Raw or not to Raw

Today I am going to write about raw picture formats and whether to use raw or not and how to make the right choice for your needs.

What is raw? 
First we need to know what raw pictures are. Raw pictures are in a way digital negatives if you look at it in a film sense. It is the photograph in its purist form. It has not been compressed or altered in any way. Usually they will be odd files. Like .DNG, .PEF, .CRW, .ORF, ect. The would not be your typical .jpg or .tiff files your a used to seeing. A raw file is usually going to be a lot bigger in size then the jpg versions. My raw files on my camera are around 15mb in size, whereas the compressed jpgs are about 2mb in size.

Why are raws so much bigger?
Raw images are larger in size because there is so much more information there that we cannot see on the monitor or view screen. Information like color and it records into the under exposed and over exposed areas, where normally you would get black or white. When your camera takes an image it will take a file and write it to the memory card. If it compresses it you do not have a raw image. Some cameras will not do raw. So look into your camera before purchasing and see if it can do raw or not.

What do I use?
I use raw. It is far more forgiving if you miss and exposure or when color correcting. For example with raw images if you are in a rush you do not need to set a white balance. There is enough information in the picture you can change it in your computer or camera after the picture is taken. Here is an example of an image I took with my camera using raw+ meaning it records a raw and jpg of each picture taken.

Above is the raw and jpg. “i just uploaded one photo because they were identical.” I know your thinking if they are identical then why use raw if it take up more room on your card or hard drive at home? Well look what happens when we adjust the photo and make it brighter.

On top is the raw file. I adjusted it to see the eye in the background and then compressed it to the jpg to upload on here. Whereas the jpg I tried to adjust it and what was black stayed black and the image got foggy so i had to ad contrast.

What should you use? 
I would recommend whenever possible use raw. Also know what your cameras raw capabilities are. For example I know my camera has ok latitude of exposure whereas the K5 has a ridiculous amount you can take a black photo and make it clear as day with that camera. Knowing your cameras capabilities can help in some situations. I know some people think they are all that and then some and are thinking well if I always nail exposure and don’t need to adjust my photos because I am hot stuff, I would still shoot raw because the colors can be adjusted easier not just exposure. Also you never know when you will just get that one shot of big foot that is under exposed and can’t be recovered because you were running from him after watching one too many slim jim commercials and forgot to open that iris. However there are times I even used jpg. When I know I will need room for 2,000 pictures on my card I will switch to jpg. Usually that only happens on time-lapse photography. Now go out and shoot some raw photos!

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