Everyone has had the RAW vs JPEG debate and now it is our turn. But we wish to focus specifically on the Fujifilm X series and why we chose to shoot RAW + JPEG as apposed to one or the other file format.
In our opinion, one of the greatest Fujifilm achievements and major selling point of the X series camera system is the colour reproduction, specifically the in camera film simulation profiles. They come incredibly close to mimicking the look and feel of a traditional role of film.
In our work, the first thing we noticed when setting the in camera film profiles was the true to life skin tones across a wide variety of skin types (the closer you get in camera, the less time you waste in post trying to get it right!).
There is no doubt that the RAW file format has incredible versatility in the post production environment, far superior to JPEG. It records the maximum amount of information available at the time of capture (the way the camera sensor saw the scene without compressing the output). This becomes increasingly important when you wish to increase contrast, saturation, recover highlights or pump up the shadows after the fact.
But the trouble with the RAW file format (especially applicable to the Fujifilm camera system), the carefully crafted film simulation transforms (otherwise known as in camera presets) do not propagate through to the RAW file. Hence, if you only use the RAW file format, the charming film simulations get thrown out and you have to build up your capture from scratch in post every time. A real shame considering how versatile the profile presets are.
In order to get the best of both worlds, the flexibility of a RAW file and the excellent classic film simulations coming straight from the Fujifilm camera system, setup your gear to capture RAW + JPEG. Although more physical memory is used when recording both (two files instead of just one), the benefits outweigh the loss in Mb. Plus memory cards are relatively inexpensive and continuously getting cheaper, space is no longer a limiting factor or an excuse!
TOP TIP: When overseas or on location with limited computer access, recording both formats simultaneously gives you the option to post files on-line via an iPad or cellphone via the in camera WiFi module. To our knowledge, current mobile devices do not have RAW file support (JPEG only), hence you need to record some form of JPEG in order for the file transfers to work. We quite successfully use this feature for emergency field backups, rudimentary edits and for creating on-line material on the fly when our primary workstation is out of reach.