Perfect your in-camera JPEGs
Find out the benefits of shooting in JPEG format, plus which in-camera settings will help you get the most out of your images
Find out how to get the best quality from your JPEG format images with these customisable settings
It is generally accepted that, to guarantee maximum image quality, it is good practice to shoot in RAW format. This provides the greatest degree of flexibility at the image-editing stage and there is no loss of image data through compression. Once a JPEG image has been taken, it is advisable to keep post-processing to a minimum to avoid file degradation. There are big benefits to JPEG shooting however, notably increased storage capability, higher burst rates, longer continuous image sequences and faster workflows. Many wedding, wildlife and sports photographers favour the format for these reasons. In order to ensure there is little trade-off in image quality, the in-camera JPEG handling settings must be finely tuned so that images are as close to print-ready as is possible out-of-camera. Almost every enthusiast-level camera features multiple options for changing preset contrast, colour balance and saturation, which is applied to images as a camera profile. Beyond this it is necessary to take control of in-camera noise reduction to strike a balance between graininess and detail, while sharpening also needs to be decided before images are taken. All of this is amended from within your camera’s menu and since all settings are ‘locked in’ during capture, exact settings must be decided on an image-specific basis.
Ready for print
With in-camera settings tailored for this specific shot and parameters pre-set for print, the benefits of JPEG
shooting can be enjoyed without major quality loss
Inset Limited usability
This image is underexposed and an incorrect white balance has been selected. Since there aren’t many editing options later, the shot has limited output viability
CHOOSE A PICTURE STYLE Different manufacturers use varying terminology, but you can choose a style preset for your JPEG image. For this image we switched to Vivid to boost colour saturation.
TAKE A TEST SHOT Since you need to be
about your settings now rather than in software, a test shot will help you assess the scene specifics and requirements for a polished shot. Keep this for reference.
LOCK YOUR EXPOSURE We need reliable exposure that is perfected in-camera. Use your histogram to avoid blown highlights, then switch to Manual mode so your exposure won’t change.
CREATE BESPOKE SETTINGS Depending on your camera, there are often options for customising the contrast, saturation and colour balance of each picture style. Further test shots will help find the correct balance.
CUSTOMISE WHITE BALANCE Use a white balance preset for speed, such as Daylight or Shade, or alternatively select a specific colour temperature for tailored tonal control. Use Live View to monitor your changes.
NOISE REDUCTION AND SHARPENING JPEG oversharpening/noise reduction can’t be undone, so select these levels based on intended output – for printing more is needed than for web use.