Downsides and Solutions
Now, there are always pros and cons to every option, and RAW does have a few disadvantages.
We’ll chat about those, as well as some potential solutions!
1. Need To Be Processed
A common argument against shooting RAW is that because the files need to be processed, it takes more time to shoot RAW than JPEG.
If you don’t do any processing to your JPEGs that might be true.
However, most photographers do some level of processing to their JPEGs so already the argument is getting flimsy.
Then, when you add in the fact that adjustments like white balancing, and recovering highlights and shadows are way faster with RAW files, and it actually begins to looks like processing RAW can be faster than JPEG!!
Then, with RAW, you can easily export to JPEG, as well as convert to various sizes (like web res) at the same time. If you really wanted you could even shoot RAW + JPEG simultaneously!
RAW gives you way more options, and can be processed just as fast, if not faster, than JPEG.
2. Takes Up More Space
Since RAW files have more uncompressed information they can be 2-3 times larger than JPEG files. This is definitely a concern for many shooters, especially those who create a lot of images.
But over the past few years, the cost of hard drives has really dropped, and they’re incredibly affordable!
Let’s consider a 3TB hard drive.
A 3TB drive costs about £129
If a large JPEG file is about 8MB, you’ll fit 375,000 images on the drive, at £0.000344/image
If a RAW file is about 30MB, you’ll fit 100,000 images on the drive, at £0.00129/image
Obviously, you can store fewer RAW files, but the number of images that you can cheaply store is so large for both formats that it’s not really an issue!
It’s also probably a good idea to not place so many images on a single hard drive. Don’t put all your photographic eggs in one basket!
Memory cards are the same deal. They’re constantly dropping in price. Remember when a 2GB card was over £200??
Nowadays you can hardly even buy one that small, and 4GB is as cheap as £15. Madness!
Yes, RAW files are bigger and take up more space.
But that’s because they’re of higher quality. Go with high quality for the extra £0.00121/image.
3.Slows The Camera Down
RAW files are larger than JPEGs, so they’ll fill up the buffer of your camera faster.
The camera will still shoot the same frames per second, regardless of whether it is RAW or JPEG, but you may have to wait for the camera to write to the memory card if the buffer fills up.
If shooting fast sequences if critical for you, and you want to shoot RAW, you can purchase faster memory cards, or a more expensive camera with a larger buffer.
4. In A Proprietary Format
RAW files are often recorded in a proprietary format, which means that the camera manufacturers haven’t officially disclosed how the raw data can be converted.
Companies like Adobe either need to license software to decode the RAW files or reverse engineer how the files should be converted. (For Canon cameras the RAW format looks like .CR2 and for Nikon it’s .NEF).
The problem here is that you can’t be certain that in 5, 10 or 20 years you’ll be able to easily open that RAW file if you don’t have the proper software to decode it!
A new open source RAW format has been developed in order to overcome this obstacle. It was developed by Adobe and is known as DNG (Digital Negative).
Using a program like Lightroom, you can convert your proprietary RAW files into the open source DNG format. It’s an extra step, but it will ensure your files are readable far into the future!
Already the Leica M9 shoots in the DNG format, so look for more camera manufacturers to support this open source format in the future!
Wrap It UP!
Hopefully this look at RAW and it’s benefits has cleared things up a bit!
Suggestions that RAW takes too long, or is too much work, don’t really hold water anymore.
These days, it’s super duper easy (and fast!) to process RAW files, and you’ll be able to get the absolute best quality out of those images that you put so much time, effort and love into!