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grant.smith Jan 21, 2005 2:47 PM

Hi, I'm kind of new to digital photography and wondering why would I shoot in just RAW?

This is because iPhoto 05 is just about to be released and supports RAW so as I use this app to preview / store images I was wondering if I should now shoot in RAW?

Some URL's would be very helpful, thanks

JohnG Jan 21, 2005 3:45 PM

I am by no means an expert, but here are some high level advantages to RAW:
  • In a nutshell a RAW image is like a digital negative - you take away all the camera's enhancements to the image[/*]
  • Can Adjust White Balance when processing the RAW image[/*]
  • Can adjust exposure compensation[/*]
  • Can adjust tone curves, brightness, contrast etc - most DSLRs have this ability as well but some feel the computer algorithms are better than the in-camera algorithms.
Those are the quick highlights I could think of. The downside is it is an extra step in your processing workflow and the image files are almost twice as big so you will only be able to store 1/2 the images on a CF card vs. shooting JPEG.

Some people prefer to always have this ultimate level of control. I personally shoot JPEG 80% of the time and shoot RAW for photos where I believe White Balance or Exposure will be tricky. Otherwise I'm just not advanced enough to want to play with all the tone curves, color and brightness parameters in RAW. That's my two cents, for what it's worth :cool:

eric s Jan 21, 2005 4:22 PM

JohnG covered the big ones. I wanted to add/emphase a few.

Having to fix whitebalance without a special tool is not easy. You can try to do it with curves or levels and the eye droper, but its hit or miss. With RAW you use a slider to change it until you're happy. No guessing. This is HUGE if you care about color correctness (which I do.) I find that Canon's auto white balance isn't that good and having to adjust it myself while shooting outside would cost me shots.

The exposure adjustments you can make are better than any other I've seen in PS CS (ignoring that you can't directly use a mask with them.) Maybe its my skill with PS, which is ok but not great, but I find it the results are better.

If someone develops a new RAW converter I can always go back and convert it again. With JPG its done, I can't "Redo" it.

Because the pictures are bigger and RAW conversion is not easy, it takes longer than you'll want to convert the image. I'm on a 2G Athlon XP and it's still slower than I'd like. I now use a macro to convert several images while I read a book next to my computer. Then I look at them all, trash the bad ones and reconvert the good ones with proper whitebalance and exposure. I find the initial pass to figure out which pictures to edit much slower.

The space issue is annoying. I got over 400 pictures on a 1G CF card, I get about 142 RAW on the same card (Canon 10D.)

But I really do find the final result is better with RAW.


Gandalf065 Jan 22, 2005 11:15 AM

I agree with all Eric and John said, and to addim my expirience... I like using RAW because as with Eric, I would rather snag a shot in AWB ect than miss by messing with settings. RAW alsomakes it much easier to salvage a so-so shot.

If you are worried about space, pick up a 4gb microdrive! :cool:


jawz Jan 22, 2005 12:14 PM

If you have to shoot at high ISO, JPEG compression tends to accentuate the noise. This is not the case with RAW. There is still noise present, but it is much more managable.

This is certainly true for the Minolta A1--I think it would apply to other cameras as well.

Also, some RAW converters let you select different Bayer interpolation algorithms. Since there is always a trade off between sharpness/edge artifacts/noise, you can experiment to determine which algorithm works best with each image. If you shoot using JPEG, you're stuck with what the camera maker has built in.

grant.smith Jan 22, 2005 1:04 PM

Well I have been playing with RAW all day, with my Cannon 20D and a 1GB card. The card holds 100 in RAW which I don't think is too bad.

I cant view the results as I left the crappy Cannon software at work and iPhoto 05 is not out until next week. It is going to be interesting to see the results.

Thanks for all the advice

DBB Jan 22, 2005 1:22 PM

There is really an easy way to sum this up. Aside from the space issue of how many photographs you can fit on a card, think of it this way.

You are working in a darkroom, and your assistant does all the work. He hands you a finished image. Indeed, you are waiting outside watching TV, while he does the work. He's pretty good, but every now and then he hits the booze, and while he can hold his liquor, things aren't really up to snuff.

So, you can develop the negatives yourself and no matter what happens, the result will be as good as the image could be.

Now the computer makes develping film a breeze. RAW is merely an extra step. SO yes, if things really aren't that important, why shoot JPG - heck you can even shoot TIF if you have lot's of digital space.

But if you really, really want the best, you must shoot RAW


Paul(UK) Jan 22, 2005 2:02 PM

The time to convert the RAW has never been an issue with me.

With Photoshop CS you can see a thumbnail of the RAW images. Any obvious rubbish shots I ignore. (No point in converting every file for the sake of it)

Next I double click on one. You get a preview in the raw converter. Again if it looks rubbish I'd cancel at that stage.

If it looks like a good shot then I'd tweak the sliders and load it into PS, do some work on it and save as a PSD.

I can't see the point of batch coverting RAW files.

Paul(UK) Jan 22, 2005 2:07 PM

JohnG wrote:

I am by no means an expert, but here are some high level advantages to RAW:
  • Can adjust exposure compensation[/*]

But of course anyone new to RAW shouldn't think exposure compensation in the RAW converter is a replacement for exposure compensation in the camera.

Meryl Arbing Jan 22, 2005 2:40 PM

Even though I have a camera capable of producing RAW files, I have never found a need for them.

I figure that if you have a camera that produces images SO bad that you have to adjust every parameter manually then you need a new camera.

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