The movie era, despite its many virtues, had one major drawback: their photos were shot on film and required some expertise to work in the dark room.

Digital cameras have completely changed this with the advent of digital removable storage. You can take as many photos as you want (or whatever your memory card can store) and delete them if you do not like them.

  An objective image of a retro-film-based camera.

An objective image of a retro-film-based camera

This approach has another advantage: thanks to the magic of the software, digital photos can now finally be edited. But over time, many of the image data has been compressed by the camera's image processor (especially when taken in black and white or with an image style). In addition, the JPEG image format is inherently lossy. Imagine what MP3 is for audio files. Therefore, the RAW format became popular. Let's take a closer look at the power of RAW .

What is RAW?

RAW is not named. Some companies call it DNG (for digital negatives) because RAW is essentially the digital negative of a photo. When we record JPEG (the default image format in just about any camera), half of the work is done by the sensor (the light is detected) and the rest is done by the processor, which compresses Add a Bayer Add Matrix Filter and output it to a JPEG file.

RAW makes only half of it. The image is captured, but the decision to compress or edit it is up to you. This gives you full control over the image from the stage. It also gives you lossless data to work with.

Example: A 24 MP camera captures a JPEG that can be about 10 MB in size, while a RAW photo is about 24 MB or more because RAW did not discard any of the image data.

But why RAW?

This is extremely useful, for example, when shooting high-priority projects that need to be displayed. Or if you do something niche like astrophotography, where more data yields better and better images.

RAW has evolved so much that even the camera settings that you took the picture in are saved to a file as metadata. This means that you can re-make some post-processing settings, such as white balance or ISO.

Best of all, changes applied to a RAW file are not saved but can be exported to another format, which means that your original files are not affected are. This allows you to rollback if necessary.

Another advantage is that with a RAW file, unlike a JPEG file, you have much more options for editing your pictures. The editing tolerance is much finer with RAW files than with JPEG files.

How do I start?

It's not that difficult. Switch to the image format setting in your camera's settings. There should be a setting called RAW (for Canon ) or DNG (for Nikon Samsung, Sony, etc.). If you have a smartphone, it probably also supports RAW. At least the newer mid-range tuners.

Otherwise, there are many third-party apps that can take RAW images (but make sure your phone is compatible with the app because the sensor may not handle them.)

There are disadvantages of using RAW ?

Pretty many.

For example, RAW files are big. Very large. While some people appreciate the lossless data, you'll find that your memory cards run out pretty fast if you turn in RAW and nothing else.

Another factor you should keep in mind is that you have to rework almost every image you've taken, as they all have almost no post processing. So the pictures from the camera are pretty flat.

The editing workflow for RAW is slightly longer than that of a JPEG image and only becomes more apparent when you need to process a large amount of images. Programs like Lightroom that have batch editing make this step a little easier, but it's a point to keep in mind.

Shooting in RAW is also slower, but it also depends on the camera you use. For example, smartphones can shoot RAW photos, but are incredibly slow. The same applies to point-and-shoot cameras.

Even entry-level DSLRs can not use proper burst mode in RAW recording because the files fill the buffer so quickly.

Next time you shoot, show some love to RAW mode.



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