JPEG vs Camera RAW - 20 Years 20 Videos

Learn how to capture better quality images with more flexibility for post-production adjustments. 




I’d like to make the distinction between a production file and distribution file.


The JPEG format was developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group as a delivery file format for the internet in 1992. 

This Lossy compression method for digital photography can be adjusted to make a happy balance between visual quality and download time. 


The processed JPEG file is ready to upload, email, share, and post on the internet.


Cameras can be set up to record Jpeg, RAW or both (I do both). 


RAW files are much larger capturing every bit of data the sensor captures.  The specific RAQ file format is created by each camera manufacturer.  These have a higher color bit, metadata and a greater dynamic range than JPEG. 


I noticed this most initially in photographing the sky.


Raw gives the ability to open up the mid-tone dynamic range in a way that exposes more of the colors you see in reality. 


Look for details in shadows and highlights.


Of course this can be overdone leading to garishly exposed, over-saturated, over processed images.


I prefer a light touch.


Being able to adjust, white balance, contrast, saturation and mid range tones is the advantage of RAW. 


When the photo is processed it can be saved in formats for hi-resolution printing, composited for animation and saved out as a JPEG for internet distribution.


This concept translates in to cinematography with digi cinema cameras workflow. Shooting flat and color correcting in post. 


Next time we will take a look at how this plays out in color precision and chroma subsampling for motion video.


Follow Bryan’s nature & landscape photography and illustrations on Instagram.


Tips on working with camera RAW in Lightroom with Peter Mckinnon