RAW format: when should I use it?

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A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image scanner, or motion picture film scanner.

Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited with a bitmap graphics editor.

Normally, the image is processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut internal colorspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a “positive” file format such as TIFF or JPEG for storage, printing, or further manipulation, which often encodes the image in a device-dependent colorspace.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of raw formats in use by different models of digital equipment (like cameras or film scanners).Decoding raw digital photos in Linux

As a filmmaker you have to make many choices, a large part of which is related to the budget.


If you have enough time and budget available for the technical/post-production part of your production, filming in RAW is a choice to consider.

That way you can make a good movie even better. Here are three reasons to film in RAW format.

Why should I film in RAW format?

Virtually no loss of image quality

There are two types of compression: Lossy; you lose part of the information, lossless; the image is compressed (compressed) without loss of quality.

There are also uncompressed formats (uncompressed) all data is then saved. Basically RAW is the data that comes directly from the sensor without any form of image processing or encoding.

RAW is therefore pure data and no video.

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RAW formats come in different flavors, both compressed and uncompressed, but they all have one goal and that is to minimize the loss of image quality and to get the most out of the sensor.

More creative freedom in post-production

More data gives you more options. You can influence the atmosphere and look of your production in detail. RAW has the advantage that you can play more and more easily with color correction and contrasts in the image.

The restrictions for creative post-production people are then significantly lowered.

Working in a professional environment

An expensive camera does not make you a good videographer. However, you can purposefully search for a crew that has experience with specific brands and models.

An investor who makes films in RAW format will expect a professional result and give the filmmaker the opportunity to realize all aspects of a production at a high level…hopefully…

Filming RAW is not always the best choice

When you film in RAW you always have the highest quality image without compression, it is the only way to film perfect images… right?

Filming in RAW is not always the best choice, here are five reasons NOT to choose RAW.

Too much data

Not all RAW formats are uncompressed, the RED cameras can also film “lossless”, so with compression but without loss of quality.

RAW material always takes up much more space than lossy compression methods, so you have to use larger and faster storage media, which are expensive.

Cutbacks elsewhere

The first RED camera was a pioneer in RAW camera equipment. That resulted in beautiful images, as long as you filmed with enough light.

To keep the price of the camera affordable, concessions have to be made. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.


In fact, RAW is a raw image, similar to a photo negative. Without further processing, it rarely looks nice without post-processing. All images must be corrected afterwards.

If you’re making a news report, or if you’re against a tight deadline, that’s precious time that you’d rather spend on editing.

Limits your choices

Many cameras, regardless of the ease of use, the quality of the lens or the light sensitivity of the sensor, are dropped if you choose RAW.

Certain software packages are also discarded during further processing, not all hardware can handle them, etc. Can those sacrifices be justified?

RAW does not make you a professional

There are productions that require personnel with knowledge of a specific type of camera. With RAW you can film beautiful images that offer incredible freedom of post-processing afterwards.

But making a film is a sum of light, sound, image, hardware, software, education and talent. If you put too much emphasis on one aspect, you can lose a lot elsewhere.

It can be a valuable addition to your production, but it doesn’t automatically make a movie better. In fact, it doesn’t increase your talent either. What do you choose?


If you can film in RAW format, and you have the time and financial resources to get the best out of your shots, you should definitely do it.

With the extra image information that RAW offers, you have more creative freedom in the post-production phase. Remember that RAW is only one piece of the puzzle, make sure the rest is in order too!

Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.