I have made mention in previous posts about the importance of shooting in the RAW format, and I figured now is as good as any time to explain the difference. It's really quite simple when you think about it, and I believe I have a really simple way to explain it.
First things first, all cameras capture RAW images, it is what they do with them that determines what options you will have. For example, your mobile device captures a RAW image and quickly processes it into a JPEG file. For your day to day snapshots this works out great, you do have the ability to edit the JPEG file but you are limited.
Analogy time. The JPEG file format is like a freshly baked cookie, it's delicious and exactly what you want. But what if it didn't turn out the exact way you wanted it to, it's to dry, not enough chocolate chips or maybe it's just a bit off taste. At this point there isn't much you can do to fix the freshly baked cookie, sure it's a cookie but you aren't satisfied with the way it came out. Well this is what you face with a JPEG image, all the settings are baked in and there is no going back. Some of the things that are baked in are white balance, picture control and overall exposure levels for the image.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the RAW file format, lets call it the pantry. With the pantry if the cookies come out off you can always rework your recipe and give it a go. At first glance of the RAW file you might wonder what the big deal is, the image is flat and lacks definition, well this is due to the fact that unlike JPEG files no clarity, contrast, or any adjustment has been done to the file. That's where you come in, you get to set the image to what fits your vision. A RAW file can have up to five times the amount of data as compared to a JPEG. With this mass amount of data you have more options when it comes to post processing your image, white balance a bit off you can fix that, shadow areas to dark, you can fix that or you left your camera in black and white not to worry since you shot in RAW all the color data is there.
This does not mean that you can run around and shoot all willy nilly, you still need to set your proper exposure levels and try to get as close as you can to the desired look that you want. So if you are still om the fence switch from shooting in just JPEG to JPEG + RAW and give it a try and I'm going to guess that you will like the results. Don't forget to Shoot What You Love, Love What You Shoot.