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Why You Shouldn’t Shoot Raw+JPEG

By Matt Kloskowski  ·  July 30th, 2010

Matt talks about why it’s more confusing to have two different versions of the same photo, and how you can easily create a batch of JPEGs if you need them for a project.


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15 Replies to Why You Shouldn’t Shoot Raw+JPEG:

  1. Charles

    August 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks Matt

    I shoot either jpeg or raw not both in combination. However I now know how to convert a number of raw files to jpeg without going through all the process of raw. My friends will be happy to get the pics they want “now” in reviewing my raw and not having to wait for the long raw process. Then if they want to print they can again ask for the processed ones.

  2. John

    August 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Have difficulty bothering with raw when jpeg works so well. Professional photographer told me he never works with raw because the results are flat. Jpeg comes out with some punch from the beginning. He saves his final edits as tiffs which preserves everything. Just don’t think raw is worth the effort to get it in final form, not that much better than same size jpeg.

  3. richard

    August 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I found it confusing when the raw and jpegs were on the same card, now use a nikon 300s which has a slot for a compact flash card AND an SD card. I save the raw on the CF and the Jpegs go on the SD. This way if someone wants a quick copy of a photo(s) I can quickly go to a drug store or photo shop and have the pix printed while I wait. They all know that the final batch of photos will be improved and those are the ones I hang up.

  4. Michael

    August 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    There is a neat utility that extracts the jpegs from RAW. I can’t remember the author’s name but do a google search for “extracting jpeg from RAW” and I think his site if listed first. I’ve used it and it’s really slick & FREE!

  5. Kevin

    August 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I learned a long time ago that if your negative doesn’t have any information on it due to poor exposure, then you will not get anything in the darkroom when you print from it. The same holds true for a Digital image. A RAW image is your negative. Fortunately RAW does give you the maximum amount of information available. That is why I shoot in RAW. It gives me the ability to rescue a shot that may have otherwise been lost.
    I realize that most people are not concerned about fine detail in a photo, they just want a quick image. But when Quality counts you will shoot RAW, then throw away half your information just to convert to JPEG, for the fast print. If you have the choice shoot in RAW.

  6. Norman

    August 13, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial Matt. I’ve been shooting simultaneous RAW + JPEG for quite awhile but found I haven’t had much need for the JPEG files except when using to load some of them to my web site. Most of these uploads come after I’ve edited the RAW file which I then convert to JPEG. This obviously created even another copy of the same photo. Using your suggestions to shoot only in RAW and then converting makes a lot of sense not to mention the space that is freed (sp?) up on my memory card and computer hard drive.

  7. David

    August 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I was somewhat intimidated by RAW at first but then I started usng it more and more. The RAW editor in Elements is very easy to use and I like the results. I sometimes use JPEG but not very often.

  8. Tim

    September 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I like shooting RAW & jpeg so I can quickly look through the shots in jpeg to see if they’re keepers. If I see one out of focus, etc. I just delete both files. I can do this without launching photoshop elements, using a quick image viewing utility or an ipad. But that’s just me. The utility in PE is very cool though.

    • Wayne

      July 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      I agree with Tim. I shoot the largest possible RAW size and include the smallest JPEG (not all cameras can do this). This allows me to quickly see the keepers and delete the rest. For me, this outweighs any other considerations. Memory is cheap.

      Once the folder has been purged of the losers, I immediately copy it to an external drive for backup. Quick and easy. Only THEN do I format my card.

      For me, the ONLY reason to shoot JPEG is this ability to easily view them. Post-processing a JPEG vs a RAW is like tying one hand behind your back…’ve thrown away half the data or more with that crappy jpeg.


  9. David

    October 6, 2010 at 11:56 am

    RAW images are the norm for me, since they contain far more information than jpegs. This is partly because they keep the data that the camera’s processing has thrown away when it creates a jpeg file and partly because a RAW file can be edited in Photoshop as a 16 bit image. The 8 bit images of a jpeg are much more prone to degradation when edited than are 16 bit images.

