Professional and amateur photographers now take photos with the idea of scanning pictures in mind. While it’s simple to fix errors once you scan pictures, it’s easier to work with a high quality, original photo. With each shot, photographers face important questions which ultimately determine photo quality. Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG? There’s no wrong answer - your choice depends on how much editing flexibility you desire, it’s just about learning the tricks between options.
The Basics: JPEG and RAW Files
JPEG is a common file type, but it can limit your editing abilities. In DSLR, and advanced point and shoot cameras, JPEG photos are enhanced during the capture process. You control color and exposure, but contrast, brightness, noise reduction, and sharpening are partially controlled by the camera. Compared to a RAW image, JPEGs produce clear, bright images that can be printed directly off your camera. So what’s the downside?
JPEG files are compressed, saving space by sacrificing original photo information. Since this occurs within the camera, information cannot be recovered while scanning pictures. Dynamic range, or the amount of tonal difference between shadows and highlights, is greatest in RAW files. This gives you freedom to manipulate the photo for ideal results, and choosing the right file type depends on your situation.
Using RAW and JPEG files
While RAW is typically regarded as a flexible file, there are limitations. To get the most out of a RAW photo, you must have a working knowledge of photo editing software. Without Adobe Photoshop or similar program, contrast and brightness won’t improve when you scan pictures. Also, RAW files take up more space than JPEGs.
In fact, many situations are ideal for JPEGs. For example, using this format when capturing images for the web is perfect. You don’t need an amazing photo of the couch you’re selling on Craig’s List. If you’re capturing images in quick succession, RAW files will quickly fill your camera, whereas JPEGs will allow for more images you can sort through later. You can also use JPEG format when:
You’re at a casual family event.
You need same day pictures.
You’re uploading real time pictures to a social media site.
You forgot your memory card at home.
RAW format is ideal when you have the time and the ability to edit photos. Professional photographers prefer RAW format because it incorporates all original photo information. Problems can be fixed when scanning pictures without compromising the image integrity, but that doesn’t mean RAW files should always be your go-to format.
Think about your subject. When scanning pictures, would you prefer a quick process, or do you want to edit each photo? As a photographer, you determine the amount of editing freedom. Choose your file type carefully, start shooting, process your images, and then get busy scanning pictures (or better yet, you can just ask us to scan pictures!) Simply organize your photos and include any specific directions - we'll take care of the rest.