Is RAW dead?
Modern D-SLRs are able to take better, more accurate JPEGs than ever – so do we still need to shoot in RAW?
MFor years, the standard advice has always been that you should shoot RAW files for quality, but is this still the case? When we were shooting on six-, 10- or even 12-megapixel D-SLRs equipped with relatively primitive processors, shooting RAW seemed the obvious choice for the best possible pictures, but improvements in sensor design, resolution, dynamic range and noise control have raised image quality to astonishing new levels. What if our Nikons’ JPEGs are now so good that we don’t need RAW any more?
This isn’t just a hypothetical premise. Improvements to Nikon’s Expeed processors have brought JPEGs with better colour, tonal gradation and noise. They’ve also introduced features such as distortion correction, Active D-Lighting and other features that you don’t automatically get with RAW files.
So stay with us as we explore the pros and cons of RAW versus JPEG, because we think that RAW has maybe had its own way for just a little too long. ost people call them RAW files; Nikon calls them NEFs. Either way, they are the equivalent of a ‘digital negative’, a half-way stage in the image-editing process where you don’t yet have a finished image, but you still have access to all the colours, tones and data captured by the camera’s sensor.
All Nikon D-SLRs give you the choice of shooting RAW files or JPEGs – or indeed both at the same time. JPEG images are ready to use straight away. You can print them, email them, and show them on your computer or tablet, but you have to leave it to your camera to process your images using the settings you chose when you took the picture. With RAW files, you get to do the processing, not your camera. This has advantages in terms of flexibility, image quality and choice… but RAW files place extra demands on your camera, on your computer and on your own time. So which do you go for, and in what circumstances?