Monday, October 31, 2011

The Benefits of Shooting in Raw

Dynamic Range
Dynamic range, in short, is the difference between how light and dark parts of a photo is.  Shooting in raw will use all of this dynamic range, where a JPEG format uses a smaller range.

What this means for a photo-editor
When you make adjustments to the exposure of a photo (using curves, saturation, lightness, pretty much the entire color menu in GIMP) you will be able to adjust the amount of color change more with a RAW file then a JPEG.

No In-Camera Processing
When you take a photo with a camera in JPEG format, behind the scenes a camera will convert the file to a jpeg, and apply some adjustments to what it thinks your photo should look like.  Shooting in RAW gives you exactly what the camera takes, and makes no adjustments to the file. 

What this means for a photo-editor
Shooting in RAW will give you control over your photo as it is, not as your camera thinks it should be.  You're taking the control from the camera, and transferring it to your hands.

Non-destructive editing
No matter what you do to your RAW file, the only time the processed settings stay how you have them set is when you export the RAW to a JPEG.

What this means for a photo-editor
No matter how many times you edit a photo, you can always go back to the raw file and save multiple versions of the same image without losing any quality whatsoever.  This is perfect for a GIMP photo editor because it will give you plenty of extra ways to play with your images.

All-in-all, it's clear why shooting in raw is a valuable asset for any photo editor.  The extra control from shooting in raw will give you more photo-editing power than you've ever had.  The price of a Raw-shooting camera is always dropping, and you can actually get one for about the same price as a non-raw shooting camera if you look for it.  If you're looking for some good cameras that shoot in raw, I have created a list of recommended Raw-shooting cameras for the Gimp user.


  1. It should be noted that shooting in RAW results in much larger photos

    1. You're right, the files are definitely larger, but larger hard drives and SD cards are getting cheaper and cheaper by the day. I use a 2 GB card and have more room than I know what to do with despite my raw shooting.

  2. Agree Alex, I have a 16GB card in my G-11 and every shot I take it makes a jpeg and raw in the highest resolution and size that the camera can make. (can always make smaller images) Even shooting this way, I have never come close to using the full capacity of this card. It cost $14 and is a pro class 10. Hard to beat!


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I teach people how to use gimp with gimp video tutorials, as well as gimp text tutorials. I also work with Photographers by offering photo-editing services.