RAW vs. JPEG?

First image is Straight-Out-of-Camera (SOOC). The wonderful magics of shooting in RAW allowed me to still come out with the second image.

First image is Straight-Out-of-Camera (SOOC). The wonderful magics of shooting in RAW allowed me to still come out with the second image.

What is a "RAW" image, and why is it important?


If you bought a DSLR or a mirrorless camera to take photos of your own dogs, then you've probably asked yourself a question like, "what's the difference between shooting in RAW and in JPEG?"

And, more importantly, "which one should I pick?"

The short answer is RAW.

Let me try to explain RAW vs. JPEG in the context of food and recipes. Bear with me here because this is going to sound silly.

Imagine you're craving a delicious bowl of guacamole. I'll give you two options.

Option 1: I can give you anabundanceof raw ingredients for you to make your own guacamole.
Option 2: I give you a pre-made guacamole, but you can't add or subtract anything from it. Let's pretend there's no seasoning available in this scenario. You have to eat it as it is.

If you want to save time, and give up control -- you'll pick option 2, the pre-made guacamole. The upside is, you get a guacamole right away. The downside if you don't like how it tastes, you can't add or subtract anything to it because it's already made.

But if I give you option 1, you have all of the raw ingredients to create a guacamole. That means, with time and effort on your part, you'll create your own guacamole. In fact, because you have an abundance of raw ingredients, you can make 3 or 4 more bowls of guacamole just in case you messed up the flavor the first time. And, you can even try something different on the fourth bowl like adding garlic salt instead of regular salt, which I would personally recommend.

In other words, choosing Option 1 (i.e. RAW) gives you room for failure and creativity.

I know! This is such a bad example and the logic doesn't make perfect sense but here's what I'm trying to say about RAW vs. JPEG.

JPEG is fixed, while RAW gives you the creative control.

When you pick JPEG, you're asking the camera to make the final photo for you (i.e. the guacamole). You'll have very little say in how you want to edit the photo later, like making some parts darker or some parts lighter.

But with RAW, you have full and complete creative control. And that's where the above example comes in. Do you see that before/after picture? I couldn't have rescued it if I was shooting in JPEG.

In my "before" photo, I really messed up the camera settings so the photo came out much darker than I expected. But because I made a RAW image, I had an abundance of "raw ingredients" to work with, which allowed me to still create a jaw-dropping, stunning image out of it.

So when you take out your own camera to make a portrait of your dog, try shooting in RAW instead. You won't regret it.

Now, excuse me, I'm off to go make myself a guacamole.

Happy Weekend,

-Steamer