I have been a RAW shooter since the format was available to digital cameras years ago. Back then a RAW file would give me quite an advantage over a JPEG since the in-camera processing of early digital cameras lacked the power of a desktop computer running Photoshop. Today’s intelligent hybrid cameras have more processing power then my laptop I purchased two years go. Hybrid cameras such as the Lumix G5, Olympus OM-D and Fuji X Pro 1 have advanced hardware and software that transforms the data from the image sensor into a beautiful photo instantly.
At the very moment you push the button these intelligent hybrid cameras recognize faces, optimize for shadow/highlight detail and smooth out skin tones. This same process can take hours when shooting RAW. Frankly, I’m tired of the long days behind the computer editing RAWs in Lightroom only to see the beautiful color I captured get turned to mush before my eyes (see below).
Shooting with hybrid cameras made photography fun again for me which meant I was shooting more then ever. The flip side is that since I was shooting loads and loads of RAW files I was spending more time then ever behind the computer which is not fun.
While I currently shoot RAW for paid assignments I’m exploring the possibility of replacing RAWs with JPEGs. So far I have shot a handful of jobs with JPEG + RAW but I’m hoping that in the near future I’ll be shooting jobs with JPEG only.
For me shooting JPEG is fun, easy and the quality is very high. Below are my top five reasons why I like to shoot JPEG.
Easy Backup - With most cameras RAW files are often at least 5 times the size of a JPEG yet the quality of a RAW file is not 5 times that of a JPEG. This means when you’re shooting RAW you have to find a place to store all the photos. If you store them all at home and you’r hard drive crashes or if your home is burglarized you just lost all your photos. The option to back up your RAW files online can become costly and takes a tremendous amount of time to upload because the file size of RAW is 5 times that of JPEGS.
Wireless Connectivity - Because shooting JPEG means smaller file sizes I can easily and quickly backup the photos to my Dropbox and G+ accounts. What’s even cooler is that you can set up your Android or iOS device to capture and backup your JPEGS while the device is in your pocket or bag. Wireless cards are available from Eye-Fi, Toshiba and Transcend.
Works well with video – Hybrid cameras like the Lumix G5 or Olympus OM-D make shooting video easier then ever and the quality is amazing. Editing video on the other hand can be a real pain, however, online options like ProShow Web means you just upload your videos & photos and it does the rest for you. If you shoot RAW you have to edit and process all your files first, then upload them to ProShow Web or import them into your editing program. These extra steps can take hours. Like to shoot video and have a life? Shoot JPEG.
Here’s an example of combining video and stills together. I use Final Cut Pro X but you can do the same with ProShow Web or iMovie.
Photos look great in camera - Shooting JPEG with a mirrorless hybrid camera means I can see what the photo will look like before I shoot so if I don’t like the way something looks I can quickly change a setting and get it right in camera. With most cameras the JPEGS will always keep that great color you see on your screen while the RAWs will not. Here’s an example of a JPEG besides RAW from a Fuji X Pro 1 in Lightroom 4. After looking at the thousands of photos I shot in Italy I was left wondering why I shot RAW in the first place. So let me get this straight: I have to spend hours in post to make the RAWs look like JPEGs when the camera would do that for me in a instant?!? No thanks, I’ll be shooting JPEG on vacation from now on.
No Photoshop or RAW processor needed - Just shoot, backup to your favorite online service and share. That’s it!
So what do you prefer? Are you a RAW shooter or JPEG? If you could shoot JPEG and make it look as good or better then shooting and processing RAW files would you?
Article originally posted at DiscoverMirrorless.com