One of the best methods to find potential clients as a photographer is to create a beautiful web portfolio that displays your best work. How do you know which format will provide you the greatest quality photos? Now is a good moment to go more into the debate over whether photographers should use RAW or JPEG for their shoots.
We'll go over the benefits of shooting in RAW versus JPEG so that you may choose the format that works best for you. You'll be able to reliably create high-quality images for your portfolio.
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The JPEG vs. RAW
It's ridiculous to get worked up over something like whether RAW or JPEG photographs are better. It's the age-old question of whether full-frame or APS-C is better, and the subject of the same heated argument as countless other photographic topics.
You can't have the "greatest thing ever," only what's best for you. This, and only this, is the honest truth.
So as not to deviate too much from the general tone of many of my other postings, I will try to avoid discussing technical details like bit depth, dynamic range, file size, etc. After giving these factors some thought, you'll be able to make an educated decision as to whether or not you should photograph in RAW, JPEG, or both forms while you're out traveling the world.
What is the distinction between RAW and JPEG?
To use a photographic analogy, the RAW file format is the equivalent of the negative, while the JPEG file format is the print. Most modern cameras have dual recording capabilities.
A RAW file, like film, is a capture of the light that has been exposed to it but has undergone minimal processing. Raw images need to be processed just way film negatives do.
When a picture has finished being processed, it can be saved as a JPEG. Numerous enhancements have already been made, including those to sharpening, contrasts, colour, and overall tone. It's the last thing a photographer grabs before heading out of the darkroom.
Which format (RAW or JPEG) is better?
Nothing can be better than what is good for you, and there is nothing better.
The thing is, though, consider this. When you leave the darkroom, you take a print with you but dispose of the negative. After a year, you realise that you no longer like the colour scheme and decide to change it. Since you just have the print, you'll need to make the necessary colour corrections to the actual photo. The next year, you decide you want a softer look and make an effort to increase the brightness of the shadows while decreasing the brightness of the highlights. Brightening the shadows, though, won't disclose anything new because you've previously seen everything that was there.
A jumbled mess is the inevitable result of making small adjustments like these every year. To put it another way, it's the same as sending a fax of a fax of a fax.
Rather than starting over with a new negative, might it be preferable to edit the old one and see if it works better?
Is it better to shoot RAW or JPEG?
"What format do you use when shooting?" "RAW or JPEG?" Among photographers, opinions on file formats can run very deep. Even if people are really invested in a topic, that doesn't make their opinion the only valid one. Like many other aspects of photography, the options available to you depend on your current set of conditions. Whether you should shoot in RAW or JPEG (or perhaps both) is conditional on a number of things.
First, though, we should establish what JPEG and RAW files are. It is possible to see JPEGs on any computer, smartphone, or tablet without downloading any additional software, as this format has been standardised to be both compact and universally readable. This facilitates dissemination, but it also has drawbacks:
Editing a JPEG will degrade its quality because much of the information included in the file is permanent.
Image settings that have been rated and marked as excellent maximise compression; scene-specific file sizes. File sizes are roughly the same wherever you are in the world, and compression is used for the options without stars. It is possible to adjust the camera's JPEG compression settings to maximise either image quality or file size.
All of the image data and metadata from a camera's sensor are stored in a single RAW file (camera ID, settings, lens, etc.). The file size is substantially bigger than a JPEG because to the additional data, and the data is "raw," so you'll need dedicated photo editing software to work with it. That implies more time in post-production editing the files, but no quality loss thanks to the non-destructive file format.
Capable of manipulating RAW files? You can either use Nikon's free Capture NX-D software, which can read and retain all camera settings (including Active D-Lighting, Picture Control, and Vignette Control), or you can utilise third-party software, although this will require additional post-processing time.
In contrast to a RAW file, a JPEG can be shared directly from the camera. The JPEG claims to be more manageable. A RAW file is preferable if you plan to do extensive post-processing work.
Let's use some math to break down how bit depth contributes to the final quality of a RAW file. A JPEG pixel can store up to 256 levels of brightness information for each colour channel (red, green, and blue). You can get 16,777,216 colours if you multiply each channel by 256 (256 x 256 x 256). If you're working with an 8-bit file, you have access to 16,777,216 possible colour combinations for each individual image pixel.
The highest-end Nikon cameras record RAW data at 14 bits, giving you 1.07 billion colours.
You should read the accompanying article for details on why and when 14-bit shooting makes sense. But these figures demonstrate that a higher bit-depth allows for more subtle tonal gradation (the steps between colours).
In what ways does math have a role in the final product? How about a sky that's blue but has distinct bands?
