RAW vs JPEG (let’s be pragmatic!)

Today I read (thank to Annalisa), this pragmatic article in favour of JPEG shooting, by Ken Rockwell.

I must admit I was, and still are, deeply touched by the Ken’s arguments. I always assumed that the quality of the RAW files produced by a DSLR were undoubtedly superior to the JPGs. Now I must reconsider my beliefs, because they were just so: beliefs without pragmatic proof.

How often are we befuddled by technical articles that advertise absolute truths. Fortunately, reality is much subtler than it is often written about, and much quality assessment must be made individually and subjectively. Why follow tedious RAW routines, when for my practical needs, I can’t distinguish between a RAW and a JPG file when I look at them in the monitor or, better, printed?

Ken argues that with proper care during shooting, a JPG is as good as a RAW, without the burden of file size and the necessity of a converter. The RAW workflow is definitely slower than the JPG and he also tackles the issue of archiving. Who can guarantee that tomorrow’s raw converters will still support yesterday raw files?

Naturally, to adopt a pure JPG workflow, one must put more care during shooting, choosing the right camera parameters before pressing the shutter, and not afterwards in front of the PC. This habit, I think, will also lead me to put more care of how I shoot my subjects, taking more conscious decisions, being more aware of my interpretation of the scene.

The most important thing I have learned by reading Ken’s article is that I must check for myself: I must make some tests to learn what I can get with my own tools, RAW and JPG, and take a more deliberate choice, instead of following a technical belief.

Ultimately, if Ken is right, JPGs will save me a lot of post-processing time, archival space and complaints about my sluggish PC, while at the same time, forcing me to dedicate more attention when I shoot.

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