Why I Mostly Shoot JPEG

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Mark Toal has written about this subject before. To read his take on this subject click here.

One of photography’s seven deadly sins is shooting in JPEG format, because everyone know if you’re a serious photographer ya ‘gotta shoot RAW. So now its time to raise my hand and admit, “My name is Joe and I’m a JPEG shooter.”

It’s not that I never shoot in RAW, sometimes I do; so let me tell you a true story. I had an assignment from a car magazine to shoot a Nissan Skyline GTR—the image used as this blog’s tumbnail. The editor told me to shoot JPEG but shoot RAW if the photo would make a two-page spread. I did exactly what he asked but for the two-page spread he chose one of my JPEG files.


But there are other reasons I shoot JPEG. A few years ago when teaching a workshop in Miami that included a studio lighting session with a model. It was at the end of the day and I saved a memory card specifically for this session but one of my students asked if I had a spare card because all of his were full, so I loaned him that card for the shoot. All I had left after a day’s shooting was room for a few shots on another card so I dialed in the smallest JPEG file possible for the Olympus camera I was using, which gave me room for six small, low resolution files producing a 293K file. To increase the size of the file to make it acceptable for my book’s, “Studio Photography Anywhere” designers and printers, I used ON1’s Resize software

Another reason to shoot JPEG files is when you need more speed. JPEG lets you to shoot more images faster because it won’t fill the camera buffer as fast. If your subject is moving quickly, as in motor racing, or you frequently hold down the shutter for a continuous burst of photos, you may want to consider JPEG-only shooting to shoot those kinds of images. If all your work is going onto the Internet with nothing being printed then you could just shoot JPEG but be aware that somebody could see your shot and want a 4×6-foot print for their boardroom, which brings me to back to shooting RAW.

When to shoot RAW? The number one reason is when you want to extract the maximum quality from your image files. Wedding and event photographers often shoot RAW because they process and edit a large percentage of the images they make before showing the client. And there are also times when I like to shoot RAW+JPEG, which I’ve written about before.

Like everything in digital photography, the choice of RAW vs. JPEG boils down to the kind of images you make. For me, JPEG works most of the time. For you, it might be RAW. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in digital photography or as Señor Wences once famously said, “Is easy for you, is difficult for me.”

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For more information on how I shoot glamour and boudoir images, pick up a copy of my bookJoe Farace’s Glamour Photography,” it includes tips and tricks and techniques for shooting with inexpensiveness and simple equipment.