When to shoot in JPG mode?

Of course most photo teachers will say “never”. I’ve heard the instructors at some workshops say you should always shoot in RAW.

My last post about Fleet Week in San Francisco got me thinking about whether or not I’d shoot the Blue Angels air show images as JPGs. I think I would!

Why? Well once you’ve got your white balance set correctly you don’t need to be shooting in RAW which will allow you change the white balance in software. Most cameras will run faster shooting JPGs instead of RAW and if you’re shooting medium size JPGs (6 megs or so), you will still have images that will be perfect for online or projection display. In RAW you can change almost all of the shooting parameters including the actual colours in the image but if you’ve got your camera setup correctly while shooting in JPG mode, there’s going to be no need to change anything.

I shoot almost exclusively in JPG mode when I am doing my commercial special event photography. These images are normally used on websites or provided to guests as 8X10 prints and they don’t need all the heft of a RAW file to produce. Now if I think I might be asked for a poster-size print you can bet I’m shooting RAW / JPG images with the JPG image for convenience and the RAW image for photo editing prior to printing.

This summer I shot our local mayor’s charity baseball tournament. I shot over 2,000 JPG images in one day. That evening at the award’s dinner I had the best of the bunch edited for projection on an outdoor screen. Very cool. Very quick. Very pretty and best of all, very done. I wasn’t sitting behind a computer screen for days (and nights) editing, cropping and balancing RAW images.

Shooting is what makes photography fun for me. I like using software that very quickly allows me to create images my client’s love and then I can get out shooting again – which for me is what photography is all about.


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