New to RAW. Advice please?


Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 14:29
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if any knowledgeable people could give me some advice about shooting RAW?

I have never really been the type to spend ages touching up my photos so the idea of shooting RAW never really appealed to me. But a friend is making a short film and asked me to take some Production Shots during the shoot. The idea is to put them on the website so I would like to spend the time getting them as nice as possible.

From what I have heard that means I should shoot RAW. I have a Pentax K-r and a Canon S95 which both shoot RAW. Although I will only be using the K-r for this shoot ideally I would like to only have to learn 1 piece of software. Is there anything out there that would do both?

Does anyone have any general starting out advice? What settings should I be thinking about?

Any help would be amazing. Thanks.


Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 14:47
If this is an important shoot, then that's not the place to be experimenting with something you are unfamiliar with.

I would stick with your JPEG files and perfect your technique there rather than going into unknown territory that you say you don't fancy doing anyway.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 14:55
Hi John,

Thanks for your reply. Re-reading my post I perhaps came across a little negative above. I should have said that (probably through ignorance) I never could really be bothered to shoot RAW before.

I have a couple of weeks until the shoot so I am actually viewing this as an opportunity/incentive to improve my skills and to learn about RAW. From what I have heard it is well worth it so I expect that once I get going I will learn to enjoy the post production process, I'll certainly enjoy seeing improved final pictures!

I guess my main question is: what software should I use? Should I just use the software that came with my k-r / s95 or should I get some 3rd party software that will do for both?


Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 15:28
You have the software to begin, but if you have Photoshop there's always the RAW converter within that as well.

Have a go and ask questions as you go along?
Best regards, John


Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 15:32
Of course, you can always shoot RAW+JPG and have the best of both worlds (albeit taking more space!).

Also, the RAW does contain an embedded JPG that can be extracted with software - so even if you shoot RAW only there is still a simple "JPG" route available.

The rendition of the RAW into JPG will vary greatly between software. The Silkypix package that ships with Pentax cameras is set to create pretty much the same rendition as the in-camera JPG. If you move to other packages - like Lightroom, or Adobe Camera RAW - then you get other features and other 'rendering'.

For example, Lightroom includes very nice software ND grad ability which I use all the time for landscapes.

Most software has trial versions - but in all cases there will be a learning curve in getting the best out of it.

Just be careful not to get consumed with RAW conversion and neglect the actual craft of taking the photograph

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Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 16:13
I've just downloaded Gimp2 and UFRaw to have a play around with .
Any views on these (free) programs ?

ambient housewife

Link Posted 06/02/2012 - 18:30
For free RAW, you should look at which I like more than the Gimp. But it really is more of a learning curve than the OP has time for. For easier use then photoshop elements or Paintshop pro might be better. Both have trial versions. Picasa is good and opens 12, 14 or 16 bit raw files, but I think that the actual edit engine is only 8 bit. I agree with the above about shooting raw+jpeg, it is a good way to learn without the pressure.


Link Posted 07/02/2012 - 17:49
I would only add that RAW is not that hard to get your head around. It adds a step before getting your image into your editor. This is a workflow issue only. Changing settings in your RAW file is no different than changing them in your JPG, except that you have much more latitude. Learn as you go and have fun!
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Link Posted 07/02/2012 - 18:48
eddyc wrote:
I have a Pentax K-r and a Canon S95 which both shoot RAW. Although I will only be using the K-r for this shoot ideally I would like to only have to learn 1 piece of software. Is there anything out there that would do both?

I don't know about the Canon, but if you set your Pentax to record your RAW files in DNG format (rather than Pentax's proprietary PEF), any RAW conversion software will handle the files without any problem.


Link Posted 07/02/2012 - 22:37
Thanks for all the responses everyone.

That helps a lot. I think I will just jump in and give it a go using the bundled pentax software. I can always buy lightroom or something in the future if I find I am using RAW a lot.

Also thanks for mentioning RAW+. I didn't realise that you could have both. Although I might need to get a bigger SD card.


Link Posted 08/02/2012 - 02:08
There's always InstantJPEGfromRAW which is free. No need for shooting both so no increase in RAW size when shooting .

See ►

I've used it for years, it's perfect (and apparently little known about)


Link Posted 08/02/2012 - 08:42
If its going on a web site then its going to end up being a low resolution jpeg at the end of the day. I no longer shoot RAW when I'm working in the studio, a total waste of time quite frankly.
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -


Link Posted 08/02/2012 - 10:26
I only ever shoot in raw now (K-x). It gives me much more room to correct for user error. In particular, my K-x often seems to overexpose when using my 35mm lens - I forget to account for this whilst shooting, so the RAW gives me the opportunity to alter the exposure and recover detail previously blown out.

If I was a more experienced photographer I probably wouldn't need to rely on this so much though


Link Posted 08/02/2012 - 15:18
Every picture you've taken, digital, was shot in raw. You've been allowing the very limited programming in the camera to edit and convert the raw files to JPEG. Now you're considering using an editing program on your computer. I use Lightroom. Consider, if you set the preferences in Lightroom you can load the files, convert to JPEG in a few seconds and you're basically doing what your camera does now. Of course, the odds are you'll say, "Wait a minute. On this one, I want to recover those shadpws and zing up the contrast a bit and eliminate that purple-fringing and set the white balance."
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