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In Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6, Chris Orwig provides in-depth training on Camera Raw 6, the CS5 component that enables photographers to open and manipulate images in non-destructive and now even more efficient ways. This course covers the benefits of the raw processing, which makes it possible to more precisely control an image's appearance—exposure, shadow and highlight detail, color balance, sharpness, and more—including new workflow procedures and technical concepts and issues. Learn the entire Camera Raw workflow, from opening and resizing, toning and cropping, to sharpening and saving. Exercise files are included with the course.
As the photographic community and others know, capturing images in the RAW format is unquestionably better than any other format. Therefore, you will even hear the joke which says you should always shoot in the RAW, but don't shoot in the buff, because you might get arrested. And it's true, working with RAW files is superior to any other format. Yet, one of the questions that we need to consider is which type of RAW format, especially as we start to work with Adobe Camera Raw. Now, we have two options. We can either work with the Native RAW file that comes straight off the camera.
That's going to be the NEF file or the CR2 file, or whatever file format your particular camera manufacturer creates when you capture an image in the RAW. Or we can take this RAW file, and we can convert it to a format, which is called the Digital Negative, or DNG file. What I want to do here is simply take a look at how we can work with both of these formats. Take a look at some of the pros and cons. So that you can make an educated decision about which format will work best for you. All right. Well, let's start off with the Original or Native file format.
Now, let's say that I am shooting with my Canon 5D Mark II and I capture this image. It's a .CR2. Well, if I then open that image up inside of Adobe Camera Raw and make some adjustments, those adjustments will be saved in a Sidecar XMP file. Now, the Sidecar file is simply a set of text instructions. And these instructions say, "Display this image with more contrast, more color saturation, or a little bit of this color shift or just a creative effect or whatever it is." That's really the beauty of working with Adobe Camera Raw, in that we are not actually modifying pixels, rather we are simply changing a set of instructions.
Now, the nice thing about this is it works really quickly, doesn't increase file size, and it's just a great way to go. Now, the down side of this is that let's say we decide to move this image onto another hard drive. Well, as I move this image, there is a chance that the connection between the RAW file and the XMP file could be lost. For example, we could kind of leave this file behind, so to speak. Then we would lose actually all of our processing. While on the upside, one of the reasons why many people like keeping their files in this Native format is that then they can actually process their files in Adobe Camera Raw and also open them up in the camera manufacturer's software.
And the argument goes that you can then take advantage of some proprietary information that the camera company knows in order to process your image in perhaps a more effective way. All right. Well, how then does that compare to the DNG format? Well, the same thing happens with the DNG format. We start off by capturing our image in the Native RAW format. Then what we can do is convert our image to this DNG format. Now, when we do that, it's as if it puts the RAW data, the file, and also all of this XMP information in a little container.
The nice thing about this is we don't really ever need to know that any kind of XMP file actually exists, because it puts it all in one location. And not only that, this little container, which contains RAW data and this XMP data, has some compression. In other words, it makes our file a little bit smaller. So the argument or the advantage goes that what you can do is, when you move this or if you move this to another hard drive, all of this information travels together. There's no chance that the information will ever be lost or separated.
And the nice thing about this is it gives us a little bit more of a safety net so that we are not going to lose all the work that we have invested into a particular photograph. All right. Well, let's take a look at this perhaps in a little bit more particular terms. So what exactly is this DNG format? Well, really what it is it's Adobe's way of saying, hey, let's have an open, non-proprietary RAW format. In other words, let's kind of lift the lid on things, rather than keep secrets. Let's say that this is a format that anyone can access and understand. Well, why would you want to do that? Well, some of the pros for this are we don't need XMP files.
It also contains some previews. There's some compression. In other words, the file will be significantly smaller. And also, it's going to increase our archival confidence. In other words, let's say 40 years from now, the software manufacturer, which, i.e., is the camera manufacturer, may actually not support certain file types. Well, in this case we have this assurance that moving forward this DNG file format will be more supported, especially since Adobe is behind it, which is a software company. The other advantage is that it give us a single RAW processing solution.
Rather than having to jump between different applications, we can all process our images in one context. Now, the cons I have alluded to a little bit. One of them is that we are converting our proprietary RAW files to another format. And also, once we do that, we can't go backwards and then use our camera manufacturer's software. So then what's the conclusion? Well, you need to make the decision for yourself, but for my own work, I have adopted a complete 100% DNG workflow. And I have done so because of these different advantages listed here.
Whenever I can get a smaller file size, I am all about that. Also, dropping the need for XMP files, having the single RAW processing solution, and also the confidence that this brings, in regards to having these images being able to be accessed and opened in the future. Now, of course, you are going to need to make your own decision. So if you want to learn more about this DNG format, what you can do is go ahead and navigate over to Adobe's site. And if you navigate to Adobe.com/products /dng, there you can read and learn more about this DNG format.
I also want to highlight here that if you do decide to adopt this DNG format, here at the same location you can actually download what's called the DNG Converter, either for Windows or for Mac, which allows you to convert your Native RAW files into this format. We will be talking a little bit more about saving to DNG, or converting to DNG in the next movie. So let's pick up this conversation in the next one.
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