Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I've been doing research lately on the benefits of shooting in RAW as opposed to JPEG.  If you aren't familiar with what RAW is, I will try to explain it as best as I can.

When your camera is set to JPEG format, you are basically allowing your camera to make all the decisions on how you want your image exposed (exposure, white balance, sharpness, brightness, etc.).  Sometimes your camera gets it right, and sometimes it doesn't.  A JPEG is also a compressed version of your image.  Setting it to shoot in RAW allows you to make all the decisions and adjustments you want to get a correct exposure.  Because of this, RAW files are considerably larger and you need editing software that will allow you to view, edit and convert them to JPEG (luckily Photoshop Elements does all this for me!)

There is plenty of info out there on the benefits of shooting RAW.  So I finally decided to try it out for myself.  I did a little test.  My camera has a few different settings: Standard, Fine (what I usually shoot in), RAW + JPEG, and RAW.  I decided to switch to RAW + JPEG for my experiment.  This meant that when I took a picture, it recorded it in both a RAW file and JPEG.  That way I could have the exact same image in both formats and edit them side by side (making the same or similar adjustments) to see the difference.

Here's my SOOC (straight out of camera) image.  Pretty terrible, huh?  Olivia was walking out of the bright sunlight into the shaded patio area.  It's terribly underexposed but it's going perfect for my experiment. :o)

Here is the JPEG version.  I did my best with it to fix the exposure and coloring.  But it still isn't quite right.  See the weird coloring around her eyes, face and in her hair?  She looks a little greenish.
It just doesn't look right.

Finally, here is the RAW image that I adjusted myself on the computer.  Notice how the coloring and exposure look so much better?  And it was so easy to make these adjustments.  I don't think I will ever go back to JPEG, again. 

Here's one last side by side comparison. (Click on it to really see the differences.)
Do I have you convinced? 

Happy picture taking!


Anelieze + Franco Castrejon said...

yup, raw is definitely the best. i don't think i'll ever go back to jpeg!

Susan said...

I guess I'll have to try it out...the quality looks so much better!

Amy said...

Hi, I found this post through Pinterest and was wondering how you use RAW images in Photoshop Elements? I have Elements but anytime I try to open a RAW image it gives me an error saying "Cannot Open Because It Is the Wrong Type". I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.