Should I Always Shoot In Raw

By | 31/10/2022


Y’all’ve probably heard over and over that you should be shooting in RAW.

But do y’all know why it’s so important? And what information technology really means for your images? Permit’due south sort information technology out!

Outset off…

What is RAW?

RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you have a photo.

When shooting in a format like JPEG prototype information is compressed and lost. Because no data is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce college quality images, as well as correct trouble images that would exist unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

And happily many many cameras these days shoot RAW (acquire how to shoot raw here), including point and shoots!

And so even if you’re using a little camera, yous might however be able to have advantage of the RAW file format (just check your camera manual to run across!).

Desire to create stunning photos by easily controlling your camera?Here’due south our consummate guide!

Shooting RAW vs JPEG: Advantages

So, the benefits of RAW… At that place are quite a few, and they’re super important!

Permit’s listing ‘em out:

one. Get the Highest Level of Quality

This is i of the biggest benefits.
When you shoot in RAW you record
of the data from the sensor.

This gives the highest quality files. And when it comes to your crawly images, you desire high quality.

Look at it this way: all cameras

shoot RAW.

Yes, information technology’southward true.

The difference when yous shoot in JPEG format is that the camera does it’southward ain processing to convert the RAW information into a JPEG.

However, your camera is nowhere near as smart every bit your brain, nor is it as powerful every bit your figurer.

When you shoot RAW, you’re able to do that processing yourself. You can make the decisions on how the image should look, and produce way ameliorate results.

2. Record Greater Levels of Effulgence

Levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white in an epitome.

The more y’all have, the smoother the transitions of tones. Polish is good.

JPEG records 256 levels of brightness, and RAW records between 4,096 to xvi,384 levels!
This is described with the term “bit”. JPEG captures in 8bit, and RAW is either 12bit or 14bit. That’due south what that bit concern ways!

The event this has on your images is huge.

Those additional steps of effulgence let you brand more adjustments (exposure, blacks, fill lite, recovery, dissimilarity, brightness) to your paradigm without a significant reduction of quality, because there’s more levels to piece of work with!

It’s also easier to avoid or correct posterization in your images when you shoot in RAW.

Posterization is the banding that you often run into in bright skies, which
doesn’t expect good in prints!

3. Easily Correct Dramatically Over/Under Exposed Images

Obviously you want to get the best exposure in camera, simply sometimes things motility fast (especially with weddings!)

And so, you lot air current up with a dramatically over or under exposed prototype.

With RAW you accept additional data in the file, so information technology’southward much easier to correct the image without a drastic reduction in quality.

Y’all can also recover more diddled highlights and clipped shadows. Good stuff.

4. Easily Adjust White Balance

When y’all shoot JPEG the white residue is applied to the image.

Y’all can’t just easily choose some other pick.

With RAW the white balance is still recorded, but because you have way more data, it’s easy to adjust.

Great white balance and color are essential to an awesome image, and shooting RAW lets you make the adjustments easier and faster, with better results.

5. Go Better Item

When you shoot RAW you take access to sharpening and dissonance algorithms in a program like Lightroom that are way more powerful than those found in your camera.

Plus, these sharpening and noise algorithms are always improving, so in the future you’ll be able to re-visit your RAW files and take advantage of these improvements.

And jetpacks.

vi. Enjoy Non-Destructive Editing

When you make adjustments to a RAW file, you’re not really doing annihilation to the original data.

What you’re doing is creating a set of instructions for how the JPEG or TIFF (another file format) version should exist saved.

The awesomness of this is that you never e’er have to worry about ruining an image, accidentally saving over, or being unable to go back and make changes.

You can ever reset your adjustments, and beginning over once more.

JPEG files lose quality every time you open them, make adjustments, and save again. True story. It’s what is known as a “lossy” file format.

Then if you’re making edits to JPEGs you lot always have to be duplicating the image and saving out a new version if you don’t want to lose file quality. Hassle.

vii. Become Better Prints

Considering of the finer gradation of tones and colours you’ll get better prints from RAW files.

Even though more and more people are shooting digital, keen prints are as important every bit e’er (maybe even more so, due to their relative rarity!)

Y’all’ll likewise get less banding, which is actually yucky on a print.

viii. Select Colour Space on Output

Colour space is a fleck of a complex topic, but here’s a quick tip.

With RAW you can choose from any colour space when you are exporting information technology out, so you can conform depending on the situation!

Is the image going on to the spider web? So output in the sRGB colour space to ensure maximum compatibility amidst web browsers.

Are the files heading to a client? Salvage it in the common Adobe RGB (1998) color space.

Do you desire the widest colour space possible? Utilise ProPhoto RGB.

Basically there are dissimilar colour spaces that work all-time for dissimilar situations, and when yous shoot RAW you lot can export a single image in multiple spaces! Sweetness!

