Just the other day I had a lively discussion with a friend of mine about photography. One of the points we discussed is the RAW vs JPEG issue, which is haunting so many people out there. Well, here is my take on the whole RAW vs JPEG issue.
I shoot RAW, it is an essential part of my preprocessing. At the early stages I shot primarily JPEG, but I found I was limited in my preprocessing using Adobe Photoshop. With the arrival of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom working with RAW files became so much easier and allows me to really push it to the limit in terms of preprocessing. Learn more about RAW @ Wikipedia.
Let me make it clear, I’m not against JPEG. If you’re the type of guy/girl that only wants to make nice pictures and do not care about preprocessing then JPEG is definitely the way to go. However, in my humble opinion (and I’m sure people will hate me for saying this): don’t use a fancy DSLR just to shoot JPEGs. It will be like using a Ferrari to do grocery shopping at the store just around the corner. Sure, it works (depending on the amount of groceries, there isn’t much space left in a Ferrari) but you’re not using the car to its full potential.
One of the major arguments of my friend to not use RAW is the space it occupies. This a non-argument, prices of both storage cards and hard drives are really low. Space is not an issue anymore. Another argument he had is more or less valid. Processing RAW, especially when you have a lot, it time consuming and the effects are not always eminent.
My feeling and experience is that shooting RAW puts lots more control at your fingertips than using JPEG. Instead of letting the camera decide what is good, you can make you’re own decisions. Perhaps you don’t know this, but if you use JPEG your camera makes some predefined decisions about boosting colors and other preprocessing steps and save the image in a lossy compression file format. Besides loosing perhaps valuable information you need if you do want to edit your image, you have to live with what the camera thinks is right. And to be honest, on average the camera will get it right. But there are some situations the law of averages does not work out well.
But to each his own, I’ll just continue shooting RAW and by doing so, spend a considerably amount of time doing preprocessing. It is, after all, my choice.