Usu­al­ly, JPEG is shot either by green begin­ners who have not yet under­stood why the RAW for­mat is need­ed, or by super-expe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als. When shoot­ing in JPEG is more use­ful than RAW, what to expect from images in this for­mat and how to process JPEG in Light­room, we under­stand this mate­r­i­al.

Every novice pho­tog­ra­ph­er who first tried to work in RAW, as a rule, imme­di­ate­ly becomes an adher­ent of this for­mat. This is under­stand­able: RAW gives much more free­dom to the hands in post-pro­cess­ing and great unloads the head on the set.

How­ev­er, there are cas­es where JPEG may be pre­ferred over RAW.

JPEG and RAW — which is bet­ter? We will under­stand / Pho­to: unsplash.com

When to shoot in JPEG
Addi­tion­al JPEG Fea­tures
Cre­ative cam­era modes
How to shoot in JPEG
How to Process JPEGs in Adobe Light­room

Shoot­ing in JPEG is more con­ve­nient when you need to shoot a lot and give it back very quick­ly. For exam­ple, pho­tog­ra­phers work­ing with sports pho­to­banks most often shoot in JPEG. Their task is to shoot as many frames as pos­si­ble and deliv­er them as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. Earn­ings direct­ly depend on the speed and num­ber of frames. In this regard, JPEG is the best choice for a num­ber of rea­sons.

  • JPEG weighs less, which means it allows you to fit more mate­r­i­al on one card. For exam­ple, JPEG from Fuji­film weighs about 5 MB, RAW — 20–30 MB. The file size may vary slight­ly depend­ing on the sys­tem, but in gen­er­al the cor­re­la­tion between the num­bers will be com­pa­ra­ble: JPEG is usu­al­ly 4–10 times small­er than RAW;
  • when shoot­ing in JPEG, most cam­eras increase the burst speed and the num­ber of shots that the buffer can hold;
  • JPEG does not need to be con­vert­ed to anoth­er for­mat, it is ready to use, unlike RAW. If the shot is clean and good, JPEG can be imme­di­ate­ly giv­en to the cus­tomer;
  • if the JPEG does need to be processed, copy­ing, import­ing, and export­ing to Light­room takes sig­nif­i­cant­ly less time than in the case of equals.
When you need to shoot 3000 frames per day, shoot­ing in JPEG great­ly sim­pli­fies the work / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

To sum­ma­rize, shoot­ing in RAW is about more sub­tle and thought­ful work, JPEG is about faster.

Cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers spend a lot of time and mon­ey to get beau­ti­ful jeeps. As a rule, each cam­era, when shoot­ing in a jeep, has sev­er­al col­or pro­files. Often they are adapt­ed for shoot­ing a spe­cif­ic sub­ject: por­trait, land­scape, and so on.

To put it very sim­ply, a col­or pro­file is a col­or and con­trast set­ting. These set­tings are not direct­ly relat­ed to expo­sure or oth­er para­me­ters that can be adjust­ed by the user. It’s more about how the cam­era inter­prets light and con­trast.

Fuji­film cam­eras are very inter­est­ing and indica­tive in this regard. They also have sev­er­al pro­files that change col­or and con­trast to mim­ic clas­sic Fuji­film films: Velvia, Astia, Provia.

The same shot with dif­fer­ent in-cam­era pro­files: Provia, Velvia, Clas­sic Chrome, Astia / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Inter­est­ing­ly, to repeat in Light­room what the in-cam­era pro­file does auto­mat­i­cal­ly for JPEGs, some­times you have to make a lot of effort.

On the left is a JPEG file with­out addi­tion­al pro­cess­ing, on the right — loaded in Light­room RAW. For some rea­son, Light­room inter­prets this pic­ture like this / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

The pic­ture on the left (JPEG) looks bet­ter. More­over, it can be con­sid­ered ready and not processed fur­ther if you do not want to. But the pic­ture on the right (RAW) with an over­ex­posed face is an obvi­ous tech­ni­cal defect with a loss of detail (over­ex­po­sure), which def­i­nite­ly needs to be final­ized.

In addi­tion to in-cam­era pro­files, JPEG allows you to use the cam­er­a’s artis­tic modes: it can be sepia, soft-fil­ter and tilt-shift effects, par­tial col­or. Often pro­fes­sion­als treat such effects a lit­tle con­de­scend­ing­ly. But some­times they can be help­ful.

It may seem that such modes can only be in very ama­teur soap dish­es. In fact, such set­tings, as a rule, are in almost all DSLRs and mir­ror­less cam­eras, except for the old­est mod­els. For exam­ple, they are found in the rather seri­ous Nikon D750 and Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M1 II.

