Newbie question here. I shot an image in low light in jpeg format and it's crisp, but when I shoot raw in plain day at 1/125, my image looks blurry most of the time. Unless I max out the sharpness gain, and even so they're not as crisp as when shot directly in jpeg or using a phone.

Below I have two images for comparison. The first image was shot with the settings to save as JPEG. I shot the second image of the flower in RAW, then saved as JPEG in Adobe Camera Raw without making any edits. The image was shot at 1/125 f25 at 55mm (plus crop factor) with VR enabled. - I don't think at this focal length and speed the movement provoked by pressing the shutter would be an issue, would it?

Both were shot with the same Nikon D5500 DSLR with the basic 18-55 3.5 lens.

I like the flexibility shooting in RAW format gives, but I hate finding all my pictures a bit blurry. What settings do the camera applies when it saves as JPEG and how can I edit my pictures in Camera RAW to achieve the same baseline sharpness ? Is there a good read about the RAW format vs saving in JPEG to get me started ?

crisp example saved as jpeg Although the DOF is short, the ball that is in the front is very crisp. We can see the dust on the glass bowl. flower blurry Image shot in RAW, not as crisp. I am not seeing the details on the petals as much as I would like.

PS. I am aware the two images are hard to compare, but I am using them just to express my question. It's not meant to be a scientific analysis but a means to communicate my question. I have many other images which were shot in RAW and present the same issue. My question is : am I missing something obvious that could explain this ?


  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Hey Emile, welcome to the site! I'd recommend setting up an easy scenario where you capture the same image in both RAW and JPEG and compare. Something like a studio setting (your first image) would be ideal for this comparison. The two images you posted are so different that they are not really fair to compare. The lack of sharpness in the 2nd image doesn't have to do with RAW. Check out posts here such as this one - Why do RAW images look worse than JPEGs in editing programs? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Nov 17, 2019 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: Good examples of RAW's advantages over JPEG? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Nov 17, 2019 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ How much wind was there when you shot the outdoor flower? The difference may not be due to raw vs. jpeg. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt I'd also suggest using a stable camera mount so that camera movement due to handholding may also be eliminated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The idea that you can view raw image files "without applying any editing" is a myth. Anytime you open a raw image file using an application to view it as an image on a monitor, there are development settings applied to the raw data. If you don't specify particular development settings, ACR will use it own default settings. The result is only one of a near countless number of legitimate interpretations of the raw image data. There's no such thing as a "straight out of camera" raw file that looks anything like we would expect it to look. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


There are some rather unnatural halos that hint that the camera's internal sharpening goes up to the secret "11" mark:

enter image description here

There is no real purpose shooting "raw" if you don't intend to spend significant time on the picture later...

  • \$\begingroup\$ You could do the same with a high pass filter from the RAW if you really wanted. On the example posted it's a bit painful as it's too small - i.stack.imgur.com/pBXDD.jpg - but from the original, I'm sure you could get some subtle results. I do agree, though - if you're never going to want to tweak to the nth degree, RAW might not be what you need. With Nikon, though, I'd always advocate using RAW & ViewNX-i to get the best out of it, even if you go through Photoshop & end up saving as jpg. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 17, 2019 at 14:52

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