If you don’t photograph in RAW format, you’re not a real photographer. At least, this is what some online influencers say. Unfortunately, photographers have taken this message to heart. Now, it’s almost considered taboo to shoot in JPEG.
I used to firmly be in camp RAW as I believed that it was the only way to do things. I mean, who would want to capture JPEGs? The oftentimes perfectly edited images that are compressed to a manageable size and can be shared instantly. What a joke, right?
Times have changed, though. My business has expanded and I now spend ridiculous amounts of time editing images. For clients, it’s necessary, so shooting in RAW is needed. However, when I shoot for myself, I only shoot JPEGs. If I don’t, it’s just too much like work. Honestly, shooting RAW and having to edit can suck the joy out of going out to create for yourself. So, let’s take a look at why I only shoot JPEGs for myself.
JPEGs are more than good enough
There’s not a camera on the market today that produces bad JPEGs. The JPEGs that modern cameras spit out are stunning. Fujifilm is the leader when it comes to JPEG image profiles. However, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and the rest all have processing engines that produce spectacular results.
Today’s JPEGs are nothing like those from even just a few years back. The colors are now exquisite. Shadow and highlight detail retention are both well controlled. Images are not overly sharpened or heavily nerfed for noise. There are profiles for those that like natural looks, the film look, vivid colors, black and white images, and more. For the most part, the JPEGs cameras spit out look like the edits I would make anyway, which is why I and so many others use them.
Unless you go to extremes with your edits and add or subtract multiple elements, use multiple layer masks, change colors, and more during post, the JPEGs that your camera produces will be more than good enough. They’re also ready to share to your favorite social platform instantly It’s a win-win.
JPEGs are efficient
There’s no denying it. JPEGs are much more efficient when it comes to storage space. UHS-I SD cards are cheap. However, most cameras now use UHS-II and CFexpress cards. These cards are still pricey.
I shoot JPEGs because I can get smaller capacity cards and I can stretch them further than I can with RAW images. JPEGs are also quicker to transfer from your camera to your phone, tablet, or PC. You can shoot, send and share in a matter of seconds when shooting JPEGs. Let’s face it — who doesn’t want their work to be seen by the world instantly these days?
Not worrying about editing is liberating
It’s incredibly liberating to know that when you’re out capturing JPEGs that you don’t have to spend hours editing. When you shoot professionally, it can be hard to draw a line between what you do for work and what do for yourself. Editing images screams work to me and I don’t want my personal time to feel like work.
I want my experience to be fun and fuss-free This is perhaps the main reason why I choose to shoot JPEGs when I am creating images for myself. It’s all about my time with the camera, enjoying the experience and nothing else.
Give it a try
Yes, RAW files certainly have their advantages, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with shooting and sharing JPEGs straight from your camera. Unless you’re known for creating elaborate images in Photoshop, no one would ever be able to tell that you have shot and shared JPEG images that your camera has churned out.
If you have lost or are losing the joy of shooting for yourself, give shooting JPEGs a try. Stop spending so much time behind a monitor editing and spend more time just creating images with your camera that are ready to share. I promise you won’t regret it.