Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

Phone: (954)439-1999 Email:

Why I shoot in RAW

Tutorials and Best PractiTom SchmukiComment

Most photographs taken  and posted today on social networks are not taken in RAW but taken in standard JPEG format.  Most of these photos are taken by your mobile phone, mine being an Iphone.  

What do you mean my phone is taking JPEG’s not RAW?

I primarily shoot Nikon cameras, including D850, D810 and D500.  My D850 captures and saves 45.7 megapixels of data when I shoot RAW  When I use that same D850 in JPEG (High Density/Fine) mode, my file sizes are approximately the files range from 18MB-25MB in size.  In either case these numbers are INSANE.  So what is the difference?  When I shoot in JPEG mode instead of RAW, my camera makes the following choices for me:

  • Contrast – (What to capture in highlights, mid-tones, and shadows). Probably the most important thing to me
  • Sharpness
  • Hue/Saturation
  • Sharpness
  • Etc.

The number one reason I shoot in RAW

 I want ALL the DATA

Once these decisions have been made when shot in JPEG – recovering DATA which the camera decided NOT to capture is NON-RECOVERABLE.  You cannot recover details from the darkest shadows, nor from the blown out highlights.  In other words, once the camera has made the decision what to capture, ALL the other DATA is thrown away and gone forever.

The number two reason I shoot in RAW

Non Destructive Editing

Every time you edit a JPEG the quality is diminished.  Edit the same photos 10 times and compare the quality with the original.  Shooting in RAW allows you to edit NON-DISTRUCTIVELY.  My original RAW file remains in-tact and never changes.  All my edits and edit history are back traceable right to the original RAW file.

If you are buying a new camera, buy one that can shoot in RAW even if you don’t know how.  You will thank me later.  You can always shoot in JPEG while you learn how to process RAW

What are the downsides to in shooting in RAW?

1.       File Size – your memory card on your camera  fills up faster, and your permanent storage requirements on your computer or in the cloud becomes much greater

2.       Slower- Your camera will BURST slower when saving RAW versus JPEG, it takes longer to save those big files.  Your camera’s BUFFER may even fill up faster while you are continuous shooting.

3.       Immediate results . JPEG’s are ready to go, as bad or as good as they may be.  You can share them on social networks and give them to friends right away

4.       Learning curve of editing and processing RAW images.  I believe you can learn within 1 hour of time a process that will allow you to edit your files in RAW and have better results than your JPEG’s out of the camera

5.       I am sure there are more downsides, but WHO cares, I shoot in RAW.  I often shoot in RAW and JPEG at the same time, and frankly NEVER use the JPEG images.

I welcome comments, conversation and rebuttals.  Hey, I don’t know everything.  As a matter of fact I know very little, but at least I am trying to learn and grow and get better each day.