8 Reasons Why You Should Shoot in JPEG

Jul 15, 2016

Eric Kim

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

8 Reasons Why You Should Shoot in JPEG

Jul 15, 2016

Eric Kim

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

R0002835

I’ve pretty much shot RAW all my life. There are so many benefits of shooting RAW– in terms of how much flexibility you have with the files, as well as the raw data in the files. However, as time goes on, I’m starting to lean more towards shooting JPEG– and I’m starting to realize the benefits of shooting JPEG.

First of all, the camera does a good job of processing JPEG images in-camera. Each camera is optimized to produce lovely looking JPEG images. So in terms of color tone, skin tones, and contrast– generally the JPEG images look solid out-of-camera.

Secondly, I have found that it is always disappointing when I import RAW images into Lightroom, and see the images “revert” from the JPEG previews to the flat, no contrast look of the RAW image. Of course, this problem can be solved if you apply a present upon import, but sometimes the presets never look as good as the original JPEGs.

Thirdly, shooting JPEG is less stress. I’ve found that when shooting simple snapshots for family and other events, JPEG is always the way to go. It takes far too much time to post process tons of RAW photos, deal with color correction, skin tones, etc when it comes to simple photos to just share.

Fourthly, JPEG is easier to backup than RAW files. For example, Google Photos currently has a feature which offers free, unlimited backup of JPEG images (at a reduced size of 2000px wide, which is good enough for 4×6 prints). As our camera sensors keep getting better and having more megapixels, it is a pain in the ass having to always buy more storage (either as external hard drives, or the cloud).

Fifth, shooting JPEG is somewhat similar to shooting film. I like how when you shoot JPEGs your images have a consistent “look”, and you are more dependent on good compositions and emotion in images, rather than trying to post process the crap out of your photos to make them look “interesting”.

Sixth, there are some JPEG film simulations which look phenomenal (even better than presets). For example, the “Classic chrome” color preset for Fujifilm cameras look solid, and even the “Grainy black and white” preset on the Fuji X-Pro 2 (with maximum grain) applied looks fantastic. And yes I do know that you can apply these filters to RAW Fujifilm photos (look under “camera calibration” in Lightroom), but not having to play around with Lightroom means less stress.

Seventh, JPEG offers more creativity (by having fewer options). I’ve found that sometimes processing RAW files is stressful because there are too many options when it comes to post processing images. Sometimes I will spend too much time post processing photos, and I often end up “over processing” my images. Over processed photos are like adding too much salt to your food.

Eight, there is a wonderful sense of “finality” with a JPEG image. If you saw a scene in black and white and only shot it in black and white, you don’t need to stress whether the color version would be any better. This is the same with black and white film– you can’t convert a black and white film photo into color, nor can you convert a black and white JPEG image into color. Ironically enough, by restricting our options, we can be more creative with our work.

I’m not saying to *only* shoot in JPEG

Same photo as above, but processed as RAW with “VSCO Kodak Portra 800 HC” preset. I personally prefer the JPEG image in the beginning of the post (even though this looks pretty good too).
Same photo as above, but processed as RAW with “VSCO Kodak Portra 800 HC” preset. I personally prefer the JPEG image in the beginning of the post (even though this looks pretty good too).

A couple of caveats.

First of all, I don’t shoot entirely in JPEG. I shoot RAW+JPEG because much of the black and white conversions I do with my free Lightroom presets look better than the in-camera “high contrast black and white preset” in the Ricoh GR II. However I’m starting to prefer the color JPEG images from the Ricoh over post processing it myself. For a friends wedding recently, I shot both RAW and JPEG, and I ended up only using the JPEG files (the color, contrast, and skin tones looked way better).

One of my good friends Josh White does more or less all his black and white shooting in JPEG on his digital Ricohs, and does some minor post processing afterwards.

There are also many instances where shooting RAW is preferable. If you’re a commercial photographer and you need all the information in the files, if you are a fickle photographer (that prefers having both color and black and white, just in case), if you already have film simulation presets in Lightroom that work well with your RAW files, or if you already have your “workflow” mastered.

As a tip, if you shoot RAW+JPEG, enable to view them both in Lightroom.

  1. Go to “Preferences”
  2. Check “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos”
How to view JPEG files separately from RAW files in Lightroom.
How to view JPEG files separately from RAW files in Lightroom.

My ultimate point in writing this article is that if you prefer shooting JPEG and don’t care for RAW, that is totally fine. If you’re a dedicated RAW shooter, experiment a bit with your JPEG images (you might be surprised, they might look better than you think). So try out shooting RAW+JPEG. And if you’re really gutsy, try experimenting only shooting JPEGs for a week or so, and see if it causes you less stress and more satisfaction in your photography.

Life is all about experimentation, enjoying your creative process, and not being encumbered by the small details.

Viva la JPEG!

Original JPEG image with some additional contrast added in Photoshop. I prefer this version the best.
Original JPEG image with some additional contrast added in Photoshop. I prefer this version the best.

