This post for why you should be shooting in raw first appeared on The Bewitchin' Kitchen's Why You Should Only Shoot in Raw.
I waited years before I finally started shooting in RAW on my DSLR. The main reasons were that I wasn’t sure if it would be hard to shoot in RAW (it’s not) and I thought my pictures looked ok the way they were as JPGs. Even after I’d had Lightroom for a few months, I’d still be processing all my JPGs in there. It wasn’t until a friend of mine asked me point blank why I wouldn’t be shooting in RAW? At that point, I didn’t understand all the benefits nor did I realize how it could take my photos to a whole new level. Now that I 100% shoot only in RAW, I realize what a game changer it has been for me and I’d never go back to JPG. RAW for the win!
I know you’re probably thinking, but what’s the big deal? Is there really that much of a difference between the two. The short answer is YES, a huge difference!
I’ve been asked this question a few times so I figured I’d address it once and for all in a post. Here are the 5 reasons why you should be shooting in RAW.
5 Reasons To Be Shooting In Raw
- You’ll have more control in the editing process. With a JPG file, the camera will compress the file so it’s smaller and do some of the processing before you output it. With a RAW file, YOU do all the processing yourself to get the photo looking how you want it to look. You don’t rely on the camera to make those decisions for you.
If you don’t like the white balance, it’s an easy fix with RAW unlike with a JPG, you are very limited on how much you can change. If you blow out a highlight, you can easily fix it. Blown out highlights have ruined many of my JPGs and made the photos unusable.
- You don’t have to worry as much about getting the settings perfect in the camera. If you under or overexpose a RAW file, it’s not that big of a deal. You can fix that later in post-processing. If your photo has a blue cast to it, you can warm it up later. It makes the shooting process less stressful for me since I’m not worried about getting my photos perfect straight out of the camera.
- You’ll get higher quality images with RAW. This also means it will be a bigger file because ALL the data is recorded. Nothing is compressed like it would be with a JPG file.
- Your images will have more details. If you compare the same RAW and JPG photograph, you’ll notice that the RAW photo has more tiny details to sharpen. Nothing is lost or compressed and I find the images cleaner and crisper.
- You won’t lose quality every time you edit. JPGs are “lossy” files which basically means you lose data every time you open to edit it. With RAW files, you can make all the adjustments you want in your editing program and the data will remain intact.
Drawbacks to Shooting in Raw
With that said, there are a couple of drawbacks to shooting in RAW. The files are huge so you’ll want to have an external hard drive to store them long term. You’ll also need an editing program like Lightroom and Photoshop to process them. Personally, I (Randa) delete the .NEF files when I'm done with them, but I think that's a habit I need to break.
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