You may already notice by now that your DSLR can shoot and save images in either RAW or JPEG. Let’s break these two formats down: RAW files are uncompressed and unprocessed snapshots of all of the detail available to the camera sensor. Because RAW files are unprocessed, they come out looking flat and dark. RAW images need to be viewed and processed using your camera’s software or in more robust commonly used software like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, etc prior to being ready for display or print. JPEG files are processed right within the camera. How exactly they are processed varies from model to model. While color temperature and exposure are set based on your camera settings when the image is shot, the camera will also process the image to add blacks, contrast, brightness, noise reduction, sharpening (which you can see in the example above) and then render the file to a compressed JPEG. These files are finished and can be viewed and printed immediately after shot. When to use each? RAW: + Photograph in not-so-perfect light conditions + Want a perfect white balance + Want quality photos for your portfolio and clients + Want full control over the final look of your image + Print large photos and posters JPEG: + Photograph in perfect daylight conditions + Want a quick workflow + Don’t need to do much post-processing + Want to save space on your hard drive + Take everyday snapshots In Summary, RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.