Shooting Raw is the only way…

According to Jamie Taylor of SouthCape Photography, shooting Raw is not an option. It is a necessity. And while you may feel it is or strongly that it is not, I love her dedication and the way she argues her point below. Enjoy!

Camera Raw is an unprocessed, uncompressed raw file.

Jpeg is a processed and compressed file.

Now, Let’s explore the two.

When you shoot in jpeg mode, you are taking your file and processing it in camera – that means, adding color wonkiness, keeping your photo either under-/over exposed and compressing the heck out of it. These changes are permanent, and although you might be deft at the adjustments menu, you will always lose out on detail.

When a file compresses, be it by computer or camera, it looks to find like pixels (pixels that are deemed extra, because there are others that are like it in an area) and it throws them away, in the trashcan, forever. This is how it makes a really large file small.

What is that I hear you say? If they were the same pixels, then it shouldn’t matter, right? Wrong. By compressing your photo, you are taking away very valuable detail. Think sharp over tack sharp.

And, as we all know, or should, when you process a photo that has less than perfect exposure (or anything really), the results can leave you frustrated – noise, artifacts and weird colors to say the least.

Bottom line, when you save in jpeg, you commit to whatever it may look like when you press that shutter.

Camera RAW

I am not really so sure why people are scared of this. Especially, when of all things, there is an ability to capture RAW+JPeg, it’s a win win for those that are afraid of the unknown.

Well, now to the enlightening part. Read it out loud, look in the mirror & say it ten times, in fact, make sure these are the first words any of your (future, considering) children say. RAW IS YOUR FRIEND

Raw may sound mean but he is not going to: chew your photo’s up, make all your subject’s Cyclops’, break your camera or scare little children. What RAW will do is allow to you fix those little mistakes without any loss to the quality of your picture. That’s right, you heard it, RAW is lossless.

Why is RAW lossless? Well, because unlike jpeg over there, RAW minds his business and doesn’t mess with your photos. RAW captures the scene as is, at full strength and then lets you decide how to process it.

Not to mention, RAW’s personal life statement is, “Size does matter”.


Processing RAW

Do you even know how easy it is to edit a RAW image? (and yes, I am talking to all you RAW haters) Seriously, listen to this.

1. In any (well, any I have tried) RAW editing programs, all of your adjustments are on one screen. No Menus, nothing. Just straight out, in your face, BAM.

2. NO clicking. What the heck are you talking about, you crazy lady..? Well, RAW programs use slider’s to make all your edits. Slide to the left, slide to the right. Don’t like the results? Slide it back. No harm, nothing is permanent (until you save it, of course, because then it becomes… a jpeg)

3. Raw can instantly fix funky WB issues and minor to moderate exposure problems. But wait, there’s more. For only 6 payments of $49.99 each, you will get the option of sliding your way into photo heaven, with, clarity, curves, tint, sat, vibrance, sharpness, color calibration, fringe removal and much, much more.
4. But, I like my actions. GOOD for you! They are just called presets in a RAW program!

5. Your broke you say? From buying all this equipment (and those glorious actions)? Never fear, Rawtherapee to the rescue. www.rawtherapee.com has a program similar to Lightroom, and get this, it’s FREE. No trial, no hidden tricks, just free. (and its rather good, too)

So, now, after reading this, you only have one option. To shoot in RAW. And if you don’t, JPeg will hunt down your pictures and make them scream UNCLE!

 Shooting Raw is the only way...

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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31 Comments and 0 Replies



  1. 1

    Here, here! That’s all I have to say! Well, maybe not. I’m a pretty wordy person. I just don’t understand the fear of raw. I was a total newbie, bought my first dSLR, took me about a week to get into shooting manual and at the same time, I went with raw. I just don’t get the fear.

  2. 2
    Dana Ross says:

    Wow! Thanks for the info. I’ve never read it in such an uncomplicated manner. Jamie puts it so simply! I’ve hesitated and hesitated to take that jump, but I now see in a different point of view why it is important. Thanks for clarifying something that is so unclarified out there.. :)

  3. 3
    Tara M says:

    Cheers to RAW! the only way to shoot :o)

  4. 4
    Phillipa says:

    that is hilarious and I am no longer a hater! Thanks Jodi, I have seen the light…

  5. 5
    Maisy says:

    Did I miss something? What is program is 6 payments of $49.99?

  6. 6
    Maisy says:

    …or was that just a sarcastic note…

  7. 7
    Paul Kremer says:

    I agree 100%. Memory is cheap, and a powerful computer with Lightroom will manipulate RAW files just as easily as JPG. Why NOT shoot RAW?

    My moment of epiphany came when I took a shot in RAW and the same shot in JPG and zoomed them both to 100% on my computer side by side. I couldn’t believe the difference! The RAW file was so crisp, clear, and full of detail, and the JPG looked fuzzy in comparison. I couldn’t believe I had been doing that to my photos! I set my camera to RAW and never changed it back.

