A Visual Explanation of RAW Files [Infographic]

Me: Should I shoot in RAW?

Everyone: Of course!

Me: Why?

Everyone: I don’t know…

A lot of people shoot in a RAW format but not everyone understands why they do. More importantly, those who shoot in JPEG don’t know what they are missing. Conceptually, the idea of a RAW file is not hard to understand. It’s simply an uncompressed version of the image and it will need to be processed by a computer in order to be used for most practical purposes. What exactly that means is often overlooked but it is worth spending a few minutes to learn about it. The definition is a bit technical, which is why I’m pulling from the excellent photography blog Cambridge in Colour:

The RAW file format is digital photography’s equivalent of a negative in film photography: it contains untouched, “raw” pixel information straight from the digital camera’s sensor. The RAW file format has yet to undergo demosaicing, and so it contains just one red, green, or blue value at each pixel location. Digital cameras normally “develop” this RAW file by converting it into a full color JPEG or TIFF image file, and then store the converted file in your memory card. Digital cameras have to make several interpretive decisions when they develop a RAW file, and so the RAW file format offers you more control over how the final JPEG or TIFF image is generated.

Read more here.

The infographic below goes into more detail and compares to the processing of both RAW and JPEG files. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to let us know your photography Pick of the Year on Google+.

RAW vs. JPEG Infographic

This infographic originally appeared on Visual.ly.

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