The Photograph

RAW or JPEG, m43 or Full Frame... if you know what these terms mean, then you've also fallen into the trap. There's so little between different camera formats and their respective file output, yet I and many others discuss the relative merits of any particular system at great length. Why is this?

A truly good photograph, is not the product of any particular lens, camera, and sensor (or film) combination. It's dependent on what light was, or was not, captured -  the result, not the path to get there. However, just as with anything in life, the path to get there can be fun, too.

I suppose it's like anything really. There used to be a time when I would just "have a coffee". I'd boil the kettle, dump a teaspoon full of Nescafé into a mug, and add water, sugar, and milk. That was a long time ago. Now, I hunt for the best aromas, grind my own beans, choose different brewing techniques dependent on the situation, and generally make an obsessively big deal about the whole issue. I'm not just having a drink, it's become an experience.

This is also what photography is to me.

As I have previously said, sometimes I will go for a walk or out for the day without a camera. I often see something and wish I had a camera, but it's no big deal. Occasionally, I even use my phone. If I fancy making a day of it, however, I will take all of my photos in RAW format, and later examine them in a variety of different software. I enjoy comparing the outputs from different cameras, and different lenses. I suppose that's the physicist in me coming out.

Whatever format you choose, though, don't let it hold you back. I have seen great images taken by people with both mobile phones, and expensive cameras. Many times, one couldn't tell the difference as to which format was used. And that's the sign of a good photograph - one where all of the "barriers" dissolve away, and we're simply left with an artist and their tools.

Of course, each system has its merits, and certain formats and techniques are beneficial for certain situations. Unless the vision is there, there's not much a change in camera will help you with. A bad photo taken with a $10k Leica is still a bad photo. A great photo taken with a cheap point and shoot is still a great photo. Never moreso than today - where digital photography is commonplace, cheap, and almost too convenient.

So, keep snapping away. If you're wondering whether you should be using RAW or JPEG, just use RAW+JPEG. Computational storage space is not expensive, so go ahead. However, out of camera (OOC) JPEG files are rather good these days, from all manufacturers. Time spent working on ideas and composition is more valuable than time spent worrying about file formats and sensor sizes.

Get creative, and have fun.