An 8-bit JPEG was probably used in the posterization process. Banding was brought on by the limited dynamic range of the recording (16 million is very low). A more gradual change in sky colour could be achieved with more tonal gradation in the RAW file.
More editing leeway is available with increased bit depth because more gradations of colour are captured and more of the original dynamic range is preserved. A wider margin could be useless if your exposure is always ideal. It could be helpful if you want to adjust the exposure of a photo or play about with the highlights and lowlights.
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The Advantages of Shooting JPEGs
The JPEG file format is often recognised as the standard for digital photography. Most digital cameras have JPEG as their default setting, so it's likely that's what you used when you initially took your camera out of the box. Many beginning photographers will initially shoot in JPEG format rather than RAW format in order to get familiar with their camera. However, photographers with greater experience may benefit from working in this format.
Some advantages of JPEG over RAW photography include:
Image processing is completed for you
The JPEG format is widely used because it allows digital cameras to process images without the photographer's intervention. You only have to point your camera at your topic and push the "capture" button for the camera to take care of the rest. tone curve, colour saturation, White balance, sharpen and colour space are some of the camera settings that influence the final image. You won't have to do anything to the image after it's been saved to your memory card; everything will be handled automatically.
For amateur photographers who are just starting to learn about things like white balance, sharpness, and lighting, this benefit can be invaluable. Those just starting out in photography can make beautiful photographs by shooting everything from landscapes to weddings without having to worry too much about post-production.
Because JPEGs are processed photographs, proficient photographers have the option of shooting more fast without sacrificing quality. As a photographer who likely works on multiple projects at once, you may not have the time or energy to go through thousands of photographs. Extended processing times and lengthy file backups might add up to extra costs for you and your customers.
JPEGs are perfect for frequent photographers because they don't require post-processing if the photographer knows what they're doing in terms of exposure and camera use.
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Smaller File Size
When picking between shooting in RAW and JPEG, it's also important to consider how big the final file will be. Images saved as JPEGs are stored on your computer as compressed files. This means that even if you take a lot of photos, your memory card won't fill up with JPEGs because each one has such a modest file size.
The need for a reduced file size becomes especially pressing when attempting a long shot and you don't want to waste time constantly swapping out the memory card in your camera due to fullness. JPEGs are ideal if you're taking photos at a busy event or on a fast-paced fashion session and don't have time to switch out the memory card in your camera.
With the reduced file size, you'll be able to fit more shots on a single memory card without having to switch cameras. If you've already made a sizable investment in your digital camera, the ongoing expense of additional memory cards may dissuade you from shooting in anything other than the more space-efficient JPEG format.
Simple to Share for Quick Posting
If your digital camera can handle jPEGs, you'll have no trouble posting photos to your various social media profiles right away. Whether you're posting a new photo to your Instagram account or changing the profile photo on your Facebook company page, this holds true. Uploading a JPEG to your internet photographic portfolio is quick and easy, which is great for attracting visitors and potential clients.
Publish your images online in a couple of minutes thanks to the diminutive file sizes of JPEGs, which allow for rapid uploading. (If you like to keep your portfolio up-to-date even when you're not at your desk, pick a website builder that allows you to design mobile apps.)
If you're debating whether to photograph in RAW or JPEG so that you can print your photos and give them as gifts, know that shooting in JPEG will make it much simpler to do all of those things. It will be much easier to upload, post, and print your photos if you shoot in JPEG format.
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The Cons of Shooting JPEGs
While JPEGs have many advantages for both amateur and professional photographers, they also have certain downsides.
Loss of Detail
You lose a lot of detail when you convert a photo from RAW to JPEG using your camera. JPEGs can be lossy, which means the final image may have undesirable qualities including graininess, flatness, or even pixelization. This loss of detail will be more apparent to the viewer in highly detailed shots or close-ups.
Some photographers object to the loss of detail in JPEGs since the format does not allow for the image to be reprocessed or modified to improve its quality after conversion. This is especially true once you take into account the fact that a picture can no longer be edited after it has been converted to JPEG.
Fewer Colour Choices
Colour is another consideration in the ongoing discussion between the RAW and JPEG file formats. Because of their 8-bit nature, JPEGs are limited in the range of colours and tones they can accurately portray. Most of the colours your camera can record are lost in the conversion to JPEG, so the image will lack some vibrancy. However, there are an infinite number of colours that can be captured by your camera. For example, if you shoot a landscape with plenty of vivid colours using JPEG, the final product may look considerably muted compared to the original.
