Shoot in RAW format to preserve pic detail
The Star/Asia News Network
IF YOU flip through magazines, read review websites or watch YouTube videos about cameras, you'd probably have heard the term "RAW" being bandied about.
So, what is RAW?
Shooting RAW means saving your images in the camera's native "lossless" file format. This file format is called NEF in Nikon cameras, CRW in Canon cameras and ORF in Olympus cameras.
A RAW file is essentially a digital negative. It stores all the information that the camera's image sensor is able to capture, and this information is much more than you would think is captured by the camera when you look at the finished photo.
When shooting in JPEG format, the camera dumps all the captured information that is deemed unnecessary. For example, if there is a deep, dark shadow in part of a JPEG photo, the camera would dump any extra data in the shadowy area since you would not see it anyway.
JPEG files are a "lossy" compressed image format - you get much smaller file sizes, but the trade-off is that you lose some data every time you save in this format.
In contrast, RAW is a lossless format that stores as much information as the camera sensor can capture.
LOSSY OR LOSSLESS?
Let's say you shoot in JPEG format, with your camera getting the white balance wrong and the resulting photo becoming too yellowish.
You can correct it in Photoshop, but you lose image data every time you edit a JPEG and re-save it. In fact, if you do so too many times, your photo will look quite bad.
RAW, however, allows you to make changes - such as colour balance, exposure, sharpness and many other settings - without affecting the image's integrity.
When you change settings in RAW after shooting, the changes are non-destructive and merely indicate to the camera or image-editing software how you want to interpret the RAW information to produce the final image.
PROS AND CONS
But, unlike a JPEG file, a RAW file cannot be read by any software unless it has specific support for the camera manufacturer's RAW format.
What's more, in order to print, distribute or post an image online, you need to convert it from RAW to JPEG first.
RAW OR NOT?
So, should you shoot RAW?
It depends. If you're a casual photographer using your camera for family snaps and whatnot, you could shoot in JPEG mode and would be perfectly happy with the results.
However, if you're even half serious about photography as a hobby, you should shoot in RAW if your camera offers it.