Today, I'm posting two photos in order to give a quick demonstration on the difference between two file formats used by photographers. It used to be pretty much only professional photographers or really serious hobbyists would bother using RAW when taking pictures. But, nowadays, lots of people are getting into the act. Until recently RAW files weren't available in Point and Shoot models, only in your larger DSLR cameras. That's changed and an alert reader pointed it out to me just a few weeks ago. Canon is now manufacturing a Point and Shoot which can make RAW photos. You can bet on it; next year everyone will follow suit.
The dark photo of an Okinawan Shisa (Lion-dog) posing under a red-tile roof with blue skies is an example of what a RAW photo looks like. It looks dark, way underexposed, almost like one of those old-fashioned film negatives from the 20th Century. And, so it is; it's raw and needs to be developed.
The photo in which the Shisa is clearly visible is a JPG file. You can Google to find out more about the different types of files most commonly used with digital cameras today, but my quick explanation may help you decide which format is best for you. JPG files, when copied, loose some of their details each time you copy them. If you're just shooting for your own personal use or scrapbooking, JPG files are the way to go. RAW files allow you more flexibility in creating JPG files. From a RAW file, you can create 100's of JPG's, every one different from the one before it. The trade-off being, you have to develop every shot after you download your camera. If you'd have shot JPG's, the camera would've developed them for you. In a nutshell: RAW lets you be a bit more creative, artistic, flexible in what you do after the camera is downloaded, but makes more work for you and creates the need for more storage of files. JPG's are just fine for most travelers, not getting into commercial production with their photography. Until next time, Happy Shooting!
A wildlife photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, Brave New Traveler, Go Nomad, Matador Abroad and Trips, The Nihon Sun, Travel Thru History, The Okinawan , Wend Magazine and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.
Great topic! I especially like how you have both photos up for comparison. It helps when going through the pros and cons of both methods of shooting. The next step on the RAW photo would be learning the ins and outs of a developing program to tweak the picture to perfection!
Thanks for your comments. Fortunately, for anyone who decides to use RAW format, the camera manufacturers usually include software for developing along with the purchase of the camera. Then, for those who really have the creative bug there are more professional RAW development tools available online along with instructions on how to master them. For anyone just starting out, the Help section in the software included is usually all that’s needed to develop great photos.
Wow, you have no idea how much time I’ve spent trying to figure out the difference between RAW and JPGs since Christmas, and here you had a blog post about it all along! Great post Mike, thank you for writing it! The picture examples really cleared this one up for me. 😉
Glad my simple explanation and sample photos were helpful. It’s great getting feedback, too. Sometimes I wonder,”Does anybody really read this stuff?”