Raw Tuesday: the honest truth on what raw files can do for your photography

How and Why To Shoot Raw: the full truth on what raw can do for your photos

Last week we kicked off our Raw Tuesday series on using the raw format by exploring five key points every photographer should know before shooting raw files. This week we thought we would delve deeper into shooting raw and get into the how’s and why’s. In this article we’ll ask five common questions we hear about raw files, such as ‘do all pros shoot raw?’ and ‘what’s the most useful advantage of raw files over JPEGs’. We’ll explain what shooting raw files can actually do for your images, as well as what it can’t.

How and Why To Shoot Raw: the full truth on what raw can do for your photos

What are the advantages and disadvantages of shooting raw?


There are plenty of reasons to shoot raw, but there are also some reasons to stick with JPEG. Raw gives you more potential for fine-tuning your images and better overall quality.

Because most of your camera’s settings, such as white balance, sharpening and saturation, are not applied to a raw file, you are free to adjust and fine-tune them on your computer.

Raw files also contain much more picture information than JPEGs, especially with regards to tonal range.

This means that any tonal transitions, particular in areas of similar tone or colour, are much smoother, and are much less prone to problems like banding and pixelation when any raw adjustments are made.

These advantages do come at a price, though – raw files are typically three to five times larger than a high-quality JPEG, so you won’t be able to squeeze as many images onto your memory card.

Unlike JPEG images, raw files aren’t easily viewed or printed without special conversion software (see page 42), so if you want to share or print your images, you’ll need to convert them first.

Which brings us to the greatest niggle with the raw image format: you need to spend more time editing raw files, and the sheer number of adjustments available in applications such as Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) can make this a confusing process.

PAGE 1: What are the advantages and disadvantages of shooting raw?
PAGE 2: What’s the most useful thing I can do with a raw file that I can’t with a JPEG?
PAGE 3: All professional photographers shoot raw files, don’t they?
PAGE 4: How do I select the option to shoot raw files on my camera?
PAGE 5: Which settings can I ignore and which do I still need to set in-camera?


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