Part 1: Introduction to RAW
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  1. #1
    imported_Jimbo's Avatar
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    DefaultPart 1: Introduction to RAW

    Linda and Monnie asked me to come up with this assignment… Just to let you know, I am not an expert in RAW so hopefully you can cut me some slack. I also hope this won’t be too boring or confusing, but more informative instead.

    Unlike JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), RAW is not an abbreviation but literally means "raw" as in "unprocessed". RAW is a type of image file format like JPEG, TIFF and PSD that can usually be selected from the quality settings menu in your camera. Unlike other file types, RAW contains the picture information exactly as it read on the camera’s image sensor before the camera’s processor has had a chance to enhance the picture and turn it into a standard file type like JPEG. The picture is unusable in the RAW state and needs to be converted into a standard image before you can do anything with it.

    Back on your computer, you can use a RAW converter to take the place of the camera’s processor and turn the RAW into a TIFF or JPEG. This might sound like an unnecessary extra step but it does offer significant advantages. The main ones are the quality and flexibility. RAW files are lossless files that give the ultimate image quality. Plus, you also have the opportunity to change the appearance of your image by adjusting the white balance, sharpness, exposure, contrast and saturation. The Raw Data contains much more detail than a standard JPEG, so amazing quality adjustments can be made quickly and easily.

    RAW is not just for professionals, it’s for everyone no matter what your experience. Every current DSLR and the majority of digital creative compacts offer a RAW shooting mode, so it’s simply a case of activating that option. In fact, we could even argue that RAW is better suited to beginners then Pro’s. RAW gives you the option to easily and effectively correct common photo mistakes including white balance, contrast and exposure.

    Although shooting RAW shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for sloppy picture taking, RAW can help you to bring some life back into a crappy photo. IMO, beginners are generally more likely to benefit for RAW. They can give you a second chance to get a reasonable result from a once in a lifetime photo opportunity if your camera settings have let you down.

    Software like Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Photoshop Elements offer hundreds of ways to enhance JPEG photo’s but the very nature of RAW means that not all adjustments are possible or at least to the same degree. The extra latitude in a RAW file means that additional highlight and shadow detail can be found. In extreme cases this may mean that blown highlight detail can be recovered when they’ll remain pure white in JPEG. The control you have over white balance is also a big plus, as it can be changed perfectly to simulate the different settings on the camera. With JPEG it’s a time consuming job to recover the white balance, particularly strong color casts and the results are seldom good.

    EXPOSURE Adjustments
    Before: Uncropped Overexposed Photo


    After: Exposure corrected with Canon DPP software


    WHITE BALANCE Adjustments
    Before: Too much yellow cast


    After: Corrected using Canon DPP software


    RAW offers more then just ultimate image quality and clarity; it’s also a matter of flexibility and creativity. It gives you the option to quickly enhance or manipulate many aspects of your photo to create the best looking image. Marginally superior sharpness is just one of the many benefits.

    RAW files may look flat at first. Unlike JPEGs; RAW files remain largely untouched by the camera’s processor so they can look a bit flat and lifeless straight out of the camera. JPEGs are normally enhanced before being saved to the memory card to give the shots more impact. Flatness shouldn’t be an issue though, because your RAW converter will give you plenty of options to make RAW files more punchy, if not more punchy than standard JPEGs. If you need to make identical adjustments to multiple images to beef them up, many converters give you the option of pasting the same RAW settings to many images at once to speed up your workflow.

    Some of the Disadvantages of RAW
    • RAW files are much larger than similar JPEG files, and so fewer photos can fit within the same memory card. But external hard drives are more affordable then ever…
    • RAW files are more time consuming since they may require manually applying each conversion step.
    • RAW files often take longer to be written to a memory card since they are larger, therefore most digital cameras may not achieve the same frame rate as with JPEG.
    • RAW files cannot be given to others immediately since they require specific software to load them; therefore it may be necessary to first convert them into JPEG.
    • RAW files require a more powerful computer with more temporary memory (RAM). Good thing RAM memory is cheap…

    RAW Converting Software

    There are several programs that will process RAW files… I really like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom which (for now) can be purchased for $199 bucks. You can import several hundred files directly from your camera, depending on the size of your memory card, and create some cool web galleries fairly easily. As with other Adobe products such as Adobe Photoshop CS2, there is a bit of a learning curve…

    All of the major camera manufactures provide bundled software with each camera… I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional. I think Nikon uses Capture 4 which I’m not familiar with. And Aperture Pro was designed for Mac users. I’ll be going more into detail on processing, editing and converting RAW to JPEGs files later on….

    In conclusion, it’s always best to try to get the best shot possible from your camera which is why we had lessons on composition, exposure, depth of field and other things so that you won’t have to do much post processing and retouching to your photos. But in most cases, it’s necessary, and IMO shooting in RAW will make it easier. But if you don't have the time or inclination to post-process your photos, or you have limited camera memory, then sticking with JPEG may be your best choice. However, if you have a little time and want the best images your camera can give you, go RAW. You'll never go back
    ____________________________
    REFERENCE: Raw for dummies

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  3. #2
    deific Guest

    DefaultRe: Part 1: Introduction to RAW

    Excellent, I gave up shooting RAW because my camera wanted to die when I tried to shoot raw and jpeg.

  4. #3
    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Part 1: Introduction to RAW

    Most cameras have a RAW setting and a RAW/JPEG setting. In the latter, does the camera store two files of the same picture, one of each format, to the camera? Is there an advantage to shooting RAW/JPEG?
    Is there going to be an assignment with this lesson? I can't wait to get started shooting RAW AND knowing what I'm doing, when I do. I gave up shooting RAW because I couldn't see the advantage. I'm hoping these lessons will help me switch over to RAW shooting.


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    imported_Jimbo's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Part 1: Introduction to RAW

    Is there an advantage to shooting RAW/JPEG?
    I rarely use the RAW + JPEG settings but I probably should... I think the big advantage is that you can view the JPEGs on your computer without any special software, but it will use up your camera's memory. The good thing is that descent 4 & 8gb compact flash and SD cards are fairly cheap nowadays...

    Is there going to be an assignment with this lesson?
    Yes... I'll post it tonight or sometime tomorrow.


  7. #5
    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Part 1: Introduction to RAW

    So the camera does post both files when you shoot in RAW/JPEG?


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    DefaultRe: Part 1: Introduction to RAW

    Yep...

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    DefaultRe: Part 1: Introduction to RAW

    Okay...back to my manual. I also never downloaded my software that came with my Canon Rebel XT. I know.....shame on me. I guess I better do that before trying to shoot in the RAW mode.

    I have to admit. RAW scares me!!!! :

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