This is one of the two seasons of the year that people take lots of pictures, with the top two seasons being Christmas and summer vacation. The pictures at Christmas people like to share and to keep of the family. This is the time when most families have some type of reunion of the family coming back together to celebrate Christmas or on front end of season Thanksgiving.

On the better cameras you will find often that you have a choice of formats to use when taking your pictures. These formats are the type of files that will be stored on the camera. They are JPG and RAW.

JPG (pronounced J-peg) is the format most used, and it is the format available on almost all cameras now. Original digital cameras often used proprietary formats, but now they almost always include JPG, including your phone. Pictures in JPG format are readable in any browser or photo editing program, which makes them easy to start sharing. The JPG format is also called JPEG. The extensions on the JPG files are either jpg or jpeg.

The pictures in JPG format are compressed, meaning space it takes to store a picture is reduced when they are taken. This compression and decompression will result is a slight degree of resolution and quality but to the normal eye usually not seen. If you are going to blow them up as 16-by-20-inch pictures or bigger it may be visible. The camera also makes some automatic adjustments to pictures in JPG format.

RAW format is what many professional photographers will use when taking pictures. With RAW format what is recorded in the file is exactly what the camera sees with no adjustments or compression. This means the files will be much larger. The RAW format varies slightly by camera and maker and the extension names. For instance, on my Canon camera the extension is crw (Canon RAW format).

With pictures shot in RAW format they must be edited before they are able to be used in browsers and most picture viewing programs. Different photo editing programs will allow you to edit different formats (Photoshop should allow about all types) and then to be saved as JPG format to be used. I take my pictures in RAW format, then edit them (making sure exposure, shadows, colors are right) and save as JPG, which makes higher quality pictures but takes more time.

For the average person taking pictures JPG format is an excellent choice. However, people that consider themselves better photographers or professionals, RAW quite often is the way to take pictures.

Dwight Watt does computer work for businesses, individuals and organizations and teaches about computers at a college in Northwest Georgia. His website is www.dwightwatt.com His email address is dwight@dwightwatt.com.

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