One of the conversations I often have with clients/friends is what is so special about RAW? Well, this is a personal choice – to shoot in RAW or .jpeg format – but for my work I will try and explain why RAW is my choice most of the time.
RAW is one of the available ‘quality’ settings on the camera which you can set and the camera/sensor/processors then accepts the image given and does minimal editing or tweaking to the shot. In other words, the image is RAW not ‘cooked’ – whereas the .jpeg setting DOES edit. It adjusts colour, removes redundant pixels (thus markedly reducing the file size) and attempts to cleverly render a shot that is, as near as dammit, the finished product. So, if RAW format photos require further work back home why bother?
And here is my ‘because’… because if YOU want control of the eventual end product you can do this in RAW – it is more under your control.
RAW, because it is NOT edited in camera, does not have any redundant pixels removed (as the camera’s edit sees it if in .jpeg setting) so, unlike .jpeg, the file size is a lot larger – hence fewer photos in this format can be loaded onto a memory card than with .jpeg. But the upside is that whilst you may not have the finished cake, as cooked by using .jpeg, you DO have all the ingredients to bake the cake how YOU want, not how the camera dictates.
Also with jpegs you only have an 8 bit image NOT 12 or 14 bit as in a RAW image – in other words, you have a wider colour range, or gamut, at your disposal. Shadows can be better lightened, over-exposed bright areas can be taken down a bit, sky detail can be brought out better and the whole tone rendered more accurately.
Also, with RAW files if you shoot in the wrong White Balance setting it can be amended in the RAW Converter later whereas a jpeg shot with the wrong white balance cannot – you are stuck with it.
There is lots more that can be read up on regarding RAW vs .jpeg but for my work it is RAW every time. Try it!
As shot in RAW – no editing done
Jpeg processed from a RAW file – with details brought out – compare the skies.