What is RAW?
A RAW file is a digital image file that is stored in your camera or your smartphone’s memory card. This RAW file is usually minimally processed and is usually uncompressed. Every camera manufacturer has its own RAW format, for example, Canon’s RAW files are .CR2 or .CR3, while Nikon’s are .NEF.
Why you should shoot with RAW format
Higher Quality Images
This is the main benefit of shooting RAW. When you shoot RAW, you record all of the data from the sensor compared to JPEG where the camera does its own processing to convert the RAW information into a JPEG.
When you shoot RAW, you’re able to do that processing yourself. You make the decisions on how the image should look and produce better results.
Greater Levels of Brightness
Levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white in an image. The more you have, the smoother the transitions of tones.
JPEG has 256 levels of brightness and RAW records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels. The effect this has on your images is huge.
Easily Correct Over/Under Exposed Images
You may end up with an over/under exposed image and need to correct the brightness. With RAW, you have additional information in the file, so it’s easier to correct the image without having a drastic reduction in quality. You can also recover highlights and clipped shadows.
Corrects White Balance
With RAW the white balance is recorded and because of the data collected, it’s easy to adjust. Great white balance and colour are essential to capturing the perfect image and shooting RAW lets you make the adjustments easier and faster, with far better results.
When you shoot RAW, you have access to sharpening and noise algorithms in a program like Lightroom that is way more powerful than those found in your camera. Plus, the sharpening and noise algorithms are always improving, so very soon, you’ll be able to revisit your RAW files and take advantage of the improvements.