Below is a transcript for you to read through the video if you would like!  Enjoy and have fun learning more about RAW vs JPEG.

Hi this is Elizabeth from and today I am coming to you on behalf of Pretty Presets for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, and today we are going to talk about RAW vs. JPEG. We’re going to talk about what RAW is, what JPEG is, and how you should know how to choose which one you’re going to be using and when.

So this is a photo of your digital cameras sensor. The camera sensor is like the film of the camera, it’s what captures the information that comes in. At the same time you could say your memory card is like the film because it stores the information. The sensor gathers and records information contained in the light that it captures when you release the shutter. When you click that shutter button and it opens and closes really fast, you are allowing a lot of light to flood in and the sensor grabs and interprets all the information that’s coming in and renders an image, which it then records onto the memory card.

You can do two things with this information. You can allow the camera to take all of the gathered data and compress it into a file called a JPEG. Or you can ask your camera to leave the data uncompressed so you can deal with it later. And this is what is known as a RAW file.

RAW file


When you set your camera to compress the image files into a JPEG, you are allowing the cameras software to use its own judgement to render the image in the way that it thinks you would want it to look. It’s kind of like a zip file. A JPEG is a standard format readable by any image program on the market, which means you can use it in Photoshop, in Lightroom in Picasa… any photo editing software can read a JPEG. You can email JPEG’s, you can print them right off, which we’ll get to in a moment. A JPEG is pretty standard for every type of software and also mobile devices.

It’s small-ish in file size, while it can still have quite a large file size; in comparison to RAW files it’s quite small.

It’s lower in dynamic range. Dynamic range is the highlights and shadows and the ability that the sensor has to capture that accurately is lower when shooting in JPEG.

They are higher in contrast.

They are sharper.

They are immediately suitable for printing, sharing or posting on the web. Which means taking photos for Ebay or you just want to send some photos to someone, taking them in a JPEG is going to be the fastest way to stick the memory card in the computer and send them right away without having to open them in an editing program, edit them and export them out as a JPEG.

They are sharper and higher in contrast because this is part of the process of the camera compressing the information for you and turning it into a really nice image. A RAW file, which we’ll get to in a second, is not going to be sharp because it hasn’t gone through the process of the camera finishing it off, polishing it up and packing it in nice little tiny JPEG package.



On the other hand, a RAW file is not really an image. It’s a little packet of information saved on your memory card which you will need to further work with before it can be printed or shared.

A RAW file is:


The complete data from your camera sensor. So this is known as a lost-less file, a lost-less format. There is no information or data loss.

It’s higher in dynamic range, which means it’s ability to display highlights and shadows is going to be greater.

It’s lower in contrast. You may be surprised when you start shooting in RAW and start importing those into your computer, you may be surprised at how flat and lifeless the images are going to look. This will just go to show how much the camera goes through when it is actually compressing a JPEG. So the RAW file is completely free of any of that interpretation. So you’re going to have to go and adjust the contrast, and you also going to have to go and adjust the sharpness. They are not sharp, which also surprises a lot of users. You really just can’t import a RAW, export it out as a JPEG and expect it to look good. You need to edit it before you send it back out again into your computer as a JPEG. A RAW file is not suitable for printing directly from the camera or without post processing.

So this is an image that I have taken at a recent wedding this is the before, before it was edited. This photo was shot in JPEG. I know, gasp, I shoot in JPEG quite a lot. I am a professional photographer, I do shoot weddings, and I do shoot a lot of them in JPEG, for various reasons. I have chosen to shoot in JPEG for preserving my data space in my memory card. When you’re shooting well-nigh a thousand photos at a wedding or more, you don’t want to take up GB’S of space on memory cards. So that’s one of the reasons I shoot in JPEG.

Another reason is that I know what I’m going to be doing with the photos afterwards. I shoot most of my wedding photos in black and white, all of the photojournalistic portions of the wedding are going to end up in black and white and I know that I can change a JPEG to be black and white just fine. So that’s another reason that I choose to  shoot in JPEG. I won’t have to worry about colour temperatures because I’m going to be editing those photos in black and white.

