What Is RAW Photography?

There are different formats for shooting digital and photographers generally refer to this as RAW or JPEG. If you're a new photographer just starting out you're probably shooting JPEG files and this is totally ok. However you absolutely should start shooting in RAW format as soon as possible.

RAW is camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited. Normally, the image is processed by a raw converter before you can really do anything with it. You can use something like Adobe Lightroom for this.

What is the point of shooting RAW? Well when shooting in JPEG you are shooting a heavily compressed image and your are losing data. In other words your camera is throwing away information when it creates the JPG image. When you shoot RAW your camera is scooping up all the information it can and saving it in one big chunk.

With JPG some things are just baked in and you cannot go back like white balance. Whereas when you shoot RAW you can change your white balance in post processing if you made a mistake. Or you can really bring down the blown out or overexposed portions of your images as is the case in this photo. With JPG there would be no way to recover the bright sun here:

example of a RAW photo - Icon Photography School

All you need to know is that if you're serious about your work as a photographer you should be shooting RAW. There are exceptions to this of course. For example if you are on a very very short deadline and need to get something online you could shoot JPG (or even better shoot JPG+RAW together)

Here are some videos on the subject of RAW photography:

Video by Adorama

Video by Karl Taylor

Video by PhotoRecTV

Video by VistaClues

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of RAW file formats check the wikipedia page for RAW.

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