9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

No comments

Taking pictures in RAW mode when doing photography. Sometimes such a fairy would be really useful. You know, the one with the three wishes.

If I had one wish for my photography today, I would like to have photographed in RAW format much earlier.

Sometimes we are asked what has been the biggest change in our photography career for us. Which equipment, which knowledge, which insight brought us the greatest progress in our pictures?

9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

Today we can easily name the point that marked the transition from the hobby “clipper” to the more ambitious photography.

It wasn't a seminar.

It wasn't a new camera.

It was the change of the picture format. Switching from JPEG to RAW. And the accompanying discovery of Adobe Lightroom .


If you take pictures in RAW format, you open up completely new possibilities for yourself and your pictures

What is the RAW format?

RAW ("raw") is the raw data format in photography.

When you shoot in RAW format, the camera receives all of the image information that the image sensor captured.

The RAW file of your image is very large because it contains all of this information.

Since the camera does not “interpret” the image information in RAW mode, but simply saves everything, you always have to digitally “develop” your RAW file afterwards. So it is basically the digital negative of an image.

When developing your RAW data in a RAW converter (e.g. from Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop ), you can determine how your photo should look exactly on the PC. You can determine the white balance, the color space, the contrasts, etc. without losing the quality of the image. You can also influence parameters such as sharpness and image noise.

You can lighten or darken your photo to a much greater extent without having "eroded" areas where the image information is lost.

An example of RAW development

A typical problem in photos that you may be familiar with is a white (overexposed) sky, like in this unedited photo:

9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

This picture from Norway contains great contrasts. In order not to get the house and the lower area too dark and to get all the details here, I had to overexpose the picture. As a result, the sky now appears white. If it were a JPEG image, there wouldn't be much to do here. The image information of the sky would be gone. If I darkened the sky it would just turn gray.

But I took photos in RAW format. With a graduated filter, I was able to darken the sky again in Adobe Lightroom . The structures and colors that the real sky had when the picture was taken appear automatically. Because it wasn't white at all. He was beautiful.

9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

It is important that this is not a picture montage or other "cheating". With just a few clicks, I was able to get the image information in post-processing, which was saved in the image itself thanks to the RAW format. This is how it looked in reality. This is exactly what my camera recorded. And this is what my picture looks like now.

In our e-book “The Last Step to Perfection” we explain to you in an easy-to-understand way and step by step, using examples, how we edit our articles with Lightroom. If you switch to RAW format, we definitely recommend the e-book.

What is the difference between RAW and JPEG?

If you take photos in JPEG format, the camera defines certain parameters of the image when it is saved (e.g. white balance). You cannot change this afterwards. This definition ensures that the amount of data is significantly lower.

As a result of the compression of the data, in addition to the loss of image information, so-called compression artifacts sometimes arise, which become even more pronounced in the subsequent processing.

You can also post-process JPEG images on the PC. However, this is always accompanied by a loss of quality. In this way you can darken light areas of your picture a little, but often there will be no picture information in these, so that you cannot “repeat” a structure and these areas of your picture are lost. The sky in the example image above would be a solid gray when darkened. It would have neither colors nor structure.

With this image, too, the sky benefits greatly from the image information that the RAW still has:

The RAW format enables overexposed skies to be restored quickly and easily

Why do everyone still take photos in JPEG format, at least first?

JPEG helps you! You don't have to struggle with the digital negative; your camera delivers finished images thanks to JPEG. Pictures that you can take over and show anywhere.

Unprocessed RAW images are gray, pale and lacking in contrast. So photos in JPEG format look a lot better than photos in unedited RAW format.

Also, JPEGs are more manageable. You don't need a special program to open it. They are significantly smaller, require less memory and are easy to manage.

JPEG is the ready-made meal. You don't have to do anything anymore. It's mostly okay, but never great.

