A Novice’s Guide: “RAW” Images

If you’re a seasoned digital photographer, move along, unless you want to fact check and provide feedback! You likely know all about this.

This post is for us novices that have cameras with capabilities we don’t fully understand.

So many buttons!

I have a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. I think most would call it a “mid-range” device and it has more buttons and dials that I know how to use… yet.

Image credit: photographylife.com

I don’t fully understand what mirrorless provides, except it’s a very small camera. No bulky mirrors to fatten it up.

That aside, this camera has a delightful set of features. One of those is the ability to shoot “RAW” images. If you have a camera with the same capabilities, you should definitely read on.

What is RAW?

It isn’t necessarily an image format, like JPEG. A RAW file has recorded all of the sensors’ data. It is everything your DSLR is capable of. More data grants more flexibility, right? Would you rather have some or all possible data? For technical details, take a look at this comparison between RAW & JPEG.

This article lists 10 reasons why you should use RAW format. Here are some highlights:

  1. If you shoot in JPEG, your camera controls the processing step, not you.
  2. JPEG records only 256 levels of brightness, where RAW can exceed 16,000!!!
  3. Adjusting exposure is super flexible.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned using RAW format:

  1. You must have the largest storage card your budget permits. RAW files are enormous, especially if shoot at max size. I have a 128gb card and it’s fabulous.
  2. You need software designed to process RAW images.

Since I have the full Adobe Creative Cloud (CC), I also have Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC. Photoshop has a feature called Camera Raw. It let’s you process these images, but not as well as Lightroom, which is a dynamic and multi-faceted app for storing, “developing,” and all sorts of other things.

What can you with RAW?

Ok. You have some awesome choices here. If you opt for Lightroom CC, you can make filter presets. All that means is that you save the settings you liked for a particular image.

With that in mind, you can also buy presets made by some very fine photographers.

Do you like this style of portraiture?

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 1.44.19 PM
Image credit: photonify.com

Well, go here to get it free, or buy it, and 19 other presets, for $29.99. I found that on speckyboy.com’s Top 50 list.

Oh, so you don’t want to pay for them? I’ve got just the cure… 121 free presets. Did I mention that you can adjust these presets once you’ve downloaded and installed them? You can. Endless varieties.

I hope this post was useful for my fellow novice photographers. If you have a camera capable of RAW imagery and a relatively low-cost app, you can really take your photography game to a much higher level.



If I botched something, pease let me know so I can amend it!

Talk to me.