Monday, January 07, 2013

Photoshop - what is camera raw?

What's the deal with raw images?

Images coming directly from your camera are usually in a raw format. Each camera manufacturer creates its own variation of a raw file. Photoshop will open these raw images in "Camera Raw".

There are two components of Camera Raw.
  • Capturing your images in a raw format
  • Processing your raw images using Adobe Capture Raw

What is the advantage of working with a raw image?
Amateur-level digital cameras store images in the JPEG or TIFF format, advanced amateur and pro models usually save images as raw data files, which has substantial advantages. The camera applies internal processing to photos captured as JPEG or TIFF, such as sharpening, setting the white balance, and making color adjustments.

When you shoot JPEG images with your camera, you’re locked into the processing done by your camera, but working with Camera Raw files gives you maximum control over images, such as controlling their white balance, tonal range, contrast, color saturation, and image sharpening.
What's nice about working in Adobe Camera Raw is that when you control these settings yourself you aren't damaging or changing the original image but just applying your own instructions on how the image should look. And, we can always undo what we have done.

If you have captured your photographs in camera raw, Photoshop will open it's camera raw processing window for you allowing you to make these and additional adjustments as you see fit. The image on the left shows some of the options you'll have.

Do you have to capture in the raw format? No, I've often just set my camera for .jpg. It's entirely up to you. I just wanted to try to clear up what this camera raw thing was all about and how it can give you more control over your photographs.

For an intermediate photographer and Photoshop user, I hope this helps make a little more sense of what camera raw is. If you want to get really serious give it a try.

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