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. 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 though the previous post was about the advantages of RAW, this post will just try to present more information about RAW.

Tip 1171 (Can use both RAW + JPEG): Most cameras that allow saving the generated images as RAW will also give an option to save the image as both RAW and JPEG (with a subset of cameras giving an option to save the full size JPEG or a reduced size JPEG). The advantage of generating RAW + JPEG is that you have the RAW image available for you to play with for optimization of the image, but for quick purposes, you have a JPEG (you may need to send the JPEG’s to somebody, or even share it with friends and family and using RAW for that option is not really feasible).

Tip 1172 (RAW is not a format): RAW is not a format. You may hear that cameras generate images that can be saved in RAW format, but it is not a format. In a quick sense, RAW means that all the data generated by the camera is saved, and the resultant image data is proprietary to the camera maker and needs software to process. Each and every release of a new camera typically means that the RAW data has gotten modified, and hence your software to read the RAW data also needs to be updated. The advantage is that camera makers work with software companies in advance to ensure that such software updates come out fairly quickly. But if you have Lightroom or Photoshop CC, then you should take the latest version if you are having a recent camera.

Tip 1173 (RAW images take more space, but ..): RAW images take much more space than JPEG images. For example, I have the following camera Canon EOS Rebel T4i and the RAW files it generates RAW images that are around 20MB in size while a full size JPEG image would be around 9-10 MB. However, storage media are pretty cheap now and hence this is no longer a significant problem for me.

Tip 1174 (Having the time to do tweaking of RAW): Face it, tweaking of RAW files takes significantly more time that doing the same for JPEG, and a certain higher skill level (you can do much more); the problem is whether you believe that you have the time to do this kind of tweaking. I have a friend who generates RAW + JPEG, but because of a busy professional life, she does not really have the time to do tweaking for more than 10 images. What she does use is the JPEG that was generated, and in such cases, I would always recommend that you not really do RAW. You should have the time and the enthusiasm to do the tweaking in RAW.

Tip 1175 (Shooting large number of images): If you are in the habit of shooting a large number of images, and I know friends and colleagues who have shot upto a 1000 images a day, then generating a huge number of images that they are not going to have the time to process itself is a problem. Once I was on a trip with such a person, and just the time spent everyday on importing the photos from the card to the computer for backup and storage (and also to empty the card) was a painful process.

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

Read more about understanding RAW in the next post.

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