JPEG against RAW: The guide to choose the best photo format for long-term construction timelapse. - Timebox Camera Write to WhatsApp

JPEG against RAW: The guide to choose the best photo format for long-term construction timelapse.


We are sure that you will agree with us – competitors make the world a more incredible and interesting place. Where would we be and what would we do without Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola, Marvel vs. DC Comics, Canon vs. Nikon, and JPEG vs. RAW.

Wait a minute, are the JPEG and RAW formats really rivals?

What are the basic differences between these formats, and why should photographers of long-term and construction timelapse ask this question?

As in the whole field of photography, the decision to shoot in RAW or JPEG format comes in accordance with the specific requirements of your project.

In this article, we will compare the unique advantages of each of these formats, and what each of them can offer you in your next project of shooting construction in a long-term timelapse.

Whatever format you choose, we have good news: Timebox Camera fully supports both JPEG and RAW in working with long-term timelapse.
With Timebox Camera you have the opportunity to make the project the way you want, without restrictions.

Part 1: Why should you shoot long-term timelapse in JPEG format?

The standard feature of all cameras is that JPEG is the default main format for photographs. But is this really the best choice for long-term timelapse?

A few reasons to consider when using JPEG for long time lapse projects:

1. Saving money. A smaller file saves costs on a storage device.

The first advantage of shooting in JPEG format is that photos are more compressed than in RAW format

And the bigger “compression” means a smaller file size.

On the average, a 20MP photo forms a good quality JPEG file about 5MB in size, when the same RAW-format image can exceed 20MB in size.

When you upload images to the cloud, smaller files will load faster (while conserving battery power), use less mobile data and take up less space in the cloud.

2. Saving time. Substantially fast post-processing work.

Everybody who has worked with RAW images knows how slow it can be to interact with them, unlike photos in JPEG.

In a long-term timelapse, this effect takes a larger turn.

In comparison with working with 200 images from a short-term timelapse, a several years-timelapse sequence can be recreated from tens of thousands of images.

Production of images in RAW format is very process-intensive and requires a fast computer, ideally a powerful expensive workstation.

And even in this case, you can find yourself waiting with an empty coffee cup opposite your snail-pace loading project.

nd, if you try to edit the timelapse in RAW format using the laptop, hmm … You will notice that the laptop processor fan starts to sound like a plane taking off when the battery lasts a steep dive down.

3. Easy montage: pre-processing has already been completed.

When you shoot an image in JPEG format, it immediately undergoes some editing and processing in the camera.

Nowadays, modern camera processing algorithms are quite complex and can include things like white balance correction, lens distortion correction, noise removal, and sharpening.

This pre-processing can save considerably much editing time, allowing you to start working on your creative output much earlier.

As an example, pre-selecting the color balance on the camera means that all your JPEG files come out with the same color profile.

During the work with RAW images, while you can save the color profile in metadata as you shoot it, you will still need to apply color correction in post-production.

4. Less fuss: JPEG is supported by all devices and programs.

Each individual photo editing program supports JPEG, but this does not apply to the RAW format.

Processing RAW images needs a kind of special software, which is further complicated by the fact that there is no unified standard “RAW” format.

This fact means that the editing software must support the RAW format for the specific camera model.

Even for popular programs such as Adobe Lightroom, there is often a delay of 1-2 months after the release of the camera before RAW support is added to programs for this model.

Aside from editing, JPEG is the only option for many other platforms:

  • Email – RAW images are not displayed and are often too large to send.
  • Social media platforms – most of them will not display RAW.
  • Tablets and smartphones-most will not display RAW.
  • Web browsers – most will not display RAW.

5. Earn more money: JPEG photos can create additional income flows.

One of the great things about long-term timelapse is the ability to generate revenue from your photos as they are shot, not just from the final timelapse video.

Photographers can offer additional and subscription-based services, such as:

  • Dynamic web photogallery.
  • Remote monitoring of the construction site.
  • Up-to-date construction photo embedded on the website.

All these services require that JPEG images are used correctly.

To see the complete set of additional web features, visit the Timebox camera software page.

6. Excellent photos: the image quality and size are more than sufficient.

If you were setting your photo on a freeway Billboard, the extra details caught in the RAW images could be priceless.

However, the long-term timelapse sequence will be reduced from the camera’s own resolution (say 24MP) to the standard video resolution (like 2MP for 1080P video).

In addition, video compression can be excessive (especially when uploading to social networks), so some very small details that were photographed may be lost regardless of anything.

Large JPEG files provide sufficient size and detail to create full HD videos and even 4K timelapse videos.

Some of the best videos in the long-term timelapse section we have seen, have been built from average JPEGs.

7. Select the desired resolution.

Most cameras allow you to choose the resolution of your photos – usually small, medium, or large – but on some entry-level cameras, this flexibility is only possible when shooting in JPEG format.

On these types of cameras, the RAW format can only be shot in full resolution, potentially taking up more space than necessary, or available for a long-term timelapse project!

