Extreme Underwater Photography: Camera Raw versus Jpeg

If you have spent any time around people who are majorly into photography and I’m not talking about people who like pictures, I’m talking photographers; those people who spend a lot of time studying techniques on ISO settings and aperture settings and shutter speed settings and the rule of thirds, etc, then you’ve probably heard the terms Camera Raw versus Jpeg thrown around, a lot. So what is Camera Raw exactly?

First, before we answer that question I want to mention that your phone camera and any point and shoot camera both land and water will only shoot in Jpeg. Jpegs are compressed files that computers and the internet recognize without help. They are also known as “lossy” photos as they do compression of pictures from the original size/format to a more manageable size and format for most computers and in the process “lose” some data.

In the example below, you’ll notice the 2 circled numbers, the larger of the 2 is the Raw format, 28.6MB. It contains any and all data about the picture and allows for a computer program such as Photoshop to manipulate the picture while the smaller of the 2 is the jpg, 2.1MB, which has already done compression of the photo and made it a more manageable size.

Upon first inspection of the photos from Camera Raw to Jpeg format, they look alike, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the Camera Raw photo is a little “flatter.” Flatter in the sense of dull looking. And please excuse the land photo, my land camera is the one that will shoot both formats.

Camera Raw requires help from a computer program to open up the file, such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, etc. When it opens up in the raw format it allows you to change the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, white, black, clarity, vibrancy, and saturation. It also allows you to fix the white balance if you were off.

Now, here is where I’ll show you a little more technical stuff that you may want to know…

The first thing I always do is check my white balance, take my contrast to 15, my clarity to 40, and my vibrance to 30. From there I’ll adjust accordingly.

Then I’ll play around with the other settings to get them where I want. It’s all personal preference.

Then there are 2 places you can crop if you want… one is on this screen while the other, you can open the photo into your program and continue to edit or crop, etc.

So in this comparison, you’ll see the Camera Raw versus the Camera Jpeg versus my edited Jpeg.

The photo was a bit dark for me and I made it a bit crisper. I also cropped it in more on Sisco than having the pool as a distraction. Again, this is all personal preference.

So the camera Jpeg versus my Jpeg.

How do you know if you want to shoot Jpeg versus Camera Raw if you have that option?

  • Does your camera shoot Camera Raw?
  • Do you have computer/hard drive space for the storage of the larger files?
  • Do you plan on doing post editing of your photos?

Definitely, shoot your pictures in the format that feels most comfortable to you as well as what you have time for. And just because you shot in Jpeg doesn’t mean that you can’t do some editing to your photos. If you don’t want to purchase a program such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom, there are multiple free editing programs on the internet such as picmonkey.com, ribbet.com, picasa.com, gimp.com, paint.net, etc.

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