The algorithm used can impact the structure of the file, and too aggressive or too much sharpening can lead to an overly processed or “digital” look. Changing the way a RAW image is sharpened, can alter the appearance of fine detail in the image.
But it's not exactly “sharp.” That's because the RAW file is raw. It hasn't had any sharpening applied. While it may be particularly evident in this image, this principle applies to every RAW image you shoot. Your images simply aren't sharp enough straight out of the camera; they must have sharpness applied.
Raw has more options for correcting exposure issues
With a JPEG, white balance is applied by the camera, and there are fewer options to modify it in post-processing. With a raw file, you have complete control over white balance when editing the image. Lost detail in overexposed highlights cannot be recovered in a JPEG.
Make sure to load RAW files in an app that can definitely read RAW, such as Darkroom. Unfortunately, when an app doesn't understand how to read a RAW file, the system will instead display a low-resolution thumbnail image.
When converting from raw to jpg you lose options for further image manipulation. This is not quite the same as image quality. You can make a black & white jpg from a raw file, it will have full resolution but there is no way to make the jpg color again.
The main advantage of shooting in RAW is that you end up with high-quality files to edit into the best possible image. Capturing and storing all the details that pass through your camera's sensors means RAW files contain a wider dynamic range and far greater color spectrum than JPEGs.
RAW files need to undergo post processing, otherwise your photos will come out very flat or will look washed out. Moreover, RAW files are typically lossless. From the images captured to the stored files, right down to when you manipulate them, you will not lose any amount of data from RAW files.
Here's the brightness breakdown of a RAW image vs JPEG: a JPEG file records 256 levels of brightness, while a RAW file records a whopping 4,096 to 16,384 levels of brightness. Having a higher brightness level will make the tones in your images appear smoother.
The noise reduction sliders in Adobe Camera Raw are identical in Lightroom. I recommend viewing your image full screen, then zooming into 100 percent. The goal is to look for noise; after all, not all images require noise reduction. Adobe Camera Raw has some powerful noise reduction tools.
As you might expect, the tradeoff for these detailed files is that RAW files are quite a bit larger than JPEG files. Still, most professional photographers shoot in RAW because it gives them more information to work with in the post-processing phase.
jpeg images are processed according to how you have set (or accepted) the values for things like sharpening, noise reduction, and so on. The RAW file is literally the raw data from the sensor and camera, so little or no noise reduction, for just one dimension, will have been performed on the image.
In digital photography, the raw file plays the role that photographic film plays in film photography. Raw files thus contain the full resolution (typically 12- or 14-bit) data as read out from each of the camera's image sensor pixels.
RAW provides far more image information, allowing you to capture more detail and greater dynamic range from your camera sensor. More flexibility for editing: When you transfer images from your camera's SD card to a hard drive for editing, you will appreciate the image quality you get from RAW data.
All raw files require subsequent editing so, unless you want to edit your digital images, there is little point in shooting raw files.
Simply put, you don't ask a professional photographer to give you their RAW photos because that would be giving you only half of an unfinished work of art.
A RAW file is much larger than an equivalent JPEG file – I'm talking about 2 to 6 times larger. This has a drawback in that a digital camera can't take as many pictures per second with a RAW file compared to a JPEG due to the fact that it must save more data.
So why does nearly everyone recommend shooting RAW then? Because they are simply superior files. Whereas JPEGs discard data in order to create a smaller file size, RAW files preserve all of that data. That means you keep all the color data, and you preserve everything you can in the way of highlight and shadow detail.
In the past, photographers had to convert their raw images into JPEG or TIFF format before they could be printed. However, the growing popularity of the raw file format has encouraged several printer manufacturers to include facilities for printing raw files in some models in their printer range.
Raw is a waste of time and space, and doesn't look any better than JPG even when you can open the files. Cameras all start with raw data and convert this data to JPG images with hardware in the camera. They then throw away the raw data since it's no longer needed.