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Do I Really Need to Be Shooting in RAW?

Published: 10/10/2019

Author: Tony Colangelo

Sandy from Port St. Lucie, FL, writes:

“I’m new to real estate photography and I’m trying to wrap my head around so many things. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos where different people say that for real estate photography, you don’t really need to shoot in RAW because the image is only going to show up as a small photo on the listing. I know I have a lot to learn and I’m sorry if I’m asking a noob question but what do you think, should I shoot RAW?”

Thanks Sandy--and there’s no need to apologize. As more and more people get into real estate photography and turn to PFRE for insight and education, it's important that we re-visit core pieces, so that newer shooters can get some definitive help... and you’ve certainly touched on a core piece in your question! Like yourself, I’ve also heard some folks say that shooting RAW is unnecessary but I just don’t buy it. Personally, I don't see this as even being a choice, let alone discussed. There are simply too many advantages in shooting RAW that can't be ignored. These include:

  • More information is available to you:  Shooting RAW gives you access to SO much more information in each capture. For instance, a JPEG file allows you to capture 256 levels of brightness (or shades of gray), whereas a RAW file allows you to capture thousands of levels! This additional capacity allows you to make so many more adjustments in your editing process--not the least of which is being able to easily correct under/over-exposed images.
  • Much better white balance (WB):  When you shoot in JPEG, the camera applies its own processing to convert the RAW data, including WB. As per the above-noted point, having extra info in RAW, allows you much more latitude to adjust WB.
  • Get better colour: There are others in our community who are far more experienced than I am, Sandy, at describing the intricacies of “color spaces” (and hopefully, some of them will chime in on this point). What I do know is that RAW allows you the ability to choose an appropriate color space based on how you’ll be using the photo.

The final point I want to make is a basic one, Sandy: If you’re going to be a professional photographer, then use the tools that will give you the best (and most professional) results. I know that I've only scratched the surface here and in fact, there are many other advantages of shooting in RAW, so I’m hoping others will throw in their two-cents. That said, I simply don’t see why anyone in our field would not want to shoot in RAW. Hope this helps, Sandy!

Tony Colangelo is a residential and commercial photographer, as well as a photography coach, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is a long-time contributor to PFRE and is the creator of The Art & Science of Great Composition tutorial series.

 

21 comments on “Do I Really Need to Be Shooting in RAW?”

  1. I could not agree with Tony more. While you might be able to get away with shooting in formats other than RAW, you would have to get the color, the exposure, the contrast all exactly perfect and that seldom happens with any photography. Think of the digital exposure as a negative and the processing of it as a digital darkroom. JPEG locks you in to the image with little wiggle room, that's why the image file is so much smaller. All the stuff you need to use in your digital darkroom is gone. Sort of like shooting with a Polaroid camera rather than with negative film.

    You can always downsize the image once it has been processed in your digital darkroom but you can't expand it out if you have already reduced the recorded image as a JPEG. So while you may deliver your processed images as JPEGs to your clients, you never, ever want to shoot them as a JPEG unless you are doing one of those shooting as a RAW & JPEG siamese files. But having said that, there may well be some photographers who shoot that way with success. I have just never met one.

  2. Maybe a better question to ask would be why wouldn’t you shoot in raw? People will tell you it’s okay to shoot Jpg but none of them will be able give definitive reasons like those Tony described to not shoot in raw format. Editing jpg makes the job of editing much more difficult than it needs to be, why make a tough job even harder? As Tony said you’ve been given a tool in the form of raw file format, why not use all of the professional tools available, especially when there is no additional charge to use it.

  3. All good points, and the reality is...you still have to process jpg. While it may not take as long with the processing, that is partly because you don't have the necessary tools. Considering when using Lightroom or other programs in post processing, lens profiles don't exist for jpg and many times the program won't even recognize your camera or even offer the lens to apply a profile. Those profiles are very specific and developed around a specific camera model with a specific lens mounted shooting a known medium - RAW - not the various in-camera jpg processing schemes. Likewise with vertical correction, it can be achieved with jpg in Photoshop using perspective cropping - viewable after hitting enter, but far easier in RAW where can micro adjust not only verticals, but other dynamics such as horizonal and rotation at the same time and view the result before hitting enter

  4. Don’t allow the camera, meaning some code writer, probably in Japan, to craft your image and distort your vision. Except for composition, jpeg limits both the art and the craft in of photography.

