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What Does Raw Mean In Photography

By | 04/11/2022



Is Shooting RAW or JPEG better for you?

If yous inquire a photographer, “practice you shoot RAW or JPEG?” be prepared for a very passionate respond, every bit the unlike file formats provide a very polarizing split between photographers. Just because people become very passionate about their choice doesn’t mean that there’s just one correct answer, because just like well-nigh other topics in photography, each person has their ain circumstances that influence choices. Whether you lot should shoot RAW or JPEG (or both) can depend on several factors.

Let’s take a expect at what JPEG and RAW files are before we talk about why each 1 should be used. JPEGs are a standardized format that are designed to exist a smaller file size that tin exist read by all computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices without the need for specialized software. This makes it very easy to share but it also comes with some downsides:

Much of the information encoded in a JPEG is baked-in, meaning that whatever edits washed to the file are subversive and there will be a slight loss in quality.

Image quality options with a star side by side to them utilize compression intended to ensure maximum quality; the size of the files varies with the scene. Options without a star use a type of compression designed to produce smaller files; files tend to be roughly the same size regardless of the scene recorded. You can really change the compression settings of a JPEG by selecting whether y’all want it to give priority to epitome quality or file size in the photographic camera.

A RAW photo on the other paw contains all the image data captured by the photographic camera’southward sensor, along with all the metadata (the camera’southward identification and its settings, the lens used, and much more). Due to all of that extra data, the file size is much larger than a JPEG, and considering the data is in a “raw” form, specific photo-centric software is required to edit the photo. That ways more time volition exist spent on postal service-production since you
edit your files but information technology too means you can make many different edits without whatever loss in quality cheers to the non-subversive nature of the file.

What software tin yous use to edit the RAW files? You can either utilise Nikon’s free Capture NX-D software which is able to see and keep withal settings that you take set in the camera (such as Active D-Lighting, Picture Control, Vignette Control) or y’all tin employ third party software, keeping in mind that third political party software cannot read much of the camera settings, giving yous a little scrap more than work to practice on your photos since you’re starting from scratch.

A JPEG is smaller and tin can exist shared right out of the camera while a RAW file is much larger and must exist edited before it can be shared. That doesn’t sound like a hard choice, the JPEG sounds much easier to bargain with. While that’s true from an “ease-of-utilize” standpoint, more serious photographers who want greater editing flexibility volition detect a RAW file is worth the actress editing time.

Permit’southward expect at a little bit of math to explain a few ways why yous tin can achieve higher overall quality with a RAW file thanks to the technical reason—bit depth. A JPEG is an 8-bit file, which means each channel (red, green and blue) in a pixel tin can tape up to 256 levels of luminosity. By multiplying each channel together (256 x 256 x 256) you get a theoretical maximum color depth of 16,777,216. This ways that an 8-fleck file has the ability to show up to 16.78 million color tones at each pixel.

On higher-end Nikon cameras you lot can select whether you lot want the RAW file to be recorded either as a 12- or 14-bit file, which will give you an incredible 1.07 billion or 68.68 billion possible color tones respectively.

Why and When to shoot at the highest 14-chip quality is a topic for some other article but the of import thing to take away from these numbers is not that more colors are possible when shooting at a higher flake-depth, merely that tonal gradation (the steps in between colors) are much finer.

Ok, and so how does all this math affect your final image? Accept you ever seen an image of a blue heaven with visible banding?

This is called posterization and chances are that the original photo was an 8-bit JPEG and it was heavily edited, then the lack of tonal range (yes, I know, it sounds strange proverb that 16 meg is a small tonal range) has caused the banding. If the photo was taken equally a RAW file, the larger tonal gradation would hateful a much smoother colour transition in the sky.

On superlative of more color tones being recorded, i of the principal benefits of a larger flake depth is the retentiveness of a larger dynamic range, which can greatly bear upon how much breadth you have when editing your photos. If you always get the exposure perfect than a larger latitude may non be of much benefit to you, merely if yous want to rescue a poorly exposed photo, or if you lot frequently play with the highlight and shadow regions of your photos then information technology could exist very valuable.

