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Why Should You Need to Choose Camera RAW – Here is The Answer

When you look at some beautiful scenery or take in the party with your friends, you may want to take some photos to record the moments and save it forever. Digital cameras are increasingly popular and affordable to customers. The photos taken by digital cameras are RAW images. Most digital cameras have the ability to compress the photos into JPEG files automatically after shooting. However, you should know that JPEG is a compressed image format, so sometimes you may want to keep the camera RAW files and their quality. Therefore, this article will introduce what is camera RAW and how to view it on your computer.

Camera RAW

Part 1: What is camera RAW

Camera RAW is the raw image format of digital cameras. It is a kind of unprocessed photograph format. The camera will record all the data from sensor into the photos. Unlike JPEG, which is a compressed image format, RAW files do not lose any information. So photographers could get the highest quality images and correct the images with the information in photo editing programs.

Today, most recent digital cameras have the ability to compress RAW files to JPEG photos spontaneously. Generally speaking, JPEG files have some advantages, like smaller file size. But some photographers prefer to keep and deal with the camera RAW files, because there are more benefits to take photos as RAW files.

RAW Format

Part 2: Why should you choose RAW format

1. RAW file will keep more levels of brightness

Camera RAW files record greater levels of brightness. The levels of brightness are related to the distribution of black and white. So the greater the levels of brightness the image file contains, the smoother the image looks like. A JPEG photo has 256 levels of brightness; while RAW contains more than 4000 levels. That means you can adjust the brightness and white balance without losing quality. Brightness and white balance is the basis of a clear image. Adjusting a camera RAW will make it closer to the real world.

2. RAW file provides more information to correct images

Apart from brightness, RAW files will keep more information about exposure of the photos. When we take photos with digital cameras, the problems of excessive exposure and underexposure are very common. If you want to correct the exposure with photo editors, you have to provide the information related to exposure. Camera RAW is easier to be correct, for it records more exposure information. That will make the photo editor smarter when dealing with images. So even though you have taken a dark RAW image, the editing program could produce a clear image with the extensive exposure information.

3. RAW file format gives more details of shot images

When you enlarge the images, you will discover that images have noises. It is okay to enjoy these images on digital devices. When you print the images, the noises will affect the quality of the output. So after shooting photos, photographers usually utilize program to reduce noise and sharpen the images. At this time, the camera RAW and the details it records will become very useful; because the noise algorithms embedded in programs, like Photoshop, will read RAW files. While JPEG does not have the information that such algorithms could read. If you have printed JPEG images and RAW files, you would understand the difference is great.

4. RAW provides a second chance

The first chance is when you shoot the picture. There are a lot of uncertain elements decide the quality of the images, like the light, the shooting angle and the natural environment. The second chance is when you edit the images with programs. Although only a part of photo editors supports camera RAW, the plentiful information RAW contains will make the process easier. Photo editors could read RAW as read program language. On the other hand, the quality of the images will not be reduced when photo editors deal with RAW images.

Part 3: JPEG V.S. RAW

Just as mentioned above, JPEG also has benefits, like seizing just a little space. So you might become confused: when should shoot camera RAW and when should shoot JPEG. Generally speaking, you’d better take RAW images when:

1. The circumstance is poor, like in a dark room without light, under the shining sun, or there is interfering light surrounding.

2. You are taking portraits or preparing to process the images later.

3. You are going to enlarge the images or print them.

While in some conditions JPEG is the better choice:

1. Taking photos in perfect light conditions.

2. Sharing the photos directly without post-processing.

3. Just record everyday snapshots.


Part 4: How to view RAW files on computer

There is one major problem, when you take photos in camera RAW. How do you view the camera RAW files on your computer? Usually you should download the default image viewer to check the details of the RAW files on your computer. If you have different RAW formats, such as NEF, DNG, you have to use different photo viewers instead. WidsMob Viewer Pro should be the best choice you have to take into consideration.

1. Support most of the RAW file formats, photo formats and even video files.

2. Check the detailed information of camera RAW in different modes.

3. Apply photo effects or further edit the photos with useful editing tools.

4. Convert RAW photo formats into JPEG or other general photo formats.

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Step 1: Import RAW photos to image viewer

Just download and install the latest version of WidsMob Viewer Pro. Launch the program and click the “Open…” option to select the camera RAW files from the destination folder.

Import Photos

Step 2: Check the detailed information of the image

After that you can click the “View” menu and choose the “Show Info” option to check the detailed information for the RAW files, such as camera type, ISO, LDR and others.

EXIF Data Viewer

Step 3: View or convert the image files

If you want to save the files for other devices, such as iPhone or Android phone, you can click the save the camera RAW to JPEG or other formats in batch with the media viewer.

Convert DNG to JPEG


Based on the introduction above, you may grasp what is camera RAW and the benefits to it. But you have to understand that every coin has two sides. RAW contains more information. That makes it more appropriate to process with photo editors. And it gives photographers the second chance to get the images right and not to lose quality during the process. However, RAW files are much bigger than JPEG. So you have to measure the advantages and disadvantages in different conditions. This article has provides some tips of when to shoot RAW. And you can switch between camera RAW and JPEG depending on your situations.

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Peter Wood
Peter Wood
Peter Wood, a senior editor, focus on photography design and editing software and devices.

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