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Date: 06/01/09 06:06
What does RAW Mean?
Author: SVTS

I Must confess, I considered myself fairly up to date on Photography. I am by no means an expert, but one term I have not been able to understand, is what does RAW mean when it comes to photography and what are the benefits of taking photos as such? Thanks in advance.

Chris Bogley
Bowie, MD



Date: 06/01/09 06:22
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: Indecline




Date: 06/01/09 06:25
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: theirishlion

From Wikipedia

What is a RAW file?

A raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image or motion picture film scanner. Raw files are so named because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be used with a bitmap graphics editor or printed. Normally, the image is processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut internal colorspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a "positive" file format such as TIFF or JPEG for storage, printing, or further manipulation, which often encodes the image in a device-dependent colorspace. These images are often described as "RAW image files" based on the erroneous belief that they represent a single file format. In fact there are dozens if not hundreds of raw image formats in use by different models of digital equipment (like cameras or film scanners).[1]

Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives, as they fulfill the same role as negatives in film photography: that is, the negative is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image. Likewise, the process of converting a raw image file into a viewable format is sometimes called developing a raw image, by analogy with the film development process used to convert photographic film into viewable prints. The selection of the final choice of image rendering is part of the process of white balancing and color grading.

Like a photographic negative, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic range or color gamut than the eventual final image format, and is usually the one "closest" to the real picture in the sense that it preserves most of its details. Raw image formats' purpose is to faithfully record both 100% of exactly what the sensor "saw" or "sensed" (the data), and the conditions surrounding the recording of the image (the metadata).

Michael Gmoser
Saint Louis, MO



Date: 06/01/09 06:27
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: theirishlion

JPG vs Raw:
Get it Right the First Time

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/raw.htm

Michael Gmoser
Saint Louis, MO



Date: 06/01/09 11:04
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: SVTS

Many thanks for the very useful info.

Chris Bogley
Bowie, MD



Date: 06/01/09 14:42
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: fbe

theirishlion Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> JPG vs Raw:
> Get it Right the First Time
>
> http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/raw.htm

Well, don't make you decisions based upon what Rockwell has to say here. Much of it is just plain wrong. You do not have to upgrade to a new Photoshop program everytime a new camera comes out. You may have to down the new version of the Adobe Camera Raw program but this is a FREE program. Each camera capable of raw shooting also comes with a FREE program from the manufacturer to convert the files to TIFF or JPEG.

The newest ACR programs which work with Photoshop CS and Lightroom have a number of sliders and adjustment buttons which you use when opening the RAW files there is almost nothing to do to mormal images in PS proper. Five or six steps is all you need to open an image in RAW and have it ready to print of display. Epson printers will print directly from most camera RAW files. If you can print ALL of your Out Of Camera jpeg images without at least a few PS adjustments (have you heard of Levels?) then you are a better photographer than most of the pros out there. So RAW is not the time consuming pit Rockwell claims it to be. If you are shooting thousands of frames per week no one is processing 100% of those images for printing or sale anyway.

Shoot RAW and enjoy the benefits of greater color depth, sharper images and archiavability of the images towards better software to come along in the future. Reference the book Real World Camera RAW by Bruce Fraser to find out why RAW is the best format to shoot in. A quick through this book referencing ACR in PSCS4 should show you just how easy it now is to open and save RAW images these days. KR is not completely wrong but some of his over simplifications and misinterpretations come up short in the long run. What do I know, though? He makes his living in photography and this is just a hobby for me, a diversion to the career which pays the bills.



Date: 06/01/09 18:40
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: bnsfjth

theirishlion Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> JPG vs Raw:
> Get it Right the First Time
>
> http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/raw.htm

Rockwell is a crock.

-Justin



Date: 06/01/09 19:14
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: QU25C

bnsfjth Wrote:
> Rockwell is a crock.
>
> -Justin


He is full on crock LOL



Date: 06/03/09 14:33
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: CCMF

Rockwell is clearly out of touch with reality.



Date: 06/03/09 15:53
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: jackpot

fbe wrote:
"Shoot RAW and enjoy the benefits of greater color depth, sharper images and archiavability of the images towards better software to come along in the future."

While I love using RAW personally, here's where this whole "perpetual file" thing doesn't wash out for me: each camera manufacturer, it seems, has their own "version" of a raw file. Whereas a JPG file is a JPG file, regardless of whose camera produced it.

So why, fifty years down the road, do you feel that a RAW file will be more archaiviable than a JPG file? Especially when a JPG file can get archived just as well and edited in a non-destructive manner?



Date: 06/03/09 16:29
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: theirishlion

If it matters I shoot RAW

Michael Gmoser
Saint Louis, MO



Date: 06/03/09 17:47
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: fbe

jackpot Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> fbe wrote:
> "Shoot RAW and enjoy the benefits of greater color
> depth, sharper images and archiavability of the
> images towards better software to come along in
> the future."
>
> While I love using RAW personally, here's where
> this whole "perpetual file" thing doesn't wash out
> for me: each camera manufacturer, it seems, has
> their own "version" of a raw file. Whereas a JPG
> file is a JPG file, regardless of whose camera
> produced it.
>

> So why, fifty years down the road, do you feel
> that a RAW file will be more archaiviable than a
> JPG file? Especially when a JPG file can get
> archived just as well and edited in a
> non-destructive manner?


