Yes, you read that correctly: nondestructive editing. Lightroom editing workflow is based on nondestructive RAW editing. But what does that mean? Let’s discuss RAW file formats first.
The RAW file format contains a large volume of data collected from pixels of the digital sensor. It’s the best format to work with if you know you’ll be making edits in your post-processing workflow. However, to see the representation of that data, you need to use a RAW converter. That’s why using Lightroom can be so handy.
If you shoot JPEG instead of RAW, the camera’s image processor will interpret the data from the sensor and convert it into a JPEG image. There’s no converting needed from RAW. But your ability to edit without losing quality is compromised.
Lightroom will convert RAW data collected. It takes that raw data and interprets it using a set of parameters known as a profile. It then produces a visual representation of the image with the edits in the form of a JPEG preview.
Any edits you make to an image will cause Lightroom to create a JPEG preview that contains those edits. However, Lightroom does not touch or change the original RAW file. It leaves the original intact.
Only that JPEG preview it generated includes the changes you made. This is called Nondestructive Raw Editing. Nondestructive raw editing allows you to work with some unique functionalities.