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RAW Usage Tutorial

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What is Sensor RAW? Sensor RAW is a special image recording option that is only available on digital SLRs and a few other high-quality semi-professional digital cameras. If your camera has this option, you have access to much higher image quality than the standard JPEG file format. In this article I'll explain what you need to unlock that potential.

First, the name. I'm really not sure why RAW is always capitalised, and neither is anyone else I’ve asked about it. It isn’t an acronym, so really it should be written 'raw', but for some reason it's always written in capitals - 'RAW'. However inexplicably silly it may be, I'll continue to use the conventional presentation for this article.

Essentially, RAW is just what it sounds like. It's the raw data straight from the camera's sensor.

In a digital camera the photographic image is, as I'm sure you're aware, captured by an electronic image sensor. This sensor has millions of tiny photocells that produce a charge when they are exposed to light; the brighter the light, the higher the charge. Digital camera sensors don't record the color of the light hitting them, just the brightness, so a special mosaic of colored filters is placed in front of the sensor, called a Bayer filter.
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