Does JPEG Make More Sense?

Over the past month or so I have been considering my general absence from dSLR photography. And during the course of pondering, considering and talking to myself…outloud…which can be rather disconcerting to those around me….I have further honed a thought that I have had and shared on numerous other occasions:

I really like being behind the camera, but not in front of the computer.

I mean, I don’t particularly care for the process of going through my photos, picking keepers from dumpers, and then editing them to turn them into something better or even tweaking them for upload to Flickr.

I had, for a while, dismissed my lack of interest in such matters as being a reaction to the complexities of Photoshop and Lightroom. To address this particular issue I have undergone a metamorphosis, if you will, by reading, watching and listening to any number of websites, podcasts and online videos related to the proper and creative use of Photoshop and Lightroom.

And while this information collecting has left me feeling more comfortable and confident about the use of these fine pieces of software it has done nothing to dissuade me from the general sense of apathy I have about using them.

So what does one do?

I mean, there’s little reason to continue to hang on to my cameras, lenses, flash and other assorted photography-related items if I have no intention of putting them to use, right?

But that’s absurd as well because I desperately want to put them to work. Because I really enjoy being behind the camera. So you can see the problem.

And then just today, while watching some lovely red cardinals soar from tree to tree in our back garden, I thought to myself “How could I mitigate the amount of time I spend in front of the computer?” in regards to the whole process and what-not as related to this photography caper?

Shoot in JPEG.

Okay….shooting in JPEG doesn’t mean I don’t have to sift through my shoots and sort keepers from flushers, but as the amount of processing that can be reasonably done to a JPEG is monumentally smaller than that which can be done to a RAW file….well….you get the picture. (pun completely and utterly intended)

And by processing I don’t mean the creative sort of stuff one typically does in Photoshop, but the more basic sort of processing at which software like Lightroom excels. The sort of processing I have been doing, but do not particularly enjoy.

As an added bonus I wonder if the switch to shooting in JPEG would force me to become a better photographer? I mean, without the ability to make monumental and wholesale changes to my image file I would have to learn to shoot better pictures to begin with, wouldn’t I?

And certainly there is no correlation between excellent photography and file type, right? A quick look around Flickr convinces me that the skills, knowledge and creativity needed to make exceptional images has little if nothing to do with whether or not one shoots in JPEG or RAW.

But I don’t know….it’s a major paradigm shift, isn’t it? And what about the ability to save a picture shot in RAW that might otherwise be for the trash bin if shoot in JPEG? The way I shoot I need every saving grace I can get both hands upon.

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6 thoughts on “Does JPEG Make More Sense?

  1. Well, virtually everything I’ve taken with the Lumix, and certainly all the b&w stuff, I’ve used JPEG. But the amount of processing I’ve done/needed to do has been absolutely minimal.
    I have very little concern about this cos, to be brutally frank, the quality of pics from the camera (that’s to say, the actual quality of the files themselves) hardly justifies shooting in RAW. To my mind at least.

    Generally though I still prefer shooting in RAW, if for no other reason than the extra information that can be captured.

    But then again, I enjoy all the processing bit as much as I do actually taking the pics.

  2. I alwaays shoot in RAW, mainly becaause the versions of Photoshop I had before couldn’t read that file type. But I am now a recent Mac owner (yes!!) with a copy of Photoshop CS4 (Hell Yes!!) so I think I will now move into shooting with RAW since my files can now be read. But I have always shot with JPEG and do minimal editing (Mostly contrast and color).

    It’s not the camera, not the file type, it’s the photographers eye and discretion when it comes to composing and taking the photo. Keep doing what you love, and go JPEG if you want!

  3. RAW vs JPEG? I don’t have a preference, I like and do both. Personally, it doesn’t matter if you go RAW or JPEG. As long as you’re happy with the end result, that’s all that matters.

  4. *nods* I totally agree with you. I don’t object to the editing process, I just struggle to find time for it (I need to shoot far less images obviously)

    While I am quite fond of the benefits of RAW esp around white balance adjustment, I can totally see your point of view around shooting jpeg – I did it myself on my P&S for 4 years and I got heaps of pix I am happy with – I have 416 currently on my Flickr site and its fairly likely that around 300 of them were taken on that camera.

    So do what works for you !

  5. Pingback: TechTip#4 – Setting up to shoot in RAW « Learning to See Light

  6. I wish I could contribute with some strong pros and cons, but I still keep wondering for myself what the benefits are of RAW or jpeg. I like them both and I hate them both too. I still think that a really good exposed jpeg can’t be rivaled by a well processed RAW image.

    Friends keep telling me to keep on shooting RAW and just use the jpegs for the online stuff. They say it is best to use the RAW for printing purposes. But I have done A2 prints from both processed RAW images and jpegs an no difference could be made. I just couldn’t see it.

    Maybe consider RAW to be archive file and use the jpeg for most of the time instead. Now, if you don’t want to shoot both you can always use a little application to extract the jpegs from the RAW images.

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