JPEG or RAW...

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Thursday, November 14, 2013 

I was wondering what everyone chooses as their default setting for photography in regards to file type: JPEG or RAW? I'd love to hear the pros and cons for each...

Here are some pics I shot with bodies ranging from the Canon 10D to 7D over the past 10+ years since I went digital. I recently picked up a 70D and am loving it.

Blogger Wim van Dam said...

I have (and hate) to admit that I'm using jpeg exclusively. With the typical Spray & Pray approach the buffer of my Nikon D7100 would fill up too quickly if they were in RAW format. For ID purposes jpeg tends to be "good enough".

November 14, 2013 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hello Wim

Funny how you hate to admit it. I only shoot jpeg as well...send me one of your best shots if you will, I'd love to see one.

November 14, 2013 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Cathy Sheeter said...

Haha... I have been chastised for it over and over again by other photographers, but it also shoot 99% jpg images (a few tricky lighting conditions I have used RAW so that I can adjust exposure afterwards). I have tried to learn to like RAW, but I just hate the extra processing time. Despite the fact I shoot jpg I have done well in several national photography competitions, so guess it doesn't hurt me too much.

November 15, 2013 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Cathy Sheeter said...

By the way GREAT photos Jerry!

November 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Cathy -- all jpegs! But any jpeg could look clear and sharp when reduced in size for a computer screen.

I haven't heard a good argument for shooting RAW yet, I've heard arguments but they don't hold water...doesn't mean there isn't one, just haven't heard it yet. ut that is why I posted this, so I could be educated. And regardless of what I think, my mind could cgange in the future and I'd be open to that of course.

November 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Cala said...


I'm surprised that you're a jpeg guy--but have to admit you have some absolutely fantastic photographs. Today's camera technology has improved jpeg photography immensely, but I still shoot exclusively 100% raw. I also shoot in full manual mode as well, so some folks would say I'm a bit crazy as I know many photographers that shoot exclusively in aperture or shutter modes.

When I first got into nature and bird photography with my D300 several years back I shot jpeg exclusively as I didn't see a point in shooting raw. That entire train of thought changed when I actually committed to shooting raw and saw numerous photos from previous that I had ruined (exposure was off) that would have been absolutely recoverable if I had shot in raw mode. Of course the argument could be made that if I had nailed the exposure correctly in the first place raw wouldn't be needed, but nobody can nail exposure accurately 100% of the time.

I'd just prefer to have the 'negative' of the photo in order to tweak exposures and slight nuances of the photo if I need to. I don't find that processing times drastically change unless I'm doing extensive editing for some particular reason. I also try to practice 'ETTR' or more appropriately 'BETTR' which I feel lets you scale back the highlights in post processing and enables you to have a better final image.

November 15, 2013 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Joseph -

Very glad to see you commenting! Definitely respect your opinion and see your valid points!! I used to shoot RAW but I guess with the 10D it was a hassle becuase the camera couldn't keep up with the file sizes so I got so used to shooting JPEG that I kept doing it. The cameras these days can keep up though. I do well with my exposures so that's a plus, but of course the processing issue can be a factor.

Please drop in on the blog more often!

November 15, 2013 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Cala said...


Absolutely agree that cameras today do a much better job of processing raw as well. Someone referenced earlier about 'spray and pray' and filling up the RAW buffer, but that depends on the card write speed and how fast the camera is able to process everything. I personally never employ the 'spray and pray' approach--in fact my camera is set to single shot about 99% of the time.

Here's an example of why I prefer raw, and you'll have to forgive me as it's not a raptor. :)

Saltmarsh Sparrow as shot (no adjustments--just converted to jpeg):

Edited to darken the branch & reduce the highlights on the sparrow (and to enhance contrast):

I'm not sure that I would have been able to do those types of adjustments with a jpeg without introducing noise into the image--but could be wrong. Also one of those situations where I think exposing to the right helped to enhance some of those subtitles that you might not have seen otherwise.

November 15, 2013 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...


Great photos!!! And yes, with the cameras these days, I can shoot RAW and JPEG simultaneously and the camera and card can handle it all day long. Digital has come a long way and I really appreciate it. Slides were such a pain in the butt compared.

November 15, 2013 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Mia McPherson said...

Jerry, I shoot RAW all the time. I started using RAW in 2007 and haven't gone back to JPEG since. I love RAW because the cameras process them so well and in post processing I have more options in ACR, especially the ease of adjusting white balance when I need to.

November 16, 2013 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Mia -- If I have issues with the white balance I'll have to start going RAW. I'm getting away with JPEG, but could change easily.

November 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Mia McPherson said...

