Why JPEG Photos May Beat RAW Files for You (VIDEO)

The history of photography and camera technology is littered with controversies about the “best” way to capture an image. For a while shooters questioned the value of autofocus, then there was a debate regarding the quality of digital images vs. those shot with film.

Today much of the conversation centers on file formats—namely Raw vs. Jpeg. Frankly we’re not a fan of preemptive claims by so-called “purists” who insist that you’re not a real photographer unless you shoot Raw (or always set your camera’s mode dial to Manual).

While Raw files undoubtedly have benefits for capturing and editing photos, one of our favorite pros insists that this debate has yet to be settled, at least for some photographers. In his view it all depends upon the subject hand, how you intend to use your work, and a few other issues worth noting.

Canadian pro Simon d’Entremont is an accomplished nature and wildlife photographer, and he asks this question to kick off the interesting tutorial below: “Can Jpeg dethrone the king of the hill, Raw?” You may be surprised by his conclusions.

For this file-format shootout Simon pits his Raw files against JPEGs to see when one format beats the other. He also adds Compressed Raw to the mix to make the comparisons even more thorough. So is the “always Raw” notion a myth? Watch the video and see for yourself.

Along the way, Simon says he knows photographers who shoot both Jpeg and Raw, and actually “like the Jpegs better” for reasons he explains. He begins by getting all the definitions and technical stuff straight, with a quick discussion of how various file formats work, and what this implies for the editing process.

Simon’s shootout includes plenty of helpful information, including this interesting fact: “Even if you Shoot Raw, the image on your camera’s LCD is actually a Jpeg.” So Raw shooters need to interpret that screen with care. And Camera Profiles are important too. Take a close look and see what file format makes the most sense for you.

There’s much more to see on d’Entremont’s popular YouTube channel, so be sure to pay a visit when you have time.

And speaking of evolving technologies, check out the earlier tutorial we posted, explaining how to shoot amazing landscapes photos with a modern phone.