  5. @ Sandy,
    I am a Fuji shooter, and shoot with two cards, jpeg on one and Raw on the other. Fuji claims their jpeg files can rival most peoples RAW file images, which is quite a bold claim. And yes, the Fuji jpeg files are wonderful, but when I compare their RAW and jpeg, I see more detail, better color and dynamic range in RAW.

    I am guilty of sometimes using the excellent Fuji jpeg instead of RAW for my RE work, especially if it is not a hi-end home. And, because I shoot many images for blending, the jpeg files process much faster in Light room.
    But, I do have the RAW files and use them more than jpegs. They color correct better and they do have more detail. Since you are new to Real estate photography, you might as well start with the best image quality which is to shoot in RAW (shoot both if your camera allows to see the difference)

    Another thing that I am a fanatic on, is color correcting my monitors every month. This way, I know that my images being sent out are as close to perfection (which is subjective) as I can get them. I use the
    X-Rite i1Display Pro about $250, but they make a less expensive one for about $120 ( both from B&H). It was one of the best investments I ever made.
    Good luck with your photography.

  6. I have a different answer to those above. I am a full-time real estate and architectural shooter and have worked in this field for more than 12 years, and as a photojournalist prior to that.

    There ARE times when working in the JPG space is useful.

    We shoot major events and have for 15 years. Our goal with those events is to capture the feel and activities; as such, much of the work is done in-camera; correct exposures and all that. With very few exceptions we default to a more journalistic style which means there should be very little editing after beyond crop/straighten/sharpen.

    In my regular practice - real estate and architecture - because we light correctly and we use a proprietary capture/composit/edit we shoot JPGS for these too.

    In my studio or for headshots, weddings, and situations where we will make very fine edits, colour adjustments, and possibly make some artistic additions, RAW for sure.

    It is important for any shooter to have a plan prior to their shoots, particularly for post-production. AS mentioned above, if your gear allows you to shoot with two memory cards and you can set one to JPG and the other to RAW, bonus.

  7. In our real estate side of the business, we use large uncompressed Jpegs for nearly every listing. The exception is when we are shooting property expected to be on the market longer than a few weeks, property that has extreme dynamic range, or interior design where color replication is very critical.

    Don't get me wrong, I recommend shooting in Raw, but I think this is a situational call. For instance we Bracket 99% of the time and only introduce flash 20% of the time. Each photog averages 1,000 images/day which means a lot of data to be transfered. The limiting factor for us is that we are uploading to our in-house editors throughout the day. A mobile hotspot can be slow, especially in 15,000 sq miles of rural service area. My photogs are spread out in the country-side and are rarely able to bring images into the office.

    So for the sake of speed, we use jpeg. It was hard for me to make the switch from Raw to Jpeg, but once doing so the headaches with production deadlines and timely delivery have evaporated. As to the quality of our Raw vs Jpeg, our clients never noticed the switch and editors haven't minded.

  8. When I realized in my journey to become a Real Estate photographer that there was such a thing as a "raw" format and was actually able to set it up on my camera and then use it with lightroom (which took me a bit of time...:), it was like a REVELATION.....I still remember.
    Being able to adjust all the settings to such an extent...Magical....
    Never looked back...

  9. @david hall, Each photographer is shooting 1,000 frames/day? That sounds like they aren't considering their photos and just spraying a property hoping there is something to rescue. As I've improved, I end up with far fewer images on the card with a much higher percentage of keepers. It's rare that I have a composition that I don't deliver. It takes too long to sort through a big pile of stinkers in post or to process 5 image brackets when one properly exposed frame will do. 8hours x 60 minutes is 480 minutes. Averaging 2 photos per minute not including travel, set up and load out is off the charts. The only time I wind up with that many is on fast paced events when I'm in drive-high and expect that I'll have to shoot a bunch to catch the subject in just the right place.

    I was helping a local lady to build her portrait business and one of the hardest things to get her to do was to slow down. We eventually got her making the images her customer's loved in less time with far fewer exposures to go through. Some of that was to get her to get rid of the silly poses she always tried that didn't work but the biggest thing was to get her to understand what she was looking for, teach her how to direct the subject to give it to her and only then, hit the button.

