPEG files are much smaller than raw files your camera’s memory buffer fills up much slower when shooting in the JPEG mode.

I had originally suggested that if you needed to shoot in burst mode that you should consider purchasing a better camera, but if you don’t need to shoot in burst mode that frequently (and it’s really only sports photography that you need to be shooting 10 frames per second for multiple seconds) then you can simply switch your camera to JPEG mode for the occasions you’d like to shoot high speed bursts for longer periods.

Keep in mind that your camera can still shoot in burst mode when in the raw format it’s just that your buffer will fill up faster and you won’t be able to take as many photos as you could in JPEG mode.

There aren’t really any other scenarios I can think of where shooting JPEG would be advantageous compared to shooting raw. If your camera is not capable of shooting in the raw format obviously it’s better to be shooting JPEGs than nothing at all. My camera phone only shoots JPEG but I still take a ton of photos with it. However, as soon as my camera phone has the option of shooting raw or DNG I’ll be switching to that.

12. What software do you need to shoot raw?

If your camera is capable of shooting in the raw format then chances are that the camera manufacturer included some raw processing software on a CD or DVD which you’ll find in the box your camera came in. You can likely also download this software from your camera manufacturer’s website.

The benefit of using the camera manufacturer’s raw processing software is that it’s free – but the benefits pretty much stop there. Their software is usually clunky, ugly, and made without much consideration for an efficient workflow.

The biggest and most well known raw processing software is called Adobe Lightroom. It costs $140 ($77 upgrade) and is easily worth every penny. You can’t even really buy a decent lens for $150 – so Lightroom is an absolutely incredible investment for any photographer. If you need help getting started with Lightroom we offer a complete video tutorial on using the program called Super Photo Editing Skills.

Besides Lightroom there are several other raw processing programs. A couple of the big ones are Capture One Pro ($300), and DxO Optics Pro ($300).

All of these different programs have strengths and weaknesses. No program is leaps and bounds above another. I’ve been using Lightroom since it’s beginning and it’s a very effective program for both amateurs and professional photographers.

So why go with Lightroom? First, Adobe is easily the market leader. It’s likely that well over 90% of professional photographers use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw (the underlying software that powers both Lightroom and Photoshop’s raw processor). My guess is that it’s probably over 95% now since Lightroom’s only real competitor, Apple Aperture, has been discontinued.

Since Lightroom is made by Adobe, it plays nice with Adobe’s other massive photography program – Photoshop. Whether you open a raw file in Photoshop or Lightroom you can make the exact same adjustments to the raw file (since they use the same Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) processing engine).

Now you might be asking yourself what’s the difference between Lightroom vs. Photoshop – and for that you should check out our blog post – Lightroom vs. Photoshop: The Epic Battle.

In general Photoshop is a more advanced professional graphics program capable of making adjustments at the pixel level (not something possible in Lightroom). Pixel level editing is important for things like retouching where you need to select a certain area of the image and remove, replace, or alter it in some way. Photoshop also a much more expensive program only available through a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud ($50/month for the whole Creative Suite of programs, or $10/month for just Photoshop + Lightroom).

A good alternative to Photoshop for most photographers is Photoshop Elements ($59) which is a consumer level version of the program. Photoshop Elements does support ACR, however it appears that Adobe has reduced some of the ACR features found in the full version of Photoshop and Lightroom. You may never need to use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements – it depends on whether you need to do retouching, or if you’re interested in more advanced image editing techniques.

My suggestion for anyone starting to shoot raw, and really anyone getting into photography is to try Adobe Lightroom. Adobe offers a 30-day free trial.

Go Try It Out!

If you still need some convincing to shoot raw, go out and capture a couple photos in raw and a couple of the same scene in JPEG. Then bring them into Lightroom. Try making adjustments to things like exposure, contrast and white balance and you’ll be able to easily see how much better it is shooting in raw – and also how easy it is to use Lightroom and how powerful it will be for your photography. Woo!

And remember, you can always set your camera to shoot raw + JPEG and capture both formats simultaneously so you have nothing to lose! I really want you to see for yourself how much better raw files are compared to JPEG.

If you have any other questions about shooting raw then share them in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them! Happy photographing!

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photography ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

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Comments

82 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. how to set up a canon 1100d to raw?

  2. Hi Rob, thanks for this update! I find your article is very well written and contains a lot of good information.

    I have a few comments:

    One:

    You recommend Adobe products, and more expensive alternatives.

