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  • Writer's pictureRebekah

RCP Photography School: JPEG

Hello to all who’ve joined me on day 10 of this 26 day challenge to learn about the basics of photography.

Today's lesson is slightly different, and I want you to understand what two of the most common formats are on a digital camera (for a Canon user anyhow!)

But before I start, if you’re doing this course, you probably already know a little bit about me but if you don’t, please check out who I am.

J for JPEG

So, what's the difference between the two?

So how can you see the difference?

Below is an example taken straight from the camera. One the left hand side, the JPEG image has faded colours, as well as a lot more pixels (basically this just looks like squares of colour and light when you zoom right in close).

The image on the right hand side is a RAW image - can you see the difference straight away? The colours are a lot stronger and the image is a lot sharper too. This image could be edited to make it brighter, warmer, or even black and white, and the quality would still be the same until it is saved to JPEG.

So which is better, as a beginner and as an advanced photographer?

If you are starting out as a hobbyist, and don't plan on becoming the next top photographer in the worldwide plus you only intend on printing these images as small prints for photo albums, then JPEG is the perfect option for you. These files are smaller and easier to store on your phone or computer without having to worry about them taking up too much space.


If you are a professional or advanced photographer, using RAW or the equivalent would be the best option for you. And there are two main reasons for this...

1) You may give your clients JPEG versions, but you have the RAW file to order large products. Sometimes clients want to go for wall art for large rooms in their home, and using a low quality jpeg file may not make the cut. Having a RAW file and converting it so that the quality remains is vital.

2) Depending on the kind of day that you are shooting in, you may need to adjust the exposure/colour of the image. With a JPEG file, by doing this may lead to reduced quality and sharpness; but, using the RAW file, the quality remains until you save it as another format.

What will you use, now that you know the difference and the importance of the quality?

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