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Inspiration

“I Shoot JPEG” | A Humorous Soliloquy That’s Bound To Be ‘Ken Rockwell Approved’

By Kishore Sawh on October 9th 2016

Once again and perhaps forevermore, it’s Raw vs JPEG. Which do you shoot, and when and why?

These are the typical questions, but as time marches unrelentingly forward, the answers and how they’re derived have evolved. Cameras of just 4 years ago are complete shadows, ghosts even, of what’s on the market today; now the machines we use to capture are multi-hyphenates, and the software we use to manipulate are a different level of science parading as witchcraft. Certainly we can agree that cameras can put out some astounding JPEG files. I mean, any Fuji shooter will tell you if you don’t walk away in time…

raw-jpeg-taylor-jackson-ken-rockwell-jared-polin

But is one better than the other, and what about for client work? Taylor Jackson released a short video, a bit of a soliloquy where he professes his secret and forbidden love for the JPEG files from his D5. Seemingly riddled with ‘guilt’ but too rapt with his JPEGs to care, Taylor breathes another breath into the old argument of raw vs. JPEG, in a manner fit to square off Jared Polin and Ken Rockwell, respectively.

[REVIEW: NIKON D5 REVIEW | A WORKING REVIEW OF A WORKHORSE]

Admittedly, he has a disclaimer that he still shoots raw as well, just in case, but that he sees nothing wrong with shooting JPEG and never touching those raw files. Who of you can say the same? Who would dare? And is the thought of 5 hours saved from post processing compelling enough for you?

Thoughts

It’s a good, brief, amusing watch, and if you give it a chance, maybe it would get you realizing that each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and that being disadvantaged in one area, doesn’t negate privilege in another.

My favorite line is the decrescendo-ing into a whisper of, “I just started delivering the JPEGs my camera was taking. I don’t have to do anything to them…”

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Greg Geis

    I had this same epiphany hit me about a month after I upgraded from my D7000 to a D750. I used to be die hard raw shooter. But the white balance and tones were so wonderful on almost everything I now shoot about 90% jpeg (unless I’m getting paid, which isn’t often).
    Its important to understand both for your camera because either or a combination is appropriate for a variety of situations. If I’m in a high contrast scene or under LEDs/CFL I know how much more a raw file can give me if I need it. It is just so damn good, it’s nice to not need it.

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  2. lee christiansen

    I shoot RAW because no matter how hard I try I can’t always get it perfect in camera.

    My camera only allows me an accuracy of 1/3 stop, and I’ll be making adjustments of 1/10 in post.

    Unless I’m running around with a meter, I’m relying either on my camera’s best guess at exposure (with tooo many variables to get it perfect), or my eyes, (which tell us lies no matter how “experienced” we are).

    I want to colour balance with ALL the information to hand and a JPEG output will deny me that. Eyes process colour differently to a camera and I’ve never seen a 100% accurate LCD screen, (and besides the shooting environment is rarely suitable for making a good call on colour).

    Unless I have total control over lighting (and the time), I’m going to need highlight and shadow control. Good luck with a JPEG when the going gets particularly tough…

    Batch processing for colour balance. Nope – ain’t going to happen with JPEGs unless you’ve shot with a guessed manual colour setting. Quicker with RAW

    Seriously… we want to start with an 8-bit JPEG as our starting point…!

    Don’t get me started on the failings of shooting JPEG 8-bit with aRGB… just don’t…!

    JPEGs come with a baked in look. What if I don’t want that particular look, or detail level…? Sure I can adjust in PS, but remember we’ve only got those 8-bits to play with.

    I use Capture One as my RAW processor and now I don’t have to work hard to get images looking good straight away.

    Clients don’t care? But we do – don’t we…?

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    i own one camera that supports RAW+JPEG, Canon 5D Mk III; I also own two other Canon cameras that do not support RAW or JPEG, A-1 and New F-1N; when I get the scans back from film developing, they are in JPEG format.
    But I shoot RAW+JPEG with my 5D.

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  4. Zach Holz

    I haven’t shot in RAW since I moved away from Nikon and towards Olympus and Panasonic. The skin tones on Nikon where always problematic (my last nikon was a D3S), and I needed the control of RAW to get good results for skin. Then I moved over to Olympus and then Panasonic (now back to Olympus) and their white balance is so good, and their dynamic range so recoverable, that I just don’t see any benefit to having to tweak every single image. Clients don’t care.

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