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Difference Between JPEG and RAW

raw_image_ps_bookJPEG is the most common file format that we have today especially in photographs due to its good quality to compression ratio. As stated, JPEG is a compressed file format for storing realistic images like photographs or paintings. Raw, on the other hand, is not necessarily a file format. It is simply the output of direct from the sensor written into a file without any processing or compression.

JPEG is an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group which standardized the compression in order to reduce the amount of file size while maintaining very minimal loss of quality. A Raw photograph taken from a 5 megapixel camera would also be 5MB while a JPG taken with the same camera would only be around 10 to 40 percent of the size.

The JPEG format is readily recognizable by most programs for viewing photos since it is mostly considered as a finished product and can be readily printed though it can still be edited. On the other hand, raw images can only be read by a few programs that are mainly meant to edit pictures. This is because raw images often look like badly taken shots with very low contrast. Because of these reasons, most people prefer to shoot and save in JPG files.

The raw format is oftentimes preferred by professional photographers despite its large size and unsuitability for printing. Most professional photographers don’t print out the images they take right away, they process it in order to make it look as they intended it to look, and this is where raw shines. The raw file formats saves all of the data that is captured by the sensor. This gives the photographer a large margin for editing and enhancing the shot with photo editing tools like Photoshop. Editing a processed image like JPG means that more data would be lost and the final image quality would then be inferior than what is generally acceptable, especially in print media.

1. JPEG is compressed and is only a fraction of the file size of the uncompressed Raw file
2. JPEG is readable by most photo viewer programs while Raw is only viewable by a handful of programs for editing
3. JPEGs are already processed and would generally have higher contrast than the Raw file
4. JPEGs are suitable for immediate printing while Raw files are suitable for further editing and post processing
5. Common people use JPGs while professional photographers prefer Raw

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1 Comment

  1. Very nice article! I just bought my first dSLR (Nikon D3000) and was in deep doubt on what format to shoot with. Now I know the difference, thanks!

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