RAW are the ingredients. You have to cook yourself. You have to know a little bit what you are doing. But you can also try a lot. You can create trash. But also great things. With RAW, all options are open to you. You have influence. You don't rely on what is given. You create yourself.

At Wikipedia  you can find a detailed comparison of RAW and JPEG data. 

Cons of RAW photography

Oh there is. The disadvantages of RAW photography. I have already indicated some of them above. In fact, we don't recommend switching from JPEG to RAW to everyone without reservation.

1. You have to edit your pictures

If you take photos in RAW format, you have to post-process your pictures. To do this, you need a special RAW converter, such as programs such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop have. Because of the great image management and the more intuitive operation, we recommend Lightroom first.

Unprocessed RAW files do not look like the JPEG, but much more disappointing. You have to be able to handle this. The ingredients and possibilities alone don't make a soup. Without preparation, they won't bring you anything.

If you don't feel like editing pictures and don't want to sit in front of your PC, taking photos in RAW format is not for you.

2. You have to be able to do image editing too

You can edit pictures very, very terribly. Many beginners lack orientation. They exaggerate it immensely, pictures become completely oversaturated, over-sharpened, colors extremely unnatural, the whole picture terrible.

The in-camera image processing that creates the JPEG, on the other hand, is not that bad. As a beginner, you will probably find it difficult to edit your RAW so that it looks like a natural, well-made JPEG.

Image processing is not only time-consuming, it also requires training. If you want to deal with this, we recommend our e-book “The last step to perfection” . Here we describe to you simply, understandably and with many examples how you can get the most out of your pictures and still maintain their naturalness.

3. You need significantly more memory

9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

RAW files are at least three times the size of the corresponding JPEG. So you also need at least three times as much memory. This applies to both your memory cards in the camera and the space on your hard drive. Also think about your computer's RAM, which has to load the large files.

4. You may need faster memory cards

Since the files are much smaller, the writing speed of your memory cards hardly plays a role when taking photos in JPEG format. When writing the large RAW files, the memory card is much more demanding, which is why it reaches its limits more quickly when taking continuous shots. If you take photos in RAW format, you have to pay attention to the speed of your memory cards.

The benefits of RAW photography

For us it's very simple: the end product is so much better!

When we take photos in RAW format, we do not give away any possibilities of the image. We can make the most of everything the photo has to offer.

Of course, a RAW doesn't make a bad photo a good one. A good photo doesn't start on the PC, but long before the shutter button is pressed. And a photo with strong technical errors such as misfocusing will never be good even after post-processing the RAW.

A RAW can turn a good photo into a great one.

And that's what photography is about for us.

Even a little editing helps the picture a lot

9 specific reasons why you should start shooting in RAW today

Let's learn about 9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

1. Your picture contains a lot of information

I've already shown it above: A RAW image contains much more image information than is visible at first glance. You can use them all in post-production and work them out to show the picture as it was in reality.

A quick technical comparison with numbers:

A JPEG has a color depth of 8 bits, that is a maximum of 256 brightness levels per color channel and a total of 16.7 million color tones.

A 12-bit RAW, on the other hand, contains 4096 brightness levels per color channel. That is a total of 68.7 billion shades!

Your RAW image contains a lot of details in the light and dark areas that you can work out and emphasize. That's why you benefit a lot from RAW photography, especially in difficult lighting conditions and high contrasts.

You no longer have to settle for a great sky (and a landscape that is too dark) OR a great landscape (and a sky that is too light). The information for both is there!

You can also let off steam creatively and experimentally give your image very different effects, simply by sliding individual sliders.

Don't accept the instant soup, create the best version of your picture!

2. You edit your photo without any loss

Depending on how much you want to edit your picture, your JPEG will break. Light and dark areas "eat up", you get artifacts, your photo loses quality extremely.

You don't have all of these problems with RAW editing. No matter what you edit - the image quality is retained.

