So you may be asking, what is raw? No, it’s not a reference to cooking, but it certainly is the beginning of a great recipe. Raw is a file format that captures all of the image data recorded by a DSLR camera sensor. Other formats, such as JPEG compress the data to produce smaller file sizes. Why do I care if it’s compressed? I’ll give you a list of advantages of shooting raw.
Raw is the highest possible quality.
This is probably the most significant advantage. NO data is compressed and lost, therefore raw delivers the best detail and quality possible for beautiful images. Any other format is created by the camera’s processor. The processor is pretty smart, but it doesn’t always understand the artistic vision of the photographer. A raw file can be processed by the photographer to get the final image they desire. Keep in mind... raw files are much larger than JPEGs!
Raw files allow better exposure and brightness control
JPEGs are 8bit files, but RAW files are 12bit or 14bit. JPEGs contain 256 levels of brightness, but RAW files contain 4-16 thousand levels of brightness. Getting a perfect exposure in camera is always the best process, but there are times when it’s just not that easy. Raw files allow a photographer to easily correct an over or under exposed image up to a couple of stops to get the correct or desired image.
Raw allows the photographer to adjust the white balance.
White balance is basically the color of the image. Raw files will allow color changes without any loss of quality. The color can be adjusted to the exact color seen by the human eye or to the artistic vision of the photographer.
Raw allows the best non-destructive editing.
There are many software programs available for editing raw files that don’t actually change the original file. With this process the original file is never damaged or overwritten. Every time a JPEG is edited and saved a little data is lost. These same programs can edit JPEGs too, but we already know data was lost when the JPEG was created. Raw files are exported to JPEG or another format rather than overwritten. It is almost impossible to accidentally overwrite a raw file.