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RAW vs Jpg in Lightroom

July 30th, 2010  |  Published in Featured, Shoot  |  1 Comment


DISCLAIMER : This is my 2c and experience. Nothing more. YMMV.

I started writing this article as the old debate between RAW and Jpg and why I always have and always will shoot RAW. Kinda boring, right? Well, in playing around a bit, I found something pretty interesting. I took 4 RAW files and converted them my usual way in Lightroom. I then took those same original files, converted them to Jpg and then synched my Lightroom settings from the first batch of RAW files. I was really surprised at how different they processed!

But first, here’s the textbook stuff :

I’ve always consider RAW file format to be like a negative of an image, whereas a Jpg file to me is the printed photo. If you need to make adjustments to the image, wouldn’t you rather adjust the negative rather than scanning a print and adjusting that?

Technically, RAW files hold the raw sensor data. They need further processing. This may sound like a pain to die hard Jpg shooters, but that extra processing is where RAW files shine. White balance, contrast, blown highlights, blacked out shadows, are all far more recoverable in RAW.

It’s about freedom to play with a file and recover mistakes.

Some thoughts to consider : I use Photo Mechanic to cull my RAW files and it’s lightning quick. No time lost here vs Jpg culling. Yes, when you work with RAW files, there is an extra step, you have to process them to Jpg. One point for shooting Jpg. You can fit less RAW files than Jpg onto a card and they take up more memory on your hard drive. 2 more points for Jpg.

Here are the images that needed a bit of saving/playing in Lightroom. A few blown highlights, some hard shadows, a little HDR and some of my favorite Totally Rad! Lightroom Presets. Here are my surprising findings, follow me….




18,000 points for shooting RAW. In my opinion, of course.

The images speak for themselves. In my past experience I’ve always found editing Jpg files in Lightroom to yield frustrating results. My examples here show that not only do you get better results in processing from RAW files, but that they process SO differently as well. Just food for thought. That’s all. Not telling anyone their business or anything. ;)


About zofia

zofia has written 22 post in this blog.

Zofia is a Nantucket Wedding Photographer who combines style, love and art in everything she creates. She wants to be the girl with the most cake.



  1. Default Line :: ShootStyle says:

    July 27th, 2011 at 2:04 pm (#)

    [...] you’re like me, you shoot your photos in raw format… so there’s also a pretty good chance you use Adobe Lightroom for processing your [...]

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