Street Photography Tips – RAW vs JPG

Perhaps the biggest debate in the world of digital photography continues to be RAW vs JPG. The big difference between the two is that with JPG the processing is done in camera. While RAW processing takes place after the fact and with software on a computer. Both come with advantages and disadvantages.

I’ve been shooting RAW for almost 12 years now and I swear by it. A RAW file can be compared to a negative in film photography. When you process a RAW file a JPG is created leaving the RAW file in its original state. Processing is an entirely different activity and it has its own learning curves just like processing and printing in film photography.

I don’t find processing difficult and maybe that’s because I’ve been doing it for so long. But when you shoot RAW you don’t have to worry about messing up your negative. (I will talk about processing in a later post.) As I learn new processing tricks, I can go back and reprocess older photos.

I do actually shoot JPG from time to time for various reasons. Recently I’ve been in the mood to shoot square again. Yes, I can crop square after the fact. But that changes the composition. Shooting square means composing square and in my cameras it also means shooting JPG.

New York City Street Photography
Afternoon Lunch, New York City, 7 February 2018

The above photo was composed and shot square as a JPG. But I didn’t give up shooting RAW to do it! I decided to try something new! I’m shooting RAW + JPG simultaneously. I didn’t do any post-processing to the photo. While I am often happy with the results of the in camera processing, it doesn’t give me the option to later process as black and white without data loss.

Shooting both RAW + JPG is an experiment for me at the moment. So I haven’t made a decision about the results yet or how long I will continue to do so. If I forget, ask me how I like shooting in both formats.

If you’re not ready to get into processing your photos, but you think that maybe you will in the future, it’s a good thing to shoot both. If you’d rather shoot just JPG you can save your original photo and only process a copy of the photo.

The big thing about RAW vs JPG is that RAW files contain more information. They capture more of the raw data that the sensor records. As well. it means that you can also print your photos larger if that’s a consideration. Yes, RAW files take up a lot more space on your hard drive. But hard drive prices have been coming down and I think that it’s worth it to have a negative of my photos.

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