What is a RAW file? Should you choose it over JPEG? Why?
Simply put... YES, you should choose to use it! However, let me give you some information about RAW files and their differences with JPEG; after that, you will probably make the same choice.
RAW files are uncompressed data collected from your camera’s sensor. When you choose to shoot in RAW format, the final image that you get in your memory card contains all the color range, depth, and dynamic range that your sensor captured. This is something that you want. It’s one of the main advantages of digital cameras. With all the details available to work with, you can choose how the final image will look. It gives you much more flexibility while editing. The only drawback is that you have to process through either lightroom, photoshop, or another picture-editing program in order to get the final deliverable product in your hands.
JPEG files are compressed and processed files, handled by your camera’s processor. The camera basically gives you a ready-made product that usually looks good (and sometimes even more than good), but it deprives you of the freedom to make the picture look how YOU want it to look. You can still edit JPEG files but consider that you already have less data at your disposal.
For example, a RAW file can be between 20-150MB, while a JPEG file varies between 1-20MB. We’re talking about a great deal of extra data and colors.
You might not be interested in editing or retouching pictures; it sounds like a hassle to many people. You can always stick to shooting in JPEG and keeping these files as they are, but for the sake of the time and money that you’ve already spent on camera gear or this book, give a try at shooting in RAW and then editing. Play with just the basic things like contrast and white balance, and trust me... you will never change back!
There is often the option to save both formats on your memory cards. It might take up more space, but it can come in handy if you want to deliver a fast sample to your client or share a photo with friends on the spot.