You've probably heard before that you should be shooting in RAW.  But do you know why it's so important for your images?  

First off, what exactly is RAW?  RAW is a file format that captures all data that is recorded by the sensor in your camera when you take a photo.  If you are currently shooting in a format like JPEG, the image information can be compressed and lost.  If you are shooting in RAW, you're able to produce higher quality images and correct any problems in your images.  You would not be able to do this in JPEG.  

So, if you are still shooting in JPEG, I recommend that you try shooting in RAW.  Grab your camera manual or google how to change the format on your camera!  There are so many benefits of shooting in RAW:

1. Get the Highest Level of Quality

This is one of the biggest benefits!  When you shoot in RAW, you are recording ALL of the data from the camera sensor.  This gives you the highest quality possible.  Trust me, when it comes to quality, you want all that you can get!  

When you shoot in JPEG format, the camera does its own processing in order to change the RAW information into a JPEG.  When you shoot in RAW, you're able to process the image yourself instead of having the camera do it for you.  This allows you to make all of decisions regarding how your image should look, thus producing better results.  

2. Record Greater Levels of Brightness

Technically speaking, the levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white.  The more you have, the smoother the tones in the image will transition.  Smoother is more appealing to the eye because the colors seem to blend better.  

JPEG records 256 levels of brightness and RAW records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels!  That's a lot of levels!!!  The effect this has on your image is HUGE!  Those additional levels of brightness allow you to easily make more adjustments to your image without a significant reduction to the quality. 

3. Easily Correct the Exposure of Images

Obviously you want to do your best to nail the exposure in camera.  However, sometimes things move to fast and you don't have time to readjust your settings.  With RAW you have additional information in the file if you need to correct the image.  

4. Easily Adjust White Balance

When you shoot in JPEG, the white balance is applied to the image and it's pretty much set.  Its very hard to make any adjustments or simply choose another option.  With RAW the white balance is still recorded, but based on having more data, its easier to change.  

5. More Details in Your Images

More information = more detail in your shots!  When you shoot in Raw, you have access to sharpen your images which allows for more detail.  

6. Efficient Editing Workflow

It's SO much easier to work through large batches of images when you are editing when they are in RAW format.  I always use Lightroom to edit my pictures.  This program is designed to easily process large groups of RAW images!  I highly recommend Lightroom, but Ill save that for another blog post in the future.  ;)

7. Better Prints

You will get better, clearer prints if you are shooting in RAW! Your images will look better because of the finer gradation of tones and colors and higher quality of the images.  

Imagine taking your favorite image and blowing it up into a giant canvas.  You want a higher quality of the image so that its not grainy.  You'll also see less banding too!  This happens when you see each section of color instead of having them seamlessly flow into each other.  

8. It's Professional

All professional photographers should be providing their clients with the highest quality possible!  By shooting in Raw format, you are able to take control of your images and you are able to efficiently fix the problems associated with editing and quality.  Your clients are trusting you to give them the best images possible!  If you are a hobbyist or amateur, you can still shoot in RAW and get better files and prints! 

Keep in Mind:

1. Images need to be compressed.

Many people are intimidated by shooting in RAW format because they have to process their images.  It does take more time, but you are in control of what your images are converted too.  Imaging being able to choose whether you make your images whatever size you want - high resolution, web resolution, Facebook banner size, and more!  

2. You can shoot in RAW & JPEG simultaneously!

There is an option on your DSLR to shoot in RAW and JPEG at the same time!!!  Check out your menu on your camera!

3. Raw files take up more space.

Since RAW files have more information, they do take up more space.  Be prepared to fill up your computer storage more quickly!  I recommend purchasing an external hard drive to store all of your images.  This is the exact one that I use:

Your memory card will be the same way.  Be sure that you have enough storage to get you through your shoot and always have extras!  

4. Shooting in RAW can slow down your camera's processor.

RAW files are larger than JPEGs, so they will fill up the buffer of your camera faster.  The camera will continue to shoot the same frames per second, regardless of whether it is RAW or JPEG, but you may have to wait for the camera to write the memory card if the buffer fills up.  This mainly applies to photographers that shoot very quickly such as sports or action photographers.