Newbie ? - RAW vs. Jpeg, et al.

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
ButtonsMama's picture
Joined: 12/05/05
Posts: 283
Newbie ? - RAW vs. Jpeg, et al.

I'm hoping someone can break down the RAW concept for me. I've seen it explained here and there, but the explaination is always too technical for me. I barely know anything yet, so I need it really dumbed down. Biggrin

So, I do gather that pictures shot in RAW are larger (file size-wise). What exactly is the benefit then of shooting in RAW? Wouldn't those pics take up a ton of space on your computer? But, if they're better quality, I guess that's the trade-off then, huh? If you shoot in RAW, do you need some crazy big memory sticks for your camera?

Again - I'm so terribly new at this. I took pics of my kids in full sun two weekends ago and was wondering why they were blown to pieces. My ISO was set at 800 - I got it mixed up (higher number for lower light, not the other way around. DUH.). :rolleyes: I appreciate your help!

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

I'm a newbie too, so I may be WAY off, but this is my understand of RAW imagines and from playing with a few the past few nights.

A RAW imagine is just that, raw data that isn't really a picture yet. One example that someone showed me in person was say you took a pic with your camera set for sunlight, but it was really cloudy. You can actually change that in the RAW imagine! It's pretty neat! There is a TON more you can change, like coloring etc... but I haven't really played with that yet. Once you get the image the way you want it, you then convert and save it as a JPEG. Then you can delete the RAW image and you are just left with the touched up JPEG, which is MUCH smaller then the RAW image.

Like I said before, I'm a newbie too, so this may be the worst explination of RAW imagines ever, but it's what I have noticed so far with playing with them. I'm looking forward to other explinations too!

Joined: 05/10/07
Posts: 427

I've made the high ISO mistake many times. How's ISO 1600 in full a 2nd shooter at a wedding?! Smile you're not alone on that. Shooting in raw makes your PP alot you the ability to change/correct more than if you had shot in jpeg . I have an 8GB card for my camera and when formated it can hold up to 750+ pics when set to raw. With my old 2GB card it was only like 150 or something like that.

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

Here's the deal. The RAW image contains all the data that your camera's sensor picked up. ALL OF IT! When your camera turns a picture into a JPEG, it deletes a lot of information that the camera thinks is useless. Your camera also may decide to add extra saturation, contrast, sharpening, etc... to the JPEG version. This makes the post processing of the image much more difficult...because, if the camera made a decision you don't like, you'll have a heck of a time fixing it....and you absolutely can NOT add back information that has been deleted. This is most notable when you blow the highlights. In RAW, often times slightly blown highlights can be restored. Blown highlights in a JPEG image cannot be restored.

You don't want your camera to make those important decisions for you. When you shoot in RAW, you tell your camera to simply capture the image at the settings you told it to use (shutter speed, aperture, ISO). Then it is your job to post process the image to add the necessary sharpening, contrast, color, and exposure adjustments to the raw file.

It is absolutely necessary to post process all RAW images to have them look finished and complete.

Lots of us (myself included) shoot in RAW + JPEG, that way I don't have to process every photo that I capture, just the most special ones.

NicholeC's picture
Joined: 06/09/08
Posts: 284

Do you have to have certain programs to open up a raw photo?

Joined: 01/16/07
Posts: 951

"NicholeC" wrote:

Do you have to have certain programs to open up a raw photo?

I don't know all of the editing programs out there but I think all have a way of opening raw files. Some are easier than others. I use photoshop and there is program within that where you can see your photos Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Depending on your version of photoshop and the camera you have you may or may not be able to open your RAW files. My old version of photoshop (CS2) could not open my RAW files (in Nikon's case these are the .NEF files) however now that I have CS4 I have no problems.

Adobe has free software that allows you to convert any RAW file to a .DNG file and that can open in all photoshop versions