Reduced Dynamic Range
The dynamic range of a photograph is defined as the range of tones from the very lightest to the very darkest in the image. The dynamic range of a JPEG image is reduced, thus areas that are either very bright (become overexposed) or very dark (become underexposed) are more likely to occur while taking a picture with such a camera (underexposed). Shadows may be cast in certain areas, making certain details of the image harder to make out.
Again, you cannot reprocess JPEGs, so any issues with the final image, such as too much or too little exposure, are irreparable.
The Benefits of Shooting RAW
RAW files, the opposite side of the RAW vs. JPEG dispute, will now be examined. The RAW format is not an image file and does not use compression like JPEG files. To put it simply, RAW files are a collection of information acquired by the camera's image sensor and saved on the camera's memory card. With image editing programmes like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, you may see the information visualised as pictures and make changes to the RAW files.
Most professional photographers use RAW rather than the JPEG format, despite the fact that JPEG is the standard for digital cameras. There are several benefits of using RAW format instead of JPEG when taking photographs:
Image Files of Excellent Quality
While shooting in RAW format, your camera will save every bit of information it receives from the sensor. That manner, none of the image's specifics will be lost or thrown away (often with JPEGs). Shooting in RAW format saves all the data the camera captures so you can edit the image later. This will guarantee that you have high-quality image files to work with during the processing phase, allowing you to create the best image possible.
Brightness has been increased
While JPEG files can only store 256 tones, RAW files can store between 4,096 and 16,384 tones. Compared to a JPEG image, the luminance is split down as follows in a RAW image: Brightening an image gives the impression that the tones are more evenly distributed throughout the picture.
You'll have more leeway to experiment with the image's editing process thanks to the brightness adjustment being easier to do throughout processing. Altering the photo in this way will not detract from its overall quality.
Choosing a bright image is another way to prevent posterisation. Posterisation is an optical illusion in photography caused by a continuous band of colour superimposed on the subject. This problem typically occurs and lowers the image quality while taking a picture against a colourful backdrop or a bright sky.
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More Colours in Your Photographs
To be accurate, the RAW format can hold 68 billion more colours than JPEG files. With 12 bits of data, a RAW image can display thousands of various shades of red, green, and blue, while a 14-bit RAW file can display trillions of colour possibilities. RAW captures the most light possible, resulting in photos with a broader colour gamut and deeper colour depth.
For this reason, capturing a vibrant fashion scene or a colourful landscape with a wide range of tones and colours is best done in RAW rather than JPEG.
Greater Dynamic Range
Do you ever worry that your images are under or overexposed? You have a lot of wiggle room to make last-second tweaks to the lighting while shooting in RAW. There's a wide range of light and dark tones captured by these files because of their great dynamic range. You'll have far less trouble editing overexposed or underexposed photographs now that you know what to look for within the image itself.
If you frequently over- or underexpose your photos, RAW may be a better choice than JPEG as your shooting format. This attachment could also be useful if you're taking photos in an environment where you have little to no control over the amount of light that makes it into the camera's sensor.
Files are processed and edited in accordance with your specifications
The advantages of filming in RAW format become most apparent during the post-production editing phase. Remember that RAW files were designed to be processed in a way that corresponds to the tastes of the photographer, which may help you decide between shooting in RAW and JPEG. This feature gives you a tonne of latitude to tweak photos however you like, which is especially useful if the final product isn't what you expected it to be.
The RAW format allows users unrestricted creative freedom while retaining the practicality of a finished JPEG file. In most cases, your brain is much more advanced than your camera. Adjusting the white balance, brightness, and sharpness of a photo is a piece of cake in post-processing software like Photoshop or Lightroom. If you accidentally choose the wrong setting for an image, you may rectify it in Photoshop by making adjustments to the RAW file, and no one (including the customer) needs to be the wiser.
Moreover, editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom provide sharpening capabilities that are more robust than those included with your camera. Even if an image was shot softly or had too much noise, these tools make it easy to sharpen it. Thus, the images you post to your photography website will seem fantastic.
Worried about working with RAW files? One of the benefits of working with RAW data is that the editing process is non-destructive. A RAW image (rather than a JPEG image) will be changed in a programme like Photoshop or Lightroom, with the modified version being saved as a TIFF or JPEG file. This means you can go back and make any necessary changes to the original high-quality RAW file whenever you like without losing any data. Because of this, you can edit the same RAW file in numerous ways, based on the needs and preferences of your client, making the editing process easier on both you and your client.
The RAW Format's Limits
Similarly to JPEGs, RAW files have some limitations. If you're considering shooting in RAW instead of JPEG, it's crucial to be aware of its restrictions.
