One major lesson every aspiring photographer will learn in the course of his career is that professional photography is more than just beautiful subjects and awesome backgrounds. You need to learn how to use various formats to achieve the right results.
There has been much discussion about the use of RAW format in digital photography. You can easily find an article telling you to use it on certain occasions. However, the problem is that most newbie photographers still find it difficult understanding the underlying reasons for using the RAW format. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about RAW and when you need to use it.
What is RAW anyway?
A RAW simply means saving your images in an uncompressed image file or recording the data the way it "actual is" with little or no processing. It is opposite of JPEG which compresses information. Your RAW file will most likely contain either a 12-bit or 14-bit data but this will depend on your camera. Shooting in RAW will ensure that no information is compressed which will help you to produce better quality images. Moreover, it offers you an incredible opportunity to correct any problem in the images during processing.
What are Benefits and Why Should You Shoot in RAW?
Now that you've understood what RAW is all about, we shall go ahead and explain the benefits/reasons why you should be shooting in RAW if you are serious with becoming a professional photographer or getting better images:
Top 7 Reasons to Shoot in RAW
1. Obtain the Best Image Quality
This is the number one reason why you should be shooting in RAW. You will be able to record all the data from the sensor when you shoot in RAW. This gives you an incredible opportunity to make your images better-looking. RAW is unlike JPEG where you are bound to lose certain information because of image compression.
If there is any problem with your image, this format allows you to correct such problems to make your image much beautiful.
2. Obtain Better Detail
Shooting in RAW gives you full detail about your subject; after which you can use better editing programs such as Lightroom which has better editing tools than the one that comes with your camera to edit your photo.
Moreover, editing programs are always improving. Thus, you will be able to use the latest edition of these programs to edit your RAW files in the future.
3. Achieve Greater Levels of Brightness
If you want to have smoother transitions of tones in our image, then it is important that you have more levels of brightness in your image. Based on this; RAW has is better. It records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels compared to just 256 levels that JPEG records.
This level of brightness is defined with the term "bit". While RAW captures between 12 and 14 bit, JPEG captures only in 8bit.
With the additional level of brightness that you will achieve with RAW, you can make more adjustments to your images without reducing the quality since you have more levels to work with.
4. Make it Easier to Adjust White Balance
One huge turn-off with JPEG is that the white balance is applied automatically to your image without giving you options. This work differently in RAW. It records the white balance while still giving you an opportunity to make adjustments because you have more data.
RAW makes it possible to make adjustments easily and more precisely without ruining your images.
5. Adjust Over-Exposed or Under-Exposed Images
Most photographers aspire to get the best exposures. However, things don't always work as we wish. You may end up getting dramatically under-exposed or over-exposed images. In this case, you will find RAW very valuable.
RAW provides you with additional information in the file making it easier to correct the images without making any noticeable reduction in the quality of the images. It can help you to recover blown highlights and even the clipped shadows.
6. Allows You To Do Non-Destructive Editing
Since RAW save file "as it is". When you work on the images, you are only creating set of instructions of how the JPEG should be saved without doing anything to the original data.
The beauty of this is that there is no risk of ruining your image or not having an option to make changes again. If you wish to start over again, you can always reset your adjustments.
7. It is Loved by Professional Photographers
If you want to be a professional photographer, it is recommended that you should be walking in the footprints of other top photographers.
Almost all professional photographers use this option every time to provide the best possible quality image to their client. The reason is that the RAW gives you more control over your images and allows you to create the best result possible.
Without a doubt, RAW is good and will help you to become a better photographer. You should learn how and when to use it. Additionally, you need to learn of powerful editing programs you can use to make your RAW images better so that your effort won't be a waste.
Finally, note that RAW takes up more space than other formats. Since the data are uncompressed, it can save the image 2-3 times larger than JPEG files. You should prepare adequate to accommodate the space requirement. Invest in quality memory cards that can allow you save larger files.