October 2013
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5 tips to improve your photography skills – Understanding RAW (contd..)

The previous set of tips (5 tips for learning about RAW) dealt with some knowledge of the advantage of shooting with RAW vs. shooting with JPEG. So what is RAW ? Well, as the name suggests, RAW is all the data that the camera sensor captures while taking a photo. RAW data is huge, much larger than JPEG. Even when shooting with JPEG, the camera still collects all the information that it captures in the form of a RAW image, and then converts this using some camera settings to create a JPEG image. The generated JPEG image is lossy and has lost some of the data that was captured by the sensor. There is no standard for RAW formats, they differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from camera to camera. Photographers are divided over whether they should shoot in RAW or JPEG, with ardent defenders of both. I tend to shoot in RAW, and the previous posts was about the advantages of RAW and the last post was just about some points of RAW. The idea was that somebody should go through all the points rather than just learning about the advantages or disadvantages of RAW and then take their own decision:

Tip 1181 (When doing any processing, need to use JPEG): When you need to do any kind of processing with your images, keep in mind that you will have to use JPEG images, and not RAW. So for example, supposed you need to send photos to a site for storage or even to Facebook or Flickr, or to send to an online printing site to get some prints, you will be using JPEG and not RAW. Which also means that if you are doing any of the described post-processing steps, there are additional steps that are required for converting into JPEG. Keep this in mind if you need to shoot / save your photos in RAW or JPEG.

Tip 1182 (Additional effort for reading JPEG files): I mentioned earlier about needing additional software such as the Camera RAW that comes with Lightroom or Photoshop CC. But a lot of people do not realize how difficult their normal workflows become when you use RAW. For example, you have the files in your File Explorer, and they show up as icons and not as the thumbnail that you would see with JPEG’s. You could download additional software to enable these icons to show up as thumbnails, but it is not so easy and even with some applications, it still is slower than the thumbnails that are quickly rendered for JPEG’s.

Tip 1183 (RAW files look different in different software): You would think that the same RAW image would look the same when using different RAW plugins. However, this is not true. I could be using Adobe’s Camera RAW converter, or I could be using the Nikon or Canon native software, or I could be using plugins that come along with Irfanview, or the plugins that work with MS image viewers, and the image does look different. As a result, the editing to be done can be different since you are not really sure what the original version looks like.

Tip 1184 (Online storage): Most online storage do not really cater to RAW, they work with JPEG’s. Or if some of them do support RAW, the increased cost of having RAW support and the need for increased online storage cost (which is much higher than the cost of offline storage) ensures that people would prefer to use JPEG as the preferred medium in which to save the image, rather than RAW.

Tip 1185 (Recovering photos with blown highlights): When looking at images which are over-exposed, I have seen some great examples of images where people have managed to recover details from an over-exposed photos that would not really be possible if the only object you had to work on was a JPEG image. You might still have to junk the JPEG photo after you tried to recover some details from the JPEG. Look at this example (link, look for the section “UPDATE: Two years forward”)

Understanding RAW Photography The Digital Negative Adobe Camera Raw for Digital Photographers

Some Youtube videos that might help:

Digital Photography RAW vs JPEG Part 1

Digital Photography 1 on 1

Jpeg vs. Raw Files – Digital Photography Tips

WHAT IS RAW? 2 MINUTE Photography Tutorials for Beginners

Raw vs JPEG: Real-world photography examples, advantages

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