A few potential drawbacks

Even with all the great capabilities the raw image format provides, it actually does have a few disadvantages — not many — but a few are worth mentioning:

l File size: Raw images aren't compressed like JPEGs. The file sizes are much larger — and they take longer to download to your computer. A typical 8-megapixel raw image will be saved at a size of about 7 megabytes. The same 8-megapixel image shot in JPEG format will create a file less than half that size, around 3 megabytes. If you're cramped for memory-card space, you'll be able to fit at least twice as many JPEGs as raw files on your memory card. Just remember: JPEG compression loses some quality.

l Extra step in processing: Unlike JPEGs (which you can view immediately in Photoshop), raw images require an extra step: Opening them in Camera Raw and processing them. If your workflow is pretty close to the one explained in Chapter 4 — and you process raw images as shown in Chapter 9 — then the extra step will be worth the effort; the timesaving batch processes offered in Bridge can help you make up for lost time.

i Slower processing in your digital camera: Some older camera models that feature the raw format may take a few seconds to process the raw image before you're able to shoot another. Too, if you're shooting raw and JPEG (some digital cameras can produce two images for one shot), your digital camera will have additional work to do to produce both the raw and JPEG files.

i Lack of raw-format standards: Each digital camera manufacturer has its own version of raw format; proprietary formats reign right now. So far, those who shoot in raw have only one option that offers some versatility — Camera Raw, along with a new digital negative (DNG) format (see the next section) — currently endorsed by Adobe. It's not a big issue now, but some photographers worry about what might happen years down the road: Will future software be able to recognize current raw images? Adobe seems to be the only company addressing this issue right now.

The present drawbacks to shooting and processing raw-format images may not outweigh the advantages for many photographers. And why not? Cheaper, large-capacity memory cards can handle the extra card space needed to handle larger files. The extra step in processing really doesn't cost you much time — in fact, processing images in Camera Raw can save you from having to perform similar adjustments in Photoshop — and you can make adjustments without throwing away valuable bits of data. The final drawback to raw format (lack of firm industry standards) will most likely be overcome as technology develops and as more and more photographers use the raw format.

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