This Article is About
digital sensor
using software
sharpness
Understanding RAW Picture Format
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The RAW file format used in todays digital camera world is the equivalent of using negatives in the old film world of photography. The RAW format contains just that, a "raw" untouched pixel file of the image captured straight from the cameras digital sensor.

When you shoot in raw the camera will not go through the demosaicing algorithm, which is the process used to reconstruct a full color image from the incomplete color samples grabbed by the image sensor. Understanding raw format will allow you to demosaic the images yourself using software as opposed to having the cameras own firmware do it for you. The main benefit to shooting in raw is that you get to choose how your image will appear. You see, when a photo is taken in jpeg of tiff format, the camera has to make its own interpretive decisions on how the image is to appear. So when you shoot in raw, you will make your own decisions on how the final image should look. Now understanding raw format is important so you will get the results you want and not end up with useless photos.

Another benefit to shooting and understanding raw format is that it provides a greater dynamic range than a typical jpeg file. Dynamic range is the range from light to dark in a photo before the photo appears totally white or black. By understanding raw format this will allow the editor to adjust the exposure values slightly after the photo has already been taken thus adjusting metering errors, or helping bring out the lost shadows or highlights that the photographer was trying to capture. This would not be achievable by just brightening or darkening a standard jpeg file as it just doesn't contain the greater range of information that is captured in raw format.

Sharpness is another benefit to shooting in raw, this is because the raw file has been untouched therefore the sharpening sequence was not applied by the camera. A sharpening algorithm is a very processor intense application therefore a computer which has far more computing power than a cameras built in firmware will be able to carry out better sharpening characteristics.

Now I should be clear that there are a few disadvantages as well and understanding raw format will help you get through these. First off, a raw file is much larger than a typical jpeg file, even as much as 10 times larger so you will need larger capacity or more memory cards to hold the same amount of image files than before. A raw file will require a good photo editing program to view and interpret the files as raw files are not viewable using simple programs like Windows Picture viewer. Another disadvantage I should mention is the fact that the camera will take longer to process the file. It is much larger than a jpeg so the camera will need a few extra seconds just to record the raw file to the memory card, thus delaying you if you are trying to shoot multiple photos in quick succession.

These are just a few of the pros and cons to understanding raw format that I wanted to share as they are the main ones. Once you obtain a powerful editing program that will do a lot of the work for you, understanding raw format will get easier and you will get faster at editing your raw files into wonderful photos perfect for sharing.


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Golfspice  

Clear explanation of RAW files including their pros and cons - useful article Brad.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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