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Monday, August 9, 2010

RAW vs. JPEG in Wedding Photography

Wedding shoots scare me to death because there is no chance to reshoot the images: if I miss a moment, it is a lost one. But as always, do your research and scout the place before you get there. My last photoshoot was this Saturday at Josephine and Arthur’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. The assignment was challenging because I had to take pictures in a room with big windows and my backdrop for group shots was a white wall with a painting on it. Not to mention the white dress Josephine was wearing and the 15 person group shot that was a last minute decision.

I shot the pictures in RAW format because I was afraid that I need to do more post production. All the images in the album are proofs and I edited them a little (crop, sharpen, dodge). Next time, I would shoot the images in JPEG to save time. Ultimately, I think I made the right decision because I was shooting in low light and I had high contrast issues. I also had plenty of space on my camera’s compact flash card. After I shot the images in RAW, I edited them in Lightroom 3 and saved them in JPEG format to upload them on the photo gallery. Some photographers recommend saving the processed images in DNG format (it’s lossless) instead of the JPEG format.

So, why shoot JPEG/JPG? This file format is already compressed and processed inside the camera, JPEGs can be opened in all photo editing programs, and this file format allows for minimal post-processing. Minimal processing is what photojournalists do. BUT, every time you edit a JPEG , you lose information and sometimes the camera may not process the file correctly. Shoot JPEG to save time and space on your harddrive and flashcard. Most photojournalists shoot JPEG. One of the best wedding photographers, Jasmine Star, also shoots JPEGs. I would still recommend using the largest JPEG format available to take images.

Why shoot RAW? If you think you need to do more post-processing on your images, shoot RAW. RAW images are unprocessed (lossless file format) and contain more data. Thus, the photographer can do more post-production work on the images. BUT, RAW files are much larger and take up a lot of space on your camera card.
Before you decide in which format you shoot, I would recommend you to shoot RAW+ small JPEG to see the difference.

Ken Rockwell gives a good explanation on the RAW vs. JPEG.
Another tutorial on RAW vs. JPEG is on the Digital Photography School’s site.

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