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Editing With JPEG's vs RAW's - What's The Difference?

Editing with different file formats can vastly change the outcome and look of your images. Want to know the difference between a RAW file and a JPEG file, and when to use them, then read on, dear reader.

What Is The Difference Between A JPEG + A RAW File Format?

Firstly, let examine an image in a JPEG format and a RAW format so we can see the difference. The RAW file on the left has a file size of 25.5mb the JPEG file on the right has a file size of 10.5mb. This is because a RAW file format can hold a lot more information within an image, which makes it the best format for editing images.

The term "JPEG", sometimes shortened to just JPG is an acronym for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, which created the file format, which is now a standard, in 1992. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable trade-off between storage size and image quality.

The RAW file format gets its name because the file has not yet been processed in any way, it is raw. This means that your camera has not done anything to the image, it's straight out of the camera and this holds the most information, and in turn, holds a lot more memory within your cameras memory card. There are many filename extensions for a RAW file, the most common being .raw, .cr2, .dng, .nef, .tiff, and many others.

When To Use A JPEG Or A RAW

I, personally, like to always edit my images with a RAW file format. This is because it holds a lot more information and I'm able to edit my images with much more range and precision than if I was to edit with JPEGs. Let's have a look at my personal preset directly applied onto a RAW and a JPEG.

The top left image is my preset applied straight onto a RAW file, and the image next to it is my preset applied straight onto a JPEG file. Can you see the difference in not only the images and how it processes colours differently, but also the amount of control that Lightroom gives you when editing a RAW vs a JPEG? If you click/zoom into the images, you'll be able to see that I'm able to control, with a lot more precision, the temperature and tint with a RAW file than a JPEG. As I've mentioned before, this is because RAW files hold a lot more information than a JPEG, thus allowing me so much more control over my edit.

JPEG's are great if you're looking to save some space on your camera or device, but you will not get anywhere near as much editing quality. Personally, I think JPEGs are a fantastic backup to RAW's, and I know a lot of my clients shoot in both RAW's and JPEG's just in case and for ease of mind - but remember, RAW's do take up more space on your memory cards.

So all in all, it's more about convenience. Do you want more space on your cards and less control over your edit, or do you have memory cards galore and time to edit images with more control? It's all up to you!

Kayleigh x