Shooting in Camera RAW
Camera RAW has been a controversial topic amongst photographers; while it’s a great talking point, with photographers both for and against shooting in Camera RAW, not many amateur photographers are familiar with it. Does Camera RAW mean anything to you? If not, read on?
What is Camera RAW?
Camera RAW, or more correctly a Camera RAW image file is a file type capturing minimally processed data from a digital camera. Being unprocessed, Camera RAW image files are not ready for printing or editing with a bitmap graphics editor. RAW image files are often referred to as ‘digital negatives’ ? comparable to film negatives, which are not directly usable as an image, but contain all the information to create an image.
Camera RAW versus JPG
We’re all familiar with JPG files, and this is the format in which the majority of us take our photos. Unlike a Camera RAW image file, a JPG file is processed and rendered ? ready for editing or printing. JPG images were invented to transport images, rather than capture them, which is why some professional photographers advocate shooting in Camera RAW.
There is no right or wrong answer ? both Camera RAW and JPG have their pros and cons.
Pros of Shooting Camera RAW
- Camera RAW shoots in a wider range of colour
- Camera RAW allows you access to all the information of an image, thereby allowing you to change its characteristics ? sharpness, saturation, exposure ? with less loss in quality than a jpg
- White balance can be more readily adjusted.
Cons of Shooting Camera RAW
- Camera RAW image files are larger than JPGs ? sometime three times the size ? taking up more room on your memory card and sometimes slowing down camera operation, as well
- When shooting in a burst, Camera RAW files can quickly fill up your camera’s buffer.
Working with Camera RAW image files
Some points to keep in mind:
- Many of the latest digital cameras have the option to shoot in Camera RAW or JPG. Consult your digital camera’s quality settings to see what’s available.
- Image manipulation software ? like Photoshop CS4 ? offer powerful features which can be used to manipulate images in a Camera Raw function
- Before editing, save your Camera RAW file as a JPG or TIFF
- Remember to keep the original Camera RAW image file ? you will need to be able to revert back to it for any new edits, so always save edited images as a new file (a processed image).
Digital Negative Files (.dng)
Unfortunately, different camera brands have their own method for capturing Camera RAW, with their own file extensions (for example, Canon uses .cr). Adobe developed the digital negative file (.dng) format back in 2004, as an attempt to set some sort of industry standard for RAW files. It wraps up pixels in a smaller container than the RAW files downloaded from your camera ? very handy.
Download a .dng converter from Adobe ? it works with almost all of the Adobe Photoshop packages. It’s a simple application which converts RAW files to .dng files.