RAW And JPG File Formats Are Very Different Indeed

RAW and JPG File Formats Are Very Different Indeed

You probably know that shooting in RAW is, for most photography buffs, better than using JPG -- but you might not know exactly why. This image should help. Austin Paz at Peta Pixel decided to give a visual demonstration of the difference between the two. He simply left the lens cap on his Canon 70D and grabbed both a RAW and JPG image of the completely black shot. Then he took them into Photoshop and artificially bumped up the exposure to take a look at the noise. The result, shown in the image above (with the original black images up top) shows RAW on the left and JPEG on the right.

You can see that JPGs have way, way more noise, as Paz notes:

[T]he two look nothing alike -- it's almost impossible to guess that they started as the same image. This is something to consider if you're a JPEG shooter. Your shadows can look relatively inconsistent and discolored if you need to do extra processing. On the opposite end, RAW has a very uniform noise across the whole spectrum.

It's a little story with a very simple moral: Shoot in RAW when you can.

[Peta Pixel]



    I think is is a pretty poor explanation as to why RAW files SOMETIMES deliver better final results. If you just shoot in RAW then don't spend the time to post process images carefully you will end up with MUCH worse images (and you will waste FAR more storage space on your devices). Just shooting RAW does not automatically equal better photos.

    Shooting RAW just gives you more latitude to work with the images before you output them to JPEG (or other formats). Shooting JPEG images lets the camera make all the decisions for saturation, sharpening, white balance, denoise, etc.

    If you are not confident or willing to spend plenty of time in post processing your images, just shoot in JPEG.

      I agree. The back of a body cap is a pretty abstract and confusing example to explain the consequences of editing a RAW vs JPEG. Any scene trying to dig the shadows right out at the expense of the rest of the picture would be ample explanation as to the latitude afforded by both.

    Thank you for this little gem. I am having terrible luck getting my lens cap photos to come out right. Who knew that JPG wasnt the way to go!

    Looking forward to getting more cap shots tonight, in the dark, as RAW files this time.

    Shooting in RAW vs JPEG is the digital equivalent of developing the photos in a darkroom yourself or taking them to Big W to be developed and printed.

    If, back in the days of film, you used a photo kiosk to develop and print your photos then shooting JPEG should also be a good enough choice.

    I think the best way to distinguish the difference between JPEG and RAW would be to say JPEG is like guess work (because it's compressed and the camera has it's own bias, like above black isn't black it could be green or blue it thinks whilst compressed), compared to RAW which is more what is actually there as the sensor captures it.

    Another way is 4-bit's of data (JPEG) v 8 bit's of data giving you more latitude to work with in the RAW format.... ie RAW contains no actual temperature or hue value (ie is global setting in the editor) and each pixel has an 8 bit value which can be manipulated as a whole for hue and temp giving you more scope. JPEG just can't do that as the edit has already been done by the camera's bias compression of the image.

    Last edited 09/02/16 1:49 am

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