View Full Version : Shoot RAW - why

11-24-2014, 04:46 PM
If you have a DSLR, then you should have the ability to shoot RAW files. Why, because they are bigger and better (they contain more information, detail, in the image). The only difference is that you have to process a RAW file. Kind of like processing large format sheet film, one image at a time. Of course you don't need a dark room and smelly chemicals, just a computer and a special piece of software for the task.

Unless you have Photoshop, which handles RAW files natively, or you use the RAW software (if any) that came with your DSLR, you would need a program like UFRaw or RawTherapee. Both are open source, cross-platform (Win,Mac,Linux) and free. There are forums and wikis and the like for support.

I have used both UFRaw ( http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/ ) and RawTherapee ( http://rawtherapee.com/ ) and I prefer UFRaw. Even though RT has more fine tuning settings, it is a much more complicated piece of software to use. There is a user manual that I highly recommend you download and read and visit the Wiki and forums as you begin to use RT. I find that UFRaw is a "bit" more user friendly as there are not as many fine tuning settings as with RawTherapee. Raw Therapee converts to a 16 bit TIF file, while UFraw converts to an 8 bit TIF. Photoshop does not blink at the RawTherapee conversion. However, at this writing, GIMP blinks and lets you know that it is converting to an 8 bit TIF. The difference in the two is the amount of information in the file. By design, a TIF file contains more information that either a JPG or GIF.

An investigation into histograms would be worthwhile. It helped me in processing images. Before the conversion to TIF, you have the opportunity and ability to adjust highlights and shadows as well as color balance. Watching the "exposure" percentages change, you can set the "proper" exposure (no over or under to either the highlights or shadows) to the image, which can then be adjusted to suit your "vision". I have found that I can make a "straight" print from the processed file and not need to color correct the image.

Watching highlight and shadow percentages change during processing as you shift the histogram allows you to zero in on being able to make a good straight print. Shooting RAW files to capture as much information is a "good" thing. Processing to correct for minor errors in hardware related rendering is also a "good" thing. However, correcting for Poor Exposure does not necessarily translate into a "good" image.

"Proper" or "good" exposure in the key to good image making with a camera, whether copying a work of art or creating a work of art.

Paying it forward.