Always Shoot in RAW Format When Available

For product photography, event photography or promotional photography…always shoot using RAW mode when available or the highest resolution possible when RAW is not available. Why? Many technical reasons, but another reason is, you paid for it. When you buy a camera that boasts 16 MP, that camera will only deliver 16 MP per shot if you shoot in the highest possible resolution that the camera offers. If the camera offers RAW shooting mode then you need to shoot in RAW to get the most out of your camera.

What are the main reasons that people do not use RAW as a shooting option when they have it?

1. They don’t understand what RAW is.

2. They are intimidated by the software that comes with their camera and they think it is hard to convert RAW to JPEG.

3. They are afraid of storage issues because the file sizes are much larger.

As someone with a photography background I will simply say ignore all the fears and confusion and shoot in RAW mode.

First, what is RAW? It is simply uncompressed data, the full picture data, that can normally only be viewed with the software that came with your camera or photo editing programs like Photoshop. Second, modern software that comes with all digital cameras is really simple to use and can often adjust your photos quicker and sometimes better than Photoshop with no special skills needed. So embrace that software. Third, extra storage capacity (which you may eventually need) like external hard drives are really cheap now. See, no fear, no excuses, start shooting in RAW 🙂

What are the benefits of RAW file sizes? There are many, here are a few:

1. With more data, you have the ability to make much larger print sizes that will actually hold up and print well. High JPEG mode simply cannot compete in this department. NOTE: When making an online or on screen presentation the resolution of your photos can be much lower. But that same photo that might work for an online presentation simply cannot be used for print publication.

2. With more data, you can zoom in and use just part of a photo because the resolution is that much higher. Most people do not frame a photo tight enough anyway, so this ability is very useful.

3. The ability to adjust the exposure of your photo, the colour temperature of your photo, and the picture styles (landscape, portrait, BW, etc.) offered by your cameras photo editing software normally only exist in RAW mode and adjustments are far superior when made in the native software.

3. The ability to adjust shadows or highlights or sharpness or  colour or saturation or contrast is far superior when adjusting in RAW photo file.

4. When you make an exposure mistake, you can much more easily correct a photo captured in RAW. Sometimes up to 2 stops in either direction. JPEG photos cannot be corrected this way.

These are some technical reasons why you should be shooting in RAW mode and even though I believe it is easy for anyone to shoot in RAW you may still think, “I will never use these adjustment features in a million years”. My answer, you may not, but a graphic designer that you will likely partner with in the future will be very grateful that you shot in RAW mode.

Finally, here are two simple tips for you. Shoot in RAW + JPEG mode or RAW + Smaller JPEG mode. With the first option, you have the largest file size, RAW, and the second largest files size that is in an easy to use JPEG format, more data but also more options. The second option is good for people who do a lot of shooting for quick online posting. You just need to play around with the smaller JPEG sizes to find out what works best for your purposes.

At some point, you or someone at your company is going to take an awesome photo of your business or product. Maybe “the” shot that could be used across all of your online and print promotions. But you will never get that perfect shot if you don’t shoot in RAW mode. Shoot in RAW mode, shoot like a PRO.

Gary Moran

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