...never used RAW because my computer just does not seem to deal with it. Is it really all that important in the end for getting a good shot.
As I understand it, 'RAW' will let you twiddle, after the event,everything that the camera's software could have done, EXCEPT the shutter speed and aperture, which were fixed when you (or the camera) chose them and you pushed the button. I'm not sure about the ISO setting (gain) - it may well be that you can't change that either. You get the original signals from each of the pixels of the CCD, and then you can process them later in software.
So, in principle, it gives you greatest flexibility for amending the image to look as you'd have wanted it.
In the olden days of film, you chose a film and then a shutter speed and aperture, and took the shot. After that everything was down to the chemical processing of the film,the darkroom twiddling, and the chemical processing of the print. In recent years, with colour processing,the scope for all that was very limited.
Now, you can do all sorts of twiddling in your camera, and this is a genuine advance. Most people don't even know they're doing it. The stunning images from little point & shoot digicams on 6x4 prints are down to good optics PLUS a bit of judicious sharpening. (You won't get this on your dSLR - they assume you'll choose to do it later if you want it.)
'RAW' files will let you do that after the event, just as the camera would have done it.
You'll be able to *simulate* most of those twiddles using your image editor on your PC on a high quality jpeg, but you'll start a bit further away from the original. However having seen the standards of your work, I really don't think it's that important. It's the person behind the camera that does the job, really. Don't let the technology submergeyour art.
An IMPORTANT point about 'RAW' files is that they're not a standard, and are proprietary for each camera as I understand it. Therefore, if you decide to use them, for goodness' sake keep well backed-up high quality jpeg copies of everything as well.
It's also possible that your very own image editor will be as good as or better at producing a good finished image from a high quality jpeg than the software for processing your 'RAW' image, which you're likely to twiddle later in your image editor anyway.
Hope this helps. If I'm talking rubbish I'm sure I'll be corrected pretty quickly.
Keep on shooting,