The reasons to shoot in RAW
Many system cameras allow you to take pictures not only in the most common JPEG format, but also in RAW format.
The RAW format is the information processed in a specific way, in a «brand» way, to be more exact, and read from a light-sensitive sensor or a matrix of a digital photo camera. Literally, RAW is translated as «raw» or «unprocessed». However, each manufacturer understands something different when speaking about «raw».
Not only the image information, but the service information is also saved in a RAWfile, and each manufacturer has his own information he wants to save. In addition to this, data on the camera’s brand and model, color space, etc. are saved in the file. These data are available for the computer’s operating system and are opened when you view the file’s properties
Cameras from various manufacturers support files of this format that are different one from the other. For one reason or another (patent or commercial), each brand or even model of the camera creates its own RAW-file format. Moreover, image RAW-files from various manufacturers have different file extensions.
Besides, there is another RAW-file format that is a quite universal one. This format, the so-called «digital negative», is an open format proposed by Adobe company.
Photo cameras of some manufacturers, support not only the «brand» RAW format, but also this special format called DNG.
Saving without the loss in compression
«Brand» RAW-files are the files in which the graphic information from a light-sensitive sensor is saved entirely without the loss in compression.
This is useful for those photographers who make large-format high-resolution pictures.
High bit depth of digital information
The bit depth of ordinary photos saved in JPEG format doesn’t exceed 8 bits per channel. This may not be enough, especially when you work with fashion and beauty shooting.
The manufacturers of the photographic equipment have foreseen this and so they offer uncompressed full bit depth RAW-files for the photographers. They are saved without losses and have a high bit depth of the initial information that is about 12 14 bits per channel or even more. This allows to edit the pictures intensively without the noticeable losses in the final image’s quality. While retouching and color correcting, this ability to work with pictures in bit depths of 16 bits and more becomes indispensable. At the skin retouching stage (especially when you make partial decomposition for beauty and high-end retouching) this helps to avoid the artefacts’ emergence and detail distortion.
Achieving the proper color rendering
Quite often, when the photographer makes the photographic copying of certain objects, as accurate reproduction of the object’s original colors on the picture as possible is required.
The software tools for working with RAW-files allow to get the required accuracy of color rendering.
White balance control
This is not an achievement of the RAW-file format itself, but it is the software that made this operation simple and demonstrative.
The white balance control is especially useful in complicated lighting conditions when the photographer is not quite sure about the results that he can get using automatic cameras.
Most of the programs allow to adjust the white balance using simple manipulations executed by the photographer by one or two clicks on the computer mouse. More detailed adjustment of the shades is performed further at the color correction stage.
RAW-files are recommended when you work with retouching agency
Also, there are advantages in selecting RAW-files when sending your photos for the processing to the retouching agency. The customer can select the sizes of the resulting files and their format (TIF, PSD, JPG). Professional retouchers will always find the way to get the necessary shades, depth and saturation from an image in RAW format, and all the results of photo manipulation will be as delicate and natural as possible.