RAW and JPEG

Both RAW and JPEG files appear similar when downloaded from the camera. JPEG files have received some processing at the moment of image capture and they usually look better than RAW files, which can often appear quite dull and flat. Newcomers to digital photography are often quite disturbed the first time they see their RAW files looking so lacklustre, but one must remember that this is the effect of retaining all the data in an unprocessed format.

It is a fact that the majority of professional and enthusiastic photographers both on land and underwater choose the RAW format over JPEG. From my experience the primary reasons are two fold:

1. To capture and retain the highest amount of data an image has to offer. JPEG image compression discards the majority of data in the picture, which means that we are unable to make any aggressive adjustments when editing the photo.

2. In the event of errors being made by the user in relation to exposure or white balance settings, more aggressive corrections can be made without too much degradation of quality to the RAW file.

Let's look at some practical examples of my own. If I had taken these photos perfectly then I would have had no problem at all, but I didn't — I made mistakes, which fortunately I could recover because I shot in RAW.

For any serious photography both on land or underwater then shoot RAW. For snaps and practice shoot JPEG by all means.

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FIG. 1.28 These four Lightroom screen prints (Figs 1.28—1.31) illustrate why I use RAW over JPEG and why I recommend RAW to you. Whilst I work hard to get the best possible capture in camera at the time of shooting, I make mistakes. Everyone does! (As you can see from the exposure corrections which I have had to make in these four examples.)

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