It’s Your Choice: RAW or JPEG

Today’s post by Mark Toal

I’ve been shooting RAW files since I bought a Nikon D70 many years ago. When I open a RAW files in Adobe Lightroom, I love the control that I have over an image’s exposure and white balance. When I’m forced to shoot JPEG files on a point-and-shoot camera, for example,  I always feel like I’m missing something.

GH3-RAW-ISO-test

Since shooting with the Panasonic Lumix GH3 I started having my doubts. As part of my job for Panasonic I decided to shoot my own series RAW vs. JPEG test files. I do this for every new camera that I receive so I can give an honest opinion on how high an ISO you can actually shoot a given camera at without sacrificing image quality

GH3-JPG-ISO-test

I shot the test files you see by setting the camera to shoot RAW plus large JPEG files at the same time. This isn’t a purely scientific test; I shot these images handheld in a mall in downtown Seattle. The files can be downloaded from my blog site so you can see them for yourself at full size.

I was surprised at the quality of the in-camera noise processing of the JPEG files and had trouble reducing the noise in the RAW files in Lightroom to achieve the same results. I found almost identical results with an Olympus OM-D.

I’m still trying to decide how to use what I’ve learned. I still like RAW files for the white balance control and recovering highlights and shadows,but I’m starting to shoot all of my high ISO images as JPEG files instead of RAW. For me, anyway, shooting RAW+JPEG files produces too many files to deal with.

Joe has his own take on this topic and frequently shoots RAW+JPEG and he admits it can be a hassle herding the different file types but he also has own take on shooting RAW vs JPEGs that you can read here.