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What is a RAW file? | RAW vs SOOC

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

It's time to clear up a common misconception: the difference between RAW and SOOC (straight out of camera) files. And before you ask, no, I don't just hear this from my clients - I hear it from everyone, including other photographers. So, let's dive into it!

First, let's talk file formats. You may be familiar with JPEG, DNG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF files. RAW files are another format - and they're the holy grail for photographers. Why? Because they contain all of the information captured by your camera's sensor, making them a digital negative of sorts. Think of it like wet clay - there's so much more you can mold and manipulate compared to almost-dry clay (a.k.a. JPEGs).

So, what can you do with RAW files that you can't do with JPEGs? Quite a bit, actually. You can adjust white balance, recover overexposed highlights and underexposed shadows, correct colors, and even bring back details in the sky that may be lost in a JPEG. In short, RAW files give you much more flexibility in post-processing.

Now, onto the main point: RAW vs. SOOC. Here's the deal, fellow photographers - when you share a "raw" image on social media, you're not actually sharing a RAW file. Why? Because RAW files are too large to open on phones or upload to most social media platforms. Instead, you're sharing an unedited JPEG (or another format).

Yes, RAW files are technically straight out of the camera - but they're not meant for sharing. So, next time you want to share an unedited photo, just say it's SOOC. And if you're not sure if your fellow togs know the difference between RAW and SOOC, don't be afraid to share this post with them. We're all in this together!

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