Why Shoot Camera RAW??

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Do your digital image files capture all the color and detail your camera recorded?  Are you sure?

Did you know that many cameras capture in 12 or even 14 bit depth but JPEGs only record 8 bit.  Do you want to discard that extra quality? I certainly don’t. That’s only one of many reasons why I always shoot RAW.


I used to spend hours and hours in the dark trying to get the very best prints from my negatives. Seems a long time ago now. Over the last few years my world has gone digital. Now my darkroom is my PC and rather than smelly chemicals, which I don’t miss, I now process my images with RAW conversion software.

Like most pro’s I shoot RAW all the time with my Canon, Nikon or Fuji digital SLR cameras. Why RAW rather than JPEGs? Simple - It’s better. In the old days I used to spend hours shading and dodging prints in the darkroom just to get that 1% better result, now shooting RAW gives me that edge - and I’d say the gain is more like 10%.  Camera RAW to give it it’s proper name stores all the information from a camera’s sensor  All of it. If you’ve set your camera to JPEG it takes that information and processes it instantaneously from a 12 bit unsharpened file to an 8 bit sharpened and more contrasty JPEG. Every step in that process reduces the amount of detail stored. The process is final and can’t be undone. RAW gives you a digital negative from which you can create a far better JPEG or better still a TIF. Rather than the camera making a guess as to what you wanted, why not control the process yourself - on screen - and get exactly the result you think is correct? If you are in pursuit of the very best image quality from your digital SLR camera - whatever the maker -

Camera RAW is the way to go!

All digital SLR’s come with software which will convert your camera’s RAW files, but in most cases that software is poor. Nikon’s software in particular is very basic - With Nikon DSLRs you need to spend a lot more to get Capture NX2, which is much better, but extremely complicated, slow to use and very demanding on hardware. My laptop runs Photoshop fine but Capture NX2 just makes it curl up and die.  Lightroom is much better. Canon provide decent software in the box with DPP which is by far the best manufacturers package, but the generally poor quality of manufacturer’s software has led to the growth of a whole industry delivering better and better RAW convertors. Adobe’s wonderful Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and Lightroom use the Adobe Camera Raw package and lots of other editing packages like ACDSee can now process RAW files too. It’s great! Just like in the world of black and white processing where you can use lots of different chemical developers to finesse the results - now you can process your files in lots of different software developers. Even better - if you don’t like the results you can try again with different software. So long as you have the RAW file.

With this site I publish my own comparison tests of as many RAW conversion software packages as possible. As my living depends on the quality of my images I produce,  I do a lot of testing, and I’m in the fortunate position of owning many of the available products, so I can provide information on which is best, not just for my own cameras, but for yours too. That’s the plan.

Next Page  -  RAW v JPEG

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