9. Accept an Efficient Workflow

Information technology’s easier to work through large batches of images when you lot’re using a workflow centric program like Lightroom or Aperture.
They’re designed to hands process groups of RAW images. Photoshop is not meant for that kind of matter, it’s built to handle i image at a fourth dimension.

In order to accept full advantage of all the benefits of Lightroom and Discontinuity you lot should be shooting RAW!

10. It’s the Pro Option

Professionals should be providing their clients with the highest quality possible.
Issues like banding and diddled highlights are big deals when you’re offering your clients printed products. Achieving proper color residual, and choosing the correct color infinite for the situation are critical equally well.

By shooting RAW you have control, and are able to manage these issues to create the all-time results possible.

At present that some point and shoots are capable of shooting RAW, hobbyists and amateurs can besides take advantage of this pro level option, and go better files and prints! Practiced deal.

RAW vs JPEG: Downsides (and Solutions!)

Now, there are always pros and cons to every option, and RAW does have a few disadvantages.

Nosotros’ll chat virtually those, also every bit some potential solutions!

Need To Be Candy

A common argument confronting shooting RAW is that because the files demand to be processed, it takes more fourth dimension to shoot RAW than JPEG.

If yous don’t exercise any processing to your JPEGs that might be truthful.

However, virtually photographers exercise some level of processing to their JPEGs then already the argument is getting flimsy.

And then, when y’all add in the fact that adjustments like white balancing, and recovering highlights and shadows are manner faster with RAW files, and it actually begins to looks like processing RAW can be faster than JPEG!!

Then, with RAW, y’all tin easily export to JPEG, likewise equally catechumen to various sizes (like web res) at the same fourth dimension. If yous really wanted you could even shoot RAW + JPEG simultaneously!

RAW gives you mode more options, and can be processed merely as fast, if not faster, than JPEG.

Takes Up More Space

Since RAW files have more than uncompressed information they can be 2-iii times larger than JPEG files. This is definitely a business for many shooters, peculiarly those who create a lot of images.

Merely over the by few years, the cost of hard drives has really dropped, and they’re incredibly affordable!

Let’south consider a 3TB hard bulldoze.

  • A 3TB bulldoze costs most $129
  • If a large JPEG file is about 8MB, yous’ll fit 375,000 images on the bulldoze, at $0.000344/prototype
  • If a RAW file is about 30MB, you’ll fit 100,000 images on the bulldoze, at $0.00129/image

Apparently you lot can store fewer RAW files, but the number of images that y’all can cheaply store is so large for both formats that it’due south not really an event!

It’southward also probably a good idea to non identify and so many images on a unmarried hard drive. Don’t put all your photographic eggs in one handbasket!

Retention cards are the same deal. They’re constantly dropping in price. Remember when a 2GB card was over $200??

Nowadays you can inappreciably fifty-fifty buy one that minor, and 4GB is as cheap as $15. Madness!

Aye, RAW files are bigger and take upwards more space.

But that’s because they’re of higher quality. Go with high quality for the extra $0.00121/image.

Slows The Photographic camera Down

RAW files are larger than JPEGs, and then they’ll fill upwards the buffer of your camera faster.

The camera will still shoot the same frames per second, regardless of whether it is RAW or JPEG, but y’all may have to wait for the camera to write to the memory card if the buffer fills up.

If shooting fast sequences if critical for you, and y’all want to shoot RAW, yous can purchase faster memory cards, or a more expensive camera with a larger buffer.

In A Proprietary Format

RAW files are frequently recorded in a proprietary format, which means that the camera manufacturers oasis’t officially disclosed how the raw data can be converted.

Companies like Adobe either need to license software to decode the RAW files or opposite engineer how the files should be converted. (For Canon cameras the RAW format looks like .CR2 and for Nikon it’s .NEF).

The trouble hither is that you tin’t be sure that in 5, x or 20 years y’all’ll be able to easily open that RAW file if you don’t have the proper software to decode it!

A new open source RAW format has been adult in gild to overcome this obstacle. Information technology was developed by Adobe and is known as DNG (Digital Negative).

Using a program like Lightroom, you tin convert your proprietary RAW files into the open source DNG format. Information technology’s an extra step, but it will ensure your files are readable far into the future!

Already the Leica M9 shoots in the DNG format, then expect for more camera manufacturers to support this open up source format in the future!

Wrap It Upwardly!

Hopefully this await at RAW and it’s benefits has cleared things upwardly a bit!

Suggestions that RAW takes likewise long, or is too much work, don’t really hold water anymore.

These days, information technology’s super duper easy (and fast!) to process RAW files, and you lot’ll be able to go the absolute all-time quality out of those images that you put and then much time, effort and love into!

Want to create stunning photos by hands decision-making your camera? Here’s our complete guide!

UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming response to this blog post, and the questions many readers have had, we have created a followup blog post called 12 Answers To Your Burning Questions Nigh Raw. Go check information technology out!