Whether you’ve ever handled a semi-professional camera or even like to consume news and information about photography and the technology attached to it, the acronyms JPEG and RAW have already been part of some reading or conversation among enthusiasts of the world of this noble art.
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However, even so, it is possible that some people still confuse or have an incomplete understanding of how important it is to choose to use one of these file formats thinking about the quality of their work.
And it was precisely thinking of bringing an explanation as didactic as possible that photographer Chris Lee used even two bowls of cereal to point out the essential elements in understanding what is, effectively, the composition of a JPEG file and the composition of a RAW file.
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In his explanations, the greater focus was given to the explanation of how the structure of the RAW file is composed because, in the case of JPEG, the idea was to demonstrate that it is the result of the whole constructive process made by the camera. That is, it is the absolute translation of what the camera sensors have captured and applied in a format where most computer programs will be able to read them and obviously demonstrate the results for evaluation and, if necessary, editing.
For RAW, the idea was to unravel the unique characteristics of this type of photographic file using the analogy of different colors of cereal grains, the nutritional information contained in the box and even possible gifts contained in the packaging. All for a complete and simplified understanding.
Check out the parallel created by Chris Lee for the RAW file:
Unlike JPEG, a RAW file is not necessarily an image. It is, in short, a binary data junction that represents what your camera’s sensor recorded at the time you clicked. You need software like Lightroom or Captue One that you can understand how to read and convert that file or this data into something you can see, edit, or eventually share on social media or deliver to customers.
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(…) If an entire cereal box were the RAW file, then:
– The varied colors of the cereal are the sensor data. And this data can be manipulated more specifically in post-production than jpeg file data. For example, you can take all the green and blue grains out of the cereal and put it in your own pot. This is much easier to do with a RAW and will yield better results;
– The ingredients on the box side are the metadata of the RAW file. Think of them as the data itself, the lens used, the date the photo was taken, ISO settings and so on.
– Inside the box, including the camera image sensor data, is a small, low-resolution “preview” jpeg image. This JPEG image is used by various programs to show a preview of your RAW file quickly so you have a reference point to begin your selection and editing process.
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