Camera Tip #27 - How RAW should it be? Part 1

Some would say real photographers only shoot in RAW. We say "meh". It depends on what you think you may want to do with your images.

Let's back up for a minute and talk about what RAW is. First, not all cameras are capable of shooting in RAW. So this may be purely an academic discussion.

RAW is a file format created by your camera when you take the photograph similar to a jpg. The difference between a RAW file and a jpg is that the RAW file is like a negative. It's the raw data from your camera. It's the most amount of information your camera is capable of capturing. But why is all that information important? If you need to do a lot of manipulations or post processing, then you may need that data. The data also gives you the space to enlarge the image. This is not to say that a smaller file would restrict you from manipulating your images, it just means that you have less leeway to do it. So in other words, if you had significant lighting issues, you would have less ability to fix the problem during post processing.

To reiterate, if you don't need to enlarge your images to any appreciable size or don't plan to do a lot of post processing, then you probably don't need to be shooting in RAW. However, it's always easier to reduce the amount of data you have, but difficult to increase it. Like they say it's best to have and not need, than to need and not have.