Raw Images: 10 things every beginner must know before ditching JPEG

Raw Images: 10 things every beginner must know before ditching JPEG

Beginner tips for raw images: Pros and cons of shooting raw images

The pros

  • Gives the potential for higher-quality images
  • Non-destructive editing as standard, so you are not losing image data
  • You get more highlight/shadow detail than with a standard JPEG
  • Greater scope for post-shoot adjustment – colour, white balance, sharpening and so on

The cons

  • Larger files than JPEG
  • Slower to write to your memory card, and fills the buffer faster
  • It takes more time to edit and process raw images
  • You need to save raw images as JPEG or another format to print them
  • It takes some getting used to

What you can and can’t adjust in raw

Settings you can change

  • Exposure compensation
  • White balance
  • Noise reduction
  • Sharpness

Settings you can’t change

  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO
  • Focus

Beginner tips for raw images: Raw conversion software options

A quick guide to your choices for opening and editing raw images

Opening a raw image is not always an easy process, as you need special software to convert and edit the files (unlike a JPEG, which every image-viewing program can open).

The first port of call should be your camera’s box, to see if raw-editing software was supplied.

For greater power and flexibility, try Adobe Camera Raw – the free plug-in you get with Photoshop CS or Elements. Here are your raw editor options:

  • Software supplied by the camera manufacturer (Canon’s Digital Photo Professional is the best such program we’ve seen)
  • Third-party raw converters
  • Combined raw converter/image-management software (eg Adobe Lightroom/or Capture One)


What to edit (and when) in Adobe Camera Raw
How to convert raw files
3 selective adjustment tools your raw files can’t live without