Unlike ordinary digital cameras, advanced DSLR photo cameras shoot fabulous pictures. In order to get best quality of your images, professional photographers recommend to change photo saving settings from JPEG to RAW format. If you have just bought your first Nikon or Canon DSLR cam and feel puzzled over image formats dilemma, this post is for you.
What is RAW format?
Judging by name RAW is the format of almost unprocessed “pure” (or raw) images captured by your camera image sensor. RAW files contain the image itself and accompanying meta-data about camera, settings, etc. Usually RAW image files are huge because of all this image info. For example, 8MB is a normal size for one photo.
Is RAW image format better than JPEG?
On the one hand, RAW file format is ideal for professional photographers, movie makers, magazine and newspaper publishers and designers. RAW is lossless format, that means it’s best for editing with professional photo software like Adobe suite or GIMP. JPG pictures are not so appropriate for pro photo editors since they don't support layer structure like RAW files.
On the other hand, JPEG is more suitable for ordinary people. Note that standard Microsoft Picture Viewer cannot open RAW files. Thus, you have to download special free photo viewers for RAW image files like IrfanView or Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer.
Is RAW format ideal for photos?
First of all, each camera manufacturer has created own file extension for RAW files and not every image viewer can read them. This is the list of RAW image file types: .3fr,.ari, .arw,.bay,.crw, .cr2, .cap,.dcs, .dcr, .dng, .drf, .eip, .erf,.fff,.iiq,.k25, .kdc,.mef, .mos, .mrw,.nef, .nrw, .obm, .orf,.pef, .ptx, .pxn,.r3d, .raf, .raw, .rwl, .rw2, .rwz, .sr2, .srf, .srw,.x3f.
The second drawback is that RAW files occupy much space on a memory card, obviously, due to its full photo data nature.
Another problem is impossibility to print images directly from the camera memory card.
However, manufacturers try to get rid of these stumbling blocks and in a few years they all may disappear. Memory cards get bigger and cheaper every year. Free RAW image file viewers already exist and advanced photo editors like Sagelight Image Editor become more user-friendly.