    The only way to realize all of the image quality a camera/lens can deliver is to shoot in RAW. There are plenty of occasions where I can do everything I need to one RAW image that others would shoot a multi-image bracket. I see loads of HDR/fusion exterior images with the classic haloing and color shift/oversaturation that could have been made with one RAW image or perhaps a simple composite of two in PS to brighten up a deep entryway.

    Editing latitude is a huge reason to shoot in RAW. Most of the time my images are only going to be used for an agent to advertise a home. I do license my images as well so it's not always a certainty that the images I make are only going to wind up displayed small on a real estate web site. Some of them wind up getting extensively edited to fit the needs of a customer such as a builder, architect or appliance company. Some images get sent out for virtual staging to make them more appealing to the cabinet maker. I need the biggest files I can supply to sell those extra licenses. If you are just walking away from your images after one sale, you could be losing a ton of money. It's also business that builds year after year as people know to come to you for certain types of images. jpg can be very handy. I shoot RAW+jpg so I get images faster on my Camranger and I shoot some jobs R+J so I can hand off images quickly so the client can make selects right away if that is appropriate although I'd rather dump my mistakes before a customer gets to see them. When I was shooting for Reuters I had to send in jpgs sooc. They wouldn't accept jpgs from RAW conversion even though that makes no sense as that's what the camera is doing internally. My editor knew that but the C-level execs that don't know anything about photography were the ones making up the rules as advised by the non-photog blood sucking lawyers.

    A workflow with RAW images isn't a big slow down unless you are overshooting and having the computer do all of your processing via HDR. On a busy day, I ingest photos onto my laptop with Lightroom while in the field so presets and previews are all done while I drive or I'm photographing the next job. When I get home, I transfer the files to my production computer and by the time I've put the batteries on chargers and reset my gear, I can sit down and start editing.

  10. @Matt, the photography mills use that "proprietary" pitch. In a sense it's the same as saying a photographer has their own "style" or "look" to their photos.

    @Ken, 1,000 frames per day is hardcore HDR, no? I used to work for a mill years ago. As far as "lining up the shot" went, it was done by setting the tripod down in the corner with the camera pointing at the opposite corner and firing 3-5 brackets. Looking through the view finder was for noobs and slowpokes.

  11. Yeah, I still think that in our production real estate photography, we are ok shooting lg jpegs. But again, that decision is driven mostly by the need to transfer files from the field. If we ever get switched over to 5G you better believe we'll have a closer look at switching back to raw. But there is also the consideration of data storage to consider as well. I have a competitor that shoots double my volume and they only shoot jpeg for real estate. I suppose it depends a lot on your business model.

    @Ken Now that I look at it, the "1000/day" clicks, may actually be closer to 800/day on avg, 30-35% of which includes drone images. a good number of our shots are in an MLS which allows an agent to post 42 images, and the other MLS in DFW is NTREIS, which allows 36. Now at some point, in time, some well-meaning people spread the message to agents in our markets, if you have 36 slots available on the MLS, fill them! I too, in the beginning, picked up that phrase and ran with it because it was supposed to be good advice. Though unaware, I may have propagated what could be a myth... Whether or not it is advisable to use 36 photos of a 1600 sqft home just to fill up space, is a marketing discussion, which I'm always happy to have with our clients. But most of the time, clients just order online without our involvement in the process. Anyway, long and short, were thankful for a lot of farms, ranches, and lake homes to provide for most of our larger orders. And yes, of course, everybody comes back with three or four additional sets of brackets, even myself, and we always deliver additional photos when we can. But I don't tell that to the photographers! But no spray and pray allowed here, period, because it gums things up in PP.

    One thing that has been bringing down our shutter counts, is training to understand the histogram and use it to determine the full dynamic range needed and then adjust the bracketing set up. I'd love to see more brackets of 3 or 5 exposure rather than 7 or nine, but I always plan for the worst and hope for the best. The incentive, for the photog, is lower shutter actuation and happier editor, the disincentive is that it takes a few minutes longer (perceived). It's back and forth a lot. But this is the easiest and fastest system for me to teach to novice photographers. From that point on, it's all about composition and we are still making mistakes there every day. But we review every photoshoot with the photographer and discuss what works and doest work based purely on an aesthetic point of view. I am self-taught in real estate, and still, make plenty of mistakes on a daily basis. But we try to streamline the whole thing into a repeatable process that has as few steps as possible. We no longer spend hours in agony in PP. But we don't deliver bad photos either, which are usually delivered within 18-20 hours along with a 100% money-back guarantee. We've never been asked for a refund, and to listen to our clients, we feel like superheroes every time we walk into a shoot. ~Happy shooting!