Increasing the File Size
A sizable quantity of space is needed in order to store all the information that your camera can capture. Because they are not compressed, RAW files require a much larger storage space on the memory card of your camera. When shooting in RAW, the camera's buffer fills up considerably more fast, which might reduce the frame rate and limit the number of photographs that can be saved on a single sd card. To avoid the hassle of having to switch out your memory card in the middle of a frantic shoot or busy event, it is advisable to bring along some spare memory in advance.
Shooting in RAW requires extra space on your computer in the form of larger hard drives and greater computer requirements because the processing of RAW files can be more resource-intensive. Upgrades to a computer's storage, graphics card, and random access memory (RAM) can add up quickly, which could be a significant cost for some photographers.
Image Processing Is Necessary
RAW files allow for greater creative leeway in post-production than JPEGs do. On the other hand, manual image processing is a time-consuming endeavour. This is especially the case while learning picture editing and adjusting each image individually. If you choose to capture your images in RAW format rather than JPEG, you need factor in extra time at the end of a project to upload the images to editing software and make any necessary tweaks so that they look their best.
Image processing under pressure from a client and a tight deadline can be a very stressful job for the individual performing the task. Create a workflow in Google Apps or another planning programme if you plan on working on huge projects in RAW format. You'll have an easier time getting through the photo editing in a timely manner. For some photographers, the time and effort required to take raw images and turn them into finished works of art is enough to put them off the pursuit altogether. (However, with practise, the editing process will speed up.)
Software compatibility is essential
When compared to JPEGs, RAW files aren't meant to work with any and all cameras. If you own a Canon digital camera and shoot in Canon RAW format, you will not be able to view those files with Nikon software. If you're using a Canon digital camera and just Canon software, then all your RAW files should be opened and edited using Canon software. You may need to wait for software developers to update their programmes so that your operating system can read RAW data from a more recent model of digital camera.
To counter this, Adobe has only recently released its open-source RAW format, DNG (Digital Negative). Lightroom can process RAW images and save them as DNG files, an open-source format. Even though it's an extra step, doing so will guarantee that your data are always accessible and legible.
More and more camera makers are integrating the ability to capture images in the DNG format into their products. You'll have far less trouble opening the RAW files on your device because this open-source format is set to become the norm in the near future for all manufacturers moving forwards.
So, which is better for you: RAW or JPEG?
You can shoot in RAW or JPEG. There are two possible courses of action. There are two categories of advantages and disadvantages. Finally, let's compare and contrast RAW and JPEG in terms of their advantages and disadvantages.
Choose JPEG for quick and simple shots.
If you shoot a lot of images in informal situations or on the spur of the moment, JPEGs are your best friend (say, at a family gathering or a party with friends). Because JPEGs don't require any extra processing time, you may easily take and share a huge number of photographs without delay.
JPEGs are ideal if you need an instant profile photo for social media or want to snap a snapshot of a memorable moment for Instagram. If you are taking several images in a short amount of time, such during a fashion show or a sporting event, and you are certain in your exposure knowledge, you may even choose to shoot in JPEG format and let your camera do the rest of the job for you.
RAW is the way to go for detailed, stylised shoots
In order to edit your photos later, RAW is the best format to shoot in. When shooting in low light or bright sunlight, or when you want greater control over the highlights and shadows, RAW format is the way to go. If you want to spend a lot of time adjusting the white balance, colours, and tones of your images for your portfolio, you should shoot in the RAW format.
If you want the photos to have a professional appearance, this is crucial. RAW may be the best format to utilise for filming high-fashion, industrial, or creative work when a unified vision or distinctive style is desired and the photographs will be altered in Photoshop or Lightroom.
Format your data to suit your requirements
If you want to be a good photographer, you need to find a format that complements your larger artistic vision. You should think about the final purpose of your photo collection before settling on a certain design. Depending on what you're photographing and the ultimate look you're going for, this may necessitate shooting in both the RAW and JPEG file formats.
Apply whichever is more convenient, but always think about how to get the best possible shot to guarantee that your images come out great. You can receive inspiration and learn how other photographers frame and shoot in different styles by perusing the internet portfolios of some of your favourite photographers, who may specialise in areas as diverse as travel and film photography, food photography, or black and white photography.
Don't Forget to Include Those Images in Your Portfolio!
Always include both RAW and JPEG samples of your best work in your web photography portfolio, regardless of which format you prefer to shoot in. Are you currently without one? Website creation tools have made it easy to create a professional online portfolio. If you want to make money off of your photography, you need a website that can act as both a portfolio and an online store.
A decent website builder will make it easy for you to make changes to your site's appearance with a few mouse clicks and no coding knowledge required. You can quickly and easily upload high-quality RAW or JPEG photographs, for instance.
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