You probably know that shooting in RAW is, for most photography buffs, better than using JPG—but you might not know exactly why. This image should help.


Austin Paz at Peta Pixel decided to give a visual demonstration of the difference between the two. He simply left the lens cap on his Canon 70D and grabbed both a RAW and JPG image of the completely black shot. Then he took them into Photoshop and artificially bumped up the exposure to take a look at the noise. The result, shown in the image below (with the original black images up top) shows RAW on the left and JPEG on the right.

You can see that JPGs have way, way more noise, as Paz notes:

"[T]he two look nothing alike — it’s almost impossible to guess that they started as the same image. This is something to consider if you’re a JPEG shooter. Your shadows can look relatively inconsistent and discolored if you need to do extra processing. On the opposite end, RAW has a very uniform noise across the whole spectrum."

To the novice photographer, there's a conversational way to differentiate raw vs. jpeg. We've gone through this before on our Instagram page but here it is again. Yes we can complicate and go into great detail but a raw image allows you to have greater control in changing the image once in post production. You can increase the lighting when you didn't measure enough during the shoot, or merely didn't have the time to change your settings on camera. For fast paced photography like weddings, this is an absolute crucial thing. The bride goes from one spot to another, there's no time to redo it. You shoot and have the comfort of knowing that you'll be able to adjust the image once you get back to your desk. Here's a little easier way to understand it.

Imagine a lasagna sitting on your kitchen counter. You serve the family and some say it has too many olives, some say not enough cheese. With a cooked lasagna you can change it a little without ruining the integrity of the dinner. You might be able to pick off some of the olives but not all. You can add cheese to it, microwave it and it will be close enough but not excellent. That's a jpeg! You can alter it afterwards, but you're limited to how much you can do and what you can do. Mess with it too much and it looks quite unappetizing (both of them!)

In with a raw image you can control so much more. A raw file is a raw lasagna, of sorts. You can lift layers, add more cheese or even take away all the olives. You can add more layers of ingredients and change parts of the dinner, but not all. You have the freedom to do this because it's raw and easier to rearrange without ruining its shape. You have more flexibility before it's cooked. That's quite similar to a raw image. Now pro photographers would argue there's a lot more to a raw image than that. Let them! This is a mere introduction to raw vs. jpeg ... the other big thing about raw is that you will use up considerably more space on your cards than that of a jpeg. You shoot raw when you can't go back for a redo  (weddings, expensive shoots). You shoot Jpeg when it isn't a do or die moment, like a long soccer game where you'll have many chances to take images and get the right one. 

It’s a little story with a very simple moral: Shoot in RAW when you can.