The RAW files keep everything captured by the camera sensor. It keeps it forever which makes it more archivable over time. Now, if you are worried about compatability with your post processing program down the line then convert the RAW files to TIFF or Adobe RAW format which is an open source program. If you sense your camera's manufacture is going away or you acquire some RAW images in an estate sale or trade then you will have to make sure there is some way out there to open them up. You can find places to purchase the chemicals to do tintype images if you really want to do that now even though the process had been out of favor for decades. I do believe there will be some third party manufacturer such as Adobe which will have a program which will be able to crack open any of the old RAW files.

Tintypes? www.photoformulary.com A really neat place if you are into chemical photography.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/09 18:29 by fbe.



Date: 06/05/09 12:02
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: jackpot

fbe Wrote:
The RAW files keep everything captured by the camera sensor. It keeps it forever which makes it more archivable over time.

How is a RAW file "kept forever" which makes is more archiavable vs. a jpeg? Keeping a file in a readable format is the same whether it's a RAW or JPEG or a TIFF file, correct? The main thing you want to watch out for is that the file is kept "pristine" after each use, and I don't see where a JPEG file can't be saved without degrading, either. It's just when you start editing the file--resize, change color, etc.--that the pixels are modified. . .but that's the same with a TIFF file.

One of the arguments for keeping RAW files--besides the primary one that it is the "negative" right off the sensor--is that it is "more archivable." But I haven't seen any proof of that. You even mentoned that one may need to search around for software to open an XYZ-brand RAW file. Heck, if camera manufacturers can change lens mounts or the compatability of lenses with bodies, what's to keep them from all of a sudden coming up with a "better" version of a raw file? I'm thinking that in 50 years, a JPEG file will still be widely readable. . .but proprietary RAW files won't be so much.



Date: 06/05/09 16:15
Re: What does RAW Mean?
Author: fbe

jackpot Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> fbe Wrote:
> The RAW files keep everything captured by the
> camera sensor. It keeps it forever which makes it
> more archivable over time.
>
> How is a RAW file "kept forever" which makes is
> more archiavable vs. a jpeg? Keeping a file in a
> readable format is the same whether it's a RAW or
> JPEG or a TIFF file, correct? The main thing you
> want to watch out for is that the file is kept
> "pristine" after each use, and I don't see where a
> JPEG file can't be saved without degrading,
> either. It's just when you start editing the
> file--resize, change color, etc.--that the pixels
> are modified. . .but that's the same with a TIFF
> file.

Yes, even with jpeg I would certainly recommend saving a copy of the original file from the camera in jpeg, untouched somewhere. Then you can make a copy of the file whenever you want to do some processing or printing from the copy and leave the original alone. You can convert the jpeg to a tiff file or even the Photoshop PSD format if you like. I always archive an original RAW file of each image when I download a flash card since my post processing skills improve as does the software I use over time.
>

> One of the arguments for keeping RAW
> files--besides the primary one that it is the
> "negative" right off the sensor--is that it is
> "more archivable." But I haven't seen any proof
> of that. You even mentoned that one may need to
> search around for software to open an XYZ-brand
> RAW file. Heck, if camera manufacturers can change
> lens mounts or the compatability of lenses with
> bodies, what's to keep them from all of a sudden
> coming up with a "better" version of a raw file?
> I'm thinking that in 50 years, a JPEG file will
> still be widely readable. . .but proprietary RAW
> files won't be so much.

If I want to open any raw file from any brand of camera I have come across so far, ACR from Adobe will do that. By golly, processing photos is their business, they want to continue to do that so expect them to keep around a version of ACR which will do that. Camera manufacturers do indeed upgrade their RAW files and software with each new camera body. Sometimes they allow you to update their processing software for free on the internet, sometimes they want you to buy new software. Ain't free enterprise wonderful?

What is important is the quality of the image you are saving. JPEG files get better all the time but until they start creating them with 14 bit colors they will just never look or print as good as the RAW files will. You are focused upon losing access to your RAW files in the future and are convinced jpeg standards will never change. That is not true, jpeg standards evolve just like all others. It will be up to you to transfer old files to new standards and formats if you want to keep them "alive". Otherwise you may have to pay someone to professionally do that for you.

So go ahead and shoot the highest quality jpegs if you like, shoot RAW+jpeg if your camera allows this or just do the originals in RAW for the best images. There are some photographers, even pros who will argue to the end their jpeg files are just as good as any raw. I think they are wrong and I am sure they may lose business to come customers who will look at the image closely enough to tell the difference. Other customers will take anything presented to them which is oversaturated and overly contrasty. I will stay in RAW for the future. Browse through the Bruce Fraser Real World Camera Raw text at a local book store or the library for a time to see if you think RAW is not as permanent as generic jpeg. If you do not understand the book or all you want to do is use photos on the internet then jpeg is all you will ever need. Pretty low quality jpeg at that.



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