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Railway Photos in RAW or JPEG?

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Railway Photos in RAW or JPEG?

On all digital cameras, you can choose either the JPEG or RAW image settings to take your railway photos.

When I first had a digital camera many years ago, I always used the JPEG setting. Why? Because I had no idea on how to edit photographs to make them look better.

Now a days, I have my camera set to RAW for my railway photography. Today I know how to edit and process my photos by using the Adobe Lightroom.

What is a RAW Image?

RAW captures all the image data recorded by your camera’s sensor rather than compressing it. When you shoot in RAW you’ll not only get higher quality images but you’ll also have far more control in post processing. For instance, you’ll be able to correct problems such as over or underexposure and adjust things like colour temperature, white balance and contrast. RAW files also take up more space on the memory card.

RAW Photo

What is a JPEG Image?

A JPEG file is a completely finished image that your camera fully develops and processes the moment you take the shot. Most cameras have a menu where you can pre-adjust settings like colour, sharpness, clarity, and so forth before you take your shot. Once those parameters are set, the camera will apply these settings to the final JPEG before it’s saved to the SD card. This would then be unrecoverable in the JPEG format

JPEG Photo

The above two photographs show the old signal box at Totnes station. It has been the Signal Box Cafe for many years. The top photo was shot using RAW and the bottom photo I used JPEG.

Both of the photographs above were taken with the same camera, lens and settings.

Canon 5D MK3 with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens

ISO 200
Shutter 1/125

If you look carefully at both photographs, you will see the difference.

Adobe Lightroom Settings

On the RAW photo, these are the settings that I used on Adobe Lightroom.

Noise Reduction

There are many other settings available that you can use if you wish. I mainly just use the seven settings that I have mentioned.


You can get excellent railway photographs using either JPEG or RAW. The choice is entirely up to you. If your camera is set at JPEG why not change it to RAW and take a few test shots. Unless you try, you will never know which to stick too.

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