Mar 15, 2012

Why You Should Shoot RAW


The biggest reason to shoot in RAW is the amount of control it gives you in post since it captures so much more information. This means it’s much easier to fix Color and Exposure problems. I convert all my images in as DNG file to save space, and edit the RAW file before I open it in Photoshop. Sometimes these small changes are all you need to do to an image, and the settings you use can be synced with your other photos as well.

Episode Timeline

  • 0:45- Camera Settings
  • 2:28- Opening images as DNG in Lightroom
  • 4:55- Develop panel to fix Exposure and white balance
  • 7:54- Cropping
  • 9:10- Opening a RAW file in Photoshop
  • 11:25- Editing in 8 bit and saving as a Jpeg



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  • user image

    Shooting Raw is for those too lazy to practice the right techniques…unless you are a true wizard and are wanting to do creative post/compositing. Shoot on manual…On Canon 5DM2 shoot Standard picture style with sharpness set to 6/7 and the saturation down 1 click from factory setting…use a lightmeter to take ambient…pop the lights…adjust camera settings to match…shoot custom white balance…take first shot and critique/adjust settings…then fire away.

    • user image
      Nick Bedford

      “unless you are a true wizard and are wanting to do creative post/compositing”
      That’s the whole point. Most professionals shoot raw because it gives them the same control that shooting onto film negative does, just digitally. Would you tell film photographers should go and use a Polaroid to shoot a wedding?

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        Florence Griffith

        I think shooting a wedding with a polaroid would be cool

  • user image

    I don’t understand confusion about jpg vs RAW. It is like comparing Polaroid to Film.
    If you care about details in shadows, shoot overexpose for around 1EV (just to not blow out high lights) and than correct exposure down in LR or CameraRaw and add fill light.
    It will give you more details and less noise in shadows. Maybe it doesn’t matter much for online presentation but one day you will decide to print it and you will know what I am talking about 😉

  • user image

    Learn how to operate your camera…how to adjust for mixed lighting/gels. It looks like you shot a ton of imaes of the same thing Aaron. You should be able to nail it within the first 3 shots. I’d rather do it in camera than sit for hours trying to fix bad technique. The only thing you should have to do is blemish removal if you didn’t drive enough light into the face wrinkles of the model. Even a jpeg can be edited successfully if you’re 99% perfect anyway.

    • user image

      I wish to see pictures with complicated color manipulations like those taken(made) by
      Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for gucci or vogue processed out from jpeg. Probably they shot those on Medium Format Film but they used film not Polaroid for the reason.There is no sense to take pictures in jpg. The only advantage of jpg is a memory space. But if you nail picture in 3 shots… well, where is the problem?

  • user image

    My prints are amazing…use light to shape and contour your subject. If you have bad shadows or greens/reds in the shadows it’s a lighting issue or a white balance color management issue. Everyone should shoot continous light first to see the instant result…then apply this to off camera strobe/speedlight lighting.

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    James Warwood

    please excuse my ignorance but i’m not a lightroom user. Is there any advantage to getting lightroom as i already have bridge and iPhoto?

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    Tim Piggott

    I totally agree with Aaron – Raw is the original, unaltered data as ‘seen’ by the sensor. If you capture in jpeg the camera software processes the data, converting it from 16 bit down to 8 bit, then uses complex algorithms to compress the data down to about a tenth of the original size. I’m not against using jpeg per-sa, because they do an amazing job of preserving detail. But why let the camera make all the decisions for you – not to mention preserving as much data as possible for future use?!

  • user image

    Todays digital format makes you lazy. If you can’t get it right in camera and have to correct all your mistakes with photoshop…it makes you a retoucher and not a true photographer. You can meter it, CWB it, light it right, practice good composition and bypass most of the photoshop except for blemish removal….

    • user image

       Ansel Adams was dodging and burning his film pictures. Was he just a retoucher and not a true photographer? Try to born and dodge jpg. O… I am sorry, true photographers don’t touch the picture after shot…
      In real color management there is a step where you build a profile for a specific light source – lens – camera sensor configuration to remove unwanted color shifts. Using jpg you are limiting yourself to camera White Balance.
      Well I see jpgs work for you, but camera is a tool and there is no limit on how artist will use it. Even if he will decide to make a holes to leak the light in. Jpg is just a limitation.
      IMO the final picture is what counts, not the amount of work, techniques and technology used to create it. It doesn’t matter if you worked a lot or just pushed the button. 
      Please show as your website or gallery so we can at least see your perfectionism in life.

  • user image

    I photograph weddings using RAW as I like to be able to correct my images white balance or exposure when I haven’t got right in camera.
    This happens pretty often in situations where I am shooting fast and conditions are changing and I’ve saved  a lot of photos that would otherwise have been discarded.
    However, I’ve talked to other wedding photographers who shoot in jpg because it’s faster when processsing hundreds of images, and they’re confident in their accuracy rate. I think this makes sense when you’re trying to be as efficient as possible and equate your time to money.

  • user image
    Christian Noval

    Yeah, it would be helpful with an episode on LR.  But update it first. Version 4 is awesome, and Adobe has lowered the price.
    If find that I use PS less and less. Most of my editing I can do in LR.
    As for the for some “semi-religious” discussion about jpg vs. raw. I only shoot raw, since jpg throws away informations, so even an perfect exposed picture in raw will have more informations than the same exposure in jpg. So it has nothing to do with ‘just get it right already in the camera’. No matter the fileformat it is always best to get it right in the camera. But most DSLR cameras use 10 – 14 bits. Jpg is only 8 bit. It can make a big difference if you need to color match with other pictures/elements in a printed design.

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    Hurricane Graphics

    Wish you would have touched a lil bit on the difference between bumping up your exposure vs. bumping up your brightness sliders. Obviously there are hours upon hours of stuff in the raw conversion software to cover. I shoot 100% in RAW. It was spooky making the switch. Best part of Photoshop RAW filter: NOISE REDUCTION!

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    Philipp Blum

    I started off shooting JPEG, then tried RAW once and fell in love with it, for a bunch of reasons: Noise reduction is way better, distortion correction is easier in my opinion, the white balance can be adjusted, I can edit some old file again without saving a huge PSD file and I can crop and re-crop whenever I want.

    This worked quite okay in Camera Raw, but then I had 400 pictures to edit, and I decided to give Lightroom a try. The possibility to edit pics and just stop when you’re tired and continue later, as well as batch processing and exporting (and the watermark function) save so much time! So basically I don’t shoot JPG’s anymore. The only annoying thing is when I just want to take a snapshot of something and send it to someone, I need to convert the image.

    And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of post-processing of your images. 

    • user image
      Anon Photog

      I agree totally! You can have amazing noise reduction, better highlight recovery, and a lossless workflow. The benefits are all ’round.

      On your snapshot comment, I would like to point out that you could shoot RAW + JPEG basic for what you know is going to be an “e-mail snapshot” picture, giving you the convenience associated with JPEG for such circumstances, while retaining the RAW file if you decide you really like said picture.

  • user image
    Vishal Diwan

    RAW RULES 🙂 🙂
    Thanks Aaron… You are one of the Best Teachers i have known…

    Please continue the great work that you have been doing…
    Cheers & Regards,

  • user image
    Marc van Oers

    I Always struggle in LR,.. I would choose Capture one Pro any day of the week (and the weekend) much more options, better preview and it lets me shoot tethered so images go to my laptop while shooting and it gives me a large screen view of what I am doing (including the set of adjustments I set)

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    Karen Johansson

    I’m not sure I understand why it’s advantageous to take a raw file and import it as a PNG into LR instead of leaving it as the raw version my camera shot it?