Since digital cameras started appearing on the market raw became one of the most important developments. Raw is an amazing format that offers the ultimate control over your images and allows you to maximise all the quality from your camera.
You are ready to start shooting raw if you have a DSLR or CSC or a compact camera that can shoot raw (not all compacts can). In other words, you are ready to produce better quality pictures.
Raw doesn’t mean anything and it’s not written in capital letters as such. It just stands for image that’s being recorded on the sensor without any processing (unlike JPEGs). Elements like colour and contrast are crucial to your images so why would you let camera apply them for you without any control? That’s what cameras do with JPEGs.
When you shoot raw, you make all the decisions about processing images and you do it with the software on your computer, for example in Lightroom or Photoshop. In the software you can also convert your raw images to JPEGs.
But it’s not just about the ability to convert images to JPEGs whenever you want. With raw you get a higher bit depth as well.
Bit-depth of an image describes how many separate tones can be shown between the darkest areas and the lightest areas (between black and white).
- 1-bit image you only have black and white, with no greys inbetween
- 2-bit image gives you 4 tones
- JPEG is 8-bit giving you 256 tones (in each channel: reg, green, blue)
Raw images are either 14-bit or 12-bit:
- 12-bit image gives you 4,096 tones!
- 14-bit image gives you 16,384 tones!
As the bit-depth increases gradations between the tones become more subtle. All these additional tones give you more details and higher flexibility for making adjustments when editing an image, with no quality loss.
So today start shooting raw instead of JPEG.