Raw Photography: Why the RAW File Format Is Right for You

March 13, 2014

Raw Photography: Why the RAW File Format Is Right for YouThe raw movement is all the rage these days – the raw photography movement, that is. If you’re looking to get the most out of your photographs, it’s time to stop letting the camera firmware do all the work for you and to take full control of your images by working with the RAW file format. Before you dive in headfirst, take a few minutes to learn more about what RAW files really are, and the advantages and disadvantages of RAW photography.

The RAW Format Explained

When the shutter on a digital camera opens, the sensor records the image as a series of varying electrical charges determined by the amount of light reaching the sensor. When you shoot in JPG format, the camera then uses its built-in software to process the raw data into a format that can be easily viewed, edited and printed. While it is convenient, this in-camera processing can reduce image quality and limit exposure and color-balance-correction options.

When shooting in RAW, the data is minimally processed in the camera. Instead, you open the image using a RAW converter program on your computer, which allows you to make fine adjustments to the image with more control and finesse than the camera firmware does.

RAW Format Advantages

As a tool for serious photographers, the RAW image format is unrivaled in image quality and editing flexibility. Here are some of the key advantages to shooting with RAW over JPG.

RAW Format Disadvantages

Of course, you never get something for nothing, and shooting RAW is no exception. While the drawbacks to RAW over JPG are minor for most people, they’re still worth noting.

RAW Is Good for You

While the transition to RAW photography from shooting JPG may take some adjustment, the benefits for the professional photographer shooting RAW cannot be overlooked or overstated. If you want total control over your images, there is only one way to go – RAW.

Photo credit: morgueFile