Benefits of RAW over JPEG

For important shoots, I by and large shoot RAW in instance I demand to make major adjustments to the photo afterwards. Equally an example, on a contempo trip to Botswana, I was photographing some birds against a backlit sky when nosotros were startled by an elephant that came out of the bushes not 15 feet from our truck. Without thinking I turned and started shooting the elephant while the camera’due south exposure was nonetheless set to over-expose the backlit bailiwick.

Chris Ogonek

The original photograph was mistakenly heavily overexposed.

As you can imagine when I finally reviewed my images a few minutes after I realized what I had done just it was too late to go back and recreate that moment. If I had shot this as a JPEG, this is the furthest I could accept pushed the file because of the smaller dynamic range when editing the file.

Chris Ogonek

If the photo had been taken as a JPEG and it was tried to be recovered, this is the extent that it could exist “fixed”.

Discover that the color, dissimilarity and saturation in the entire photo is quite low, and it leaves the photo lacking the dial that yous would look and promise from this amazing field of study.

You actually kickoff to get a sense of how much more dynamic range is available in a RAW file when you look at the edited RAW prototype. Notice the amazing blue sky and the amount of item and dissimilarity in the wrinkles of the elephant’due south peel.

Chris Ogonek

The memory of a larger dynamic range allowed the RAW file to be heavily manipulated, and fifty-fifty though information technology was overexposed at the fourth dimension of shooting, it was able to be “saved” in post-production.

Chris Ogonek

A 75% ingather of the to a higher place corrected RAW file.

So far, y’all’ve seen a couple examples of why shooting RAW is better:

  • Larger tonal gradation helps continue issues similar posterization away

  • A larger retained dynamic range gives yous more than latitude while editing

Simply for the casual photographer who doesn’t want to be forced into editing every single photo they take, is shooting RAW ever the best selection? Non always, no. Non only do RAW files require more time editing, but they take up more infinite on the memory card and they will make full up your camera’due south buffer faster too. So, you’ll be forced to shoot smaller continuous bursts and you’ll need larger memory cards every bit well.

When you might exist taking a lot of shots in a small-scale time period, and the lighting conditions aren’t all that tricky, shooting JPEGs are a safety bet that volition save you a lot of time and energy. The one key affair that all JPEG shooters should be aware of, is knowing which Movie Control y’all’ve selected on your camera. In-depth data near Moving-picture show Controls tin be constitute in other manufactures on our website, but essentially, it’s controlling the look of your photograph past irresolute the contrast, saturation and sharpness based on the scene you lot’re shooting and the expect you lot want.

A Third Option: RAW + JPEG

There is a third option—RAW + JPEG—that tries to give you the best of both worlds by letting you lot shoot both RAW and JPEG at the exact aforementioned fourth dimension. If you’ve selected the right Picture Control and you’ve properly exposed the photo, then the JPEG should be all that y’all demand but for those times when some editing is required you take the RAW file available.

There’s not a single correct answer when information technology comes to whether you lot shoot RAW or JPEG but it depends on what you’re shooting and the workflow you’re comfortable with. If you lot’ve merely ever shot JPEG, mayhap try shooting RAW for a couple days and see what it’s like having to edit your photos and seeing how much more control you have in the process. Conversely, if you only always shoot RAW, think back and see if you really need to edit every single photo. If not, possibly try RAW + JPEG and see how good of a job the camera’s internal EXPEED processor does when y’all’ve selected the right Picture Control and exposure combination. Either way, endeavor and call up outside of what you normally do and try something new with your camera.

Sharing via SnapBridge

Near every Nikon camera now has built-in Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth making it easier than ever for anybody to instantly share loftier-quality photos from their Nikon camera to their compatible smart device then they are easy to share on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms.

Whether you lot shoot RAW (NEF) and catechumen to JPEG in the camera or shoot JPEG files to begin with, you can use SnapBridge to share those images from the camera to your smart device and and so with the world.

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Source: https://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/a/tips-and-techniques/is-shooting-raw-or-jpeg-better-for-you.html