Disadvantages of RAW Shooting, RAW & JPEG File Formats
There are of course some clear disadvantages of shooting RAW. RAW files cannot be printed or viewed as easily as JPEG’s. They must be processed with proper software for best results. Naturally, their main disadvantage is the time required to process RAW images.
In our article called “Shooting RAW”, we took a closer look at the theoretical advantages of RAW formats over JPEG, and now let’s get to practice.
While amateur enthusiasts and photo artists can take hours processing a single image, professionals such as wedding photographers may have no time nor desire to spend any more time processing thousands of files than is absolutely necessary. They will prefer setting everything in advance during the shooting rather than spending time later fixing the images. They’ll measure and pre-select white balance, carefully weigh exposure, enable highlight priority and shadow correction if required, and choose whatever camera preset required for a particular scene before shooting a picture.
Naturally, they will obtain JPEG files that require no post processing and that are almost as good as RAW files. Given plenty of light, noise becomes a non-issue, while inferior resolution of JPEG images coming straight off the camera will not be noticed by any of their customers.
Naturally, RAW files are much bigger than JPEG’s. The main reason is lossy compression technique used in JPEG files vs. lossless algorithms used to compress RAW’s. The other reason is higher bit depths per color channel available in RAW files. Storage considerations are valid, but the availability of Silicon Power, Sandisk, JetFlash, DataTraveler high-capacity memory cards alleviates the issue to a large degree.
RAW files come in so many different formats it’s hard to mention them all. Canon’s CR2, Nikon’s NEF, Pentax PEF and a great deal of other proprietary formats are available. Moreover, new camera models produce RAW files that are hardly ever compatible with previous versions, forcing photographers to upgrade their RAW processing engine after buying a new camera.
Some manufacturers (e.g. Pentax) recognized the issue and started producing RAW files in an open-source Adobe DNG (Digital Negative) format. This finally solves the compatibility issue, allowing any converter supporting the Adobe DNG format to process images produced by these cameras. Unfortunately, not all camera makers follow this trend; Canon and Nikon stick to their proprietary formats.
RAW+JPEG: Best of Two Worlds
For some critical shots, seasoned professionals will shoot both RAW and JPEG by enabling the corresponding option in the camera. This allows seasoned professionals to get advantage of the ultimate image quality provided by the RAW format while having JPEGs at their convenience the moment they need them. Granted, shooting RAW and JPEG together requires even more space, but a large capacity memory card will largely alleviate the issue.
Which One is for You?
Which of the two formats is right for you? Only you can answer. Do you shoot hundreds of pictures with little desire to spend hours before the computer screen doing post processing? Set up your camera right before each shooting session and shoot as many JPEG’s as you will. Enjoy perfecting every shot? RAW is right for you! Not sure yet? Try shooting RAW+JPEG and see what your digital workflow looks like.
Photo Recovery Tool
If you inadvertently delete a photo or lose some after a system crash, you will be able to easily restore files using specialized software like Hetman Photo Recovery. The program supports both the popular *.jpeg, *.bmp, *.png files, as well as all popular RAW file formats, and restores photos in a few simple steps. Read more about the main reasons for losing photos after a vacation in our blog.