Every photographer wants to get the best image possible, and shooting RAW will allow your camera to capture as much information as possible from the scene. There are also particular instances where shooting using the RAW mode is also much more favorable than shooting JPEGs. While photographing using the RAW mode on your camera takes up more storage space on your memory card, it can produce much better photographs, and the ability to edit those photographs later to finalize a perfect image.
So, what does it mean to shoot RAW and when should you choose this option? Technically, all camera photograph in RAW mode but unless programmed to do so, will condense the image to a JPEG. A RAW image contains the most amount of dada that can be captured by your camera without the camera converting it into a color image, or processing and compressing it into a smaller file. This means that all this information will be stored on your memory card.
Instances where you should shoot RAW:
- Outdoor Photography: If you are out photographing on a very bright and sunny day, or on a somewhat cloudy day, the highlights might get overexposed or underexposed. Details are very likely to get lost, and having the photos in a RAW file will allow you to adjust to restore the details.
- Image Enhancement: If you have a beautiful photograph, and you are considering enhancing it, always shoot RAW because of the finer gradiation and variety of colors available.
- Image Manipulations: The more editing you plan, the better off you will have shot them RAW. A simple JPEG photo can only hold up to 8 bits of data per pixel, while a RAW image can hold anywhere from 12 to 14 bits of dots per inch. A RAW image between 4,000-6,000 levels of brightness, while a JPEG only registers 256 levels of brightness.
- Color Balance: The white balance of images are determined by the settings on your camera, but if you feel that you will need to adjust it due to conditions under which the subject is covered by clouds, in direct shade or lit by varying combinations of light, having photographed using the RAW mode will allow you to adjust the white balance using applications on your computer.
- Noise Reduction: It is much easier to use sharpening and noise reduction tools on a RAW image to get the most detail out of the image.
There are some downsides to shooting RAW. The two major arguments against it are the fact that RAW images take up a lot more room because of the size of the files, and the fact that unless you have a camera with a large buffer or a fast memory card, you will be waiting longer to capture a series of photographs. This could very well be the case with a fast action sequence and when bracketing. It is always best to know all sides of an issue, before committing to one or the other. A great deal of time is spent on creating an image that an artist is satisfied with, and having the capacity to take a photo that you like, and being able to edit it to create a photo that you love, is usually always worth the extra memory required.
– Photo Wizard