Do you shoot RAW? Here are some of the reasons you might or might not want to switch over.
Advantages of RAW Format In Your Photography
- RAW images lead to better image quality after editing. Digital cameras normally deliver your image in JPEG format after compressing the image inside the processor. When you edit the JPEG image on your computer and resave it, you introduce artifacts into the image. These will detract from the overall quality and be clearly visible when viewing your image at high resolution. When you set your camera to deliver your image in RAW format, you eliminate compression artifacts and the higher quality of your image will be clearly visible.
- RAW files give you better control over image processing. Digital cameras are normally set to make several interpretive decisions before delivering the JPEG image. Depending on the lighting conditions the processor may apply a varying degree of white balance, exposure compensation, sharpening, and compression. If you set the camera to RAW format and the Picture Style to neutral, then you will postpone the adjustments. You will then have the flexibility to optimize each image individually.
- It’s possible to re-process your images. By storing your images in RAW format you will always be able to make adjustments to your original images. If you store your images in JPEG format, then it is impossible to undo any processing changes which you or the camera may have done.
Disdvantages of RAW Format In Your Photography
- RAW files are much larger than similar JPEG files. Fewer photos can fit within the same memory card and the RAW files take longer to write to the memory card. This argument has become less important as the price of memory has come down.
- Some cameras have a slower frame rate with RAW images. However the processor of the Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP Digital SLR Camera is capable of capturing 6.3 frames per second in RAW with up to 16 images in one burst.
- RAW files cannot be given to others immediately. RAW files require specific software to load them, therefore it may be necessary to first convert them into JPEGs. However with the Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP DSLR Camera you can set the Quality to “RAW+L”. That means that each image will be saved on the memory card in both RAW and JPEG format. This is very useful for pre-screening images, which are of sufficient quality for post-processing.
How to Integrate RAW Format Into Your Photographic Process
(Process adapted for Canon EOS 50D DSLR)
- Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Software from Canon can be used to batch process your RAW images to TIFF images. Open the TIFF images in Photoshop and crop to the required dimensions. Adjust the levels, optimize the contrast, reduce the “noise” using a filter such as “NeatImage”, sharpen the image using a filter such as “Unsharp Mask”, change the image mode to 8 bits per channel, and save as a JPEG with a “quality 12” setting (minimum compression).
- Archive your original RAW images (in case you ever need to go back to them) and also your optimized JPEG images. The JPEG images originally downloaded from the DSLR can be deleted as these have not been optimized.
By shooting your images in RAW format and post processing with DPP and Photoshop, you have optimized images to the highest professional level.
About the Author
Ken Billington is a professional wildlife photographer, and the owner of the site FocusingOnWildlife.com. View a selection of the 2,500 high resolution images in his portfolio and convince yourself that the tips in this article make sense.