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A Little “Gottcha” on Importing *only* RAW or JPEG

PhotoJoseph's picture
November 5, 2010 - 5:29am

This tip came via reader @blakecaldwell over at F-STOPPING

Let’s say you’re shooting RAW+JPEG on a camera that also shoots movies (i.e., most cameras these days), and that you’ve shot a few movies in addition to stills on your day about town. Then let’s say that you choose to import just the RAW (or just the JPEG) images, because really you just had the JPEG (or the RAW) files as backup, or in case you wanted them, or whatever. But right now, on import, you’re only going to import the RAW files. Great! There’s a feature for that…

But here’s the rub… once you select one of these “…only” options, the “only” is quite literal. Any movies on the card will NOT show up in the selection. And if you don’t realize this, you could end up importing your photos, wiping the card, and inadvertently erasing your movies that were never imported!

It’s an odd distinction, because when you choose either of the “Both…” options, your movies show up. But if you choose an “…only”, they don’t. The description is exceptionally literal, so caveat shootor, and all that jazz.

Apple Aperture

Very interesting….

I do shoot video ocassinally on the D3S and also RAW+JPEG so I can see in B&W on the LCD, but I dump the JPEG on import and apply a B&W adjustment to the RAW.

Seems this would be a good candidate for an AppleScript that deletes the JPEGS after import.

"There is nothing worse than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy concept." Ansel Adams


I’m a Canon shooter, not Nikon, but I don’t imagine this is any different—on the Canon, the image you’re looking at on the LCD on the back of the camera isn’t the RAW, and isn’t the JPEG if you’re shooting RAW+JPEG, but it’s actually a small JPEG file that’s embedded inside the RAW file at the moment of capture. Aperture actually takes advantage of those files to speed up viewing while importing; that’s the first file you see when you see an image on your screen (check out this article for more info on that: A Comprehensive Look at Thumbnails, Previews, and More in Aperture 3).

This means that there’s no need to shoot RAW+JPEG just because you’re shooting B&W—at least not if you never intend to import the JPEG. I’ll shoot RAW+JPEG when shooting B&W but then import both files, because sometimes I see a B&W that I really like straight from the camera, and will want to use that as-is, without having to craft my own. But otherwise, there’s no need.

At least… that’s how it is on the Canon.

-Joseph @ApertureExpert

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Good point Joseph,

Yes you are right, on the Nikon as well, you are just seeing the embedded JPEG.
I’ll try just shooting RAW with the Picture Control to B&W. Aperture will just ignore the controls anyway and let me apply my own Adjustment preset.

Simple ! - Thank you !

"There is nothing worse than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy concept." Ansel Adams


Glad that’s working the same for you. Just FYI—Aperture isn’t ignoring the controls; remember that the adjustments made by the camera are only recorded to the JPEG (and embedded JPEG). Neither Aperture, nor Lightroom, Photoshop, or anything other than proprietary software from the camera manufacturer can read the treatment that the camera made and allow you to tweak it.

Personally, when I set my camera to B&W (which is rare, to be honest), is the only time I’ll shoot RAW+JPEG, because sometimes it’s just nice to get the treatment from the camera.

-Joseph @ApertureExpert

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Joseph, I shoot Nikon and when import from my camera D300, I do not see in viewer / split view, the RAW pictures but the JPEG version of the RAW one. How does this work ? What do I need to do to see the RAW picture and be able to process it from there. I only shoot RAW ( not RAW + JPEG ). Please advise.
Best regards


I’m not completely sure I understand what you’re saying. When you shoot RAW only, and import those, you’re working with the RAW file—always. If you shoot JPG only, then same thing. If you shoot RAW+JPEG, then you can choose on import which is the default file, and at any time you can switch JPG or RAW to work with.

What you’re looking at on screen is the RAW file, if that’s what you imported. When you export a version, then you’re exporting whatever you like—JPG, TIF, or the original RAW file.

If that isn’t answering your question, please start a discussion in the User Forum.

-Joseph @ApertureExpert

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