  8. 8
    Jana says:

    Hallelujah, that’s right, and Amen. RAW rules. I never understood exactly why, and this post gives an excellent explanation of RAW’s advantages over jpeg. thanks!

  9. 9
    Michelle says:

    OK. Fine. I’ll switch. I was going that way eventually but nobody ever took the time to explain it all in such a compelling way. Starting at today’s shoot I’m switching. :)

    Thanks!

  10. 10
    Marisa says:

    I just started shooting RAW and just got Lightroom. If I process a RAW photo in Lightroom, I can always go back to the shot SOOC, right? I just have to basically delete the .xmp sidecar file? Thanks in advance for helping the newbie :)

  11. 11
    Jamie says:

    Hi Guys!

    What an amazing thing to be on Jodi’s blog as a guest speaker! If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  12. 12
    pamela p says:

    I am wanting to make the switch but the website mentioned looks like it is only compatible with Windows Vista, not MAC. I am just starting to work with my photos after the fact but Jamie makes it sound pretty easy.
    Does anyone know of a FRRE program for the MAC to process in RAW?

  13. 13
    Gale says:

    Very funny post and excellent explanation of the benefits of RAW, Anyone who takes their photography seriously should seriously shoot RAW and leave the processing to their own deft hand and eye. Even after processing my RAW files, though, I never save them as jpegs. Nah ah no way. I’d save as a lossless file like tif or psd.

  14. 14
    Ashley Larsen says:

    I would love more information or tutorials on editing in RAW with Bridge… like the one the guy did with the overexposed sky and underexposed landscape in Central Park. And Presets please! What the heck are those?
    Thanks

  15. 15
    tamsen donker says:

    this is very interesting :-)
    i do have a question though. i shoot only in RAW and then process my RAW images in Adobe Bridge CS3. Once all of the images have been processed, I then open them in Photoshop to edit them. i.e. cropping, actions, filters, etc.
    From what I understand here, that is worng and is causing my images to lose clarity?!
    Please help!

  16. 16

    I have a kind of important shoot this weekend and was thinking about shooting in RAW and just buying an extra memory card (or 2 or 3 since I like to shoot HUNDREDS of photos in an hour) but I’m afraid of a few things. 1.) Can my computer handle these large files? Or, once I compress them, are they the same as loading the .jpgs so I have nothing to worry about?? 2.) What if I run out of space on my mem cards while shooting? I’ll freak my freaking freak. and 3.) Can I edit RAW files in Lightroom and Bridge? I have both (love lightroom/haven’t really ever used Bridge) but I thought you needed Adobe Camera Raw or something.

  17. 17
    Jamie says:

    Tamsen! No oh no! You aren’t doing anything wrong! Only when you save it as a JPG and then open that file and edit :) You can save the raw file now, change it a million times, and in the future, when you look at your photo’s and think ” What the?” (Happens to me, all. the. time!) You can change it back, without losing quality.

  18. 18
    Jamie says:

    Ashley, are there any specific things you are looking for?

  19. 19
    Terry Lee says:

    Thanks, Jamie! Great explanation, thank you! I would love to learn the raw process workflow from beginning to the end result and ready for print. I am taking the leap to “raw” because of this post.
    Jodi…your blog is the best!

  20. 20
    Sylvia Cook says:

    Fantastic post, you’ve convinced me!

  21. 21
    Amanda says:

    I’m still new to all of this so this might seem like a stupid question. Can you still use MCP actions on a RAW file?

  22. 22
    Jennifer B says:

    Hmm… this was a good post, very interesting, and actually pretty persuading. The question is, should I shoot RAW at my shoot today and then learn the program, or shoot JPEG today, learn the program, and shoot RAW at the next shoot??

  23. 23
    Jodi says:

    Jennifer – how about use RAW + large jpg. That way if you have your jpgs there, just in case you are overwhelmed.

    Amanda – yes – sort of. You would not use them in camera raw. You could adjust exposure and white balance in ACR or LR and then export into PS and use them. That is what I do.

  24. 24
    Tira J says:

    Photographers do it better in the RAW

  25. 25
    mandy mester says:

    my lightroom locks up when i upload raw files. im sad.

  26. 26

    Great Post! And yes, photographers do do it better in RAW! LOL!

  27. 27

    Great post Jodi! I agree with every single point here!

  28. 28
    Vanessa Segars says:

    I always thought of shooting RAW as cookie dough you could bake however you wanted (TIFF, PSD, JPG), but shooting JPG was getting the cookies already baked by your camera. Most people are better bakers than their camera.

  29. 29
    Jack Sugrue says:

    Great article. I know that Raw Therapee has a User Manual on their site, but can someone give some basics for what to do first in RT (or ACR or LR)? There are so many adjustments available when working with raw that I never know where to start.

  30. 30
    Jennifer B says:

    I tried saving my RAW photos as tif files after adjusting exposure, etc. in my computer. Then opened them in Photoshop, and I couldn’t edit them! Did I do something wrong? I only have PS7, will it only allow editing on jpgs?

  31. 31
    Lynda says:

    Superb article. Thanks!



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