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Why to shoot in RAW

A worthy digital camera will allow you to capture in RAW mode, an image file format that contains 100 percent of the data your image sensor captures. RAW images do not lock in a particular white balance or color space but take up much more space than JPEG (JPG) compressed images. When your digital camera creates a JPEG, some of the image details are lost in the process. A JPEG conversion commits to tone and contrast adjustments based on a best guess of what image information is important. This results in lost detail in shadows or highlights, color shifts, and loss of color information. The camera’s conversion to JPEG also makes assumptions about sharpening and noise reduction, both of which alter fine details and cannot be undone. You may be satisfied with the JPEGs your camera produces, especially if it’s a high-end camera and you are careful to light and expose your shots correctly, but you will have more latitude to correct minor imperfections or otherwise improve on an image by shooting RAW.

If you shoot in RAW format, you have some options to control contrast in Camera RAW Import in Photoshop (You can also use Lightroom, GIMP, or other tools).

The above is an excerpt from True Confessions of Nude Photography.

If you are serious about your photography, shoot in RAW format. Your images do not record color data, at least not as you would think of it. They just have the electronic data from the image sensor, three grayscale images of red, green, and blue. Therefore, they are not sRGB or aRGB. There is no color space associated with a RAW file. Color space only comes into play when you open the file in image editing software and a profile is assigned to it.

So what if you do not want to agonize over all of that? Well, many photographers deal with their images in sRGB, ignore other color spaces, and never look back. If you are not much of a perfectionist, you probably will not even notice the difference. What you see is what you will get. Plus, you can always learn color management later when you want to hone your skills.

I recommend that you shoot in RAW mode so the white balance and other settings can be decided later after you finish shooting.

The above is an excerpt from Exquisite Curves.