this isn't your ultimate guide to raw editing. rather a quick tutorial to clear things up and get you up-to-speed in raw processing. meanwhile, this is the right place to GET 10 DAYS OF FREE _SHMO SUBSCRIPTION and win your life back↓
There is no need to feel bad if you don't. Most serious photographers shoot raw, but there are some who prefer jpegs. And there is nothing wrong with either choice because, like most things in photography, every choice you make is the best one if it serves your goals and fits your style.
Imagine all the light that hits your sensor and all those micro photo diodes get excited, actually converting the light energy levels to electric signals. Those signals are processed internally by your camera processor and stored in a file (just like a computer does). This file contains all data captured by your camera, influenced by capture parameters (length of exposure, lens, sensor technology etc.).
There are ample materials to read if you must thoroughly understand how all this works. A starting point could be the Wikipedia page on image sensors. But, if you're like us and you care more about photography than technical details, let's assume that raw files contains everything that hit the sensor. Simple enough?
In-camera jpeg files are what camera software thinks your photo should be, considering your settings and all the other adjustments made by the camera software: colour decisions, lens errors compensation, contrast and sharpness and lots more. Even if you set your camera to shoot jpeg, it still create a raw file internally and use processing algorithms to create a final jpeg. Hence, raw processing!
RAW is pretty much everything that hit the camera sensor!
The answer could be yes or no. Raw has it's benefits and drawbacks so let's first review the disadvantages of shooting raw photos!
There are also good reasons to use raw and these can compensate the disadvantages! It's all about your choice, as you will soon begin to understand!
It all depends on image destination, personal style and willingness to spend time in front of the computer.
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Let's say you are a casual shooter. In other words, you shoot for yourself, without any concerns for image quality other than pleasing your eyes. If this is your case, then we suggest to set your jpeg settings in camera to what's looking good for you. Most current cameras have settings for different shooting conditions and you can play with them to find what suits you best.
If you're more of a serious photographer, either amateur or earning a living from your photographic passion, then raw can help you to create more tuned final images, with settings that helps your photos to look better on print or screen.
Either way, it's a matter of personal choice. Don't let anybody say you're not a good photographer if you shoot jpegs. We've met incredible talented photographers shooting jpegs (meet Hajdu Tamas). And you can easily find dull uninspired images shot in raw and badly processed into jpegs.
You definitely need a computer. A faster one (speedier processor, 16GB or more of RAM, SSD as storage) will help you process many images (think wedding photography) with less time lost during processing and faster image-to-image editing.
The most important hardware component of raw processing is the monitor. We recommend you quality screens that can display at least full sRGB or even AdobeRGB (a must for demanding photographers). If you don't see the real image (because the monitor can't display it properly) you can't process your raw files accurately. In other words, if you don't have a good editing monitor, you will not trully know how your images will look on paper or on other people's displays (think phones). On the latest smartphones there is a strong trend towards accurate colour rendering so if you care about your photos, you should use the most capable monitor you can buy. We use BenQ SW monitors and we are thrilled with the quality of the build and the colour reproduction abilities.
Last (but not least), use a capable raw processing software. There are some free ones and some commercial ones. We trust Capture One editing software because it proved to have the best raw conversion algorithms, outputing the finest jpegs in the industry. Other choices could be Adobe Lightroom, DxO PhotoLab Elite, Serif Affinity Photo or the software that you received with your camera. Keep in mind that there are differences between free and paid software and photographers tend to use one of the two: Lightroom or Capture One.
Let's details the needed steps to process (or develop) your raw photo into a proper jpeg.
For the purist photographers, image processing isn't something inherently bad. Photographers always did it to certain degrees. Nowadays you get these fancy software tools to alter exposure, contrast and colour but these adjustments were always made using various techniques in the darkroom.
As you can see, raw processing is all about having control over the raw conversion to the widely used jpeg. It isn't something scary or hard to do but it takes time to master and all about it is subjective in nature. You can do it by yourself.
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First, we would like you to take a tour of our editing services and see if they fit your needs!
Key features to remember!
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