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Old Mar 29, 2007, 2:36 PM   #1
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What is the difference between RAW and JPEG? Is one better then the other?


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Old Mar 29, 2007, 4:40 PM   #2
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The camera sensor outputs in RAW format then the camera processes it internally to create a JPEG image.

A RAW image is not affected by any camera image settings except the exposure and must be processed by a software application in your computer to get a usable image. This allows you to make corrections to the image quality that couldn't be done in the JPEG because it's already processed.

RAW requires post processing while JPEG can be printed or displayed directly. In practice even JPEGs can be improved with post processing however

Understanding Raw Files and JPG vs RAW vs TIFF show both sides of the discussion.

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Old Mar 29, 2007, 5:52 PM   #3
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Also important to note is that white balance is something applied after the RAW, so if it comes out off color, a RAW can be corrected such that the colors are completely accurate.

On a DSLR a RAW retains a much broader dynamic range. You can create a very nice HDR image by just shooting at low ISO. Also, if you seriously underexpose a RAW image but at a low ISO, you can easily recover a couple stops of brightness without serious quality loss (an ISO 200 shot brightened 2 stops will look like an ISO 800 shot). If it was shot JPG however, you'll find that the colors are muddied and inaccurate, artifacts and posterization will be visible, and many details will simply be blacked out.

Remember that I'm talking about on a DSLR. All this applies to some digicams as well, but most won't get the kind of range a DSLR can. Shooting RAW on my Panasonic FZ30 was nice for correcting white balance and getting somewhat richer looking colors, but it really didn't help with the dynamic range much since it's noisy at ISO 200.
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