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The RAW File Format

Earlier in this chapter, you read about the advantages and disadvantages of working with the TIFF and JPEG file formats. You also learned a bit about the RAW format. Although this format originally was available only on high-end digital cameras, even some mid-range cameras now offer a RAW format setting. It is definitely a worthwhile feature to look for when considering a new camera purchase. To understand the advantage of the RAW file format, you first need to understand a little more about how a digital camera processes an image before saving it to the memory card.

When the image is captured by the camera sensor in any mode other than RAW, the computer in the camera processes the sensor data before saving it to the memory card. White balance, exposure, tonal corrections, sharpening, and other adjustments are applied to the image before it is saved. If the camera saves images in RAW format, the unprocessed data from the camera sensor is saved on the memory card. You can then edit the white balance, exposure, and other image factors later in Photoshop CS.


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