Never stop learning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Kim is a street photographer and photography teacher currently based in Berkeley, California.  His life’s mission is to produce as much “Open Source Photography” to make photography education accessible to all.  You can see more of his work on his website, and find him on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

DIPY Icon

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 responses to “8 Reasons Why You Should Shoot in JPEG”

  1. 1o1 Avatar
    1o1

    JPG is for snapshooter and people who have to deliver a lot of images at a very short timeframe (news, journalism).
    but if you want the best out of your images there is no way around RAW… period.

    1. Paul Brown Avatar
      Paul Brown

      jpg for me too

      Sounds like that Ken R. guy from years ago.
      Correct too !

      1. Sotirius Avatar
        Sotirius

        I’m a pro wedding photographer 5+ years and only shoot JPEG unless I need to shoot in contrasty bright daylight (happened once or twice) that was the only time I shot RAW. Editing JPEG is much faster and easier on your PC, takes less time to convert, less storage space, etc etc etc. RAW is basically for people who can’t set exposure in camera or as i said before, need the full dynamic range of the sensor in mixed shadow/highlight scene situations.

    2. John Stiller Avatar
      John Stiller

      That’s a lab, not “an lab.” Your Ansel Adams analogy is also flawed.

  2. Itsamee Avatar
    Itsamee

    I see the value in both. Family gatherings and such are great examples of times JPG is just fine. Sometimes I find that even something as simple as a levels adjustment or curves adjustment makes a standard JPG look great. Personally, I just have my camera set to JPG+RAW and get the best of both worlds. If I’m at the park with my daughter, I might get a picture of her going down the slide (fine with JPG), but I might later get a picture of her laughing or intently watching some birds with that curious child look in her eyes (better with LR)… It’s like the age old Manual V Auto mode argument. I’ve got great pictures from both, and I’ve seen great pictures from both.

  3. No name Avatar
    No name

    My 5 cents on this subject: Learn to process raw files and forget about jpg. Just like you wouldn’t want to shoot with a lower resolution setting, why shoot with a smaller dynamic range?

    The only two reasons I can think of to not shoot raw are: You need to shoot fast bursts and your camera / card performs better with jpgs or you don’t know how to convert raw images to jpg properly.

    Shooting raw + jpg is just silly because most of the raw formats already contain a full size jpg preview of the image and it can be extracted from the raw file without raw conversion. So shooting raw + jpg just takes extra space from your card. For example this software http://www.fsoft.it/ERawP/ claims to do the trick (never tried it though since I always convert my raws through Lightroom)

  4. David Harpe Avatar
    David Harpe

    You should shoot raw whenever possible. You really don’t want to be stuck with an in-camera JPEG and 8-bit color if you by some chance nail “the shot”. If you need to transmit in the field shoot RAW and JPEG to your 2nd slot. Only real reason to shoot jpeg-only is if you’re in photojournalism AND need max frame rate for what you’re doing (i.e. sports). Otherwise RAW+JPEG solves your transmit problem.

    A “hassle” to buy storage? Storage is CHEAP these days. $89 gets you a 4TB portable. Storage cost is no longer anyone’s excuse.

  5. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
    Chris Hutcheson

    I might shoot RAW + JPEG, but doubt I would ever exclusively shoot JPEG, and definitely not on any paid gig. I want (and may need) to be able to edit an image, possibly extensively, and wouldn’t have that capability if I were shooting exclusively JPEG format. I also don’t get this “stress” issue. A good workflow, the ability to cull the good from the bad and decent image processing tools such as Lightroom make the work enjoyable for the most part, as far as I’m concerned.

  6. Rex Deaver Avatar
    Rex Deaver

    If you have a modern mirrorless camera, you can pre-process your jpeg images in camera much more efficiently than post processing them. And if you are shooting still+video, as many of us are these days, you really have no choice but to shoot jpeg so they match.

  7. Wing Wong Avatar
    Wing Wong

    I’m reading the article and what I’m hearing is: JPG is easier. Sure. It is easier.

    But RAW is “easier” when you want to make your photos sing.

    I think that using Presets is very akin to shooting in JPG, but without the camera to make adjustments based on the situation. I adjust a RAW file to achieve the look I want, and apply it to all of the other files with similar exposure/lighting situations. I also shoot Raw+Jpg, because, yeah. The jpg look nice out of camera. But whenever I do any processing on them, they turn out to be more “brittle” than the Raw files. Just my 2cents.

  8. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    When I’m shooting digital, I’m shooting RAW+JPEG. Most of the time, I have my white balance set to daylight since I would be shooting daylight-balanced film if I were shooting with one of my other film cameras.
    I turned off image review on my 5D III since I don’t use that feature.
    If I want to shoot B&W, I’ll take my film camera that is loaded with B&W; the other film camera is loaded with color.

  9. Aleš Krejčí Avatar
    Aleš Krejčí

    Fantastic article, thanks for it! I found many of your points valid for myself and had to smile how my experience is similar to yours.