Ok, the reason you’re seeing a difference in “quality and lighting” is because your RAW photos are un-processed, while the JPGs were processed in-camera to look as good as possible. Here’s a quick example from one of my own photos:
On the left is the un-processed RAW file, on the right is the camera processed JPG file.
So when we convert our RAW files to JPG, we need to do at least some very basic editing to make sure that our JPG looks good after conversion. I often use a preset in Lightroom, so that with one click I can boost contrast and saturation, reduce highlights, and add some sharpening. Then I tweak the picture to be exactly as I like it.
If you don’t have cash to put down on paid software right now, then I guess free software is the way to go! If you open your RAW files in Stepok RAW, you’ll see that it gives you some very elementary editing tools, but I don’t believe that it will let you batch edit your photos, which is unfortunate. 🙁 Unless you want to go through and edit each RAW file and save it individually, we’ll have to try some more powerful software.
RawTherapee is plenty powerful enough to do the job, (with a bit of a learning curve to learn how to use it) 🙂
Question, what camera are you using? It’s very possible that it came with free RAW processing software that will bulk process them for you with the JPG processing settings applied. If you can tell me what model of camera you have, we can see if that is an option.