As a postscript to my most recent post on shooting in RAW vs. JPEG, I listened to a very interesting webinar this week, offered by the Professional Photographers of America. The speaker, Gregg Martin of Gregg Martin Photography, shared his experiences and advice for sports action photography. He’s an expert with several decades of experience shooting game action for collegiate and pro sports teams. Gregg was the 2011 South Carolina Photographer of the Year. He had some very interesting things to say about shooting in RAW vs JPEG.
In short, he never shoots in RAW. Not because it does not have its benefits and merits, but because the files are too large for his needs. Gregg said he simply cannot afford for the camera to slow down or the buffer to fill up writing the image files to the card nor can he afford the time to download and process the images. Game action happens too quick, and he has to be ready to get the shot in a split second. After the game, he is under time pressure to download the files, select the best shots, do some quick retouching and then get them to the client.
Gregg uses Lightroom 4 exclusively, as it has everything he needs to edit his images. Lightroom 4, by the way, has many of the same editing sliders used to process / edit RAW files in Photoshop Camera Raw. He also comes more from a photo journalist perspective than perhaps most Schutzhund photographers. His goal is to get best shots and get them out the door as quickly as possible. As a rule photo journalists are not at liberty to make artistic changes. I suspect that most Schutzhund photographers, like me, love to artistically work with the images as much as taking them.
So, for me it comes down to a simple question: What are my needs? If I am planning on using the images online or printing in a format that does not require large image size or amazing quality, then maybe JPEG is a good choice. If, on the other hand, I am planning to create high quality and/or large prints, artwork, or a photo book like The Art of Schutzhund: A Photographic Essay, then RAW is the better bet. With RAW, planning the shot is even more critical due to file sizes and writing time. With JPEG, there is more flexibility, as the smaller files sizes allows the photographer to capture a longer burst than with RAW.
I agree RAW creates more detailed, higher quality images, but as Schutzhund is a fast action sport, the downside of shooting in RAW cannot be ignored. JPEGs are perfectly fine; nothing wrong in shooting in that format. Both work but for different purposes. For those unfamiliar with shooting in RAW and want to give it a try, you will need an editing program that can handle RAW images, as one reader found out the hard way. I should have mentioned that in my last post. My apologies!
In closing, thank you to all who have commented and visited. Your encouragement, thoughts and comments are very much appreciated. As noted, next post will look at auto focus.