Why you should be shooting in RAW
You have been told over and over: If you are serious about your photography, you should be shooting in raw. (Yes, correctly it's "raw" not RAW since it's simply an adjective, not an abbreviation, au contraire to JPEG etc.). We'll tell you why!
While there are several applications where it is perfectly fine to shoot JPEG, in this article we will cover when and why you should be shooting raw, to incorporate the full potential of your camera's sensor into your photography, even though shooting in raw required a more complicated workflow and will utilize way more space on your hard drive or flash card. Let?s look at the basics first: What is raw? The raw file format simply captures all of your camera sensor's information without any processing, compression or reduction.
Simply put, in raw you have 12 bit per color channel (or up to 14 bit and more with some high-end professional cameras) instead of the 8 bit you will get with a down processed JPEG on each channel. This means instead of having 0-255 values of either red, green or blue, this will give you at least 4096 shades of color in each separate color channel, adding up to a total of many billions of colors altogether. This sounds like an awful unnecessary lot but comes in handy very quickly, if you plan to tweak your image massively in post-production and want to drastically change your exposure without those nasty banding or stair-stepping effects in your gradients. That basically says it all.
But there is more. When shooting in raw light and colors are stored as seen by the sensor, and not processed with any camera settings and filters. This will enable you to do your own white balance later on in Lightroom, Aperture, Capture One - or whichever processing tool you prefer - way better, with way more control, and way more powerful as your camera does on its own.
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