It's like having an old film negative which you can always refer back to and make your very own post-processing adjustments. Sometimes the camera's processor might get the wrong idea of colour, sharpness and contrast etc; with RAW you can put it right..
How important? 100% important if you're selling your images commercially; 20% if your use is at enthusiast level where you need to rescue the odd shot or two or maybe think you might be about to get the shot of a lifetime. Choose a camera on which RAW can be quickly selected or which shoots RAW + JPG at the same time..
John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..
I always use RAW.
It probably takes 30 seconds to make any changes I need to in DPP before converting to tiff...usually WB, contrast, small exposure change, very small amt. of sharpening..
Most shots only need resizing and sharpening in PS. For a select few I may spend 10 minutes or so in PS with selective sharpening etc....
I shot jpeg for about 3 months before changing to RAW and have never shot jpeg again. It just works for me and I have plenty of hard drive space on my computer..
Raw just gives you one more option..
It's like some cameras only give you scene modes while others allow you to actually get to controling the shutter speed and apature..
Raw is handy in situations where there are too many unknowns. Like white balance due to mixed lighting or extended dynamic range..
I shoot 95% of my shots in jpeg and just use raw when I know there will be problems. Some of this of course depends on the camera. Not all models are as proficient in their jpeg conversions in which case raw is your best bet. But if you like the jpeg that comes out of the camera then why fool with raw?.
Jpeg, cropped, resized, sharpened for web..
Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.
Http://www.flickr.com/photos/8790142@N02/ My Flickr page.A member of the rabble in good standing..
It's usefull to have around for when things look tricky but not essential. It depends on the sort of pictures you take and I'd say that for 90% or more of people with cameras it's unimportant. To a commercial photographer who has to be 110% certain of each picture it can be important but you'll find a lot of pro's with their cameras set permanently to give low compression jpg's, simply because they know what they are doing and jpg's do work. I've 32" x 24" and 22" x 16" from jpg's from 4 and 5 mp cameras and am pleased with them. Some cameras, btw, don't let you chose the jpg compression over a wide range and so raw or tif gets used a lot, as the alternatives are too dreadufll to think about..
If you haven't got raw, then there are other techniques like spot metering, bracketing and PP and so on. If raw is only used now and then it can be difficult to develop any expertise in it's use. And expertise in raw is important..
Also - I hope this doesn't sound rude, that's not my intention - the fact that you have asked this question underlines (to me) the point that you don't need it. You'd need it if you were swearing all the time that you should have used it. This last rule works for that 300 mm f/2 lens you were thinking about, also. </;-).
Hope this is of some help..
But anyone who gives you a blanket statement on an issue like this that they think applies to everyone else is an idiot..
My advice is try to buy a camera that can shoot raw and see how it works for you, but don't go crazy on price. I personally would no longer buy a camera that didn't have raw, but I would say a move to raw should occur when it is affordable and not before..
I'd tell you to borrow a camera, but a short term trial may not tell you much. The advantages aren't always immediately obvious.STOP Global Stasis! Change is good!.
Now that you've judged the quality of my typing, take a look at my photos..http://www.photo.net/photos/GlenBarrington..
Read this article, by a PhD electrical engineer, who seems to know a lot..
The article states "if you are unhappy with the default conversion, you may change the parameters and get things done your way" - which is exactly why I shoot RAW - usually only for high contrast shots. Because, even though you can PP to alter the contrast, brightness, saturation, gamma correction, sharpness etc on a JPEG, if the tone curve of the in-camera processing tends to clip highlights as well as make shadows darker then RAW is the only option..
My camera does just that with JPEGs and there are no contrast controls in the camera to correct it before I take the shot. Also, I find the noise reduction algorithm for JPEGs too agressive so there is another reason to shoot RAW. Of course, not all camera are like this and you will have to judge for yourself whether your camera shoots good enough in JPEG..
Hope this helps..
It depends on a number of things..
First, what is your level of photography? Are you a beginner or a well seasoned amature? For a beginner, you have more important things to contend with - like learning photography, exposure in particular..
If you are a well seasoned amature, then raw is something to look into. The advantages of raw is that it gives you many more options over the final look of your images, than does the incamera processing of jpg's..
Raw is your digital negative. JPG is your instant print..
On another note, many will say that shooting raw allows them to 'fix' things like poor exposure. There is some truth to this in that the raw file has tremendous latitude when it comes to fixing some problems, the fact is that to take good photographs, you must get the exposure correct to begin with and not rely on photoshop to save the picture. That is why I say learning and understanding exposure is MUCH more important than anything else..
The greatest of mankind's criminals are those who delude themselves into thinking they have done 'the right thing.'- Rayna Butler..
1. Actually, an experienced photographer will usually have the exposure, white balance, and contrast set so that an off-camera JPEG will be just fine; in such cases going through the raw stage means extra hassle, time, and storage space. It is the less fluent photographers who may profit from the extra postprocessing flexibility offered by the raw format, but they are also least likely to get that step right. Ironically, the raw format offers most of it's advantages to those who need them least! (This is also how the bank loan industry works, nothing new under the sun.).
2. Contrary to what many believe, using the raw format does not offer significantly better protection from over- or under-exposure. The RGB conversion process uses the whole tonal range recorded in the raw image, and if your highlights are blown out, the corresponding photosites are oversaturated regardless on how you save your images: before or after the RGB conversion. On the other hand, the extra bits in the raw information may allow you to make better use in extracting the available detail from shadows or highlights by adjusting the brightness translation curve(s). Still, the detail has to be there to start with, and the photographer has to understand how the tonal curves are used..
Good things come to those who wait because the great things were taken by those who didnt...