A similar problem can occur while shooting both RAW and JPEG – some cameras only allow you to shoot large size JPEG files when you are also shooting RAW.

Even if you do not download RAW, downloading large, high-quality JPEG files can still waste your cellular data pretty fast.

Using only JPEG format in shooting always gives you the flexibility of the full range of options and resolutions available on the camera.

8. You may still need to use JPEG.

Some popular video editing programs do not support RAW photo sequences.

So that, if you are shooting RAW images, big probably you will need to convert them to JPEG if you want to import them as a sequence of photos in Adobe After Effects or Premier Pro.

Part 2: Advantages of usage of RAW format for long-term timelapse.

Shooting RAW images also brings a number of advantages that you may wish to consider.

A lot has changed in recent years, which may make you wonder if a RAW workflow might finally be worth the extra effort for your next project with a long-term timelapse.

Timebox camera fully supports shooting RAW images for timelapse directly in the cloud.

1. Wider creative control, no pre-processing.

With RAW photographs checking, you have significantly more control over every aspect of processing to get the maximum quality from your images.

It is visible that a pastry chef does not start with a finished cake, so a photographer big probably will not want to start with a pre-processed image.

RAW photographs are much more flexible, and you do not need to fix any mistakes and wrong decisions that the camera might have made while shooting.

2. Explicit color control.

The color correction is one of the greatest advantages of RAW photography.

Raw images retain more detailed color information about what the camera sensor saw.

This allows you to make powerful changes when applying filters or adding presets.

JPEG images do not contain this additional information, and attempting the same changes with a JPEG file can sometimes lead to” unnatural” results.

3. Exact match of white balance.

For a long-term timelapse occurring outdoors, as a rule, there is an experience of all kinds of lighting conditions, with corresponding differences in white balance.

With RAW images, white balance can be thoroughly selected during post-processing rather than set in the camera.

This fact allows you to use software to help ensure a very consistent white balance between shots.

While most programs offer white balance adjustments in JPEG files, trying to make large changes to the white balance in JPEG files often leads to strange results – there may be a conspicious color cast or colors may seem unnatural.

4. Full dynamic range saved.

Smaller JPEG image file sizes are really expensive.

A significant part of these savings comes from the extraction of many sophisticated tonal details hidden in the areas of illumination and shadow of the image.

This information is not easily visible to the naked human eye, so the data is “cropped”, and the details are discarded.

However, this information is very useful when editing.

During editing JPEG images, you may find out that only a limited range of backlight and shadow adjustment is possible before you encounter unwanted blocks of solid white or black.

When working with RAW images, the full dynamic range of the camera is saved in the file, which allows you to make the image lighter or darker for 3-4 stops, while preserving many details.

This can be an unexpected turn for timelapse projects that encounter great and frequent changes in lighting conditions, for example, where there are moving shadows cast into place at a certain time of the day.

By adjusting parameters such as “gamma”, “shadows” or “restoration”, you can restore details in shadows and highlights to get an image with a lot of tonal details.

This can help to create a more consistent exposure in your final long-term timelapse film, with a larger dynamic range representing a more natural look.

These methods are really effective only when working with files in the RAW format.

Part 3: How to shoot RAW and JPEG together for a long time lapse.

Both RAW and JPEG formats bring their strengths and advantages to shooting of long-term construction timelapse.

However, these two formats should not be competitors! With Timebox Camera there is no need to put yourself inside the frames, as you can shoot in these two formats.

As it shown below, the most common workflow is downloading JPEG files to use the timelapse web gallery, while RAW images will be stored locally on high-capacity SSDs from where they will be periodically retrieved.

1. Capture RAW and JPEG images.

Firstly, you can configure the camera to shoot both formats, which gives you the flexibility of RAW for editing, as well as the advantages of JPEG quick access and significant compatibility.

When choosing a camera, consider whether the camera will allow you to set the JPEG size when shooting with RAW together.

Some cameras only allow you to combine RAW with large, high-quality JPEG files, which can be prohibitively expensive to download.

2. Download JPEG.

By uploading JPEG photographs over your cellular network, you can take advantage of the Timebox timelapse web gallery and other online specificities, creating opportunities for you to generate additional revenue from your customers.

3. Save RAW format images to SSD … or download them too!

The Timebox camera comes with Samsung’s large 500GB SSD.

To save on data costs, you can save RAW – images and upload manually as you will need them.

Moreover, you can configure the Timebox Camera to download RAW images — either over a cellular network or over a local network.

But, before you do this, be sure to consider any additional data transfer costs that you incur.


So, that’s it! We hope this article will help you to assess whether RAW or JPEG formats are suitable, or both for your next projects in a long-term timelapse.

What is your desirable time lapse photo format? And how does this affect your workflow?

For any questions regarding the Timebox platform, or to find out how the Timebox camera can help your workflow and increase your business income, you can contact our sales managers who are glad to help you.