Why shoot both JPEG & RAW? Laziness!


In my world there are two distinct things we do with our cameras, we take snaps and we take photographs. A snap is a memory, a moment, something that is fleeting and means something to us personally but isn’t going to be blown up onto canvas and sent to the pool room. A photograph on the other hand is thoughtfully built and deliberately image created for the purpose of expressing yourself in a more artistic manner. So for two different activities we have two different file types, JPEGs for the instant ‘happy snap’ and RAW for the photographs, so why shoot both JPEG and RAW together?

To start with, I’m going to admit that when it comes to my camera, I’m a doer and not a meticulous planner, I like to be able to raise the camera to my eye and capture the moment without having to analyse the behind-the-scenes settings of my camera. So for this reason I shoot both JPEG and RAW files for every image I take, the trick is what you do next.

  • Step 1

    Load all of your images onto my computer

  • Step 2

    Identify the ‘photographs’ (usually far fewer than the happy snaps)

  • Step 3

    Delete the JPEG files for the Photographs (leaving you with the RAW of these images to edit in your chosen software)

  • Step 4

    For the ‘happy snaps’ delete the corresponding RAW files as these will require minimal (or no) editing

  • Finally

    A win, you are guaranteed to have the RAW file for your photographs and can skip the editing component for the happy snaps. As an added bonus, if one of your happy snaps needs some tweaking you have that ability

RAW + JPEG on a Canon

This technique does have a downside in that it takes up substantially more space on your memory card however with cards going for as little as $1 per GB these days my belief is that having the safety net of a RAW file combined with the time saver of having ‘pre-processed’ JPEGs of your happy snaps is worth the extra few dollars in memory cards.

Why not use JPEG only?
A few months ago I wrote an article showcasing the differences between RAW and JPEG but as a quick recap, JPEG files basically discard ‘unused’ information including some colour information, highlights information and shadow information. This gives you significantly less editing capability with JPEG files so for top-notch ‘photographs’ you’re generally going to want to process the RAW file using editing software.

Why not use RAW only?
Having just returned from Europe for a couple of weeks I can tell you now that I have no interest in processing the countless ‘happy snaps’ I shot on this trip; it would take weeks. Whilst shooting RAW only does give you ultimate control, there are some things I just don’t want to spend my life doing and editing selfies is one of them (not that I take that many selfies… well… not THAT many).

So really what I’m trying to say is that by shooting both you have your bases covered all of the time eliminating the need for constantly switching your preferences depending on what you’re shooting and it will also save you hours in front of a computer. So ultimately why shoot both? Laziness.

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