It’s actually a pretty simple answer in my opinion. If you’re a professional, yes! If you’re a mom taking pictures of your little ones, no. And for those of you in between, I would recommend practicing in RAW, but using JPG for those times when you just want to record the moment.
So what exactly is RAW? When you take a picture, your camera gives you a file. A RAW file is completely untouched and uncompressed. It’s meant for images that are going to be processed in an editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom. RAW images look kind of dull and are not very sharp straight out of the camera. JPG images are a standard format where the camera does the processing for you. It’s got more contrast and is usually sharper.
So why would you want to shoot in RAW then? Because you’ll have complete control over how you want your final image to look. If you shoot outside on a bright sunny day and end up overexposing the background, you can fix it. If you get an ugly yellow color cast from shooting indoors, you can fix that. You can control the amount of color, contrast, and exposure in your images. And the best part is, you won’t damage the original file.
The downsize to shooting in RAW is that the files are huge. They take up a lot more space on your memory card and your computer’s hard drive. Plus, you need a special program to open a RAW file. You can’t just upload the images to your computer and share.
Shooting in JPG is perfect if you are taking everyday snapshots of your kiddos. Plus, you can post to social media easily. And, if you don’t want to bother with post processing (editing the image), shooting in JPG will save you a ton of space on your computer.
As your skills grow and you begin to experiment shooting in manual, you might want to consider switching to RAW. While you’re practicing, it’s inevitable that you’ll mess up your exposure or get the white balance wrong. Shooting in RAW will allow you to fix this.