Do I Need to Shoot in RAW and JPEG? Basics for Photographers

do i need to shoot in raw and jpeg

Photographers often face the dilemma of choosing between shooting in RAW and JPEG formats. Both formats have their advantages and disadvantages, and it can be challenging to decide which one to use. In this article, we will explore the basics of shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats and help you make an informed decision about which one is best for your photography needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Shooting in RAW and JPEG has advantages and disadvantages.
  • Understanding the differences between RAW and JPEG formats is essential.
  • The decision to shoot in RAW and JPEG depends on your specific needs and priorities.

Understanding RAW and JPEG Formats

When it comes to digital photography, RAW and JPEG are two of the most commonly used file formats. But what distinguishes these formats from one another?

Shooting in RAW vs JPEG: RAW files are essentially digital negatives, containing all of the image data captured by the camera’s sensor. JPEG files, on the other hand, are compressed versions of the image data, with some of the data discarded to reduce file size.

Shooting in RAW and JPEG explained: RAW files offer greater flexibility and control over the final image. Since all the data is retained, photographers have more room to adjust things like exposure, white balance, and color. JPEG files are more convenient to work with, as they are smaller in size and can be easily shared or uploaded without the need for additional processing.

It’s important to note that shooting in RAW and JPEG simultaneously will result in larger file sizes and slower write speeds, which can affect overall camera performance. Understanding the differences between these two formats will help you determine which one best suits your photography needs.

Pros of Shooting in RAW and JPEG

Shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats offers a range of benefits for photographers. Here are some advantages to consider:

Greater Post-Processing Flexibility

The RAW format preserves all the data captured by your camera’s sensor, including details in highlights and shadows. This provides greater flexibility when processing images in post-production, allowing you to recover lost details and adjust exposure and color with more accuracy. JPEG files, on the other hand, have already been processed and compressed by the camera, resulting in some loss of data and limited flexibility in post-processing.

Smaller File Sizes and Convenience

Shooting in JPEG format results in smaller file sizes, making it easier to store and share your images. JPEG files are also ready-to-use straight out of the camera, saving you time and effort in post-processing. This can be especially useful for event or travel photography, where quick turnaround times are important.

Stress-Free Shooting

When shooting in both RAW and JPEG, you have a backup file in case something goes wrong with one format. For example, if a RAW file becomes corrupted, you still have the JPEG version of the image to work with. This provides peace of mind and eliminates the stress of potentially losing important shots.

Improved Dynamic Range and Color Depth

RAW files offer a greater dynamic range and color depth than JPEG files, allowing for more accurate reproduction of colors and tones in your images. This is particularly important for professional photography, where capturing as much detail as possible is crucial for delivering high-quality work.

Overall, shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats can provide greater flexibility, convenience, and image quality for photographers. When deciding whether to shoot in both formats, consider your specific needs and priorities as a photographer.

Cons of Shooting in RAW and JPEG

While there are certainly benefits to shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats, it’s important to also consider the drawbacks and limitations of each.

File Size

One of the main disadvantages of shooting in RAW is the large file size. RAW files contain significantly more data than JPEGs, which means they take up more storage space on your camera’s memory card and your computer’s hard drive. This can also impact camera performance, as it takes longer for the camera to write the files to the memory card.

On the other hand, JPEGs are much smaller in file size, making them more convenient for sharing and uploading online.

Processing Time

Another potential downside of shooting in RAW is the increased processing time required. RAW files need to be converted to a more usable format, such as JPEG or TIFF, before they can be edited and shared. This requires specialized software and can be time-consuming, especially if you’re dealing with a large number of files.

JPEGs, on the other hand, are ready to use right out of the camera. They can be opened and edited in nearly any software program, making them a more convenient option for photographers who need to work quickly.

Compatibility with Editing Software

Not all editing software programs are compatible with RAW files. This can be a problem if you prefer to work with a certain program, but it doesn’t support RAW files. While most popular programs do support RAW, it’s still something to consider before making the switch.

JPEGs, on the other hand, are widely supported by all editing software programs, making them a more accessible and versatile option for photographers.

