Raw mode can be found on many new compact point-and-shoot digital cameras and all SLR-type digital cameras. Raw photographs are image files that still need to be processed.
Remember when we used to process our pictures in a traditional darkroom? Well, these days we have computers and photography software that help us process our files in a very similar way. You might want to think of this process as a digital darkroom.
Most of you who shoot with a digital camera are very familiar with the JPEG files that we download to computers or other devices to share with family and friends. Shooting in this mode is very convenient because your camera takes care of things like sharpness, color and contrast. In general, it gives you an image that’s ready in an instant.
The only trouble with instant is the drop in quality of the image. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather visit Starbucks than stir in a spoonful of instant at home! Shooting in JPEG mode doesn’t allow you to get the most out of your camera. These files are small and your camera decides how to process your image through predetermined values that suit the shooting situation. Wouldn’t you like to make these decisions on your own?
If your answer is yes and you want to create the best photographs that you can, then it’s time to set up your own digital darkroom. Try shooting in raw mode and invest in some good raw conversion software.
Raw conversion software offers the photographer creative freedom. When shooting in raw mode, your camera will give you a much higher quality file than you would get from JPEG mode. After importing your work to the software, you can begin creating the image you desire. You now have complete control over color, contrast, exposure, sharpness and more.
Here’s a screenshot from a product called Capture One. Capture One and Adobe are top raw conversion software producers. They both offer user-friendly tools that will help take your photography to the next level.
Ultimately, the decision to make the switch from JPEG to raw is yours and I have only touched on the subject here. Shooting in raw mode will not magically turn you into an award-winning photographer, but it’ll help you if you’re interested in a better quality photograph.
I will be more than happy to answer any detailed questions you might have. Just send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.