I have said in previous posts that RAW photography isn’t for everyone. It definitely takes a little more effort to get into RAW, but once you do, you’ll find you have a lot more control over your images. A lot of people ask me if it’s worth getting into RAW photography, and I always say it definitely is. Are these three things holding you back from trying it out?
You don’t know what RAW is or why it’s better than shooting in JPEG
RAW files represent the unaltered image data stored the moment after your camera takes a picture. It is the pixel-for-pixel representation of exactly what was captured at the moment you pressed the shutter. If you shoot in JPEG, your camera deletes the original data and stores a somewhat processed version of the photo as a means of saving space (or saving you time if you aren’t into post-processing).
By shooting in RAW, you’re holding onto the original camera data. What does this do for you? In a nutshell, it gives you more choices when processing the image. I find that I can usually improve colors better, sharpen exactly how I want, and change the brightness with more accuracy when I start out with a RAW file. That’s why so many people call RAW files “digital negatives.”
You don’t have enough hard drive space
Sometimes the simplest reasons prevail. I didn’t get into RAW photography until I ended up purchasing a desktop computer with a lot more hard drive space. Before I got this computer, I was always thinking about how much space everything is going to take up. I was literally down to the last few gigs. When your situation is that dire, it’s hard to experiment with doing things a new way.
Now that I have my nice big 500 gig hard drive, I don’t feel bad about filling it up with as many RAW photos as I want. I’ve also realized that my initial fears weren’t founded on reason. If you only save the best photos from every shoot, you’ll still have plenty of space for your photography. Each RAW file from my camera takes up about 8.3 MB. If you do the math, you can store around 125 photos per gigabyte of hard drive space. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than I pictured in my head.
You don’t know what software to use
Before you get into it, RAW photography has this aura of mystique surrounding it. You always wonder what software people are using to process the photos, and you assume that it must be some very expensive version of Adobe Photoshop CS. Not true at all! Did you know you can process all of your RAW photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements, an $80 piece of software? That’s an amazing deal for all of the other tools you get bundled with it.
While you’re at it, go ahead and have a look at my series on Camera RAW and Elements. If you’ve ever doubted the benefit of switching to RAW, you’ll see some of the handy adjustments you can do with this software.
If you like to process your images, I recommend making the switch
You will find RAW photography to be so much more fun and interesting during post processing. Because RAW files are like digital negatives, you can always open them up and make new changes later. It’s just like developing an entirely new photo. All changes are non-destructive, something that cannot be said of shooting in JPEG format.
The world is your oyster, and RAW photography will help you get the most of it. If you’ve convinced yourself you don’t want to use RAW files for some of the above reasons, I strongly urge you to reconsider your position. There is a fair amount to learn, a small amount equipment to invest in, and a ton to gain with RAW photography.
Most people think this post is Awesome. What do you think?