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Digital SLR Camera RAW Workflows

Workflow is one of these awful words that sounds like no fun at all. Photography is supposed to be fun right? So why do we need to bother with something as boring as workflow systems? The simple answer is that you need a system, so you might as well start with and stick to a good one. If you shoot RAW files and use the system below you will get the best possible results from your Digital SLR camera.

If you use JPEGs and the Bad Workflow at the bottom you might as well stick with the compact. Don’t think it’s worth the effort?  See  RAW v JPEG.

All digital SLR cameras come with RAW conversion software in the box. Check out my RAW Software Reviews to find which software is best for your camera.

Starting with a RAW file you can....

Process the file on screen, in the comfort of your own home,
making adjustments to:

Correct wrong exposures;  Fix bad white balance;

Adjust sharpening and noise reduction on screen.

You can also process the file as many times as you like
to get the very best out of it.

Even 5 years later when you've learned to use all this stuff !!


Suggested Workflows

This may all sound like I hate JPEGs and never use them. Wrong – Like all other photographers I use them all the time, but only at the very end of the chain.

After all the adjustments have been made, JPEGs are great.


Best Workflow

Camera RAW Files
Adjust, correct crop etc as you convert to TIF file

adjust TIF in Photoshop as often as you want without losing quality

When you're absolutely sure you've got it right, save the final image as a TIF and a JPEG.


Best JPEG Workflow

Camera JPEG – Open in Photoshop and save as TIF
Never adjust the original JPEG, keep it as your negative
Use TIF to make adjustments in Photoshop without losing quality–

save final image once as level 10 JPEG

If your camera only shoots JPEGs this is the answer.


and now :  how not to do it:


Bad Workflow

Camera JPEG – Adjust it in Photoshop, then save –
Adjusted and saved again …..etc, etc

Every stage of this reduces the quality of your final image.

Bad, bad, bad – don't do it.



© David Gold
All text and images copyright David Gold 2006 - 2010
and must not be reproduced in any way without permission.