Why You Should Be Shooting In RAW

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If you want to push your camera to it’s limits and make use of its full capabilites then you need to start using RAW format.

When I bought my first DSLR and started playing around with the settings one of the first things I came across was the JPEG and RAW file format settings, and while I knew what JPEG files were from shooting with a compact camera, I had no idea what RAW format was. So I tried shooting in RAW, and on my camera screen they looked fine and pretty much the same as my JPEG photos, but when I came to uploading them to my PC I noticed the RAW file sizes were around 2-3 times larger than my JPEG files. Also the RAW images contrast, colours, sharpness and everything else looked terrible compared to the JPEG, so I just went back to shooting JPEG’s. This is all before I realised the huge benefits of RAW in the editing process.

RAW Format – The Bad Points

The main disadvantage of RAW and the reason a lot of photographers don’t use it is because the images need to be edited using software such as Photoshop, which can take up a lot of time. One other disadvantage to RAW as I’ve already said is the file sizes are a lot bigger than JPEG’s, although this shouldn’t be an issue nowadays with large capacity memory cards available.

Why Use RAW Format?

This format gives you complete creative control over how your photos turn out. All of the settings such as sharpness, contrast and saturation for example are under your control. You might say you can do this with a JPEG file as well, and you’d be right, but the benefit of RAW is it stores much more image data than JPEG, because the camera removes this when it processes the image into JPEG format. The benefit of this extra image data is it can be used to tweak the settings more without losing realism and resulting in a fake looking photo which is more likely with a JPEG image.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Shooting JPEGs

Most photographers use JPEG format because of it’s small file sizes and it doesn’t require you to make any changes or edit your photo after shooting it. But the main issue with JPEG is it removes a lot of control over your finished photo and you might not get the results you hoped for because the camera does all the work for you. Cameras don’t always get it right, and even the most expensive DSLRs are prone to this. If the photo doesn’t turn out how you envisioned it and you want to make changes to it, then using a JPEG image will make it hard to get the results you want.

Here’s a list of the reasons why you should NOT use JPEGs if you’re serious about keeping full creative control of your photos.

1) ‘Lossy’ compressed images resulting in loss of quality

2) Losing details in the shadows and highlights etc.

3) Little room to tweak the settings when editing because of loss of image data

4) Camera automatically chooses the settings it thinks are best

I hope this brief summary gives you some good reasons and motivates you to start shooting in RAW.

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