Shooting in RAW

Have you ever been so excited about an image and uploaded it to your computer only to be disappointed? No matter how much you try to fix it, editing just can’t help it. I know something that could have!

Shoot in RAW! Most cameras by default write images to your memory card in JPEG (or JPG) format. The camera does some post processing of the image. You don’t want it to do this. You want complete control over the image.

If you switch your camera to RAW mode, the camera will not process the images and will save it as a RAW file. RAW files make higher quality images and are often called digital negatives since you can do so much more with them. For my Canon the RAW file format is .CR2 instead of .JPEG.

Since the camera has not processed the image a RAW file is bigger. It contains more information which means there’s more you can adjust.

An underexposed RAW file

Edited using Adobe Lightroom

A disadvantage of using RAW mode is that you need software to read the image files and to convert them to a printable format. Programs such as Adobe Lightroom and GIMP (an open-source program) can read and edit RAW images. There are also some brand-specific programs out there.

Another concern is that is takes the camera longer to record the RAW file than it does to record the JPEG. The camera will need to buffer (or take a breather) after so many continuous shots sooner in RAW mode than in JPEG. For example, you may be able to hold the shutter button and record 60 continuous images in JPEG mode but only 25 in RAW mode.

I don’t find the disadvantages inhibiting. Memory cards are cheap if you buy them online, so the larger files should be no excuse. I also don’t need to shoot 60 frames consecutively so I don’t factor that in when I decide whether or not to shoot RAW.

If you’re uncertain about whether you will want to process the images you can shoot in RAW+JPEG mode which creates one of each type of file on your memory card. This will need memory space for both files so it will even further decrease the number of images that can be stored. However, you may wish to use this option while you are learning to shoot in RAW mode.

Feel free to share your RAW & edited images with us! I’d love to see them.

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