  12. @Ken OH MY GOSH, I just re-read your comment about "8 hours x 60 mins x 2mins/photo" LMBO, that was so funny, let explain.

    We are on locations anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
    So, just breaking down the time on a photo shoot. In two minutes' time, one can easily set down a tripod, compose the shot, recompose the shot, focus, check the histogram, set the brackets, start the timer on a set of nine brackets, chimp the monitor for exposure/DoF/focus/Comp, select a new placement and repeat the whole process, all within 2 minutes. So what do we do with all the extra time? We stage and adust staging as much as practical on-the-fly and we adjust blinds, curtains, and lighting. Our days are long 12-15 hours for most of us, and we have to know our time is well spent.

    You can't deny the increased quality of going straight raw. After the MLS's completely destroy the photos display quality in terms of resolutions and sharpness, you have to ask yourself why am I going to all this trouble over and over again. You also can't deny the advantage of spending an extra minute or three getting the ideal comp or lighting. The goal for us is to balance as much as we can given what agents are willing to invest in their real estate photography.

    But I don't see us as a photo mill or whatever negative connotation that was meant to imply, in fact we put the extra mile into all shoots, because even if the agent doesn't care or doesn't get it, or can't be there, we know that not only do our photos reflect on the agent, the seller, and property, but they also reflect our skill and level of ethics and professionalism.

  13. @David Hall, Why a 9-shot bracket for every photo when one or two would be the business? I spend about 2 hours on each job on site and maybe an hour to process 20ish images. My turn around is guaranteed to be 48 hours or less and I usually deliver the next day. Some jobs I have to turn in a maximum of 24 to meet HUD requirements for the customer, but those jobs also have far more latitude in terms of quality. My customer that handles those homes and I have discussed the requirements on both sides since HUD doesn't care about quality, but the broker does so the homes will sell quickly. I couldn't HDR those homes if I wanted to. The power is never on and sometimes the electric company has removed the lines. Yeah, they're pretty bad properties.

    I really don't care what the MLS is doing other than demanding the copyright to my images. I find them getting less relevant as time goes by. The ones in my area are not consumer facing so image quality on the MLS isn't a big issue unless an agent is being lazy and is just letting those images syndicate out. The MLS's in my area don't seem to have a limit on the number of photos so it's not unusual to see agents post 80-90-100 really crappy cell phone images of a double wide mobile home.

    My basic price quote is based on a nominal 20 images and the location. I'll deliver somewhere between 16 to 24 images based on what's needed to show the property. If it's a bigger property, I'll discuss adding to the image count with the agent/owner. I'm also spending time to consider the compositions. The more important the image, the more time I will spend making it. My feeling is that 36 images of a basic 3/2 is a waste of time. If it takes getting past 10 images to start seeing the inside of the home on a listing, many people are going to get bored and move on to the next one unless the price is below comps. I also don't push drone images for the tract homes. It just makes the space between the homes look even tighter and roofs aren't very interesting. Value is my watchword, not quantity.

    Frankly, I find HDR/Fusion images to look really bad. Some agents can't tell the difference, but to me they are instantly noticeable. My goal is to always improve, add to my business with secondary licensing and work up-market. I'd rather spend my days photographing million dollar homes than churning out blah images of middle class beige for a paycheck. The agents that handle most upper-end homes are going to be much more particular about the images they have made so if I can't show them my normal work is above par, I'm not going to be considered for the job. I'm not there yet, but it's my goal. Even if the profit is not that much more, the professional satisfaction goes way up and I feel better about leaving a comfy warm bed to go to work. Those middle class homes pay the mortgage, but they aren't where I want to be down the road. I also don't want to be working 10-12 hours/day if I can help it. I will during the busiest part of the season if I have to, but not for an amortized rate of $20/hour.

    I do see that every MLS in my area is using the worst software for photos and steps on the quality something fierce. That's why I deliver images sized exactly to the max size the MLS uses and also provide images sized to Trulia, Zillow and Realtor so agents can be posting images that will look the best they can on each service. Their software is less likely to mangle the photos if they already fit requirements. With presets, it only takes a couple of minutes to output all of the galleries. I keep hoping that Adobe will add something like Actions in PS to Lightroom so it's only one click after I've sequenced the images. I don't see any point in only providing one wrong size for the MLS and one large size that most agents won't be able to use. I do provide a 3000px large image set as a separate download if an agent needs them, but most don't bother except if they are printing stuff.

