Common misconceptions about shooting in RAW
Basic Photography
August 27, 2018

JPEG is the most popular file format for shooting. This is the reason most cameras normally shoot in jpeg. But times change, as always! Nowadays, many cameras have the feature of raw mode. Even some smartphones can shoot in raw mode. JPEG are most popular and the reasons are aplenty. They are small in size and thus basic small sized memory cards suffice. They can be viewed on any device without the hassles of conversion of format. The case with raw files is exactly the opposite. Seeing these, it is a no brainer as to which mode a beginner will prefer.

However once you start shooting with raw, only then can you understand the wide open world it has to offer! When it is a wide open world, there will be several opinions and misconceptions. Let us take a sneak peek at the various types of misconceptions about shooting in raw format.

1) Raw is for professionals only:

This is as far from truth as anything else. I agree with the fact that raw files require a lot of extra space and processing skills but that doesn’t mean amateurs cannot handle raw. In the days gone by we had to process images out of negatives. There used to be a darkroom where this processing used to be done. If not in real life, surely you have seen a darkroom in the movies. Similarly raw is that negative print of the modern era. It is basically a digital negative of the image you have shot. Hence it requires the processing skills like the film negatives of earlier days. The process is a whole lot different and hassle free now. You only require a computer and sometimes, perhaps a cup of coffee! It is best to practise image processing using Adobe Lightroom. To process a raw image you need to learn to adjust the brightness, contrast, highlights and all the other sliders present in the tool. You should try and understand what the highlights, shadows and mid-tones are. Regular practice can get you accustomed to shooting in raw and processing images on a daily basis.

2) Raw is a mode for escapists:

There is this common misconception doing the rounds that photographers shoot in raw because they can recover even bad images and hence they do not need to get everything right in the camera itself. This is not at all true. Raw maybe a powerful format that stores a lot of information about all the pixels in the image, but that doesn’t mean any image can be recovered. There are limitations on that. The biggest reason why this is a misconception is that no matter how powerful your camera sensor is you cannot correct the focusing in post processing. You have to get your focusing right in the camera itself else it becomes as good as trash. 


3) Shooting in raw itself, will make you a better photographer:

As we already know, raw is an information file. The enormous amount of data helps us a lot in post processing. But is it enough to make you a better photographer? Shooting in raw will not perfect your exposure unless you know about the exposure triangle parameters yourself. It is obviously not going to help you in setting the correct aperture or the shutter speed. Great photographers are defined by their compositions. Shooting in raw doesn’t have any impact on your composition. Composition is designed in your mind and created by your eyes. Even focusing issues cannot be rectified in post processing. You may have a very powerful camera with a brilliant sensor. However, if you fail to get your subject in sharp focus, no amount of data in your raw file can help you rectify that on the processing table. You can change the white balance of the image for sure and the same goes with the brightness, shadows and other aspects but all these changes have their own limitations. Simply shooting in raw cannot make you a better photographer all by its own.

4) Shooting in raw is always better than shooting in jpeg:

You may have often heard this from several of your photographer friends. Shooting in raw has got its distinct set of advantages. The excess data surely helps a lot during processing. But is shooting in raw always better than shooting in jpeg? I don’t think so. For example, consider the following scenario. You have been approached by a client to shoot a corporate event at a co-working space. There will be a couple of speeches for the employees. The images will be shared live on social media which means that before you finish the entire shoot, some images will get uploaded. Coming to the technical part, you know that the lighting conditions will not change. You also have all the time in the world to setup your gear accordingly. In such a scenario should you shoot in raw? What processing will you actually require? You do not have to change your exposure settings all the time. All you need to get right is your focusing and composition and we already know shooting in raw is not an extra advantage in either. Shooting in jpeg is the call of the day. To bring about a little more punch to the images, you can navigate to picture control settings and tweak the color saturation, contrast and brightness. This will help you fine tune your jpeg files. With small size of the files, sharing on social media is not going to be a pain. Hence shooting in raw is not always an advantage and neither will it help in making you a better photographer. You need to take the decision based on what you are shooting and how much time you have to submit your images.

Shooting in raw mode can be an advantage for sure but not always. As a photographer, you will need to judge whether you need to shoot in raw or jpeg for that particular event. Once you have gone through this set of misconceptions, you are now prepared to be the myth buster!

Basic Photography
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