Understanding the RAW Format

November 09, 2015

Understanding the RAW Format

I shoot all my images in the RAW format and it’s been my preferred format for pretty much as long as I have been shooting with a digital SLR.

I like to shoot in RAW for several reasons.

  • It gives me greater control over my images. Shooting RAW allows me to to decide how the photo is processed rather than leaving those decisions to my camera.
  • The RAW format is more forgiving. It gives me more latitude in terms of correcting exposure problems. And I don’t have to get the white balance setting right in the camera. I can worry about that later.
  • The quality of RAW images is better. JPEGs are compressed files and that compression is lossy. This means the data is discarded and the image is degraded when it is saved as a JPEG. But when working with RAW files, you are working with all of the data collected by the sensor. Nothing is thrown away.
  • RAW files have a larger dynamic range.This means that RAW files can retain details in the highlights and shadows better than JPEGs.

So, for me, RAW is the way to go.

All this said, there are certainly advantages to shooting JPEG. JPEGs are smaller files and so take up less disk space. And you can print JPEGs right out of the camera if you want, without having to do any post processing.

The bottom line is that there really is no right or wrong answer. The choice between RAW and JPEG is up to you and it’s a choice that’s should be based on the workflow that works best for you and your life style.

The two videos below may help you decide.



For Further Reading…

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Shooting RAW

Why I Stopped Shooting Only in JPEG And Learned To Love RAW

Four times when you should shoot raw

Should you be shooting RAW?


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