Photographing in high resolution and saving images in JPG (JPEG) format instead of RAW format for online use can be a practical choice in certain situations. Here are some reasons why photographers may opt for JPG over RAW when preparing images for online purposes:

1. File Size and Bandwidth: • Reduced File Size: JPG files are generally smaller compared to RAW files, allowing for faster upload and download times. This is particularly important for online platforms where users may have limited bandwidth.

2. Ease of Sharing: • Compatibility: JPG is a widely supported format, making it easy to share and view images on various devices and platforms without the need for specialised software.

3. Storage Space: • Conservation of Space: JPG files take up less storage space compared to RAW files. This can be advantageous when dealing with limited storage capacity, especially on websites and online galleries.

4. Editing and Processing: • Simplified Editing: JPG files are already processed and compressed by the camera, making them suitable for quick edits without the need for extensive post-processing. This can be beneficial for photographers who want to share images promptly.

5. Speed of Workflow: • Faster Workflow: Since JPG files do not require as much post-processing as RAW files, photographers can save time in their workflow, which is crucial for quick sharing on social media or online platforms.

6. Web Optimisation: • Optimised for Web: JPG is a format well-suited for web use, as it provides a good balance between image quality and file size. Many websites and social media platforms automatically compress and optimize uploaded JPG images.

7. Compatibility with Online Platforms: • Standard Format: Many online platforms and social media websites prefer JPG as the standard format for image uploads. Uploading in RAW may not be supported or might be automatically converted to JPG.

8. Storage and Backup Considerations: • Simplified Backup: Managing and backing up JPG files can be more straightforward than dealing with the larger and more complex RAW files, especially when storage space is a concern.

It’s important to note that the decision to shoot in JPG or RAW depends on the specific needs and preferences of the photographer, as well as the intended use of the images. While JPG is often more convenient for online sharing, RAW files retain more information and provide greater flexibility for advanced post-processing. Photographers may choose the format that best aligns with their workflow and the final purpose of the images.

If you are considering moving towards product or online e-commerce photography and have doubt in setup and quality optimisation to meet the high standards of your client, I suggest you attend a short Editing workshop. This will provide you with the knowledge and know how to meet the expectations of the job. Remember, certain cameras are not suited for this purpose due to the large image sizes that are generated.  My advice is to make sure you use a camera that is best designed for this purpose, along with the most suitable lens for your online genre.

Why are Raw images when optimised for web loose image quality.

When RAW images are optimised for the web, it might seem counterintuitive that there is a potential loss in image quality. However, there are a few reasons why this could happen:

1. File Compression: • When optimising images for the web, compression algorithms are often applied to reduce file sizes. While compression helps in faster loading times and better web performance, it inherently involves some degree of information loss. In the case of lossy compression (common in JPG format), some details are sacrificed to achieve smaller file sizes.

2. Colour Space Conversion: • RAW files can store a wider range of colours (a larger colour space) compared to what can be displayed on typical monitors and browsers (sRGB color space). During optimisation for the web, colour spaces may be converted to a more standard format, leading to a perceived loss in colour depth.

3. Resolution Reduction: • Web optimisation often involves resizing images to match the dimensions required by the website or platform. During this process, the image resolution may be reduced, leading to a loss of detail, especially if the resizing is significant.

4. Sharpening and Filtering: • Some web optimisation processes involve applying sharpening and filtering to enhance perceived sharpness on digital screens. While this can improve visual appeal, it may also introduce artefacts and affect the overall image quality.

5. Conversion to Lossy Formats: • RAW files are typically lossless, meaning they contain all the original image data. However, when converting RAW files to lossy formats like JPG, some data is discarded to achieve compression. This can result in a reduction in image quality, especially when using high compression settings.

6. Browser Rendering: • Different web browsers may render images slightly differently, affecting the perceived quality. Some browsers may not fully support certain features embedded in RAW files, and as a result, the image may be displayed in a way that doesn’t fully represent the original quality. It’s important to note that the extent of quality loss during web optimization can vary based on the specific techniques and settings used during the process. Photographers and web developers often strive to find a balance between file size reduction for faster loading times and retaining sufficient image quality for a visually pleasing experience. If preserving the highest quality is a priority, alternatives like using higher-quality image formats (e.g., PNG) or providing downloadable RAW files might be considered, though these may come with trade-offs such as larger file sizes.

How to avoid losing quality when images are compressed from RAW Preserving image quality while compressing RAW files involves a careful balance between reducing file size for efficient storage and maintaining as much detail and information as possible.

Tips to help you minimise quality loss when compressing RAW images:

1. Use Lossless Compression: When saving RAW files, choose lossless compression options if available. Many cameras offer the option to compress RAW files without sacrificing image quality. This retains all the original data while reducing file size.

2. Choose the Right File Format: If your camera allows you to save RAW files in different formats (e.g., proprietary RAW formats like Canon CR2 or Adobe DNG), experiment with different options to find the one that offers the best balance between file size and quality.

3. Adjust Compression Settings: If you’re converting RAW files to a compressed format like JPEG, use the lowest compression settings possible. High-quality JPEG compression can reduce file size without significant loss of detail. Avoid aggressive compression, especially when creating an archive of high-quality images.

4. Use 16-Bit Depth: Save your RAW files with a 16-bit depth if your camera supports it. This provides more colour information and dynamic range compared to 8-bit depth, allowing for better flexibility during post-processing without introducing artefacts.

5. Minimise Resizing: Try to avoid resizing RAW images unless it is necessary. Resizing can lead to a loss of detail, especially if you are making images smaller. If resizing is required, do it before any compression or processing to minimise the impact on image quality.

6. Keep Original Files: Always keep a copy of your original, uncompressed RAW files. This ensures that you have the highest-quality source material available for future editing or printing, even if you choose to compress images for specific purposes.

7. Utilise Archiving Formats: Consider archiving your RAW files in a lossless compression format or an uncompressed format like TIFF. While these file formats result in larger file sizes, they maintain the highest quality and can be used as a long-term archival solution.

8. Fine-Tune Post-Processing: During post-processing, be mindful of the adjustments you make. Some edits, such as extreme contrast adjustments or sharpening, can introduce artefacts. Use a light touch and consider making adjustments gradually to minimise any negative impact on image quality.

9. Regularly Update Software: Ensure that your image processing software is up-to-date. Updates may include improvements in compression algorithms and overall image quality, so staying current with software releases can be beneficial. Remember that some degree of compromise is inevitable when compressing files, and the key is finding a balance that suits your specific needs. Experiment with different settings and formats to determine the optimal compression strategy for your workflow while maintaining the desired level of image quality.

Conclusion: While the decision between JPG and RAW depends on specific needs, understanding the challenges of optimising RAW for the web and implementing strategies to preserve image quality can empower photographers to make informed choices in their workflow. Balancing file size and image quality is key to delivering visually pleasing content online.