Why should I shoot in RAW? What’s the BIG deal?

I’ve always heard about the power of shooting in the RAW format (for photos).  As far as I know, only DSLRs are able to do this. So if you have a DSLR and you’re not shooting RAW, shame on you!

I thought I’d share a real world example of why it’s good to shoot in RAW. Yes, every image you shoot in RAW has to be processed before it’s viewable and useable. Yes, this can be and is time consuming. BUT, if you’re off your game and the image is a little over exposed/under exposed or the wrong color temp., those are totally fixable if you shot RAW. If  you shot only JPEG, well, you’re screwed! Enjoy whatcha got!

This first image is the RAW conversion with no adjustments (opened up in Photoshop, saved as a JPEG). Having a window in your shot is never a pleasant experience. What do you expose for? If  you expose for the inside, the outside looks like a nuclear explosion happened just as the shutter closed. In a perfect world, you’d treat the window with ND and CTO… but that ain’t happening! That’s where RAW can really save the day.



This second image is the corrected/adjusted RAW image of the same scene. Notice that you can now see the hand rail just outside the window and now you can really see what the items in the foreground are. The handrail is really not that important, but the fact that you can now see it is amazing to me! I’ve corrected the image and done some lens correction (lens correction doesn’t affect the level or color, just the shape).



Here are the settings/adjustments I used to save this image from utter darkness (litterally). I just wanted to show all the parameters you can tweak. The first image is the image levels/color adjustment and the second one is the lens correction. CS4 doesn’t have the same lens correction settings (there are no presets). I’m not sure what Photoshop Elements has.















I haven’t gotten into Adobe’s Lightroom yet, that’s my next quest. From what many of my photographer friends have told me, it’s much better and more powerful and easier to use than Photoshop.

To beat a dead horse here, if you have a DSLR, SHOOT RAW!

It will be worth it one day!


On a totally geeky side note, if you’ve ever heard about or read about films that were shot with the RED camera, this camera shoots video (digital film if you will) in the RAW format. The RED One was the first version, now there’s several available. A few years ago, I got the pleasure of playing with some shots. The shots themselves were terrible looking, at first. There was no contrast, the color temp was way off, and the images looked totally blown out. I was not impressed. Then…. THEN I processed the footage in similar fashion to what I’ve done in Photoshop with RAW photos, and BAM! What I had was incredible! The difference was amazing. The RED One came way before the DSLR “film” craze that’s still with us. Anyway, just thought I’d share a geeky nugget with you… whoever you are!