Why shoot raw

I know there are lots of photo pages describing why you should shoot raw, but I couldn’t resist throwing my own together.

We recently had our bathroom remodeled and I took some shots of the finished product.  While doing so, I had a couple of blown-out shots that I ordinarily wouldn’t keep.

Original raw shot

Above, you can see one of those shots, right out of the camera.  Massively overexposed and you can’t see any of the detail in the white tile.

Raw with the highlights pulled down

Pulling the highlights down in Lightroom allows one to see the detail in the tile.  It’s not as good as it would have been with correct exposure for the tile, but it’s very close.

Convert to jpeg and…

Above is what the same shot looks like when you take the jpeg version and attempt to pull down the highlights.  Loads of lost information and banding as well as a generally flat image.

Raw, exposed for the tile

Here’s the same scene, correctly exposed for the tile.

Original raw, cropped

Here’s the original raw, cropped to show an area with a variety of textures.

jpeg cropped

Above is the jpeg cropped.  Here you can see all the banding and flatness in all its glory.

Tile raw

And finally the version originally exposed for the tile.  The dynamic range is a bit greater than in the original raw but not that different.

The biggest complaint about shooting raw is the file sizes.  Raw files are huge.  One way around that is to shoot raw and for those pictures you’re unlikely to want to re-edit down the road (like these pictures of our bathroom), convert them to jpeg after the fact and delete the raw files.

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Author: Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

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