Why should I be shooting in RAW format? This is a question which comes into the mind of many amateur photographers and people who have just started photography. There are many advantages of shooting in RAW when compared to JPEG. Let us check it out.

What is a RAW image?

RAW image is nothing but an unprocessed image. It is actually the information recorded by the camera sensor when you click the shutter button. This file will have more details of the picture when compared to the compressed JPEG format. I shoot all my images in RAW format.

I will give you 12 reasons for shooting in RAW format instead of JPEG

1. Higher Level of Image Quality

If we capture the image in RAW then we are recording all the details of the scene into the image. Thus, we can get a better image quality while post processing. If we are shooting in JPEG, then the camera will be doing the processing based on its algorithm and we would be getting a compressed final image, which lacks in details when compared to RAW.

2. Image Exposure Correction

Shooting In RAW Exposure

Exposure correction is one of the main advantage of shooting in RAW format. Sometimes it happens that the recorded image may be under exposed or over exposed because of the tricky lighting conditions. We can control the exposure later while post processing without losing much details if we shoot in RAW. Thus, we can correct the image exposure without losing quality. If we try to do the same correction on a JPEG image then we can see a reduction in image quality. In the example shown above, image on the left got over exposed because of wrong camera settings. Since the picture was shot in RAW format, we could reduce the exposure and recover the image with all the details. If the same image was shot in JPEG then the image would go to the trash.

3. For Better Prints

Shooting in RAW is recommended if you are planning to print your images. Itwill give you better colors, tones and details. We will have the option to enlarge images for bigger prints. We can adjust the image resolution without losing details. There would be less color banding. If we shoot in JPEG and try to make a bigger print then you will have to increase the resolution of the JPEG file which will result in bad quality prints.

4. Higher Dynamic range

RAW image has a higher dynamic range than the compressed JPEG. This has helped me in many situations to get good images after processing. We can recover clipped shadow details and burned highlights to an extent from RAW images.

5. Helps to choose Color Space of our choice

Shooting in RAW format gvies you the flexibility to choose the colour space of your choice, especially when you are printing photos. We can choose the color space while doing the post processing. For using images on web, we can choose sRGB color space while exporting the image. If a wider color space is required then ProphotoRGB can be chosen. Other option is the AdobeRGB. With the help of RAW format, we can export the same image in different color spaces. For High Quality Photo printing, you can set AdobeRGB as colour space and get a better quality print (only if the printing store supports AdobeRGB colour space).

6. White Balance Correction

Shooting in RAW Right White balance

Certain lighting conditions are tricky to set the right white balance. In such a situation, if we are saving the file in JPEG format then we will not be able to change the color temperature later without losing details. In such conditions shooting in RAW format is a good option and set the white balance in AWB (Auto White Balance) Mode. If camera fails to choose the right white balance then we can set it to the color temperature of our choice during post processing since we have shot in RAW format. In the above picture, since white balance was wrongly set to shade, there is a yellow cast on the image (on the left side) which was shot during daytime. White balance setting was corrected to daylight during post processing, as shown in the picture on the left. Shooting in RAW format made this possible.

7. For a Non-Destructive Editing

When we are editing a RAW file, we are not destroying the actual data. We are just making some adjustments and corrections to save the final image into JPEG format. We can reset the settings anytime to retain the actual RAW image without any changes. But, if we are doing the same adjustments on the JPEG image then we are losing the quality of the JPEG every time we make some change.

8. More levels of Brightness

RAW can capture more levels of brightness when compared to JPEG. It can record up to 16,384 levels of brightness depending on the bit depth supported by the camera sensor. JPEG can only support 256 levels of brightness. Higher the number of brightness levels better the Image tones. So, shoot in RAW to get better images with smooth tones.

9. For Maximizing the Benefits of Post Processing Tool

Only RAW can help you to get a better advantage while editing in post-processing tools like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. This is because of the amount of information and details captured and stored in the RAW image. You will have more tweaking ability on different image parameters. All the post-processing tools are designed for processing RAW images, so tart shooting in RAW

10. For Recovering Highlights

Shooting in RAW will help to recover the highlights in an image to an extent. Suppose we are shooting a scene with a sky in the frame. Since camera’s dynamic range is lower when compared to human eyes.Theis a chance that the sky will get whitewashed. In such a situation, if you shoot in RAW then you can recover the sky details later using post processing softwares like Adobe Lightroom. Shooting in RAW has saved me lots of time when I shoot landscapes. Otherwise, you will need a Neutral Density filter in front of your lens to underexpose the sky separately.

11. For Extensive Editing

If you are planning do an extensive photo editing then you will have to shoot in RAW. This would be useful for Digital Artist and Fine Art photographers.

12. Best option Available for Image Recording

RAW format is the best option available for image recording. So, always go with the best option. Certain DSLR cameras will allow you to record the image in both RAW as well as JPEG. You will get a RAW Image and a JPEG image of the same file. You can use this option if you want to save a JPEG copy of the image also without any post-processing. Here, the camera will apply the settings and record a JPEG image.

During my initial days of photography, I did the mistake of shooting in JPEG format even when the RAW option was available. I used to post-process the JPEG files. I ended up in losing the image quality after post processing. So, I recommend shooting in RAW, if your camera supports RAW format. Later you can post process RAW file using tools like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop for generating the JPEG or  TIFF images.

I am summarising the entire points to an Infographic so that you can download it and use it as a quick reference card.

12 Advantages of Shooting in RAW Infographic



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