    There is an alternative to Lightroom may people may not be aware of – it is cheaper, faster (!) and (in my view) has the better file management – that’s Corel Aftershot.

    Anything you can do in Lightroom, you can do in Aftershot.

    Aftershot really is faster. It works on file level and doesn’t force you to copy all your images in one gigantic library file that’s just harder to handle and backup. Aftershot simply saves a XMP files for each edited image.

    Two:

    You say with a bit of practice you can get better skin tones with Raw than JPG.

    I have to admit that, in many situations, I cannot. Often it’s fine. But sometimes I just cannot get the same pleasing results for skin tones working from a Raw file. A fair few people I talked to agree with me, including one pro.

    Three:

    The “more scope for correction” argument. One big advantage of Raw is highlight recovery, and there is a “band” where a Raw can be saved, a JPG is lost. It is certainly possible to overexpose a Raw, so that no recovery is possible.

    I don’t see much improvement for underexposed shots with Raw.

    I have adopted the practice to set my exposure-comp on -1 or -2, even -3 in high contrast situations. I find this avoids blown out highlights, and I can pull these images up to pleasing exposure in software.

    Since I do this, I hardly ever “need” the Raw file. For paid work I still shoot Raw and JPG, just to be sure.

    Four:

    With Aftershot (and I guess also Lightroom) you can have an “import preset”. This allows you to apply a certain set of settings to the Raw files as a default… similar to what the camera does to the JPG files.

    Also, in Aftershot/Lightroom “mass editing” or applying sets of settings to a large number of images takes you only seconds.

    Five:

    I REALLY don’t want to make this any long 

    • I can give you an example of underexposed images being better in raw. It depends, among other things, on whether you are shooting 12bit raw or 14. This picture is taken with 14-bit raw, and was accidentally underexposed (I lent the camera to a friend , and her hat disabled the flash.. The camera was manually set to expose the sunset behind her, so the result was extremely underexposed (about 6 shots).
      Two versions of the file… The ‘unedited JPEG’ version is the unchanged exposure version that I would have gotten if I had shot jpeg-only. (yep — there’s actual picture data there). The ‘recovered from raw’ version is what I got by developing the raw file, and the “‘recovered” from JPEG’ image is what I was able to recover from the jpeg file.
      Although you can see some problems with both (this image was under-exposed by about 6 stops), you can see that there is a lot more shadow detail in the raw image.
      https://www.photo.net/gallery/1108156

      One thing that I usually do when shooting raw is set my camera to 200 or 400 ASA.It doesn’t affect the main image much, but it generally gives more room to recover both highlights and lots of room still in the shadows.
      In this case, I was shooting at 100ASA, because it was early on in my usage of this camera (Nikon D7000). If I had been shooting at 400ASA I wouldn’t have had the recovery room at -6 stops (still better than JPEG, but not a good as what I was able to salvage in this image).

  3. One thing I forgot to mention: white balance.

    You say, being able to adjust white balance is worth shooting Raw.

    Corel PhotoPaint Pro will allow you to change the white balance for any image.

    Aftershot has limited abilities to change white balance of JPG’s, using a “dropper tool”.

    Maybe another reason to have a look at the Corel products?

    I dare say the Corel products are not inferior to Adobe, just less people use them. Adobe has the “band wagon” factor on their side.

    • Hey Peter,

      Thanks for your comments!

      First off thanks for sharing your tip about AfterShot. I haven’t given it a try myself (haven’t used a Corel products since highschool). I see that they offer a free trial though so it’s definitely worth checking out. And I like the price point on it ($60)!

      One thing to point out is that with Lightroom your photos are not stored in the Lightroom catalog. The catalog is just a database of where the files are stored on your computer and what adjustments you’ve done to them. With Lightroom you can also choose to have the adjustment info saved next to the raw files in xmps, but this is optional. The Lightroom catalog really doesn’t make anything more or less difficult to backup.

      Regarding skin tones, I definitely understand how difficult it can be when you’re first getting started with raw. A raw file will never look as good as JPEG straight out of camera. But the fact is that the raw file contains all the information found in the JPEG file plus a whole lot more. It may be necessary to adjust camera profile settings in order to get the exact same look as the JPEG.

