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White Balance and Raw

Most of today’s DSLRs provide you the ability to record raw files, as well as JPEGs. Raw files are the raw data produced on the sensor with few to no enhancements for color, sharpness, and contrast.

JPEG files have a variety of enhancements, which adjust sharpness, contrast, and saturation based on what the camera has been designed to believe is a good image. The degree of adjustments vary, but the differences can be seen especially when you’re using scene modes, which are geared for specific types of photography (such as portraiture, landscape, or close-up). With scene modes, the camera applies enhancements that hopefully deliver an image straight out of the camera that you can happily print or display.

Raw leaves such adjustments for you to control with the software you received with your camera or with Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom, or another image-editing application. Many photographers favor raw because it provides them with the greatest degree of control and promises the ability to produce the best image possible, even if some work is required on the photographer’s part.

One of the advantages of shooting raw is that it allows you to adjust white balance well after you’ve taken the image. So, if you’ve accidentally set the white balance incorrectly, you can set it for the correct value in your image-editing software, without any loss of quality. Correcting color in a JPEG is notoriously difficult and never delivers an ideal result. It can be done, but it’s no fun. Raw is the better alternative.

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