(Last Updated On: October 2, 2018)

Photography File Formats

Most typically on all DSRL cameras, there are three main types of file formats you can take your pictures in; JPEG, RAW, and TIFF.  Each of these file formats have benefits to using them, so it becomes all about knowing what each format can do and provide, and knowing what you want from the format you use.


This is the format with the smallest file size, so you can fit more pictures on one memory card and computer, wherever you store your photos.  While smaller it is harder to change once the picture is taken.  Use this format if and when you are very comfortable and adept at setting your exposure right for your every picture.  The white balance and exposure are more permanently set in the JPEG format.  So as long as you are comfortable in the knowledge that you won’t be able to change your exposure and white balance in Photoshop after the fact, then JPEG is a great choice.


For those who know you are going to be using Photoshop to tweak, fix, and adjust your photos, the RAW format would be a good solid choice.  RAW format leaves you more in control of the processing of your photos.  If you realize you have overexposed, underexposed your photos or see some problems that need alterations, you are able to work with those photos more extensively when it is in RAW.  For maximum adjustability as well as  high quality original photos, go with RAW.


As the largest of the three formats listed here, TIFF is better for those who have plenty of very large memory cards, money to spend freely, and plenty of spare time.  However, if you are in the printing business, this is the format that is the widely accepted file format to use.  As a photographer, be aware that the TIFF is not a widely supported format with web browsers.  Overall, just remember that TIFF files are huge.

Of all the choices of file formats to use, it is your choice.  Take the time to know and understand the differences before you dive into your photography.  Ultimately the format you use can make a difference in your photography.


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