      It’s also important not to consider raw processing as essentially trying to make your photos look like the straight out of camera JPEG. If you’re just trying to make it look like the straight out of camera JPEG then you could just shoot in JPEG mode, or raw+JPEG. You have an opportunity with raw to make the photo much better looking than the JPEG.

      As far as exposure of raw files goes, it’s true that for raw files exposing to the right is generally better (you get better results by bringing down highlights than brightening shadows).

      I generally haven’t found the opposite to be true: that you could underexpose a JPEG file so that highlights aren’t blown and then use software to brighten it up. It could be worth doing a comparison with the camera set to raw+JPEG to see which photo looks better using software to increase the exposure or shadows.

      Finally, regarding white balance, almost any image editing software will allow you to adjust white balance. Lightroom can adjust white balance and tint for both JPEG and raw files. The difference between white balancing a raw file compared to a JPEG is that white balance adjustments generally look terrible with JPEG files. White balance is an area that gets “cooked in” with the compressed JPEG files. With raw you have *way* more flexibility with fine tuning animages white balance. When shooting raw you’ll have this flexibility regardless of the raw processing engine you choose to use.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and for the tip about Corel AfterShot!

      Rob :)

  4. I have used Lightroom a bit, but I’m by no means a Lightroom pro – thanks for your explanations re Lightroom, Rob! (I didn’t intend to confuse people.)

    I should say that I want to spend as much time as possible shooting and as little time as possible editing. That’s my preference.

    I find that with a few “techniques” during shooting and only a bit of cropping and exposure adjustments, I get my JPG’s ready for publishing. These days I only use the Raw image, if I have to. (I always shoot both.)

    Maybe I didn’t explain that well enough in my last post. I never use Raw straight form the camera, because they look terribly “flat” and often lack contrast, saturation and/or clarity. I edit all my Raw files – and all my JPG’s, too, by the way.

    Starting to use a packet like Aftershot has made a big difference for my photography, it starts a process of “self critiquing” or “self review” of all my images.

    My problem is that for some images all tweaking of the Raw does not give me skin tones as pleasing as I see them on the JPG, straight out of the camera. (A Nikon D7000 and a D610.) I heard similar comments from at least one commercial photographer who uses Lightroom and pro level Nikon gear.

    I don’t think adjusting camera profiles can help there… maybe I don’t get what you wanted to say?

    By the way, I colour calibrate my monitors, and I control the light in my room. I take this stuff seriously. I found that both my monitors had quite a cool “cast”, so I over-saturated all my images in the past :(

    In my humble opinion – color calibrating their monitors will make a bigger visible difference for most photographers, than using Raw. But I may be wrong. I’m wrong often :)

    • Hi Peter!

      Here’s a great article (and video) from Jason Odell that goes over Lightroom’s Camera Calibration Panel.

      http://www.luminescentphoto.com/blog/2013/07/12/understanding-the-camera-calibration-module-in-lightroom/

      Using Lightroom’s Camera Calibration panel and Adobe’s DNG profile editor it’s possible to create profiles that match the different JPEG picture styles you can find on your camera.

      I’ve never done this myself but it’s nice to know there’s an option for people who want their raw photos to look the same as the straight out of camera JPEGs.

      Calibrating your monitor (and using a high quality monitor) is also important, but I wouldn’t weight it as more or less important than shooting raw. Shooting raw and monitor calibration are components creating the best possible framework for a high quality photo processing workflow.

      Thanks again for your comments!

      Rob :)

  5. I am big fan of your site. And I like to voice my opinion about this post if I may.

    1. Your argument about mistakenly overwrite the original JPEG file.

    It is a good point, you mentioned. And thank you for point it out.

    Well, if you care about the original JPEG file, here is what I always do, when I move the files from flash disk into my computer I make two copies of JPEG, and I do editing on the second copy. It is all about you having discipline and following proper procedure. Using this as an argument against shoot JPEG. It is very creative of you (this is a compliment). But I respectfully disagree.

    2. Again, there shouldn’t be a class distinction of Pro vs. Amateur photographer, and categorization of using JPEG using such distinction.

    I know at least 2 pro who encouraged people to shoot in JPEG, one is Ken Rockwell, and the other is Bryan Peterson. In his book (Understanding Exposure), Bryan Peterson actually stated the fact that he asks his students in his training classes to shoot only in JPEG. Ken Rockwell wrote quite a few passionate posts about this as well.