So this is a photo that was taken on a cloudy day. I made sure to set the white balance appropriately when I took this photo because I know that one of the things that you lose control over in a JPEG is the colour temperature. That one of the things that gets a bit lost when the photo is compressed into a JPEG.

This is before and this is after, and as you can see it was edited just fine with pretty-presets from one of the collections from I think the summer one and this one was called ‘Lilly’. It looks absolutely fine. So don’t worry if you’ve heard that all pros must shoot in RAW. It’s not absolutely true.

This is another shot I have done at the same wedding which just I an example of why it was totally fine for me to shoot in JPEG because I knew the photos were going to end up in black and white. Now just to give a bit of an idea of what this room was like; the wallpaper was red, the carpet was red, the bedding was red, everything was red. And so as soon as I walked into that room I knew that it was going to be in black and white. It looks beautiful in black and white and it was totally fine to have shot it in a JPEG. So it doesn’t always matter, you don’t always have to shoot in RAW, but it’s important to know the difference, which we will get to in a moment. So please sit back and watch this next video that shows you about editing RAWS and JPEG in Lightroom.


So here we are in Lightroom and we are just going take a look at two photos which are the exact same photo but one is a RAW file, which is how it was shot, and the other one is the RAW file that has been exported as a JPEG, so that we can see the difference between editing a RAW and editing a JPEG in Lightroom.

We’re going to start with a RAW file, the first thing you might notice is that when you go into the develop module in Lightroom with a RAW file is that you’re going have more options in this basic area. One of the things that gets compressed is control over the colour temperature because that’s one of the things that gets compressed and kind of tossed out as an option to edit later on when you go back into the computer. We have this image and here are the different options here if you want to change the white balance. If you had a funny light that day or if you were inside and you had some inside lighting like some tungsten lighting or florescent lighting but you also had light coming through the windows you might want to shoot in RAW so that you can address the funny different colour temperatures that you’re going to be experiencing in your scene from the different sources of light. On this day when I shot this it was a cloudy day and so I either shot it in auto or in cloudy it appears that it was shot in auto because it’s not very warm. You can go into light room later on and adjust your white balance and the temperature of the light if you shoot in RAW.

So this is auto. This is what Lightroom thinks it should be. And you can hit cloudy, and it really warms it up. Or if it was shady it warms it up even more. So you have a lot of control to go in there and adjust that.

Let’s go to the JPEG version of this photo and you’ll see all you have is auto and custom. Even the auto isn’t as nice as it was when it automatically did from the information it was receiving from the RAW file. This is auto in the RAW and this is the auto white balance on the JPEG. It’s ever so slightly different; the RAW is warmer, the JPEG is a bit cooler.

So let’s hit reset. The other option you have here is custom which means you can just play with these sliders to create a good white balance.

What really great way to adjust your white balance in JPEG when you don’t have many options here in the drop down is to use the dropper tool. So you click the dropper tool to pick it up and you move it over the image and as you move it around here the colour swatches are changing. What we are looking for is neutral grey. Grey in itself is quite neutral and we are looking for a neutral shade of grey. You know when you’ve got a neutral colour when all of the numbers; the red, green and blue are changing as we are scanning the scene. When those 3 numbers are exactly the same, or as close as you can get them, that’s when you know you’ve got a neutral colour. Now we are going to look for a neutral grey, which is going be difficult because I don’t see much here that is in that vein. There’s really isn’t anything here that’s grey. Ideally what we are looking for is something that is supposed to be grey, but may not be grey because the white balance in our scene is flawed. Although it’s not so completely altered so we can’t tell what’s grey.  We are looking for a neutral grey which is going to be difficult to find that. So when I can’t find a neutral grey and I can’t find a very good example in this image… I will start clicking around the image and do my white balance according to my eye. According to how I like it. When I get a scene the way I would like it to look, we can find some grey here. The red is 59.2, 59.6, and 60. That is really darn close to neutral. This is the white balance we get when we choose a neutral grey. This is what the scene would have looked like in real life.