    Another thing to worry about is shutter life. 200,000 estimated shutter clicks divided by 800/day is 250 days. Assuming 22 working days/month, that's about a year to a year and a bit before you need to be thinking about a new body. While lenses tend to last longer, it's also a bunch of aperture actuations on the lens. With over 200k on the shutter counter, the resale value isn't so hot even if there is "one" born every minute. The fewer clicks I have on each job, the less my cost is to do the job.

    I'm not saying you are a photo mill, just that with some thinking beyond making brackets, you could be getting jobs done with fewer images to dig through and less time per job. Changing workflow is always slower in the begining. Every time I do it it's because I see that it will be faster, more efficient or return higher quality images once I've established the routine. Just recently I've been hitting the "auto" button in LR to see what it wants to do with a the middle exposure of a front exterior bracket. Yes, I typically make a 3-shot 2/3stop bracket on exteriors to make sky replacements and dark entryways easier. LR typically goes a bit too far, but with a RAW image it's only 10-15 seconds to dial it back to something very presentable. Grouping and putting a bracketed set through Photomatix, Enfuse, etc takes much longer. The added bonus is no issues with ghosting.

    In summary, I started with HDR and in time have found that I can produce much better results in less time by learning to get images done in camera or by exposing frames for a fast process in post. All the while I've made it mandatory that quality stays the same if not getting better. Lighting is a big part of that. If you watch Scott Hargis' Basic Bedroom video, it's easy to see how fast you can make a finished image that's well lit and looks natural with the addition of a simple speedlight. Basic bathrooms can be simple to do with one handheld flash. Aside from exposure, developing a good sense of composition to frame up deliverable images every time is a big time saver. I find that my first instinct on where to put the camera is 99.999% right subject to some minor tweaking. Whenever I second guess, I wind up with a comp that doesn't work and just wasted my time. That doesn't mean my first choice couldn't be better, it's just the second one isn't. The better composition is the one I find after I'm already home and editing the job. Sometimes it's down to 2 compositions that tell the same story and neither one is better than the other. As adding in the second one doesn't add any value to the delivered gallery so I don't include it since I feel I will have just cut the value of both images in half.

  14. @Ken Great feedback. I agree on the HDR and I never saw an HDR program I liked. But I have a friend that does awesome street photography in HDR, LOL. Good job on "getting it right in camera". We do too, and in PP we blend all images by hand in Photoshop using gradient blending and other techniques, often only using 2 or 3 images out of a set. But other times we will use up to five of our brackets. But the bottom line is the PP team will have the latitude they need to make gorgeous work. Occasional we pop some flash and blend that as well. For me, since I'm still growing and time is limited, I train our photographers in a way to guarantee what images we get to production. Yes, we occasionally overshoot, but we don't get a redo. The most important thing is this, the value of what I'm selling must be equal to or exceed in value the money clients are willing to exchange. We ALWAYS over deliver and under promise. I'm in business to provide outstanding real estate photography that moves people to take action and images that will impress the sellers, making my client look good, I don't care about photo contests, there are plenty of phots I would love to enter, but I don't think there is enough ROI on the time invested for me to enter re photos. I do encourage the togs to though. I save contests etc., for personal shooting.

    As previously stated, I agree with you @Ken smaller image counts are usually better in terms of marketing, but that's a separate discussion. If my clients want 36 or 43 images, it is our job to give them 36 or 43 images we can both be very proud of and make as much money as we can in the process. My job as a business owner is to be profitable and grow my company it's a lot easier and more efficient if you can get more images per shoot because after cost is covered, more profit per trip. As to the actuations, the shutter is going to wear out no matter what ( did have a d700 with around 400k on it when I gave it away. Cameras are tools, and to make money with tools you have to use them. Smarter is better, but I can't be on every shoot and we just aim to get better every day. I've gone through 2 d700's, 2 d800's (One was stolen), & and I'm on my 2nd d850. I consider the cost when I price out our shoots. Not sure I make the best choice in cameras, but I'm probably switching to Sony in the spring. I have three busy photogs and a semi-busy drone pilot (calling himself a photog, lol-jk) all shooting Sony. In response to $20/hour time spread, that seems pretty low. My photogs are making 300-400/day plus mileage. In terms of quality, our quality earns us tons of business and we're shooting million-dollar listings every week. We are not cheap, so I have a lot of people that don't call after seeing our public price list, but if they buy just once, I know they buy again. One time I even tried to discourage business in certain regions, due to logistics, by raising travel fees to $60 We are more expensive than most anyway, but I have to pay my post-production ladies and they deliver the results that keep clients happy. I'll tell you though when I started this company, I was down on my luck and did photoshoots for $79 TOTAL. I went up on prices gradually and learned a lot along the way. One day I saw some stellar photography online. It so impressed me that I called the photog and lavished my praise and admiration of his skill. He gave me some pricing and marketing advice over the next 15 minutes of the call. I put his advice into action and we really started growing. As much as I love the craft of photography, my time must be spent doing the things that provide for income.

