Sunday, June 01, 2008

My struggle with RAW


I notice that there are some bloggers, Huei and Neo for example, who are avid photographers. So I decided to write something on digital photography.


RAW is sometimes described as digital negative. A RAW image is an unprocessed image. It requires special software to convert the RAW images into viewable formats such as JPEG or TIFF. The advantage of RAW is that it gives us more rooms to fine-tune the images, so we are supposed to get better pictures. The disadvantage is that we need to convert the images, which is an additional step.

The prevailing view among digital photographers is that: If you don’t shoot RAW, you are no ‘pro’.

As a kiasu Canon user, I have also shot RAW, and used the following software to convert the images into JPEG format:

Canon RAW Image Task (RIT)

Nothing much we can do with RIT aside from adjusting white balance. If white balance has been set right during shooting, there is really little advantage of using RIT.

Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

One advantage of DPP over RIT is that we can select the so-called Picture Styles. For example, if I shoot landscape, I select Landscape Picture Style in DPP. If I shoot portrait, I select Portrait Picture Style. However, when I set the Picture Style of a Thai girl image to Portrait, her skin tone didn’t look natural. Perhaps the Portrait Picture Style works best for Japanese.

Adobe PhotoShop Elements

At default settings, RAW images from Elements are extremely dull, and it takes a lot of tuning to get a decent picture. Elements is, however, more powerful than the two free software from Canon. Another advantage is that we can use the Adobe software to open RAW files of other cameras.

As a working adult who study part time, I find processing, and fine-tuning, RAW images to be too time consuming. Today I often shoot RAW+JPEG. If the JPEG images are OK, I just don’t bother to touch the RAW files. If I ever want to process RAW files, I use the Canon software.


While many digital camera users think that shooting RAW makes you more ‘pro’, there are actually some professional photographers who disagree. Here is one.

Canon Digital Photo Professional


  1. Good tutorial.. normally I just upload the picture directly from my camera without doing any adjustment..

  2. oh, no...
    i dun understand a single thing here XD

  3. keeyit
    This is not a tutorial la...

    Anyway, I suggest that you resize your pictures before upload, i.e. make them smaller. Smaller files upload faster. Also, if you photo hosting site has file size or bandwidth limits, you won't hit them so fast.

    Haha... looks like these are too technical for you...

  4. thanks for the tips! i've yet to try out taking in RAW and editing them! so far i've just learned the aperature, shutter speed, iso, white balance. so many thigns to learn!! and shutter speed is so hard..i put it high, but it makes my images dark. ok i need to learn more!

    thanks for the tips! i really must stop procrastinating and try taking RAW images!

  5. huei: I'd suggest otherwise. If you're still new to photography, I'd suggest learning with jpg first. RAW doesn't make the pictures look better, it actually makes you spend more time in post-production instead of focussing on the shooting itself.

    What do you think, KhengSiong?

  6. huei
    I think you should familiarize with the camera before trying RAW. Don't try to learn so much at once.

    Well said. Many people use the 'shotgun' approach, thinking that they can salvage the image in PC.

  7. I haven't tried RAW yet... I like it RAW without rubber I mean. Wakakaka!

  8. neo
    Apparently you are also not a pro :P