    Once a standard RAW workflow for the images from a particular camera has been worked out, including automation and/or batch processing of the “always-do” steps, it takes very little time to get PSD, TIFF or jpeg files from the edited RAW images. RAW processing typically gives better noise control, better sharpening and better tonal/colour control than is possible with a jpeg, even if the edited RAW file is finally used to output an 8 bit jpeg image.

    RAW-processed images are more detailed, with none of the artefacts or smearing often found in camera-processed jpeg files. They also preserve about 1 EV more tonal range, showing detail in shadows and highlights that camera-processed jpegs often lose.

    RAW images may sometimes appear “flat” in the Organiser or Bridge but they contain all the data required to create jpegs significantly better than the jpegs from the camera’s processor.

    One of my cameras allows RAW-only files to be taken but another insists on taking a jpeg as well as the RAW image. This is a waste of memory card but on the other hand it does give a “quick and dirty” view of what the RAW image is likely to look like once processed. It is handy to look at the brighter and more colourful camera-jpeg versions in the Organiser and use those to decide which images to keep. Once the keepers are identified, all the jpegs and the non-keeper RAW files are deleted.

  10. Lee

    December 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    As an Architectural-Interiors photographer, I have been shooting JPEG’s. The rationale has been that this is the format my clients invariably want. However, since this “process multiple files” is available, it makes sense for me to 1) shoot RAW > 2) convert to JPEG > 3) edit/correct JPEG > 4) convert to TIFF’s > 5) give both JPEG and TIFF equivalents to client. Having the original RAW will be a great back-up, just in case the initial JPEG proves to be a problem-child.

  11. Charles

    July 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I wish I had the option. My Canon SX-1 saves both together.

  12. wona

    November 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    First let me say that I am not a professional photographer so my pictures are always hit or miss. So when I work with my pictures in Photoshop I have to either do a lot to them or because I am just not so savy with photoshop I have to do a lot to figure out what I like or to get a product that makes me happy.

    I went thru and scanned all of my family photos years ago saving them as jpg because that was all I knew. Scans are not always that good anyway but I remember at the time as I edited them that they did appear to be losing their sharpness some more that others but I didn’t know why. About a year or two ago I went to a local camera shop and took a 1 day course and heard about raw and realized this is what happened to all the scans that I worked on. With each save I was losing data. So I would like to learn to work with raw more.

    I’ve never had a camera that shoots raw but I would still like to preserve the pictures I take in a format that will insure me that I can go back to the original and not have lost anything as I worked. I have already pulled up this option to convert multiple files and find that I can indeed process all of my jpg files in one folder converting them to a raw format in another folder. But I have several quesitons…

    1. Which format would probably be the best to use in an instance like this…png…tiff…dng or another?
    2. When I decide to work with my files can I open my raw file…make all my adjustments working with it in the raw format and then do a save as with my final product and save it as jpeg at the end?
    3. Can I do all of #2 in photoshop or do I have to do as much as I can in camera raw first?
    4. I’m not quite sure what happens when you open the file while working in camera raw (from there is then opens the file in photoshop)…when do you start losing data?

    I’ve seen a couple of videos here on converting jpg to raw but would love to see something that goes the other way to tell me how best to perserve what I have in jpg format and what I can do to prevent lose when I am working with jpg.

  13. Mark

    December 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Matt,

    I shoot RAW + JPEG for the obvious reasons, and I like your suggestions, but I have a question. My Canon DSLR processes the RAW info into JPEGs according to “styles” or custom suggestions that I make (increasing sharpness, saturation, etc.). Am I right in a assuming that your method wouldn’t allow for that and would convert the RAW info into a JPEG image that might be a little flatter than the one that comes out of the camera? (I get the auto corrections in the upper right, but I think they might be less precise that what I’m talking about.)

    Thanks for the great idea. A lot to think about there.

  14. Richard

    April 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

    i am trying to convert a raw image in the editor to a jpeg. there is no choice in the save as drop down menu.

    it seems to me that after working a raw image and the program outputs it to the editor section where you can make final adjustments. then choose save as and get the jpeg format to save it in. this was in previous versions. now i am working with elements 9.0 and 10.0.

    what is the solution?


    p.s. i can’t find an article addressing this directly and adobe chat line could not give me and answer.

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