Looking at the higher quality JPEG's compared to some of my more recent RAW's, I'm beginning to believe that with the correct camera settings, I can trust my cameras ability to capture JPEG's that are almost A.Net ready. Just a quick level and resize, maybe tinker with the levels, brightness, and contrast just a smidge, throw in a couple passes of light USM and I'm done. No fuss, no stepping away from the monitor to rest my eyes, no checking for clipped highlights and shadows and all the other drudgery of editing RAW's.
With RAW's you have much work to do. I can edit and upload a JPEG in 5-10 minutes max. RAW = at least 20-30 minutes per capture.
Yes, you may argue that you have total control over your files with RAW, but how accurate is your interpretation of what you thought you saw through the viewfinder?
Take these two images for example (WARNING - self plug alert!!!):
Photo © Ryan C. Umphrey
Photo © Ryan C. Umphrey
The top image is straight out of the camera with a slight levels adjustment to add brightness and contrast, plus USM applied. Camera settings are +2 saturation, +1 tone and zero on both sharpening and contrast. 5 minutes tops spent on this image.
The bottom capture was imaged in RAW. The original file looked pretty dark and dull. I first added about 1/3 stop of exposure and then warmed up the white balance considerably. The original had a cooler bluish hue/tint that was not attractive. I added color saturation to the warm image to give it a nice appearance. Since it was already a high contrast situation, I didn't really have to do much else other than add my standard sharpening. I think I worked on the file about 25 minutes.
Here's my point: I think RAW has its advantages, however, with today's high-tech digital cameras, you should at least give JPEG a chance before you rush out and capture everything in RAW. I would recommend to everyone who owns a camera with RAW capability to at least to do some in-depth experimenting with your camera settings and give JPEG a chance first. When you get comfortable with that you can move on to shooting RAW, but be prepared to spend much more time in front of the monitor to get it right.
I've got the next 2 days off here in DFW and then I'm off to ATL for three days (hurricane pending). I'm going to give JPEG another shot, mainly because I've had decent success with it in the past, not because I don't like the flexibility that RAW offers. I think RAW is an excellent mode of capturing data, but YOU have to be the "digital darkroom".