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What is a RAW file? | RAW vs SOOC

I hear this misconception all the time. The crazy thing is, I don't mean from clients. I'm talking about everyone, even other photographers. Say, what?!

First, lets talk file formats. What is a RAW file?

I'm sure most of us here have heard of JPEG, DNG, PNG, GIF AND maybe even TIFF files. I don't plan to get into the details of each file type but to simply point out that they are all different formats. RAW files are exactly that. The reason photographers love RAW files is because of how much information they contain. They are sometimes referred to as the digital negatives. They contain all of the information within an image and are used for editing. JPEGS can be edited but are not as easily manipulated as RAW formats. In other words, think of clay. RAW files being wet clay and JPEGS being almost dry clay. You can mold the dry(ish) clay some but the wet clay is what is truly meant for manipulating and sculpting. You can do so much more with RAW files. JPEG files are actually already edited but the camera did the work. The camera selected the colors, the white balance, and the exposure is set. Your settings affect both but the RAW files keep all of the information and can be adjusted later in post processing.

Here are a few things you can fix when using RAW files instead of JPEGS: White balance, over exposed highlights, under exposed images, color corrections, and you can even bring back clouds that wont show up in the matching JPEG format. Now I'm not saying you can't do anything with a JPEG but think back to the clay. There are some things you can do and some you can't. However, you sure can do a lot more with that wet clay.

RAW VS SOOC (straight out of camera): TO ALL OF MY FELLOW TOGS OUT THERE...

The title of this post is for you. When you post in a group that you are sharing a raw image, you actually mean an unedited JPEG (or other format but not RAW). You can not open raw images on phones or even share them to social media. The files are entirely too big. I'm not saying this to be a know it all. It's honestly just a pet peeve of mine and want to help other togs understand the difference. If you are a photographer, you should know the difference between a raw file and a SOOC image. Yes, RAW files are straight out of camera but you're not sharing a RAW file on Facebook. You are sharing an unedited image. Remember, RAW files are just a format.

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