When You Shouldn’t Shoot RAW Images

RAW images contain much more data than JPEGs. If you are using a digital SLR camera or without a mirror, you should use RAW most of the time. make the most of what your camera is capable of. You can even shoot RAW on your iPhone. However, there are some situations in which you do not need to shoot – or even shoot – RAW.

RELATED: How to take good RAW photos

If photos matter little or you want to share them quickly

Sometimes I will have to take pictures at a Christmas party or a family event. These are not high quality portraits; they are just snapshots of normally drunk people. The only reason I'm being asked is that people know that I have a good camera. Once you have earned a reputation as a photographer, this will almost certainly happen to you.

When I'm harassed in one of these events, I have to adjust my camera priority mode at the opening, put a flash on my camera if necessary, then take a walk at your leisure, taking pictures from time to time. This is one of the few times I deliberately took the JPEG format because it means that at the end of the night, I can drag all photos to a Dropbox folder (or other) without even looking at them and sending them to the organizer. They take all the pictures and I do not need to spend a few hours working with them at Lightroom.

When you shoot a lot of splinters

When taking a burst with your camera, all images are buffered before being written to the storage card. The size of this buffer is one of the main factors limit how long you can shoot a burst. Because JPEG files are much smaller than RAW files, most cameras can store more JPEGs in their buffers and record longer bursts.

RELATED: Why does my camera slow down or stop shooting continuously?

For example, my Canon 5DIII can take six RAW or JPEG photos per second. The buffer can hold only 18 RAW photos, which means that I get a burst of three seconds at maximum speed before starting to slow down. However, it can contain 64 JPEG images: it is ten seconds of continuous shooting.

RELATED: How to take better shots in burst mode

Whenever I am sports shooter or other situations where I want to be able throw a lot of quick bursts, I switch to JPEG format. Sometimes it is more important to take the picture than to get a high quality picture of nothing.

When you take a lapse of time

The time that passes – these fast-moving videos that compress an hour, a day or even longer to a length that can be viewed on YouTube – requires a considerable number of photos. The most common format is 24 fps. So you have to take 24 pictures for every second of film. This means that an accelerated video of two and a half minutes contains 3,360 photos.

Some time-consuming photographers shoot in RAW, but that's a huge workload and, more importantly, an extremely powerful computer. Most laptops are not able to process as much data. (At 25 MB per RAW file, this short period contains more than 80 GB of data).

The simplest thing, if you're just starting out, is to get your exhibition directly on site and shoot JPEGs. Your computer will thank you.


There was another reason not to shoot in RAW – when storage space was limited – but it does not matter much anymore: good SD cards now cost between $ 10 and $ 30. Outside of the above situations, you must use RAW by default.

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