What if I am not shooting RAW?
You don’t have to shoot RAW to use the zone system; it is applicable to any photographic medium. However, the available dynamic range will be smaller. Here are the zone rulers made from the Nikon’s RAW images as previously illustrated:
Here is the zone ruler made from the same exposures, this time using the .jpg rather than the RAW (.nef) files:
The dynamic range between black and white is only seven stops. And this seems like a good time to revisit the zone system myths described in the previous section: if you are shooting .jpg or .tif, your images will not fit the “zone system = 10 zones” mold. Putting what is intended to be textured highlights on zone VIII, for example, will simply not work.