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The Great Switch: From RAW to JPEG

I appreciate that this isn’t technically ‘travel-related’, but photography is such a big part of what I do here that I just had to write this post. It’s mainly for the photographers out there though you could just be interested for a bit of background to my images!  For a rundown of my gear for travel photography, just click here.


In a debate that’s been around as long as digital cameras, RAW has always come out on top.  For those unfamiliar, a RAW image is essentially a digital negative stored directly from the camera’s sensor.  Once you get that file into an editing software such as Lightroom, you are able to manipulate it to your heart’s content.  Compared to a JPEG (an image that’s already been processed), RAW stores so much more detail meaning that you can safely adjust the exposure and edit without image destruction.

Since I started getting serious with photography eight years ago, I always shot RAW and spent many hours editing.  I mean, everyone tells you to shoot RAW and, back then at least, JPEG’s looked awful.  I had no choice.

As a travel photographer, I can often come back from a trip with thousands of photos and all need painstakingly editing which is VERY time-consuming.  Time is precious and, whilst I love digital developing images, I need another option.

Enter Fujifilm

I read another blogger’s post the other day setting out how to choose your first camera.  Everyone thinks that for ‘proper’ photography you need a DSLR and this particular blogger posed one question; Canon or Nikon?  It’s always between Canon or Nikon. Well guys, let me tell you, for me at least, the answer to the above question is Fujifilm.  As many of you may know, back in early 2017 I converted to mirrorless with the incredible X-T2.  Fujifilm users have been described as being like vegans, they won’t shut up about their choice.  I guess I’m exactly the same but it’s just because I want you to know how good these cameras are.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic.

Fujifilm know colours.  They’ve been producing amazing quality films for years.  All that research and development has been passed to Fujifilm’s cameras in the form of Film Simulations.  A bit like Picture Styles on other cameras, you can choose between a number of different film looks directly in camera. Whenever I take a photo, I review it almost immediately on the camera’s rear screen and am always blown away by how amazing it looks.  The colours are just incredible.

For some reason though, I shot in RAW so all of that lovely colour is lost when you import into Lightroom.  You essentially have to start again.  All of my RAW processing has been to try and achieve what the original JPEG looked like.  Doesn’t that sound stupid?  I spend hours and hours editing thousands of photos simply to achieve what the camera had already done for me. As we travelled Australia, I had thought of shooting just JPEG a few times but always convinced myself not to.  I would always have the flexibility to change a photo’s look and colour but, if you think about, that kind of takes the fun out of it.  I try to get the image as perfect as possible in camera just like you would have done in the film days.  Once you shot a photo on a particular film, that look was ingrained in it.  Consistency is key.

What Next

I still have 500 unedited photos from just two weeks in Bali and something has to give.  Just like many other Fujifilm shooters, I’ve now set up my camera for shooting JPEGS only. I’m leaving RAW behind (almost).  I’ve created seven different in-camera ‘presets’ (just like you would do in Lightroom).  I love the Astia film for day to day images (almost all of my photos have Astia as the base) and Classic Chrome for street images. I’m going to test out shooting this way for the remainder of my travels and, if I’m honest, I’m a little nervous.  For situations of high dynamic range, RAW is perfect as you can brighten the shadows or darken the highlights by several stops.  I find RAW is also great for shooting night landscapes.  There are then a few situations where I may have no choice but to switch back to RAW (albeit plus JPEG).

Hopefully, you won’t even notice a difference in my photos as, like I said, I have always tried to emulate my own camera’s colours.  It should however save me heaps of time which I can put to good use elsewhere.

I’d love to hear from photographers who only shoot JPEG or, if you’ll only shoot RAW, let me know why! If you fancy joining the mirrorless revolution and loving photography again, I’d seriously consider the Fujifilm X-T series.  I’ve got the X-T2 although the new X-T3 looks amazing!

**Guess what! It’s been five years since I posted this article discussing switching from RAW to JPEG and I haven’t looked back. Fujifilm JPEG’s have taken the world by storm. If only I could have foreseen just how popular shooting JPEG would have become, I probably wouldn’t have been nervous at all. I’d probably have started a YouTube channel too for $$$.

22 thoughts on “The Great Switch: From RAW to JPEG”

  1. I always shoot RAW. There may be something that I need to clean up later or some detail I want to bring out. You can set your camera to make a RAW and a JPG just in case. I can understand not wanting to bother around in post-processing.

  2. Wonderful blog mate and it poses an important question for Fujifilm shooters. Personally, I always shoot RAW as I like the control that gives me in post processing. But it sure is tempting to just let that camera do its thing and push out a high quality JPEG. Cheers. G

  3. Thanks for commenting Greg! Yeah that’s what I might miss about RAW but if I do end up with JPEG + RAW then I’ve got the best of both worlds! I just love the quality direct from camera and never seem to be able to quite replicate it in Lightroom!


    An interesting and brave choice! I have a Fuji X100T which I took up Kilimanjaro and must agree the colours are beautiful – but I still shot RAW and edited everything afterwards. Normally I shoot on my Canon 5D IV in RAW, but I agree about the workload – I came back from Uganda with over 4000 photos to edit! So I’m slowly working my way through them (light tweaks only and lots of Lightroom presets!) but I do agree it’s a pain. I’m not sure what the answer is though, not sure I’d ever be happy with an image straight out of the camera!

  5. Thanks for your comment! Your pictures are fantastic! I just wanted to see whether it was something thay would work for me…I’ve been through my Singapore photos where I shot RAW & JPG – the JPGS are really nice and with a tiny bit of added contrast I’m happy with them! I think I’ll still have the RAWs as backup – once I get my Singapore photos up I’d be interested to hear your thoughts! Thank you


    Like you, I’ve been shooting RAW for many years. I agree with you over the editing load that it creates, but I just can’t make myself give it up, even though my Olympus is more than capable of creating excellent JPEGS. RAW just gives me the peace of mind that the occasional ‘duff’ shots can more easily be salvaged.

    1. I’ve spent a good few months now shooting JPEG (admittedly with RAW as backup) and I absolutely love it. I agree that I couldn’t do away with RAW completely as I have had one or two shots that needed further editing (high dynamic range) but 99% of the time I’m happy with the JPEGS! Thank you for taking the time to comment too!

  7. This is interesting! I’m not a pro photographer by any stretch but I do enjoy photography, and when I upgraded to my mirrorless camera I got excited being able to finally shoot in RAW. But actually I didn’t find much difference in the quality so now I just do JPEG and I’m happy with that! If I was shooting professionally it might be different, but this has made me feel better about my decision haha.

  8. It’s all software anyway. Discussions of raw versus jpeg are like whether you like iphones or android. Its always worth starting a discussion because you might get new information (I appreciated the information about fujifilm, have to check this out). But I find that I stop listening when ideology outruns information.I liked the B&Ws and the photo of the train.


    I enjoy your website! Quick question. Is there a way to edit in-camera a raw file with a specific custom preset that’s already made? or must the user change each individual setting every time?

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