I generally only shoot RAW when shooting in tricky light situations. Otherwise i shoot JPEG . Should i be doing ETTR for the JPEG shooting as well ? Or is it only a technique that is useful when shooting RAW ?

To clarify, i am NOT talking about the situation where i want to use the JPGs without ANY post processing whatsoever. Obviously , for those situations , ETTR would do nothing but overexpose the image badly

I am talking about the situations when i am shooting in JPGs and post processing them as well. In those cases, is there any benefit of doing ETTR ?

  • \$\begingroup\$ By "ETTR" do you mean "exposing to the right"? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 8:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RomeoNinov Yes \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 8:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @silverrahul Do you post process your JPEG images? \$\endgroup\$
    – qrk
    Jul 3, 2021 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Check the clarification i added in the question. For some situations, i do and some situations i do not. Obviously, for the situations i do not, i would not do ETTR, it wont make sense at all. I am talking about the situations where i do post process the JPGs \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you explain why you would want to use JPG when you are post-processing anyway? Are you concerned with file size? \$\endgroup\$
    – slingeraap
    Jul 7, 2021 at 12:52

4 Answers 4


It depends on whether you are planning to postprocess, like lifting shadows or other contrast adjustments. JPEG compression relies on throwing image information away that it considers indistinguishable to the viewer. If you postprocess in a manner that makes stuff more visible, JPEG compression may already have thrown away what it thinks you don't need. An ETTR JPEG will for that reason usually take up more disk space than a normally exposed JPEG, and creating your final product by toning the ETTR JPEG down rather than raising portions of the normally exposed image will work better.

So if you are going to postprocess in any manner, the benefits of ETTR are larger than even with raw processing, because of JPEG processing. Of course using raw with ETTR will still be better.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "If you're planning to posrtprocess": by shooting JPEG, isn't one implicitly choosing not to postprocess and let the camera do all the work? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 12:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SaaruLindestøkke Raw file processing is camera-specific, JPEG processing isn't. One consequence is that there is a wagonload more of programs capable of working with JPEG files than there is for working with raw files. That makes it likely that people find applications they are comfortable working with in JPEG easier than for working with raw. As a consequence, lots of people actually use JPEG even though postprocessing comparatively frequently. It is not hard to find JPEG/raw wars on typical photography forums. \$\endgroup\$
    – user98068
    Jul 3, 2021 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SaaruLindestøkke Jpgs can be processed and frequently are with great success. Often with less work as well. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SaaruLindestøkke How would a question about ETTR as opposed to target exposure even make sense under the assumption of no postprocessing? \$\endgroup\$
    – user98068
    Jul 3, 2021 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SaaruLindestøkke I added clarification to the question. When i asked about ETTR for jpeg, i did not mean the situations where i do not post process the JPEGs. There are definitely situations where i shoot JPEG so that i do not have to edit. But that is NOT the situation i am asking about . ETTR for those situations would surely not make any sense. But there are some situations where i shoot in JPG with the intent to post process them, In those situations would ETTR provide similar benefits as in the case of RAW ? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 19:46

As far as I am concerned, no, because ETTR will require post-processing, and global color adjustments on 8-bit/channel images entails color loss. So you have better get the JPEG as correctly exposed as possible.


If you are exposing to the right by increasing the amount of light collected (AP/SS) then you are maximizing the amount of light collected, and maximizing the amount of data/information for generating the picture (and increases recorded dynamic range).

If you are applying higher ISO (ITTR), then no...there is no real benefit as ISO is not exposure/information (reduces recorded DR/data).

If you are exposing to the right by pulling the exposure (actually ETTL) in order to save highlights, then it is a tradeoff... recorded data/DR remains the same, it just changes which end is where the loss/clipping occurs.

Jpeg or raw doesn't really make any difference...

  • \$\begingroup\$ this answer states some general facts about ETTR which are not in question, then proceeds to falsely claim there is no difference between jpeg and raw when post processing clearly differs. \$\endgroup\$
    – ths
    Jul 5, 2021 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ths... I think you misunderstood the statement. ETTR has the same benefit whether recording jpeg or raw; and raw files have the same advantages whether ETTR or not. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 5, 2021 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ if you do ettr, you need to do post processing. the question is if the benefits of ettr outweigh the degradation by pp, which are different to raw pp. \$\endgroup\$
    – ths
    Jul 5, 2021 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ths, the question is/was "does ETTR provide any benefit" if recording jpegs... the answer is yes, the same benefits as when recording raw. Post processing was a given (last para); and there was nothing about outweighing degradation by automatic/camera processing (which can be largely mitigated by using low jpeg/picture settings). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 5, 2021 at 23:26

If someone is getting the results they want without deliberately Exposing to the Right, I am not sure why they would change. But anyway…

The math is the same. Bits are bits. Having fewer in a jpg file doesn’t change that.

The most significant bit always carries twice as much information as the less significant bits. The high bit of an eight bit jpg channel carries 128 values, or half the 256 possible values for red, green, or blue.

None of this means you should expose to the right.

Whether you shoot jpg or RAW, the best exposure is proper exposure. Proper exposure means that you are not fixing errors in post.

Exposure to the right is not the same thing as proper exposure.

Proper exposure is a matter of intent not a case of applying a rule. Proper exposure is about making the picture you intend not deciding on the best it-looks-ok later.

If you are happy with the way your jpgs are turning out, why would you want to change what is not broken?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying , that ETTR is useless even in RAW mode ? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @silverrahul I said no such thing. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ The math on this doesn't work. Sure, the last bit carries 'half the information' [not twice, half] but only because it can use all the lower bits 'again'. It doesn't in itself explain why or why not to ETTR. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 3, 2021 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetsujin The perceived benefits of ETTR are the same for jpg as for RAW because the maths don’t change. Bits are bits…and so any perceived problems with ETTR don’t change either from RAW to Jpg. The question is not “How ETTR is better?” - a question which begs the question. What ETTR does is capture more information because it captures more photons and the number and frequency (color) of the photons is what photographic media record. What we actually care about is another matter altogether. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2021 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're not actually responding to the point I made. Your math is wrong & your explanation is a non sequitur. ETTR 'uses more bits' so more bits are available when post processing, otherwise information gone in the blacks is gone forever, just the same as if you blew out the whites. ETTR preserves bits of information, for post processing. That is its purpose. The bit-depth allows for more information to be kept; shooting 'too dark' throws some of that information away. If you're not ever going to post-pro, then that's unimportant & you shoot for what you want to see straight out the camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 3, 2021 at 18:37

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