Btw, I don't think post processing takes me any longer using RAW than JPEG. That might be because I am so used to it.

November 16, 2013 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

I agree, its easy with both formats, I honestly don't do much processing anyway. I'm lazy like that, if it needs it, I end up just deleting the photo instead. Unless it is a plumage I really want to document, then I keep it in the files.

November 16, 2013 at 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Ron Dudley said...

I also shoot RAW exclusively. When I first started photographing birds I shot jpeg for a few months until converting. I put off converting over because I was afraid of the learning curve in processing RAW files. Big mistake! Now, when I'm doing a blog post and want to use one of those older jpeg files I shudder every time I see that it's a jpeg file. My processing options are so much more limited with them. If I had to go back to jpeg I'd probably take up knitting instead...

November 17, 2013 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hah!!!! You are lucky I love you and let that comment through Ron...

Truthfully though, the images above are jpegs and they all printed beautifully at 300dpi, they ain't that hideous are they?

Don't answer that...

November 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Ron Dudley said...

No, they're great, Jerry. That goes without saying. I like a lot of my jpegs too, but they all need to be sharpened and many of them can look even better with some minor adjustments. I'm just saying that I find those adjustments easier to make to my liking and I have more options with RAW. That's just what works best for me.

And I love you too, big guy!

November 17, 2013 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Ron - I loved your comment!!!!

That is why I wrote the post....

November 17, 2013 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...


Forgot to mention, I shoot in manual mode as well.

November 17, 2013 at 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Marc Bernardo said...

Jerry, those are amazing photos! Your raptor collection is unique among photographers.

Thanks for sharing.

November 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thank you Marc -- Been taking pictures since 1993 and continually learning. I've been lucky enough to travel and visit sites with lots of raptors! The equipment has come a long way too, I still have thousands of slides I have kept, but the digital gear these days is amazing. There are many photographers out there with amazing photos!

November 22, 2013 at 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto Jerry (per Marc)! Your photos are just the best, I wish you would post more portraits like these.

M. G.

November 22, 2013 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thank you for the compliments, I will definitely share more of my portraits in the future.

November 22, 2013 at 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Pete Gustas said...


those shots are incredible. IMO you are the best raptor photographer in the country! Keep it up, it's nice to see some of your portraits on the blog, and I love the ID stuff too.


November 22, 2013 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Whoa Pete, don't think I could live up to that, but I do appreciate your confidence in me. And I will post more....

thanks buddy.

November 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger Zachary Smith said...

Hey JL:
I'm not convinced there's much difference. I've done mostly jpeg, but recently have been doing all RAW. Many of my earlier images with the 10D came out great as simple jpegs, and are still some of my favorite images. Now, I'm trying to get used to the weight of this 300/2.8 so my shots have been a bit inconsistent. I think when you nail an image (like most of yours) it don't matter much.


November 25, 2013 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Zach -- I hope that 300mm is working out for you, it is an amazing lens even with a 1.4x. I've seen your pics, and they are amazing, but thanks for the compliment...and thanks for the comment on the post, much appreciated, and I owe you an e-mail soon.

November 25, 2013 at 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Robert Stalnaker said...

Hi Jerry and everybody ... Recently got a Canon 5D Mark III and started shooting RAW + JPEG. I am more comfortable with JPEG and that's all I shot with the Canon 40D. One thing that is a big concern with JPEG is losing the sharpness as you open it, process it, close it etc. I thought as long as I saved it in a lossless format like PSD, the original would retain its max sharpness but he said something to the effect you will always lose some sharpness the second you open your original JPEG file. Until I get the real facts, I am going to shoot RAW + JPEG since I want to retain the original sharpness.

November 28, 2013 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Robert

Interesting comment and appreciate everybody's point of view, that's why I asked....I find that when I shoot Raw and Jpeg simultaneously, the jpeg is sharper since I change the jpeg settings inside the camera. I've never had a problem with the sharpness changing, but if you do, then that is a good enough reason to shoot the way you do!

I was going to post an example of a RAW and JPEG I shot simultaneously but the fact is every image on the internet is converted to jpeg, so I think it would be irrelevant.

November 28, 2013 at 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Matt Finch said...

well I'm a Raw guy when I'm out shooting wildlife, I find I have more control over exposure, color and especially white balance, and to a small degree sharpness and noise. When I'm at Barrel Races for the sake of workflow time I shoot jpeg once I get my settings right in camera. Jerry, how's the 70D compare to your old 7D? I thought it had better noise reduction than the 7D. And now I kinda want

November 30, 2013 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Matt -- I love the 70 D....!!!!!!

November 30, 2013 at 7:12 AM  

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