Know the Differences Between RAW and JPEG


Mitzi Blossoms Ilagan |

We all have heard about these two words in relation to cameras and photography. JPEG, presumably, is more familiar especially to the beginners. If you are a professional, you may have learned to use RAW for your photos. Here are the differences of these two:


  • Raw is not really an image file type.
  • It cannot be opened on basic programs, but could be viewed on special softwares after conversion and post-processing.
  • It contains all of the data from the sensor, more colors and dynamic range than JPEG images.
  • All cameras shoot in RAW but when you choose the JPEG format, the camera does its own processing to convert the information into JPEG.
  • It could record at least 4.3 trillion possible colors.
  • It is larger in size and consumes more memory than JPEG.
  • With RAW, you could get more control over the basic settings such as exposure, highlights, contrast, and the like.
  • It is better used when you want to achieve a perfect white balance, especially in light conditions where much attention and editing is needed.
  • RAW is the best quality for printing large photos and posters.
  • It utilizes lossless compression which makes it prevent image compression artifacts.
  • It is likely to be believable especially if you are presenting a RAW image as an evidence.



  • This is the standard format of images and is the file type which most people know about and is readable by basic programs/softwares.
  • It is smaller in size unlike the RAW file.
  • It could just record 16 million colors.
  • It has a lower dynamic range unlike the RAW file.
  • It is used for burst shooting (rather than using the RAW) because it would take a longer processing time for the camera if it uses RAW because of its large size.
  • It is the file type most suitable for web uploading even without editing it or post-processing because it has a higher contrast and is sharper.
  • It is the most compatible format to most computers, software and cameras.


If you opt to use RAW, you could process it through softwares such as Adobe Photoshop CS, Picasa, Adobe Lightroom, DXO Optics Pro, and  Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP. For JPEG, even the Windows Photo Viewer, Adobe Photoshop, or any online photo editor and converter could be used.


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