Shoot RAWs or JPEGs?


I have read that one must ideally shoot in the RAW format. Once, I had to switch to JPEG, as I did not have space in the memory card. But when I opened the images in Photoshop CS4, I accidentally clicked ‘Open as’ instead of ‘Open’, and opened the JPEG files as RAW files. But I could easily edit them! So is RAW really good, or is it okay if I shoot JPEGs only?
Sandeep V Khambait, Nashik

Some recent versions of Photoshop may allow you to open a JPEG file as a RAW file. Also, if you use Lightroom, it is possible to enhance JPEG images using the same sliders like Exposure, Recovery and Blacks, which one uses while editing RAW images. However, this does not give you all the benefits that a RAW file offers. This is because a JPEG image has less information than a RAW file.

RAW files have all the data that is captured by the camera, while JPEG images are the processed versions of those files, in which some data has been discarded. This means you cannot edit a JPEG file without compromising on quality. Also, it is best to shoot in RAW when in mixed lighting situations, since you have finer control over white balance. Quality wise, it is important to know that different cameras process their JPEG files differently.

While some cameras produce excellent, high-quality JPEGs, other cameras may show a great variation in the quality of a RAW file and a JPEG file. We recommend that you stick to shooting JPEGs when you require a faster frame rate, or when storage space is limited. However, if you want the best possible image quality from your camera then you can switch to RAW.

Tags: photoshop, Question of the Day, Raw, JPEG, LIGHTROOM