JPEG vs RAW – which is better, when to use, and all about it

What are the pros and cons of RAW photos and JPEG photos?

When you have a choice of shooting photos as RAW or JPEG files, which should you choose. Here are the pros and cons

Photographers mostly shoot their videos in raw image file format. Do you know the reason why? Also, why all photo viewing software provides viewing in jpeg not raw. This blog provides a crisp comparison between jpeg and raw image file format. Read on to know more.

Digital cameras shoot pictures both in RAW as well as JPEG image file format. The use of each format depends upon your requirement.

If you need to capture a picture and upload it to a website straight away (as in the case of live cricket match), then you can use the JPEG image file format.

The raw image file format is usually good for those, who have time to edit the image using photo editing software before using it.

What is a RAW image file?

A RAW image file is a digitally unprocessed and vendor-dependent image file that takes all the data captured by the image sensor of a digital camera (or film scanner) into a very large file, which can be later processed and compressed for future use.

RAW image files takes more storage space (an 8 megapixel camera produces 8MB files), but has more information for editing purposes.

You can set the white balance, color grade, noise reduction, and so on using a RAW file via image processing software such as Photoshop.

What is a JPEG image file?

A JPEG image file is a digitally compressed image file generated by a digital camera, which inputs image sensor’s data and compresses it to the JPEG image format.

JPEG image files take less memory space (an 8 megapixel camera produces between 1 and 3MB files sizes). The compressed data provide less scope for correction.

A perfectly shot JPEG image can be used immediately for uploading to social media sites, sharing, or printing. Furthermore, corrupt JPEG files can be repaired using JPEG repair software such as Stellar Phoenix JPEG Repair, which is really helpful for general users.

JPEG vs RAW comparison

Is not an acronym Acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group
Digital Negatives Digital Positives
Large in size Small in size
Need special software to view/edit All compatible photo viewing software can open
Non compressed Compressed
Need processing before using Processed and ready for immediate usage
Has flexibility and artistic control No such benefits
Non-destructive editing Destructive editing; need to keep a copy of original
Can be used for legal evidence Cannot be used for legal evidence
Cannot be printed directly Can be printed directly
Terrible shooting in continuous mode Easy shooting in continuous mode
Has dozens of proprietary extensions Usually has .jpg or .jpeg extension
Lossless image format Lossy image format

Which is better?

Both JPEG and RAW image file formats have advantages and disadvantages. If you have no intention to print or display your pictures in large sizes or are posting it on Facebook or sharing it via WhatsApp, then the JPEG image format is for you because your digital camera or mobile phone camera does the basic image processing task automatically, thereby saving your valuable time and effort in manual image correction.

Also, choosing the JPEG file format can save the camera buffer’s early clocking in continuous shoot mode. Moreover, many bridal photographers resort to JPEG as they do not want to end up editing thousands of raw file photos.

The subtle difference between a processed RAW image and a perfectly shot JPEG is difficult for an untrained eye to spot. So, for most people the JPEG file format is best.

The advantages of the RAW file format comes into play only when you are a professional photographer and print/display photos in humongous size for exhibitions, ads, banners, and so on.

To conclude

This article showcased a crisp comparison of JPEG and RAW image file formats. For immediate data sharing, printing, and storing use JPEG files. For printing large photos with complete accuracy and vibrant colors opt for RAW.

Modern digital cameras and mobile phones provide features to shoot both RAW as well as JPEG at the same time, and therefore provide benefits of the two worlds.

In case you have a camera that provides only one image file format then switch format according to need. In addition, you can use utilities like Stellar Phoenix JPEG Repair software if your JPEG files become corrupt and you need to recover them.

Author Bio: Prachi Sahu is a full-time Data Recovery Expert and a part-time writer who loves to roam around and explore new places across India. She also writes for news publications like Times of India and likes to take up some volunteer work like helping people online in her spare time.



  1. It’s only you who can decide which format to choose. Both have its pros and cons and so think carefully before picking on a picture format.

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