Getting to Know Camera Raw

Getting to Know Camera Raw

It’s best to work with the Camera Raw features just like you would with a traditional camera print. Traditional cameras use film that must be sent to a photo lab for processing. Negatives are made from the film for each picture. The photo lab creates prints by shining light through the negatives onto light-sensitive photographic paper. The photographs may differ in color, tone, and brightness depending upon how long the photographic paper is exposed to light. But throughout the entire process, the negative does not change. The prints are only affected by the amount of light passing through the negative.

Most digital cameras for consumers produce JPEG or TIF images. The JPEG format uses lossy compression. This means that the compression process that saves a JPEG photo can lose some of the data that makes up the image, especially if you resave the image many times. Also, when an image is saved in a format such as JPEG, the picture information is interpreted by the format, which automatically sets colors, tone, brightness, and other parameters for the photo. In other words, you can never get back to the naked image — the unaltered image that the camera captured.

Camera Raw format does not lose vital image information, nor does it format the digital negative by altering color, tone, or any other aspect of the photo. Instead Camera Raw format saves the image data as the camera captures it without further processing. This raw image is saved on your hard drive. When you open a Camera Raw photo in Photoshop, a copy of the image is opened, not the original. You use Photoshop’s built-in Camera Raw interface to process the copied photo by adjusting exposure, tone, color, and other settings, creating your own original. The digital negative is never touched.

Digital photography has come a long way in the past few years. Digital cameras have become more common and cameras with high-end features are becoming more affordable. You can set many of these cameras to save photos in either JPEG or Camera Raw format. Camera manufacturers that make cameras with the Camera Raw features include Canon, Fujifilm, Leaf, Minolta, Nikon, and Olympus. To find out whether your camera can use Photoshop’s Camera Raw features, go to for a complete list of the cameras supported by Photoshop cs’s Camera Raw interface.

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