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What are the Benefits of Shooting in RAW? 

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

What are the Benefits of Shooting in RAW? 

When it comes to photography, there are two main formats you can shoot in, JPEG and RAW. JPEG may be the format more people are familiar with, but RAW has many benefits that make it the recommended way to go. This article will discuss its advantages so you are familiar with the many ways it can take your photography to the next level. 

What is RAW?

The RAW file format captures all the data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. It differs from a JPEG which compresses the image and loses some of the information. 

It’s likely that your camera will give you the option to shoot in JPEG or RAW. Choose the RAW option to get the best shots possible. 

Now let’s look at why RAW is preferable. 

It Provides High Quality Photos

Shooting in RAW means the camera records all the data from the sensor. This differs from the camera editing out some of the information. It’s preferable because it means you can do your editing yourself and not leave it up to the camera.  

Records More Brightness

Levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white. The more steps you have, the smoother the transition between tones will be. 

JPEG records 256 levels of brightness while RAW records up to 16,384 levels. This allows you to make more adjustments to the image without losing quality. It also makes it easy to correct your images. 

Makes it Easy to Correct Over and Under Exposed Images

RAW gives you additional information in the file so you can correct images without losing quality. It will allow you to recover more from blown out highlights and clipped shadows. 

Makes it Easy to Adjust White Balance

RAW applies white balance to an image as well as additional data that makes it easy to adjust. This helps you create great looking photos.  

Provides Improved Detail

RAW provides you with access to powerful sharpening and noise algorithms in editing software. These allow you to get sharper details. And algorithms are always improving so you can revisit RAW files to make updates at any time. 

Provides Non-Destructive Editing

When you edit in raw, you are not doing anything to the original data. Therefore, you can always reset your instructions and start over again. This differs from JPEGs which, not only permanently alter the data but reduce quality every time an edit is made. 

Gets Better Prints

JPEGS provide a more refined gradation of tones and colors, so they make better prints. 

Select Color Space on Output

Color space is a complex topic but, suffice it to say that different color spaces are needed in different applications. When you shoot in RAW, you can choose any color space ensuring you will have the one that works best for your situation. You can also make adjustments to export images in multiple spaces. 

Offers an Efficient Workflow

Editing software programs like Lightroom and Aperture are designed to easily process groups of RAW images. They will work best with images shot in RAW. However, other programs, like Photoshop, are not designed for those purposes and can only handle one image at a time. 

It’s a Pro Choice

If you are looking to take your photography to pro status, RAW is a must. It provides high quality photos, and it allows you to choose the right color space. You really can’t expect to be paid for your skills unless you can offer these capabilities. 

Cons of RAW

While RAW is mostly beneficial, it comes with its share of downsides. For one, RAW files are a lot larger than JPEGs which means you may have to buy extra storage space to store the files. Their size can also slow the camera down. 

RAW files also require processing whereas JPEGs do not. However, most photographers end up processing their JPEGs as well, so this argument does not hold much water. 

Shooting in RAW offers several benefits. Now that you know what they are, will you be choosing this format when you take your shots? 

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