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4 Reasons to Switch to JPEG

4 Reasons to Switch to JPEGLast week, photographer extraordinaire Natalie Norton wrote a post here on DPS with 4 reasons not to write off shooting in automatic. And I totally agree that sometimes, as we climb the ladder (which never ends) towards ultimate knowledge (does it exist?) in our journey with photography (which also never ends), we can complicate things so much. Aren’t we all guilty of over thinking and forgetting our roots? The roots which made us fall in love with photography in the first place?

I would say (with complete confidence) that when we found our love for photography for the very first time, we all shot jpegs in automatic. And certainly, we need to move on, move up and learn learn learn. But don’t forget the joy you felt when you just shot because you loved it.

So following Natalie’s lead, here are my 4 reasons you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a jpeg (and why you just might want to go back to it from time to time)

  1. Instant Use – If you want to use your images rather quickly and don’t have time to convert your raw files, you’ll want to go jpeg.
  2. Less work – A well-exposed jpeg will be less in need of TLC than a raw file. The contrast is higher and the focus is sharper because your sensor has made all the important decisions instead of requiring time and brain power on your behalf. Sometimes a plus, sometimes not. You decide when it’s right for you!
  3. Space – if you have a small(ish) memory card or you’re very nearly running out and you HAVE to get in 10 more shots, you might want to quickly switch to jpeg rather than risking the chance of losing the shots. Jpegs take up substantially less space than raw files.
  4. Speed – if you’re shooting continuous (getting that perfect football goal) you’ll shoot faster in jpeg. Raw files take longer to store on your memory card and so the continuous bursts from your shutter will be slower. But switching to jpeg can mean the difference between getting the perfect shot and missing it by a millisecond.

Now, of course, my professional preference is shooting in raw. I’m a heavy editor type (and a control freak) and so I almost always shoot in raw because of the power and control it gives me. But don’t underestimate the times when shooting in jpeg could actually save your butt!

Challenge: If you have a camera that allows you to shoot in RAW + JPEG, give it a try! Take both images into your computer and see what the jpeg file compression did to help (or hurt) your image. This will help you understand the fundamental difference and envision the times you can picture yourself shooting in jpeg.

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Elizabeth Halford
Elizabeth Halford

is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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