Individuals who use a digital camera need to know the difference between RAW and JPG Formats. If they don’t, they could make some serious and irreversible mistakes.
Distinctions: the Definitive RAW and JPG
The distinction between RAW and JPG formats is simple and yet definitive.
Since RAW deals with an early stage of photographic development, it should come first. In fact, its distinction is necessary in order for JPG to make sense.
A RAW file is called a “digital negative” due to its similarity to a regular film negative. It is an unprocessed record of a photo or video shot containing all the sensory information necessary to create a viewable image. In this sense, a RAW is a “beginning-stage” file.
- Total sensory information – due to a state of non-compression, RAW files contain all the information from the camera sensor needed to create a full image. This includes transformational and descriptive data.
- Numerous color shades – 12-14 bits per image can feature around 4,096 colors. That’s a wide gamut from which to choose.
- High image quality – since RAW files are unprocessed and contain lossless data from the camera sensor, photographers can develop high-quality images.
- Non-destructive alterations – changes made do not affect the original RAW file.
- Flexibility in pace and progression – photographers have control over their parameters and can choose how to develop their images, from skipping unnecessary steps to working on visual dynamics like sharpness and contrast.
- Large files, limited space – RAW files are larger than other files when saved, so they require more space on memory cards.
- Longer saving and processing time periods – RAW files take a long time to save and process due to the lack of compression and set parameters.
- Minimal software –a small number of software programs designed for RAW files is currently available. Further innovations will broaden the range of capabilities.
The JPG, or JPEG, tag stands for the “Joint Photographic Experts Group” that devised the standard it represents. It refers to a format of processed files common to a many public venues such as the Internet.
Digital cameras feature automatic settings for JPG/JPEG format so photographers can create images in compressed form without the need for conversion.
These images are ideal for photo enthusiasts who have a desire for the convenience of instant creations. Many everyday users do not like taking the time manipulating RAW files as professional photographers do, even with bit graphics editors to help them.
- “Rapid-Fire” shooting – photographers capture JPG/JPEGs in quick succession.
- Full compression – Since JPG/JPEG files are compressed, they are small, so memory cards hold a great number of them at any given time.
- Quick processing – JPG/JPEG files are compressed, so they process quickly.
- Easy transmission and uploading – Due to their compressed state and small size, JPG/JPEG files are easy to transmit/upload into computer/Internet programs.
- No deterioration – JPG/JPEG images show little to no apparent deterioration from loss of sensory data until they reach A4 in size. This allows some flexibility.
- Specialized software – a large number of software programs exist to process JPG/JPEG files, so technology allows for increasing capabilities.
- Incomplete control – photographers have little to no control over their creations. Although they can manipulate to some degree, their capabilities are minimal.
- Low quality – since JPG/JPEG files are made quickly, some sensory information is lost and photographers are unable to manipulate their creations. As a result, the images are lower in quality than RAW files.
- Limited color options – Since JPG/JPEG files are compressed and contain less sensory data, they feature only 8 bits of color. That’s only 256 shades per pixel.
What is Better—Creative Control or Speed and Ease?
RAW files and JPG/JPEG files differ according to appearance, processing ability, processing time and venue. When it comes to photography, all of these factors play a significant role in what is considered to be “better.”
Professional photographers have an agenda. Creativity and uniqueness are at the heart of their work, so every aspect of production is essential. RAW files are preferred so photographers can manipulate their photos as they want or need.
Everyday users, on the other hand, have neither the knowledge nor concern for image manipulation. They have only a desire to share photos that are clear enough for others to see and enjoy. The quick and easy approach to photo-taking is most necessary to them.
In the end, the idea of what is “better” rests in the photographer and that photographer’s purpose. Since each case is different, such a determination is always subjective.