In DSLR's some compacts and bridge cameras you have the facility to shoot in RAW.
- RAW captures lots of data but needs post-processing
- Process this in a million ways without degrading your original image
- Blow up the final image to poster size and it will still look good
- Save it to many different formats/sizes including jpeg
And the downsides:
- It's a large file - using a lot of storage
- It must be processed in photo editing software such as Photoshop or The Gimp (free)
Smart phones, tablets and cameras take jpegs, these have some in-camera processing happening which you have some control over.
- Look good straight out of the camera
- Smaller and easier to store
- Easy to send, upload, share
And the downsides:
- Each time you save a jpeg it looses some of its data (pixels) so after multiple saves the image is degraded.
- Unless it is very high quality (12mg) it will not be good enough for large images or Art Prints
Which do you choose?
Shoot in RAW to create jpegs or Tiff files (very large, lossless files ie files that retain all their pixels every time you save them unlike jpegs) to make:
- Large, high-quality prints
- Magazine features
Shoot straight to Jpeg if:
- You don't want the hassle of post processing
- You only want images for web use only
- You're shooting for fun
- You're learning the basics of photography and don't want to be bogged down by techniques. The one-step-at-a-time approach
- You need to send them wirelessly
This requires good photo editing software such as Photoshop/Lightroom or open source (free) software such as The Gimp, but there are lots available, see this review. But here is my simple workflow for working with RAW files:
- Download images to your computer into a file and name it.
- Chose the images you want to keep in Lightroom or other Raw converter
- Convert to Tiffs
- Open in Photoshop (or keep in Lightroom and tweek here)
- Adjust tone and colour with levels
- Clean up dust spots (blow up to 100% to identify them) and erase them with the spot healing brush tool
- If printing sharpen, in moderation with unsharp mask-no sharpening for picture libraries or publishers
- Save as a TIFF file (lossless but even bigger file) or
- Save as a Jpeg; you can regulate the size according to use.