Ultimately, when deciding whether to shoot in RAW and JPEG, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks as well as the benefits. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your specific photography needs and goals.

Reasons to Shoot in RAW and JPEG

Shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats can be advantageous in various scenarios, including:

  • High-Contrast Scenes: Shooting in both formats can help capture both highlights and shadows in scenes with extreme contrasts. RAW files offer more flexibility in post-processing, while JPEG files provide a quick and easy preview of the scene.
  • Professional Photography: Shooting in both formats is essential for professional photography as it allows for greater control over the final image. RAW files offer more detail, dynamic range, and color depth, which is critical for producing high-quality images for commercial or editorial work.
  • Client Deliverables: Shooting in both formats ensures that clients receive both immediate JPEG files for preview and RAW files for advanced post-processing options. This approach helps to meet client expectations and deliver high-quality outputs.

Ultimately, the decision to shoot in both RAW and JPEG depends on your specific needs and photography goals. However, knowing the reasons to shoot in both formats can help you determine if it aligns with your creative vision and photographic purpose.

Shooting in RAW and JPEG Simultaneously

Many photographers wonder whether it’s necessary to shoot in both RAW and JPEG formats. If you’ve decided that shooting in both formats aligns with your photography goals, here are some practical tips for shooting in RAW and JPEG simultaneously.

Camera Settings: Make sure your camera is set to save both RAW and JPEG files. Check your camera manual for specific instructions on how to do this.

Storage Considerations: Shooting in both formats will require more storage space than shooting in just one. Make sure you have enough memory cards or external storage devices to accommodate the larger file sizes.

Workflow Tips: When importing your photos into your editing software, create separate folders for your RAW and JPEG files. This will help keep your files organized and prevent confusion when you’re post-processing your images. You may also want to consider batch processing your photos in separate groups based on file format.

It’s worth noting that shooting in both RAW and JPEG may slow down your camera’s write speed, which could impact your shooting experience in high-speed scenarios. However, the flexibility and convenience of having both formats can outweigh this potential drawback in many situations.

The Importance of Shooting RAW for Professional Photography

When it comes to professional photography, shooting in RAW format is essential. RAW files contain all the information captured by the camera’s sensor, which provides you with greater control over post-processing. Shooting in JPEG format, on the other hand, compresses and discards some of this information, limiting your ability to edit the image.

In professional photography, it’s crucial to have full control over the final image. Shooting in RAW format allows you to make adjustments to exposure, contrast, and color temperature during post-processing without losing any image quality. This flexibility is especially important in high-contrast scenes, where the amount of detail in the highlights and shadows can be maximized with RAW files.

Another significant advantage of shooting RAW is the ability to work with a wider dynamic range. RAW files can capture more detail in both bright and dark areas of an image, allowing for a more nuanced and realistic final result. This feature is particularly relevant in landscape and architectural photography, where the contrast between the sky and the foreground can be challenging to balance.

Overall, the importance of shooting RAW for professional photography cannot be overstated. The level of control provided by RAW files ensures that your final images meet your creative vision and exceed the expectations of your clients.


After exploring the basics and differences between RAW and JPEG formats, you may still be wondering, “Do I need to shoot in RAW and JPEG?” The answer depends on your specific photography needs and priorities.

Shooting in RAW offers greater flexibility in post-processing, dynamic range, and overall image quality, making it essential for professional photographers. However, shooting in JPEG offers convenience and smaller file sizes, making it a suitable option for casual photographers or those with limited storage space.

Consider the reasons to shoot in both formats, such as high-contrast scenes, professional photography, and client deliverables, to determine if it aligns with your photography goals. If shooting in both formats is necessary, follow our practical advice on how to shoot in RAW and JPEG formats simultaneously, including camera settings, storage considerations, and workflow tips.

Ultimately, the decision to shoot in RAW and JPEG is yours to make. By understanding the advantages and limitations of each format, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your creative vision and goals.

So, do you need to shoot in RAW and JPEG? It depends on what you aim to achieve with your photography. But armed with the knowledge from this article, you’re better equipped to make an informed decision.

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