Most of my images are in RAW format. When I bring an image into Photoshop, does it make a difference whether it's a JPEG or RAW? I understand the difference between JPEGs and RAW images. I'm just wondering if it is better to bring in a JPEG or RAW into Photoshop, not Camera RAW?

  • 3
    Hi Ryan. Not to be snarky, but the fact that you're asking this question indicates that you might be unclear on the difference between JPEG and RAW at some level, since that difference (sort of by definition) has to be behind any answer comparing use of the two. So, I think it'd help if you could explain your understanding of those differences, and say what's left to wonder about. Thanks!
    – mattdm
    Nov 21 '11 at 22:00
  • I'd try to answer this question but I don't actually use Photoshop. Does it have a more-simple RAW converter that it can use other than the Camera Raw plugin?
    – mattdm
    Nov 22 '11 at 3:04
  • @mattdm - Nope. Adobe Camera Raw is how you bring them in.
    – Joanne C
    Nov 22 '11 at 4:05

The short answer to this question is: The raw option is better.

The slightly longer answer is: The raw image data gives you the chance, in ACR, to effectively "develop" the image based on your own desires and do that many times in a non-destructive manner with a lot more data available because it's the base data for the image. Drop into jpeg and you've already started with data being lost, partly a result of the 8 bit image format, but also because jpeg is lossy in compression. So, you've already dropped some color information and you've also discarded some pixels. Not to mention, your start point is what the camera maker decided was a "good" result.

So, seriously, there is no condition in which jpeg is superior to raw when you have the time ans space to deal with the image. The only time I would recommend jpeg is when you won't have the time to post-process, but in the last 4 or 5 years, for me, that has never happened... Your mileage may vary.

  • Thank you John for the great answer!!! I just have one more question. What is the difference when adjusting settings like exposure, in Camera RAW and in Photoshop? I noticed that when I take the exposure all the way up in Camera RAW it looks way different when I pull the image into Photoshop first and then take the exposure all the way up. Thanks for the help! Im just learning photoshop and want to really understand the difference with Photoshop and Camera RAW.
    – Ryan
    Nov 22 '11 at 20:15
  • @Ryan - ACR is about development of the raw data and so is about adjusting how to read the sensor data. Photoshop is dealing with a bitmap image, the data has already been interpreted and so adjustments are against that. Another factor is that you're probably bringing the image into Photoshop as an 8 bit image, so some info is being discarded. Look at the bottom of the ACR module to see how it will send it to
    – Joanne C
    Nov 23 '11 at 2:17
  • Continued.... Send it to PS. It's the default to be 8 bit.
    – Joanne C
    Nov 23 '11 at 2:18

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