Exploring Photography – Raw Images

Raw images simply means ‘not processed’ digital files, a RAW image contains minimally processed data from the image sensor. Shooting in RAW is sometimes called digital negatives, because they serve the same role as negatives in film photography. Unlike negatives, these files need much more processing.

In a detailed tutorial the Digital Camera World show you how to capture a RAW image in the right way. From adjusting exposure and tweaking the contrast to adding colour and a graduated filter to drawing a gradient and selecting adjustments tools, you can find out how to process raw images here.

Photographers choosing to work with RAW images, face a wide choice of processing software. Cameras that can write to RAW files include the manufacturer’s proprietary RAW file processing software, and a long list of generic programs that can read and edit these types of files in a regularly updated range of formats.
At one end of the scale are specialist programs that will do little more than control the conversion of RAW images to other formats, ready for finishing in more conventional image editors.

Recommended software to use with raw files are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Picasa and Microsoft Raw Image Thumbnailer – essential for Windows based photographers.


Files processed within the camera are known as a JPEG file, a commonly used way of shooting on most cameras. Using a JPEG means the colour temperature and exposure are set based on your camera settings when the image is shot. The camera will also process the image to add blacks, contrast, brightness, noise reduction, sharpening (which you can see in the example above) and then render the file to a compressed JPEG.

Exploring Photography | Raw file vs JPEG

Both formats are useful and possess different uses when trying to capture the perfect shot. RAW is clearly a superior file format for journalistic shooting, adding range and tonal detail and personal use. Shooting for the web or lower quality uses, restricted space and rapid succession burst shooting, a JPEG format would be better suited.

Remember, since RAW files have more uncompressed information they can be 2-3 times larger than JPEG files. Therefore if shooting a lot of images at once you may want to consider moving to a compressed JPEG file.