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What is RAW Photography?

If you’re new to photography, you may not understand all the fuss about RAW images. What makes them so great? The short answer is because a RAW image maintains all the data captured by the image sensor of your camera. But a longer explanation may be better.

When you take a picture with your DSLR camera, the image sensor captures light, shadow, and tones of colors for the length of time your shutter is open. That information is captured in pixels, or small squares. It’s what happens after the shutter opens and closes and image sensor captures that data that determines the file format your camera outputs.

If you’re capturing images in JPEG format, which is one of the default formats for most digital cameras, once the image has been captured, the camera processes it to determine which pixels to keep, and which are redundant and unneeded. It also makes some adjustments for you that cannot be changed once the image has been processed and the unused pixels discarded. The result is an image that looks like what you captured, but it contains less of the information the image sensors captured. It’s great for sharing photographs, since the images are smaller and easier to manage, but if you need to make tweaks or changes to the image in post processing, it’s not ideal.

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