There will be discussions taking place on forums all over the world, about whether the best file format to shoot in is RAW or JPEG. Whilst there will be arguments for both and for some, it is dependant on the equipment available, we believe choosing RAW has some undeniable benefits for product photographers, as well as other industries such as fashion photography.
What do we mean by RAW?
Put simply – this format is an image in its most natural form, recording everything without any kind of compression of information, as you would find with other formats such as JPEG. As a result, using the RAW file allows for far greater detail, quality and perhaps importantly, the ability to make corrections.
Here are five reasons why choosing RAW will help you achieve those perfect product images:
Quality & Detail
The ultimate goal of a product photographer is to create the most attractive and interesting images possible, helping drive traffic to websites, improve conversions or promote services on marketing materials. Shooting in the RAW format maximises the quality and detail available in two stages: firstly, through fully utilising the data recorded by the camera sensor, maximising quality. Secondly, you’re able to utilise the algorithms in editing suites such as Lightroom, that offer far greater detail than the inbuilt equivalents.
You may have planned everything carefully, set up your equipment to offer the perfect image, but sometimes mistakes can happen! It may be that you’re photographing products outdoors or equipment breaks and you end with images that are overexposed or imperfect in some way. Having the safety net of RAW format, you will be able to alter these images in editing software, without the concern of harming the quality, due to RAW holding far more information than formats such as JPEG.
Helping you edit
Perhaps one of the most useful aspects of a RAW file is that when you’re ready to edit it, you’re not altering the original file or the data within. In effect, you’re making a copy, choosing the changes you wish to make and then saving that copy as JPEG or any other format you choose. This means that if you make a mistake, you haven’t lost the original file and you can simply restart from the RAW file itself. It is also known that certain editing tools will reduce the quality of a JPEG each time you make changes and save it, gradually reducing its quality over time.
Prints of your products
There is still demand for printed copies of photographs and as a product photographer, this is particularly important when making marketing materials. A RAW file will offer you a better colour and tone gradient compared to other formats so that you don’t lose the power and impact of your photographs by printing them out.
It’s the professional choice
If a customer asks for your services, they want the best possible image you can provide and this is achieved through using the RAW format. The information contained in these files provides a foundation for you to create the highest quality, colour rich and detailed photographs that they could possibly wish for.