Shoot­ing in pure JPEG is worth it if you are absolute­ly con­fi­dent in your­self, in your tech­nique, in the shoot­ing con­di­tions.

Ide­al­ly, you should switch to JPEG if you have already shot three times in this reg­istry office with this cam­era at this time of the day in this weath­er, and you know for sure that there were no pro­cess­ing prob­lems. Then there are chances not to merge the shoot­ing and save your­self space on the maps and time for pro­cess­ing.

Shoot­ing in JPEG is best in calm con­di­tions, such as on an over­cast day or at sun­set when the light is soft. At noon in bright sun­shine, too much con­trast can get in the way.

Dif­fi­cult con­di­tions in which to shoot in JPEG with cau­tion include:

  • shoot­ing in the evening when there is lit­tle light;
  • shoot­ing with flash­es;
  • shoot­ing in back­light;
  • shoot­ing with snow (it is easy to knock it out or not to light it up much).

When shoot­ing in JPEG, you can not score on white bal­ance and expo­sure. The white bal­ance must be set man­u­al­ly. Or, if you trust the machine, when shoot­ing, make sure that white is white, and peo­ple are the col­ors of peo­ple. With RAW, there is no such prob­lem — this for­mat retains much more col­or infor­ma­tion. If the pic­ture was tak­en with a strong bal­ance error, you can eas­i­ly fix every­thing in RAW. But not in JPEG.

On the left is the orig­i­nal image with a strong white bal­ance error, in the cen­ter is the result of RAW col­or cor­rec­tion, on the right is an attempt­ed JPEG col­or cor­rec­tion / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

In the image on the right, some of the col­or shades are lost for­ev­er, the image has become flat, there is a feel­ing of a gen­er­al spu­ri­ous hue. The aver­age image does not have these prob­lems.

Many cam­eras have the option to shoot RAW+JPEG. It can be used in cas­es where the rate of fire is not too impor­tant, since this com­bi­na­tion reduces burst speed and buffer size for most cam­eras, except for the newest and top-end ones. Anoth­er prob­lem is that when shoot­ing RAW + JPEG, the mem­o­ry card will fill up faster.

The same prob­lems can arise with strong expo­sure errors. If from RAW you can safe­ly pull out 2 steps of under­ex­po­sure or over­ex­po­sure, then with JPEG such a trick may not work.

This is how it might look when shoot­ing in back­light.

There are chances to save the pic­ture on the left from RAW: it turns out the pic­ture that is in the cen­ter. And it is no longer pos­si­ble to extract from JPEG: the pic­ture on the right is an obvi­ous tech­ni­cal defect, all the details in the shad­ows are lost / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

JPEG pro­cess­ing in Light­room is dif­fer­ent from work­ing with equals, although not too much. It also imports them, gives all the pos­si­bil­i­ties for batch pro­cess­ing and work­ing with pre­sets, but there are a few nuances.

If you look at the work­ing pan­els, the first thing that catch­es your eye is a dif­fer­ent kind of white bal­ance slid­ers.

When work­ing with RAW, Light­room shows the absolute val­ues ​​​​of col­or tem­per­a­ture, for JPEG — these are scales from +100 to ‑100 / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Changes in the scale are unusu­al, but noth­ing more. The sec­ond, more unpleas­ant fea­ture is that for JPEG it will not be pos­si­ble to use pre­sets cre­at­ed for RAW. Due to the fact that a pre­set may con­tain set­tings that jeeps sim­ply do not phys­i­cal­ly have (for exam­ple, the abil­i­ty to change the col­or pro­file), when you select a JPEG file, such a pre­set will sim­ply dis­ap­pear from the pre­sets col­umn. It will not be pos­si­ble to select it.

For JPEG, you will have to either cre­ate pre­sets again or use the fol­low­ing life hack: find a RAW pho­to with the desired pre­set applied to it. Click on it with the right mouse but­ton and select the com­mand Devel­op Set­tings / Copy Set­tings / Pro­cess­ing Set­tings / Copy Set­tings.

After that, we find the JPEG that we want to process with this pre­set, and give the com­mand Devel­op Set­tings / Paste Set­tings / Pro­cess­ing Set­tings / Paste Para­me­ters / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

In this way, Light­room will trans­fer all the set­tings that are in the pre­set and are avail­able for JPEG at the same time. The only thing you need to be pre­pared for is that the pre­set can lie crooked­ly, espe­cial­ly in terms of col­or. The white bal­ance and HSL set­tings will most like­ly need tweak­ing.