Raw format images capture much more detail than JPEG file formats.
Read on to find out why you should be shooting Raw format scenes.
What Is Raw Format?
Raw format images come from digital cameras or digital software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop. Each have their own Raw file format. While programs are able to create TIFFs and DNGs, cameras have their own extensions.
A Raw captured scene is 5x larger in terms of file size. It shows that more detail and quality are captured. That being said, an image from a Canon 5D Mark IV will give you an image of 6720 x 4480, regardless of image type.
Even though there are many advantages to capturing with the Raw format, there are also disadvantages too. Let’s look at them below:
Disadvantages of Raw Format Images
Raw file format images capture a much wider dynamic range from the scene than a JPEG file format does. Because of this, it takes up much more space on your memory card. A bigger file means you can take fewer images on your memory card.
For example, on a 32 GB memory card, you can capture 5,333 JPEG images (@6 MB each) or 941 Raw images(@34 MB). This is over five times more space than shooting JPEGs.
The file sizes and processing power required to go through these images is large. It has the capacity to slow your camera down, especially when burst shooting with a less-than-high-end memory card.
On top of that, the Raw files need to be converted to be used. Social media requires JPEG images and will not read Raw file formats. This means you need to open and convert the Raw file formats with special software.
This is a time-consuming practice, and also expensive if you need to pay for the software. Adobe Lightroom is a great choice, yet you need to continually pay a subscription fee.
When opened or converted, these Raw file formats also need processing. Otherwise, there is no reason to shoot in the larger format. If you’re capturing images to be used immediately, then the Raw file format is not for you.
For all the advantages of using this file extension, continue reading.
Advantages of Raw Format Images
It goes without saying, but the Raw file format records more detail of the scene. As it does this, the quality is much higher. More information is taken from the scene, which results in larger file sizes.
A JPEG captured scene lets go of the detail it isn’t using, meaning you can’t pull detail from the shadows or highlights after the fact. In this file format, the camera processes the image for you.
With a Raw image, you get to process the image yourself any way you want.
When you open a JPEG image and resize it, the image gets smaller. That image can’t be resampled to be made bigger. The quality is now set and saved at its new size.
JPEGs are a lossy format, whereas Raw file formats can be saved repeatedly as different sizes. This is because the new files are saved as JPEGs, TIFFs, DNGs or other file formats.
If you need a larger size than a previously resized JPEG, the Raw file will allow you to save another version.
10. Brightness & Contrast
When it comes to capturing your scene, a JPEG will record 256 brightness levels. But, when capturing the same scene with a Raw format, you get somewhere between 4,096 and 16,384 levels of brightness.
This allows you to pull detail of the highlight and shadow areas. There are more details there to be processed. This all happens due to the number of bits that the JPEG or Raw format capture.
You get 8 bits with the former and 12 or 14 bits with the latter.
These extra ‘bits’ allow you to adjust the brightness and contrast without losing any quality.
9. Correct Overexposed Images
Along with the brightness and contrast, a Raw format image allows you to correct over- and underexposed images.
With the additional information from your sensor, you have more play with under or overexposed areas.
8. Adjust White Balance
When you capture an image with the JPEG setting, the white balance setting is applied to the image. It isn’t much you can do afterward without reducing the quality of the image.
With the Raw format, reach white balance possibility is recorded alongside it, allowing you to change it later. Doing so during post-production means you retain the quality.
7. Print Better Images
Due to the quality of the image, the higher resolution and having more detail, Raw files will print better.
The colors, tones and the fact that you get less banding (reduced quality in the skies) make Raw files better to print from.
6. More Detail
Using either of these in moderation will make your image sharper, with less digital grain while retaining the quality of the shot.
5. Non-Destructive Editing
With Raw images, you have the benefit of non-destructive editing. When you edit an image in Photoshop or Lightroom, the Raw image doesn’t change. Well, at least not permanently.
You are free to adjust the image as you see fit, but it doesn’t change the actual Raw image. You need to export or save the image in a different format to get the edited version.
4. Sets You Apart as a Pro
Using Raw file formats sets you apart as a pro. This is mainly because Raw images offer you the professionalism that many clients need.
Quality is a huge issue when passing images onto clients, as these images are usually shared, either online or in print. They could be blown-up to be used as advertising on the side of buildings.
By using Raw, you can correct highlights, gain a correct color balance, et al. All photography levels can benefit from using Raw file formats.
3. Changeable Color Spaces
Color spaces are not the easiest topic to understand. There are two basic color spaces; sRGB is used for the web, whereas RGB is better for printing and editing.
Raw images have the capacity to be saved in multiple color spaces, whereas JPEGs can only have one.
2. More Dynamic Range
The dynamic range of a photograph is the range of tones you can find in any given scene. They run from the darkest to the lightest, starting with Blacks, Shadows, Midtones and then Highlights and Whites.
By having more detail and information in these areas, it allows you to manipulate and adjustment without losing quality.
1. Efficient Workflow
To get the most out of your images, you should use Raw images inside an editing software such as Lightroom.