Should I Shoot RAW or JPEG

Having pancakes for breakfast every Sunday morning is a long standing tradition in our  home. I’m not sure when it actually started, but it’s what we have done almost every Sunday morning – rain, hail or shine – for the past decade or so .

So what have pancakes on a Sunday morning go to do with photography – let alone the shoot RAW or JPEG discussion?

Be warned – this could be the most ridiculous story that you”ll ever read about shooting RAW or JPEG!

Before I explain and present my very tongue in cheek approach about whether to shoot RAW or JPEG, I need to acknowledge a story I read recently on the Gemma Knight Writes blog in which she says about publishing a post – “feel the fear and write it any way“.

Yes – I did feel the fear before publishing this story. How will readers react? Will they laugh with me because they find the story funny? Will they laugh at me because they find the story utterly ridiculous? Or will they actually identify with what I am saying?

I do have some crazy ideas pop into my head from time to time, so prepare yourself for a silly story, and read on…


This idea for this story came about as I made the pancakes last Sunday morning. While mixing the ingredients I thought – wow – this is like converting a RAW file to a JPEG. I know – that is a long bow to draw but remember I did say this is a tongue in cheek story.

Here are the components of my RAW file – yep – the raw ingredients…milk, eggs, flour and salt. You wouldn’t really want to eat the raw ingredients individually other than maybe drink the milk, but mix them all together and you can end up with really tasty pancakes!


raw ingredients used to make basic pancakes

RAW ingredients

I can take my RAW ingredients and mix them in a variety of different ways to arrive at my tasty pancakes. These are my JPEGs.

The actual recipe I generally use is:

      • 400ml of milk;
      • 6 oz of flour;
      • 3 eggs; and
      • A wee bit of salt.
      • Combine each raw ingredient – more or less according to taste – in a bowl and mix well;
      • Put a dab of butter in a 20cm pan set to a moderate heat; and cook according to taste and/or appearance.



The finished product

As you can see the finished pancakes above are all a little different – almost like three different exposures – 0EV, -1EV and +1EV.

See – I told you this was very tongue in cheek!

This shows that the  same RAW file can be processed to produce different JPEGs. I could add another egg to the mix to make the overall colour a little more yellow; or I could use a little more heat or less heat to make the pancakes darker (under exposed) or lighter (over exposed) – or is that doing and burning? ….and so on.

Now – I know what you’re thinking here. Once you’ve cooked your pancakes – i.e. converted the RAW file to JPEGs – you can’t go back and reprocess the RAW file because the mixture is all gone. Yep – that’s where my comparison falls apart. So make some more mix or go and shoot the RAW files again – as I have had to do occasionally.


And don’t forget you can get quite fancy with your workflow by using layers!

Start with a few strips of bacon on a pancake with a little maple syrup drizzled over it. Then add another pancake layer and this time add a topping of sliced banana again drizzled with maple syrup. Then top the stack off topped off with another pancake layer with maple syrup spread.

It’s yummy!

Pancakes, bacon, banana and maple syrup

Pancakes, bacon, banana and maple syrup


pancake bacon bananas and maple syrup

Stacked pancake layers

So what did I actually learn from this silly little story? Should I shoot RAW or JPEG?

Well – to cover all eventualities I will leave my cameras set to shoot RAW plus JPEG fine. That way I should always end up with an acceptable pancake – sorry, JPEG.

See – I told you it was a silly story!

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Rick - The Occasional Photoblogger

I am Invercargill photographer Rick Harvey – aka The Occasional Photoblogger. I consider myself an opportunist photographer and enjoy taking photographs of ordinary things I see around me, and try to make them appear a little less ordinary and interesting, and while it is always nice to have others appreciate my images, my primary goal is to take photographs that make me happy.

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