Concert Photography RAW Or JPEG

concert photography raw or jpeg

What is the best format for concert photography? RAW or JPEG? In this blog post I am going to show you the differences of each format and when to use them.

RAW or JPEG in Concert Photography

First let’s talk about each format:

RAW: Use This Format To Get The Best Quality

  • Data. When you shoot in RAW, your camera sensor records all of the possible information from the scene, so when it’s time to process that information and edit the shot, you can control almost everything in it, like exposure, contrast, temperature, blacks, whites and so on.
  • File size. The RAW file is much heavier than a JPEG because it contains all the data available from the scene. It depends on your type of camera and sensor, but it may be up to two or three times bigger. So, you have to take into account that your files will occupy a lot more space in your computer and your memory card.
  • Processing. RAW means it is not processed, so you need to develop the file yourself with a specific program. Each manufacturer has their own program to manage RAW files. E.g. Nikon has ViewNX, Canon Image Browser EX. But there are a lot of programs specifically made for managing and developing raw files no matter if it’s a Nikon or a Canon native format, like Camera Raw, Lightroom or Capture One.
  • Quality and Details. As it is not compressed like the JPEG format, RAW will give you the most possible quality and detailing on an image.


JPEG: Use This Format To Deliver Your Work Fast

  • Data. The information that the sensor of your camera captures when you shoot in JPEG is compressed in order to create a file ready to be uploaded, printed or shared.
  • File size. Your files won’t weight as much as the RAW files, so you can work faster and your memory card will be able to storage a lot more photos. Notice that the smaller the file, the lower the quality.
  • Processing. The JPEG is a file format that is processed and finished in the camera. This means that when you shoot, it compresses all the info from the scene in order to create an automatic edition for your photos. Any changes you want to make will work with that compressed information, so you won’t have as much quality nor control over the results as you would have with a RAW file.

Now, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Your decision has to be made depending on what you want the photos for. If you just want to shoot a friends band and upload them fast to a Facebook page, without spending too much time on it, then shoot JPEG.

But, if you want to shoot professionally, if this is for a job (when I was shooting Metallica) or your portfolio, you need to shoot in RAW, because this file format will give you endless possibilities for your post processing decisions.

In Concert Photography we have to deal with a lot of things like bad lighting or smoke, so we have to work with all the best options in order to get a strong result.

Still not convinced?

Try it out.

Most cameras have the possibility to shoot RAW and JPEG. This way you will have two files of the same photo, one in RAW and the other in JPEG. So shoot in both formats, edit them both and compare for yourself the results!

Let´s sum it up

DataFile SizeProcessingQuality
JPEGprocessedsmallnot requiredlower

Let me know in the comments which format you´re shooting the most.

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  • Scott Sharpe

    I prefer to shoot both raws and jpegs. I work primarily from the jpegs on deadline and rarely access the raws, but do make sure to archive them. It’s great to have that file to come back to when needed and time permits, especially for those really tough lighting situations. Most of my photos are posted online about the time a show concludes, so the speed of jpegs is essential to my workflow.

  • Sara Scott

    I shoot in both, like Scott said prior to me it is easier to hit deadlines with JPEGs, but also nice to have the untouched RAW file if you ever get the urge to go back and mess around a bit!

  • Michael Galli

    I mainly shoot in raw, haven’t shot a jpeg in a long while. Lighting varies so much between venues that it gives me more control when I go through the photos. I haven’t shot an event yet where I had to give or post the pics right after, after all if they want a good job it’s worth the extra wait.
    You can check some of my work on my Facebook page or instagram, both named Michael Galli photography

  • Ruben Obregon

    I shot in RAW & JPEG because I need to be updating the social networks during the show but I don’t make more than ten shots in that format, other shots are in RAW format. I prefer RAW but depending on the urgency I decide to use RAW or JPEG.

  • Gus Samarco

    I shoot RAW, always, it’s just habit. However, I covered a large event recently, where the the Lead Photographer had 30 minutes after the bands started to take pictures, do a quick edit on their Phone or Tablet and upload to the cloud so the event organization could use it for Social Media while the band was still on stage. For something like that, I’d totally shoot JPEG.

  • donna31

    Thanks for the post. I am a new photographer and have been reading up a lot on shooting raw recently. It seems like most people are switching to raw when they learn about it’s editing potential. But I think you make a good point, that raw is not always the best option. If you want to instantly share your photo then jpeg is better.
    But as a newbie I am really liking raw images. For any other newbies wanting to learn about raw and its potential, this article really helped me out: Check it out.
    Thanks again for the post. it really helps to know the best times to use what file format.

  • Marty Moffatt

    Matthias, you need to do something about your ‘Metallica’ link on this blog. If you click on it, you end up in an endless loop with the screen asking for a username and password, from which you can’t exit without shutting down your browser.

    • Thanks for letting me know. I just checked the link with Chrome and all works good at my end. What browser are you using?