Andy Hawthorne

Andy Hawthorne

Projects, photos and running

20 Apr 2020

Why You Should Be Shooting in Raw Format

Reading time: 3 minute(s) - 500 words

Why You Should Be Shooting in Raw Format

While it is convenient and space saving to shoot and store in JPEG format, you lose a lot. So RAW format is the way to go, here’s why.

The RAW format is as you might imagine - there’s no trimming, compressing or removal of detail. 

It does mean you’ll store fewer photos on your average memory card. And it does mean you’ll need software that can work with RAW images. 

But… it is worth it. 

With a RAW image you can fix:

  • The white balance
  • The exposure
  • Brightness and contrast 

The best thing of all is the quality improvement. The preprocessing that occurs to make a JPEG does chop out a lot of detail and ergo: quality. 

There is also some compression during JEPG production.

Think about it. When you export your photos from your camera there has already been a lot of processing.

That’s not the case with a RAW format image. Let’s consider the main benefits of the RAW format.

The quality factor

It’s worth going over why RAW images keep more quality. It comes down to this: the RAW file format stores more details of the scene.

There is a lot more information captured from the scene which is why the file size is larger.

The shadows and highlights will lose detail in JPEG creation. And that’s detail you can’t put back. 

A JPEG image has around 256 brightness levels. While RAW format has somewhere between 4,096 and 16,384 levels.  That’s why RAW lets you manipulate details in the shadows and highlights in a way you can’t with a JPEG.

White balance

Your photo might need a white balance change. RAW format lets you adjust it based on the options your camera has. 

Once the photo is a JPEG you only have your image processing software’s best guesstimate.

Over and under exposure

You can correct over and under exposure with RAW format images. There’s no substitute for getting the exposure right in your camera.

But if the exposure does need a tweak, RAW format will give you more to play with.

Resizing

It’s worth mentioning that resizing an image will be an issue. Once the image is a JPEG you cn’t resample it to make it bigger.

The RAW format will let you re-save the image at different sizes.

The bottom line…

The RAW format gives you far more options to process your photos once you get them out of your camera.

It is true that the format needs more space for bigger files. But it’s worth it when you see the quality of the resulting photos you end up with.

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