Last week I gave a lecture at a local camera club and part of the evening was devoted to explaining the basics of RAW processing. As with any camera club my audience was made up of mixed abilities, some of the members were really clued up about the advantages of using RAW, whilst others could see nothing but disadvantages in the format.
In this post I’m going try and counter the most commonly voiced concerns I hear about RAW. Before I start I should point out that this isn’t an unbiased appraisal. I believe RAW rules and will try and convince anyone I meet that they should start using RAW today.
OK, let’s tackle the complaints I hear about RAW
RAW files take up too much space.
It’s true RAW files take up 3-5 times more memory then the same Jpeg file. That means a 4 GB memory card will hold around 800 images but that number drops to around 250 when I shoot in RAW. The solution is simple. Buy more memory. Looking at the Picstop store I can buy an 8 GB compact flash card for £14.99 and that includes postage. Now that’s a bargain.
I can’t see RAW thumbnail images in Windows.
This one really stumped me for a while. I could see JPG’s, tiffs and even PSD files in windows but not RAW files. Fortunately Canon, Nikon (and probably others) offer free windows plug in to sort the problem.
Canon: Click Here
Nikon: Click Here
Olympus Click Here
RAW files slow my computer down.
No they don’t, but being bigger means they will take longer to open and they will fill up your hard drive quicker. To get around this you could upgrade to a new computer but it’s much cheaper to buy a bigger hard drive. A 1TB (1000 GB) drive will set you back around £80 for an internal drive or £130 for an external USB hard drive.
Photoshop won’t open my RAW files.
OK I admit this is frustrating. You’ve just bought a flashy new camera but when you try and open the RAW files in Photoshop CS3 they’re not compatible and you’d need to buy CS4 to make them work.
There are two options. First, use the RAW converter that came with your new camera. Second (and probably better) use Adobe’s free DNG converter to batch convert all your RAW files to Adobes RAW format (called DNG). You can download from here www.adobe.com/products/dng
Will I still be able to open RAW files in 10 years time?
It does worry me a bit. RAW files are unique to each camera manufacturer and even unique to each camera model. Who’s to say you’ll be able to find a RAW converter for a Kodak DCS 14n (for example) in 10 years time. My solution is to set my camera to shoot both JPG and RAW simultaneously, that way I have two versions of every image.
RAW work flow is just too slow.
You’re kidding me! If you missed it here’s a short tutorial on using RAW to enhance texture. The last two minutes should convince you that RAW can be the fastest way you’ve ever worked.
So there you go. If you’re never tried RAW, give it a go today. Like everything to do with Photoshop there’s a learning curve, but once you see what RAW can do for your photography you’ll never change back.
Watch out for my “Totally RAW” DVD coming soon.