July 21, 2011

#28 – Use the RAW file format now to make editing easier later.

Shot in RAW, easy to convert to black and white.

It’s like doing ballet in a phone booth.

You’ve got all these megapixels in your camera and yet you only have so much space on your memory card. What do you choose? Small file size? Jumbo JPEGS? RAW?

I say buy a bigger card (they’re crazy cheap these days) and use the RAW setting – it’s what I do on every one of my cameras, from the giant SLRs down to my point-and-shoot.

RAW is a digital negative.
RAW is kinda-sorta the digital camera equivalent of the negatives you used to drop off at the pharmacy back in the film camera days. The files are uncompressed so the file sizes tend to be very large – and not every point-and-shoot camera out there actually has a RAW setting.

RAW files give you flexibility.
Because it’s a digital negative that hasn’t been compressed, a RAW file lets you do all sorts of things when you edit your photo on your computer. Did you or your camera pick the wrong white balance? You can choose a different one in your photo editor. Because the RAW files are uncompressed, you also get the cleanest file to work on. That means items in the background can be sharper and look better.
What if you can’t shoot RAW?
If you’re using an older or inexpensive digital camera, there’s a good bet that it doesn’t come with the RAW option. What do you do then? Shoot on the highest quality file setting you can. You won’t get all the bells and whistles of a digital negative, but you will have more flexibility when it comes to making your photos look fanfreakintastic.

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