Let’s talk about Shooting RAW – as in Should I shoot JPG or ROAR!!!!
Oh sorry, I didn’t quite get off to the best start did I? Once more to the kitchen, my friends. Let’s make pancakes, shall we?
As the keen reader knows, I can’t for the life of me, cook. Sure, I can heat things, and put them on plates for purpose of eating, but I actually have to say I can’t cook. So, if I were to have to make pancakes, I would jump into car and drive to the nearest supermarket.
Once at said supermarket, I would ask a staff member (and typically I always manage to find someone in a crisp uniform on their First Day on the job who knows as much as I about the layout of the said supermarket) and then find myself in the aisle that sold containers of pre-made pancake mix. I would, with sweat forming on my brow, feverishly read the ‘just add’ waiver on the box, purchase anything I didn’t have, and without delay off I would go to the manned checkout.
Once home I would follow, step-by-step with 100% zero deviation, the instructions on the box. At the end of a few highly fraught minutes later, I would slop something on a plate which would likely be 0.1 mm or 25 mm thick.
If I knew what I was doing I would buy, eggs, milk, flour, yah-de-yah de yah… and make a much better pancake. If.
So JPGs are a bit like a pancake mix. Ready-made, processed, just the right blend of all the ingredients to make a generic pancake / image. And that is, of course, to someone else’s preferred recipe. But what, I hear you ask, what if I like 100% salt-free pancakes. Can’t do that with a pancake mix, can you? You can’t remove the salt once it is added. Nope, there would already be some salt added in the mix. You can’t vary anything, as you have thrown all your options away by going the pre-made route. What if I have allergies to a given e-number?
So, if you shoot your landscape photographs in RAW, you have every last bit of info still available. All the ingredients are at hand at all times forever. All the detailed info on the lights, the darks, the ability to easily alter colour balance. It’s a camera format that throws absolutely no data away when you take a picture. A JPG compresses and throws away bits of data (Lots actually). If you badly underexposed a JPG grab-shot of the Queen knocking on your front door, there is little you can do to later rescue the image. With RAW you have a much better chance.
Sure, the files are bigger, but they would be, wouldn’t they? It took me three years of shooting JPGs on my Big Camera before I started using RAW. Don’t make the same mistake as I did.
Original RAW file on the left and the original JPG on the right. There are only subtle differences to note, which you may or may not be able to see depending on your monitor settings. (Preparing the images for the web has also further reduced any differences I can still see in the original files.) Subtle differences can be seen in the mid tones. The JPG shows a little more contrast overall and is brighter generally, where the JPG algorithm in the camera tries to to add ‘punch’. However, with the JPG, that’s pretty much it in terms o of editing, with the RAW, well… the world awaits
To be continued here … and more examples to come!