    Of course 95% of all serious photographers uses RAW, and do extended editing. And the outcome is amazing and stunning. But this is a potential problem here. While all the photographer is bragging about Lightroom, they are not really spitting out the true nature of taking a great photo, that is, the most important thing is getting the shot right with the camera first (be at the right moment, where the lighting is correct, the focus has to be right, the composition has to be stunning, and exposure of the shot is correct). Then if you wanted to, you can tweak the photo a bit to make it perfect.

    Another point I want to make (and I don’t wish to offend you or any other photographer) is that a lot of the writing on post editing using lightroom is that they almost always encourage people to do mediocre shots, and fix it via post editing. This is not the right attitude. The right attitude really is to shoot a great photo first, and if needed, post editing the photo to make it even more awesome. I am sure your intention is not to advocate this. But novice photographer lack the knowledge, and would always take it the wrong way. In the end, they didn’t improve their skill or knowledge on how to handle the actual camera, instead wasting time on post editing.

    3. “Shooting raw is for anyone who cares about the quality of their images.”

    Now, this line truly offends me a little. I agree with the fact that you guys are professionals and wants the client to have the best product you can offer. However, if you implies that I shoot only in JPEG and thus I don’t care about quality, then you are wrong. I care about the quality of my photo work as much as you do. I am sure a quite a lot of awesome photographers who shoots in JPEG would disagree with this line as well. You might want to change this line.

    4. Summary

    I remember there is a debate in Computer Science on Emacs and vi editor. The two groups would argue about which one is better than the other. The actual issue with this debate really is Preference. And it is really what I am seeing here. You guys loves post editing I get it. Is post editing for everyone. No.

    • Hi Han,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ll respond to your various points below (your statements are in italics):

      “Well, if you care about the original JPEG file, here is what I always do, when I move the files from flash disk into my computer I make two copies of JPEG, and I do editing on the second copy. It is all about you having discipline and following proper procedure. Using this as an argument against shoot JPEG. It is very creative of you (this is a compliment). But I respectfully disagree.”

      I think it’s important to point out that you need to be disciplined about your workflow regardless of whether you’re shooting raw or JPEG. It’s a great practice backing up your JPEG files as soon as you copy the file from your memory card to your computer (which we also with our raw files). I wonder though if you’ve considered the fact that creating two copies of your JPEG images (one to never touch, and one to work on) is actually more complicated from a workflow perspective, and effectively doubles your file size. For example say you’re working with a second copy of a JPEG file and you accidentally save over it (effectively ruining the shot) – you then need to go back and find the original untouched JPEG copy and create another copy of the file to replace the ruined file. Now, while you can restore the file, you will have lost all the adjustments you made to that file. If you’re batch processing images and you’re not careful you could end up losing a lot of editing work.

      “Shooting raw is for anyone who cares about the quality of their images.”
      Now, this line truly offends me a little. I agree with the fact that you guys are professionals and wants the client to have the best product you can offer. However, if you implies that I shoot only in JPEG and thus I don’t care about quality, then you are wrong. I care about the quality of my photo work as much as you do. I am sure a quite a lot of awesome photographers who shoots in JPEG would disagree with this line as well. You might want to change this line.

      I’m really sorry to have offended you. I feel like you possibly misinterpreted my comment and I should have done a better job writing it. However, I didn’t say: “You don’t care about the quality of your images if you don’t shoot raw”. The purpose of my statement (“Shooting raw is for anyone who cares about the quality of their images”) was to communicate that raw is a high quality format that isn’t strictly for professional use. Anyone, amateurs and professionals alike, can shoot raw. I think it’s also important to point out the paragraph I followed that statement with (“Now, lest you think I’m on some vendetta against JPEG shooters, that’s not the case at all. I personally know JPEG-only professional photographers, and I deeply respect their work. It’s their decision to shoot JPEG-only and I know their clients are thrilled with the results.”)

      “The two groups would argue about which one is better than the other. The actual issue with this debate really is Preference. And it is really what I am seeing here. You guys loves post editing I get it. Is post editing for everyone. No.”

      I agree with you that raw vs. JPEG is a preference. However, don’t think that our preference to shoot raw can be simplified to the idea that we love post processing. We shoot raw because of the numerous advantages it offers us over the JPEG format. Also, I agree that post processing isn’t for everyone – and for those people JPEG might be enough.

      This being the second article I’ve written about the subject of raw vs. JPEG, I think it’s interesting how polarizing this debate is. Thanks again for adding your thoughts to the conversation.