Recently, I’ve been wondering if always shooting in RAW is necessary. The mind set for me has been one of “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”. There’s only one problem with this, space. I’m simply running out of hard drive space. My current 50D will trade you about 400 RAW images for roughly 8GB of storage. Not to mention that a RAW image on its own is not ready for print or the web without being converted into a JPEG or TIFF. To put it another way, a RAW image is just an unfinished image. So why not trust the camera a little more and the let in camera processor do the work from time to time? I’m kind of enjoying letting the camera work for me, even though I’m losing some post editing power. In result, I find myself paying more attention to each shot.
Now it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, if you’re going to do a lot of post editing, or someone’s paying you, go ahead and do yourself a favor and stick with RAW. If not, take a step away from the obsessive compulsive approach of always shooting in RAW (you know who you are). After all, RAW is not the best, its just unprocessed.
Before you take this on take some time to optimize your camera (ie. RTFM) for compressed shooting and don’t always rely on the camera presets. For example, the Canon 50D Picture Style settings are a little soft in my opinion in terms of sharpness. Bosting them has given my JPEG’s a very pleasing result. You can also customize the camera’s color tone, saturation and contrast. While you’re at it, save your custom styles as user presets. This is not just for Canon, other camera manufacturers have similar customizable settings. Doing this does take a little time, but for casual shooting the amount of time and space I’ve been saving has been well worth it.
There, I said it. I don’t always shoot in RAW.