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What's a raw image?

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: What's a raw image?

Many digital cameras today, not just the high-end expensive ones, allow you to shoot RAW photos. If you have a camera like that then you've got to decide whether you're going to shoot RAW or whether you'll shoot your photographs as JPEGs. And it may help you to know a little about what RAW files are and the advantages of shooting RAW over JPEG in most circumstances, but not all. A RAW file is composed of the unprocessed data from your camera's sensor. By contrast JPEGs are pretty heavily processed inside your camera.

What's a raw image?

Many digital cameras today, not just the high-end expensive ones, allow you to shoot RAW photos. If you have a camera like that then you've got to decide whether you're going to shoot RAW or whether you'll shoot your photographs as JPEGs. And it may help you to know a little about what RAW files are and the advantages of shooting RAW over JPEG in most circumstances, but not all. A RAW file is composed of the unprocessed data from your camera's sensor. By contrast JPEGs are pretty heavily processed inside your camera.

White balance is set there and colors are interpreted, the image is sharpened, and the JPEG file is then compressed before you ever see it. But when you get the RAW data from your camera, then you'll retain the creative freedom to make the processing decisions yourself, which you'll do later in Adobe Camera RAW, the RAW converter that comes with Photoshop as a plug-in. One of the advantages of RAW files over JPEG is that RAW files contain much more image data than JPEGs. You may be getting between 10 and 14 bits of RAW data in a RAW file, whereas JPEGs only give you 8 bits of data.

That extra data in RAW files gives you much more editing latitude. So if for example you're making a big print for a fine art piece, or maybe a large landscape photo, and you intend to do some really large and substantial editing, having that extra latitude of more data in your file means that you'll be able to make all your edits, without having to worry that you might end up with some visible posterization or banding in the image. Another advantage of shooting RAW is that you get to control the white balance or the overall colorcast of the image when you do the processing in the Adobe Camera RAW dialog box.

Many cameras have white balance controls in them that attempt to compensate for the color of the light in which you are shooting. But when you are shooting RAW, you don't have to worry whether you are shooting under green fluorescent lights, or whether you are outdoors, or whether you are indoors, because you'll set the white balance yourself in Adobe Camera RAW. Yet another advantage of RAW files over JPEGs is the possibility to recover blownout highlights if you shoot RAW. If you've got an image where the whites are overexposed, and so they don't contain enough detail to make the image look good.

If you've shot RAW it's possible that you'll be able to recover that highlight detail when you process the file in the Adobe Camera RAW dialog. But if you've got a JPEG then you may just have to live with the blownout highlights. And finally, an advantage of RAW over JPEG is that a RAW file is like a digital negative. It remains in its pristine state, regardless of what changes you may make as you process the image in Adobe Camera RAW. So you can always come back to that original RAW data to reprocess the file with different settings at any time.

The photos you just saw were all shot as RAW images, and processed in Adobe Camera RAW. This file is an ordinary JPEG. And I want to make the point that there are some situations in which it's appropriate to shoot JPEGs over RAW. One of those times as if you are shooting action photography like sports, because JPEGs are smaller files, and they therefore take up less room in your camera's buffer. You're probably going to be able to shoot more pictures faster if you are shooting JPEG than if you are shooting RAW. Another time when it makes sense to shoot JPEGs is when you are shooting what I call a Quickie Mart photos.

So for example, you are just shooting some snapshots at a birthday party, and you promise to give prints to all the parents, and all you want to do is run down to the Quickie Mart and have those prints made. Your life will be a lot easier if you've shot those as JPEG, because the Quickie Mart is set up to handle your JPEGs. And finally, another time when it makes sense to shoot JPEGs is if you're running low on space in your memory card inside your camera, and you happen to be out in the field and you don't have any other cards with you, because JPEGs are smaller and will just take up less space on your card. But nowadays storage space is so affordable that it's really easy to avoid this problem by arming yourself with big memory cards before you go out shooting.

So that should give you a sense of what people mean when they talk about RAW files and what the advantages are of shooting RAW over JPEG in most, but not all cases. When you come in from shooting with a card full of RAW images, what's the next step? The images need to be processed and converted into a format that you can print or that you can take into Photoshop for further editing. That processing and converting can be done by Adobe Camera RAW, which is a separate RAW converter that comes with Photoshop. I'll be covering the details of how to use Adobe Camera RAW to process your RAW photos in upcoming movies.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67965 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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