This does not mean that you can make your picture lighter or darker as you like - the picture information you want must theoretically be present in the recording! If you have photographed far too bright, for example, while the midday sun was also shining on the bright areas, these will be lost. The dynamic range of your camera sets the limit here.

But you have everything that it can do in the image information. And you can "conjure it up" and "magic it away" as you want.

Are dark areas too dark, light areas too light? You can correct this problem with RAW files

3. You set the white balance afterwards

Finding the correct white balance is usually quite difficult and time-consuming. It also changes depending on the recording situation. JPEG images therefore sometimes have a color cast. B. often a bluish one.

You don't have this problem with photography in RAW mode. You only set the white balance during post-processing and can freely try out which color temperature works best. You can also work creatively with this, for example, give photos more warmth to intensify an evening mood.

Here is an extreme example. The magenta color cast of the raw image is caused by the ND filter that we used for the long exposure during the day. You can find out more here:

4. You can save photos

9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography

Not when they're out of focus. Forget it.

But incorrectly exposed photos, dull and gray photos, noisy photos ... all of these can be saved when you have the RAW file.

In the RAW converter, you can change the exposure up to two f-stops without loss, i.e. make the image significantly lighter or darker.

I took this picture too dark. This is not a problem with RAW conversion.

5. You can make lens corrections

You only notice how great that is when you have already worked with it.

Every lens has its own weaknesses, such as distortion (especially with wide-angle lenses), vignetting (darker image edges) or the tendency to chromatic aberrations (color edges).

In the RAW converter, you can choose which lens was used to take the picture (usually the program already knows it by itself) and remove these errors with a single click.

Architecture photos particularly benefit from lens correction

6. Create really good black and white pictures

No more "pulling saturation down"!

By editing the individual color channels, you can use your RAW files to create grandiose black and white photos with impressive contrasts and an absolutely convincing image effect.

The image on the left was simply desaturated, the one on the right was elaborately processed using the individual color channels

7. You can rotate and crop your photos more freely

You can straighten your photo in the RAW converter and redefine the cropping.

You can also do this with JPEG images, but here there is a significant loss of quality due to the so-called generation loss. This is due to the type of compression that the JPEG format uses.

We still have to practice horizons straight from the camera ... 😉

8. Create your own picture look

If you shoot more ambitiously and for longer, you will gradually create your own image look. You like certain things, take photos and edit in a certain way. Presets in Lightroom help you to make the processing of your images very uniform with just a few clicks. Here too, too much of your picture will be broken in JPEG format.

9. You have all options later

You absolutely should not underestimate this point. Even if you are now satisfied with your JPEGs and don't feel like post-processing - you might see it differently in a few years.

As already written above, I very much regret that I only started RAW photography after about 5 years in digital photography. Even in these first 5 years I took wonderful pictures, was in breathtaking places and saw, experienced and photographed fantastic things. At the time, I was reasonably satisfied with this photo. And I couldn't edit images anyway.

Today I can. And I see the potential of these images, some of which are really good in terms of the recording itself. Unfortunately then a bit dark. Or heaven knows. The winter shots have a bluish cast. The long exposures are noisy.

If I had recorded the files in RAW format back then, it would cost me a few clicks today and the images would be gigantic. So I gave away the potential. This is not only about travel pictures, but also about pictures that are very important to me personally today, such as pictures of people and animals that have since died.

If you don't feel like post-processing and RAW management today, that doesn't matter. Most cameras allow you to take pictures in RAW and JPEG format at the same time. So you have both files. Enjoy the JPEGs and simply move the RAWs to a folder on an external hard drive. Maybe your future you will love your current one for it at some point. Mine would have done it.

How about you Do you shoot in JPEG or RAW format? Why did you choose this? Are you considering switching?

These were our "9 Reasons Why You Should Shoot In RAW Mode When Doing Photography" We look forward to your comment. Write to us if you have any questions about the article! As always, we are guaranteed to answer.

No comments

Post a Comment