Using RAW files

I was sceptical about the point of RAW files from digital cameras. Surely the high quality jpeg output is good enough?

Well for one the RAW file is uncompressed and so there is no loss of detail, down to the pixel level. Which has to be good.

Secondly in producing a jpeg the camera is making lots of choices which it may be better for you to make. One of the problems here is that there an awful lot of choices to make. In Photoshop's RAW dialogue there are over 20 adjustments which can be made, which is somewhat bewildering. I have only tweaked a few, but a couple are definitely worth mentioning here.

Flash compensation

I've always had a problem with the colour shift created by pictures taken with flash, there is very often a significant difference between what the eye perceives and what the flash produces. Here's an example:-

 

Using natural light. 1/100s at f2.8                   

                  Using flash /125s at f7.1
There is no doubt the flashes effect helps in terms of a) giving a depth of field boost and b) 'freezing' the subject. The colour difference isn't acceptable though. The harsh shadows are a problem too, but not so bad. Now in the RAW processing options two controls can help.
First adjusting the colour temperature has removed the yellow cast and turned the green leaves to about the right shade. In this case a shift from 5600K to 4100K has done the job. It has left the butterfly a little drab though.
Next adjusting the exposure brings the colours back to life. The adjustment here was from the camera's +0.45 to +0.0. So we have the original colours with better depth of field and increased sharpness. Just the funny shadows to deal with, maybe that needs some diffusion on the flash?
   

Next Sharpness adjustment using RAW against using Photoshop sharpness adjustments.

 

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All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.