So we’re going to reset all these. I want to show you what it is like to use presets in Lightroom on a RAW and on a JPEG. Especially considering the fact they are not usually meant for both. When you download presets for Lightroom you need to check and see if they are meant to be used on RAW files or JPEGs. There are a lot of preset makers who make presets exclusively for RAW or exclusively for JPEG but there are some who make both. Pretty Presets is one of those. I know from memory that the ‘Fallen Love Collection’ is optimised for JPEGs. So you want to make sure your using the right presets on the right format of image.

We are going to select our JPEG here and we are going to apply one of these presets to it to see how it’s meant to look. I really love this stunning preset. It’s a little bit too bright for this image so I’m going to adjust it... So this is an example of what this looks like on a JPEG and these presets were meant for JPEG and if you hit before and after you can see how it looks. It’s beautiful; I really really like it, that’s how I would love this image to look.

So we’re going to go over to the RAW file and hit previous and apply these settings. So here we are this is the RAW file with the exact same settings applied to it. You can see how drastically different they are. This is just a really great visual way for you to see how different presets will treat photos depending on whether the photo is a RAW or a JPEG and what those presets were created to be able to process. Pretty Presets do make awesome presets for RAW files so you can choose if you’re shooting in RAW or in JPEG, you can choose which presets you download from them. I know this ‘Old Hollywood Glam’ is one that processes RAW files. Now something I really appreciate about Pretty Presets is that when you have them here on your computer you might not remember which sets were meant for RAW and which sets are meant for JPEG which could get pretty annoying if you’re a shooter that tends to use both. But when you open a set of presets it says RAW so you can remember. You won’t have to worry about remembering whether it’s for RAW or for JPEG. These presets here are meant for RAW files. I LOVE, love the ‘Black and White Glam’ black and white preset. I just think it’s so nostalgic and old Hollywood glam like it says it is. This is great for this RAW file.

I’m going to go and reset our JPEG and bring that into ‘Black and White Glam’ and now you can see the difference with a preset that was meant for RAW now being used in a JPEG this is how it should look, nice and old.. and this is how it looks on a JPEG. Again this is because with a RAW file and when you input a RAW file into Lightroom all of the information that was available on the light when your shutter release opened and grabbed all that luscious light in to the camera and burned it onto the memory card and didn’t compress it just left it nice and wide open so you can do what you want with it later, there is a lot more information there to work with. Whereas when you’re shooting in JPEG a lot of the information gets lost in order to conserve space.

I would really like to end this video just by saying that it is completely valid for a photographer to choose to shoot in JPEG. I think a photographer can do whatever they like with their photos. They can shoot in RAW they can shoot in JPEG they can shoot in auto, they can shoot in manual. The most important thing is to know why you’re making that choice. Not to shoot in auto simply because you haven’t put in the time to learn manual, but you shoot in auto because you know that that is suitable for your scene, for the moment, for what you want to achieve. I really see no problem with that. I really hate it when I read photographers talking about ‘RAW RAW RAW’. What if you’re just taking for an Ebay auction, or taking snapshots for a ball game? If you know why you are not shooting in RAW or why you might not want to, you can make an educated choice regarding how you’re going to shoot your images and that’s what it’s all about. If you’re a photographer that knows why you’re doing what you’re doing, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be doing it. So I just wanted to say that and validate your feelings if you really love JPEG. There are a lot of photographers out there that really love JPEG, professional photographers who shoot weddings in JPEG. I’ve showed you how I shoot some of my weddings in JPEG simply because I know far enough ahead to know what I’m going be doing with those images later on and I was able to make an informed choice. And now you can make an informed choice too!

This has been Elizabeth Halford, from Pretty Presets, Lightroom presets, that’s Thank you so much for watching!