    Best wishes to you @Ken

  15. Some observations about camera to distribution workflow;
    As a preface, I learned about dynamic rang and how to control it by reading Ansel Adams book The Negative. We implemented it in our studio work by marking film holders with tape to identify how it was exposed and should be developed.

    For color transparency shoots it was common practice order all the film so it would be from the same lot. Then do test shoots and arrange processing with a lab when its chemicals were in the middle of their life cycle. The tests made it possible to create a color correction filter pack to use when shooting the job.

    Modern digital cameras, bracketing, and processing software (Lightroom for me) have made this so much easier.

    The ONLY time I set a camera to process JPGs is when I want them to use like we used to use Polaroids. Mostly for viewing in CamRanger app or on iPAD.

    Every job, even if shot for a contractor that wants JPGs uploaded for their editing process, are shot raw and imported into Lightroom using an import preset that is my customized processing for the images. The preset starts with a custom camera calibration profile that has a linear tone curve applied.

    When I shoot brackets, they are 5 frames each 2EV apart.

    My monitors are color calibrated.

    The workflow for color management was developed to ensure accurate color for art documentation for collectors and museums.

    All this said, I can’t imagine shooting real estate without using this workflow. Even for a contractor that wants JPGs uploaded for their processing.

    I looked at portfolios available via the website links associated with contributors to this thread.
    There is, in my view, a wide variety of finished image aesthetics.

    In my view, there is no justification for compromising quality with camera processed JPGs.

    i.e. The individual suggesting that they use JPG because of transmission time. Then state that they use up to 9 frame brackets. My research suggests that there is more dynamic range available from 3 raw files in a bracket 2 to 3 EV apart. Which I expect would require less transmission time that the 9 frame JPG bracket.

  16. @David Hall
    Its an interesting experiment that I've conducted several times.
    Take a 5 frame bracket that represents 8EV of dynamic range beyond the 0EV frame. Run the bracket through LR enfuse (HDR) and also run them through the LR plug-in to enfuse. Apply the various presets I've developed. Fine tune white balance and exposure. Then apply them to the second and third frames. It's surprising how close they are to one another.

    The key, based on my research, is to start with a raw file that has a linear tone curve applied. Then processed and finally having mid-tone contrast applied.

    I've found that once the blended images are generated, I can apply two or three presets, maybe one or two gradients for burins and dodging and the image is ready. Takes about 30 seconds.

  17. Sandy,

    You see, from everything that's been written so far, that your question wasn't trivial.

    In my opinion, I would suggest that you think of the RAW as the original. Do you prefer to edit your photos from the original or from a copy? The latitude offered by the RAW is higher than the JPG and this will help you get closer to the visualization you had of the scene and will allow you to correct exposure values and color to a greater degree.

    It's true that for those customers who are going to expose their photos in a low resolution it may seem tempting, as Eric said, to shoot in JPG. But with today's storage and transfer capacities, how much time am I really saving? The space in this case I don't think will count because if you've decided to shoot the project in JPG surely it won't be one of the ones you want to keep forever in your portfolio.

    If you want to do more and more professional reports you will surely end up shooting in RAW. What better way to specialize than to start shooting in RAW right now?

    A different topic is the one David Hall comments. At a certain workload, you have to make the decision between increasing resources or decreasing time per job. Many times, for budget reasons, the second option is the most chosen and where the most ingenious ideas come from. If that means shooting at JPG, go ahead.

