Jpegs vs RAW in Street Photography

Honestly, I don’t give a fifth-of-a-fuck what people do inside their little cameras.


If you shoot jpeg exclusively then more power to you. If you like shooting RAW and go nuts over pulling up shadows and scream about Sony sensors and dynamic range all the time thats fine. I don’t do that. I don’t care about dynamic range much, never have. I also don’t care about file sizes, even though I used to before I got my new iMac setup.

I do care about white balance but I don’t like to SET white balance in the camera unless I absolutely have to. I normally trust Canon’s auto-white balance feature, and sometimes it nails it, sometimes it doesn’t. Shooting RAW enables myself and others to rescue a terrible auto-white balance choice by the camera without having to say fuck it and change the photo to monochrome. Shooting jpeg robs me of white balance flexibility for the most part.


I hear shooting jpeg is a lot like shooting film. I’ve never shot film, at least not since I was maybe 15 years old, so I wouldn’t know. Aside from in-camera profiles that increase or decrease sharpening and contrast, I suppose shooting jpegs is indeed a bit like shooting film, as far as finality is concerned. As a shooter you definitely have to be prepared to get it right “in camera” (a phrase that made me want to slap the banana bread out of people when I first started shooting) or live with the results. All of my sports photos are shot in jpeg, for example. One reason is the client demands this for their storage purposes. Another reason is because burst mode is a lot friendlier to jpegs over RAW files, especially when I’m shooting fast moving action like hoops or soccer. A third reason is processing files. Even though my new iMac can handle RAW files pretty well, jpegs are previewed and processed a bit faster.

As for my street photography I am most comfortable shooting RAW. As opposed to sports, where I shoot between 250-1500 shots depending on the number of games, I normally shoot between 15-60 shots when I’m on the streets. With that few photos I don’t mind spending extra time post-processing. Also white balance is so crucial with my shadow-rich style of street photography (part of my top-secret editing workflow when the photo is in color) that I need to be able to rescue a poorly white-balanced shot. I know some guys who shoot jpegs for EVERYTHING including weddings and formal events. Their excuse is that they spray and pray too much to shoot RAW. They also (I could name names) bitch about the editing process and say they have much better things to do with their time and have NO time to edit a paying bride’s photos to perfection. God-for-fucking-bid. These guys also think simple shit like straightening a photo is some sort of goddamn crime apparently, but I digress. Basically, I think shooting a wedding in jpeg-only suggests that you are some manner of idiot…..


What do you guys and gals shoot: Jpeg or RAW? Why? Please subscribe, like and comment below…


5 thoughts on “Jpegs vs RAW in Street Photography

  1. My digital is a little Canon PowerShot S95 and I shoot it RAW 90% of the time because I’m not crazy about the camera’s JPEG engine. I use JPEG pretty much only for routine family snapshots. Everything else gets RAW and a little time in Photoshop. My next camera, I hope for a better JPEG engine so I have to post-process fewer shots. I don’t mind post-processing a photo where I’m trying to achieve something special but it kind of bugs me to do it for more routine work I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is an interesting opinion..hmm..point of view actually.
    Those of us that grew up with film photography realized early on that the only way to get the control we had processing and printing in our chemical filled dark rooms was to select RAW.
    RAW offers us the endless creative options that we once could pull from film.
    JPG is so damn limiting and doesn’t match the quality of film. Gosh, that lossy little image file has so few colour spaces. (much fewer than colour film)
    I choose to use RAW because it gives so much more to an image.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I shoot street and have mostly shot Raw and fine Jpeg for a while now. My camera is the Panasonic Lumix GX80/85. I find the Jpegs from The GX80 are very nice. I was coming home and uploading raw files to lightroom and spending time editing raw files to produce images that look consistent, usually creating pre sets to achieve continuity and to save me time. Not all cameras produce nice Jpegs but if your camera produces Jpegs you like the look of then make the most if shooting Jpegs. I find shooting Jpeg gives my work a continuity spending very little time adjusting contrast and exposure until I am happy with the results. I sometimes shoot raw depending on what I am shooting but for my general day to day street shooting Jpeg is good for me.


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