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Should I shoot in RAW image mode?

Shoot in RAW, not JPEG

Are you shooting JPEGS?  Maybe it’s time to shoot RAW.  It is like the unedited directors cut of the image with all the details allowing for full editing control.

If you’re wondering, should I shoot in RAW mode or JPEG, here’s some details that may convince you to go RAW.  RAW is a file mode that you can select on your camera.  It embodies everything great, looks incredible, shoots for you, and will market the photos on it’s own.  It can pick the kids up from school,  will carry your camera, and let you shoot from your couch while you eat potato chips.  It even cleans up the house and dog poop without you asking!  Sound like it’s too good to be true?  It is!  But it really is an amazing mode.

OK, so RAW file mode on your camera can’t do anything for you (except let you create salable images).  It won’t even apply automated adjustments to your image in camera like a JPEG.  But that’s why it’s so good!  And that’s also why it’s called RAW.   It’s the image your camera captures, unsharpened, and with no saturation or contrast boost.

Take Complete Control

So if you’re wondering, should I shoot in RAW, the answer is YES, at least for any professional images.  JPEGS degrade image quality.  They make the decisions for you and compress the files.  You don’t want to edit JPEGS because the file was compressed in camera. Then when it’s saved again as a JPEG after editing it becomes even more compressed losing important details.  As an artist, you most likely desire complete control over your work.  RAW mode will give you this complete control!

Image captured by shooting in raw mode.

When should I shoot in RAW?

Almost every company you work with will want RAW image files.  So if you ever plan on selling a photo, start shooting RAW now.  It’s that simple.  Sure, it lowers the amount of images you can shoot in a sequence, and the files are much larger.  But it also let’s you edit your images and make them look the way you envisioned.  Take the camera off auto-drive, shoot RAW, and take control of your images!

If you have any questions about shooting in RAW, please comment below.  We are always happy to help.

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At only 25 years old, Connor has been published in many major international publications and is a signed Getty photographer. His writing and photos have been published in Photoshop User and Light It Magazines, amongst many others. He believes that if you work at what you love, you'll be able to make a great living. Connor currently resides in Edwards, CO with his wife, Kelly, and dog Tucker. You can view his portfolio at www.cnwphoto.com


  1. I often shoot guys in black wetsuits (kitesurfers) on very bright background (sky/water) and to be able to pull lots of detail out of what seems to be a totally black body, is almost like magic. The dynamic range of the scene is very often so big that I would be missing tons of information if I was not shooting RAW. It is an absolute MUST for me.


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