What are the advantages of RAW format?


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Camera settings

What is a RAW image?

If you’ve ever talked to any serious or professional photographer, chances are they’ve probably mentioned the term RAW.

RAW is a type of format, just like JPEG is. The difference between a RAW image and JPEG is vast. When you shoot in a format like JPEG, the image information is compressed, therefore, resulting in loss of information.

When the image information is compressed, the quality of your photo decrease, what’s good about RAW is that no image information is compressed. Therefore, you obtain a higher quality image.

Although it is a significantly larger file type to JPEG, most professional photographers shoot RAW images because it is easier to manipulate in post-production. As an example, I mentioned in the article “What you should know about the histogram” with a RAW image you have more latitude to recover clipped highlights or shadows. Of course, that’s not the only thing you can fix, from white balance to exposure, color adjustment, contrast, noise reduction, and much more you can tweak whatever you want!

Shooting in RAW format allows you to freely and creatively edit your photos in post-production to achieve the look you are genuinely going for.

Recap: RAW format produces a none compressed image, with no loss of information. This makes the image higher-quality and allows you to manipulate it fully in post-production.


How to set your camera’s setting to take RAW images?

It’s quite simple. If you’re a Canon user, switch your mode to manual. Now take a look at the LCD screen and press the Q button. Somewhere on the screen, you see an L, M, S1, S2 or RAW.

Raw Canon Camera Setting

Raw canon camera setting

Your camera’s stock setting will most likely be set to L which is high-quality JPEG. Along with the L, you see a list of different formats, choose the one that says just RAW.

Congrats, your camera’s image format is now set to RAW.

Canon RAW produces a CR2 file that you can manipulate with a post-production software like Lightroom, Luminar or DxO…

Here is something you can practice now

You don’t need to be anywhere in specific to play around with your camera’s image format. You can be in your room, outside, it doesn’t matter.

Find a subject to shoot. Adjust your camera’s setting to find an ideal exposure. Now take a picture using the L (high-quality JPEG) format.

Repeat this for each format, or the ones you are curious about until you get to the RAW format. Now snap a picture in RAW.

Take the photos off of your card and throw them into your editing software. Do the same edit for each photo, export the photos and compare. Which one looks the best?

It’s entirely up to you and your style of shooting. If you prefer JPEG over RAW, then, by all means, shoot JPEG. Remember also that you can choose to shoot both formats; It can be particularly convenient if you shoot for a client and need to send him directly the pictures to show him a preview. Send him the jpeg as a preview and work on RAW images to finalize them. The choice is yours in the battle raw vs jpeg.

Don’t forget, practice is the key!