Louisville Wedding Photographer – File Types 101

Welcome back everyone. This week we will be taking a look at RAW and JPEG file formats.

Alright, we have taken a fairly in-depth look at exposure and what happens when you press the shutter. But, we have yet to discuss the file formats your camera is capable of recording your images into and the pros and cons of those formats.


After you capture an image, your camera records your picture onto your memory card. It typically records this data in one of two ways; either as a RAW file or as a JPEG file. I’m sure many of you have read or heard of these two formats before, but unless you understand the differences between the two it may be confusing to decide whether to shoot in RAW, or JPEG.


JPEG stands for Joint Photographers Expert Group. I know, the name really doesn’t help anyone understand what it is, but it’s always good to know. A JPEG file is a lossy format that has been compressed either in camera or in computer. A lossy compression is a type of compression that shrinks file sizes by discarding data (image information) in favor of minimizing the resulting size of the file. The camera and computer have been programed to do this discarding a pretty sophisticated way. It allows the image to remain in relatively high quality, but still small enough to take up little space on a memory card. There are drawbacks to this compression however. Every time you open and close a JPEG image your computer must uncompress¬† and re-compress the image. This constant compression can degrade an image over time.




A RAW file is an uncompressed image file. These file types take data directly from the image sensor and process them directly to the memory card. This type of uncompressed image transfer results in a much greater file size, but also in greater file quality. A RAW file maintains its quality through unlimited openings and closings and gives you the most accurate image quality directly from the camera.

Below are some short helpful videos courtesy of Binary Graphite to further explain.

raw & jpg 1

raw & jpg 2

As Imre explained, RAW files do take further processing in order to get them to a useful format. You must convert a RAW file into another format (JPEG, GIF, PNG, PDF) before it can either be printed, or uploaded to the internet. Furthermore not any software can be used to do so. On the market today you will find several different RAW processing programs, but the two main programs released by Adobe are Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Adobe Lightroom. Both programs are relatively easy to learn and offer a near limitless way to edit your photos. They also have a rather large following a community of users, so help and presets are easy to come by.

I hope this posts helps those of you who may have been a little confused by the RAW and JPEG

Click here for previous 101 posts

Next week we will be covering basic RAW editing using ACR and Lightroom.

If you have any questions or concerns on the post, feel free to email us and we will be glad to help you. Or feel free to email us any questions you may have about photography and we will be sure to work them into another how-to post.

Email me at: will@vivalaveritas.com

(and comments are always appreciated!)

Louisville Wedding Photographer


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