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Chapter 1. Digital Camera Raw > Raw Files Are Grayscale

Raw Files Are Grayscale

No matter what the filter arrangement, the raw file simply records the luminance value for each pixel, so the raw file is a grayscale image. It contains color information—the characteristics of the color filter array are recorded, so raw converters know whether a given pixel in the raw file represents red, green, or blue luminance (or whatever colors the specific camera's filter array uses)—but it doesn't contain anything humans can interpret as color.

Obtaining a color image from the raw file is the job of a raw converter such as Camera Raw. The raw converter interpolates the missing color information for each pixel from its neighbors, a process known as demosaicing, but it does much more, too. Besides interpolating the missing color information, raw converters control all of the following.


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