  18. I shoot both RAW and JPEG on pretty much every house. Some rooms get RAW. Some rooms get JPEG. I would be interested if anyone who goes to my website and looks at the dozens and dozens of full sample sets could tell which were shot in RAW and which in JPEG.

    Now to those who wonder... "Why would you shoot both RAW and JPEG?" Well...it all comes down to workflow. Not quality.

    I ship most of my jobs to an editor now and he's a wizard both with RAW and JPEG images. In particular, he can do stuff with all-ambient images that I myself can't do. And since I know that quality is going to be "above the bar" whether I shoot RAW or JPEG...it becomes a non-factor.

    When on-site I have a process. Everything is shot one of three ways:

    1) 5-Shot Bracket Sets in JPEG - large spaces such as living rooms/great room kitchens all are complex and time consuming to light because they lead into adjacent rooms that all need to be lit. For bread and butter homes then I am shooting these spaces all-ambient to save time. So I shoot them 5-shot bracket sets in JPEG. Finished basements also get this treatment. I never haul my flash gear into a basement.

    2) 3-Shot Ambient/1 Flash Frame in Compressed RAW - bedrooms and bathrooms in basic homes have small windows which wreak dynamic range havoc. Especially if they paint the boy's room dark blue or dark brown or dark green. Hell for all-ambient shootings. So I shoot these setups with 3-shot ambient brackets and then a flash frame. When I edit myself I will only USE the "middle" bracket from the 3-shot set as well as the flash bracket...but I send them in sets of 4 to the editor because I dunno if he ever uses the under/overexposed brackets or not.

    3) 1-shot Ambient in Uncompressed RAW - I use this mostly for detail shots. These end up being 47mb files vs the 24mb files that the compressed RAWs tune out to be.

    Where post processing organization is concerned, shooting this way with RAW and JPEG images helps when you get back to the home office. I can literally get home, copy my template folder that has all my pre-made subfolders out for each house and rename them to the street address. Now each house has its own folder with all the sub-folders built in and ready to go.

    The first sub-folder in each of these "house" folders is an import folder. Look at your files on the card in Detail view and look at the time stamps. They will be in blocks that correspond to each house with a big gap between which is the time you were driving from one to the other. Select the blocks and copy them to the import folder withing each "house folder".

    Now, jump into that master import folder within each house folder and organize by file type. Select all the JPEG files and move them into the "5-Shot Ambient" subfolder for that house. This will leave with only RAW files in the import folder. Two types of RAW files. 24mb files and 47mb files. Organize again by file SIZE. Move the 24mb files into the "4-Shot Flambient" sub folder and the 47mb Files into the "1-Shot Detail" sub-folder.

    Done. Now just copy that whole folder system from your computer to Dropbox folder you share with your editor and send him a Facebook message that new files are coming his way. He will now know which files are which and how to process them accordingly instead having them all in a giant jumble.

    Repeat this process with each house. Move files from import to proper subfolders. Copy house folder to Dropbox. Send editor notification message.

    Would I do this for Architecture? No. But for the under-$2M bread-and-butter homes that I shoot all week? The work I deliver is WELL "above the bar".

    Finally, you can make this process SUPER easy by using Memory Modes on your Camera. (They're "Memory Modes" on Sony and "Custom Modes" or "C Modes" on Canon)

    Set Memory Mode #1 to shoot 5-shot ambient sets in JPEG.
    Set Memory Mode #2 to Shoot 3-shot Ambient Bracket Sets in Compressed RAW (Auto WB)
    Set Memory Mode #3 to Shoot 1-Shot Compressed RAW (Daylight White Balance) <<< this is for the flash frame

    When those are programmed in, switch to P-Mode and then switch your camera to shoot Uncompressed RAW. Now you are ready to go. You can switch easily from shooting 5-shot ambient sets to shooting the ambient brackets for your flambient sets to the flash frame for your flambient sets and then just switch to P-Mode to shoot a detail shot...then switch back to Memory #1 to shoot 5-shot ambient sets.

    I do this all day...every day. Switching from memory mode to memory mode. When I get home I got through the process I laid out above and all the images are quickly and easily sorted into their appropriate folders.

    Closing Hint: it's even EASIER if you have an assistant working with you. Teach them how to sift/sort the files and have them bring a laptop and do the sorting to a portable SSD on the drive back home. When you get home...all the files are organized and ready to upload to Dropbox for your editor. You're done-sir-done.

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