What’s So Great About RAW?

Have you ever wondered on Earth you should shoot to RAW files? After all, they’re huge, and they have to be developed on a PC before use. Today we’ll look at some areas where RAW has the upper hand.

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AuthorVit Kovalcik

I’ve been a freelancer since early 2012; photography is my living. I acquired my photography experience, both inside and outside the studio, during the previous years—when I was working all day and taking pictures every evening and weekend. I don’t have just one clearly defined topic; I like photographing people, but also cityscapes and landscapes.

Comments (13)

  1. Who on earth would consider shooting in RAW just to post something on Facebook???

    1. The photographers, I guess :) But anyway this was listed as a disadvantage – that you can’t easily share such photos on Facebook.

    2. Set your camera to record RAW+JPG. Then delete which one you don’t need.

      1. RAW+JPG is a waste of memory card space since the JPEG is already embedded in the RAW. A program like Photo Mechanic can just strip the JPEG from the RAW file.

      2. Large size memory cards are so inexpensive these days that this is rarely a problem any more.

    3. I do it all the time. Just because it’s on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s not worth editing and post-processing hence shooting in RAW.

  2. The only issue for me is there is no support for SIGMA X3F Merrill RAW. It is the best quality of image, but it is not supported by DNG Converter nor Zoner PS, only by SIGMA Photo Pro which is a deeply appalling piece of slow code. If only SIGMA supported modern (not old) X3F format it would be a boon for any Foveon user out there.

  3. Being new to photography at the tender age of 76 i at first found Raw intimidating because of the need to edit. Now I have a handle on editing so am now confident to shoot in RAW. I found this article very interesting and as a novice very helpful for it gives me a better understanding of RAW.

    1. We are happy to hear it, Ken, thank you!

  4. Very nice summary of RAW advantages. Since large image size is less of a problem nowadays due to cheap memory cards and disk storage, I prefer shooting in RAW where possible. 95% of my photos would do fine with JPEG, It’s those other 5% where RAW really shines and allows me to either save an otherwise unusable photo or make an ordinary photo outstanding. The only problem is I don’t know ahead of time which pictures will need the advantages of RAW processing – hence the desire to shoot everything in RAW.

  5. Very good article.

  6. Other than correcting lens defects, are there any advantages to using the RAW module over opening the raw image in the editor at full resolution?

    1. Hi Danny, the RAW module – now called Develop in ZPS 18 – is designed for work with RAW, while the Editor is not. It is possible to open a RAW in the Editor and then save it to another format (you cannot save back to RAW), but there is usually no benefit to it, since Develop can do most of what the Editor can, and a couple of things it can’t. (Besides lens profiles, this includes the Color Shift filter.) Also, the controls are more streamlined towards RAW development – it’s less cluttered.

      If you want to work with selections, you will have to work in the Editor at some point, so for that special situation, there is something to be said for just taking the RAW straight to the Editor.

      Also note that Develop makes “non-destructive edits”, where your edits are stored in a special text file alongside the picture, and only applied during export. This lets you experiment heavily with a RAW without having to maintain multiple developed versions (or work from one version that will degrade a bit with each edit).

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