I'm constantly amazed at the number of talented photographers that still insist on saving their files in-camera only as JPG. The most common justification is that RAW files are just too big and cause delays in between shots while they wait for the camera to write them to the memory card. Then, of course, there's the extra hard drive space required to store them on your computer. Last, but not least, you have to have some extra software to even use those RAW files.
(Success Tip #1: How to learn photography when you have little time to spare)
Taken at face value, all of the above arguments may seem valid. I'll even admit that if you plan to do nothing with your images other than share them on Facebook and show them to your friends on your computer screen, then there's probably no need to have a RAW file. Chances are, you'll get lots of “oohs” and “ahs” as well as “likes”. Chances are also very good that you're going to discard a lot of your shots because of under or overexposure, contrast issues and color casts that can't be fixed even in Photoshop.
I'll also admit that I'm more than a little bit biased when it comes to this issue, but I have very good reasons. I've turned countless “ruined” shots into very usable images and created award-winning photos from mediocre shots because I had all that original data in the RAW file to work with. (For the record, I set my camera to write both RAW and JPG files, so that I can save time in uploading my Facebook shots, too.)
Because I don't like spending hours in post-processing any more than the next guy or gal, I'm always on the lookout for ways to make getting the most out of my RAW files quicker and easier. While browsing some videos, I came across one by Adorama's Mark Wallace that not only demonstrated an incredibly simple method, but showed how amazing the transformation in an image can be when you have all that data at your fingertips. In less than 10 minutes, Mark turns what looks like an unusable photo into a gorgeous landscape full of golden light and wonderful detail, using one RAW file and Lightroom.
(Success Tip #2: How to turn your photography hobby into profits)
I'm sharing it with our readers as an example of why I think every serious photographer should be shooting RAW and how simple it can be to use those files to create images that put many traditional HDR images to shame, without the need for bracketed exposures. For those of you who think the cost of the software is prohibitive, take a look at this: Photoshop and Lightroom Bundle.
The full video is below. I rest my case.