Understanding the Raw Facts

The Raw file format at its heart is nothing but unprocessed image data. It comes in a number of variations — one or several for each camera manufacturer, it seems. Each has its own file extension (such as .crw, .cr2, or .nef), and many have their own special features that are totally incompatible with each other. And those camera manufacturers love to tinker with their proprietary formats, changing them regularly. But each of the formats, at the basic level, is Raw. (Check your camera's User Guide to see if it is capable of recording image data in a format other than JPEG or TIFF. If so, it's probably a variation of Raw.)

Thankfully, Adobe updates the Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop (as shown in Figure 7-1) on a regular basis, adding the capability to work with the newest cameras shortly after they're available. (Plug-ins, like Camera Raw and most of Photoshop's filters, extend the program's capabilities. Updating your plug-ins regularly ensures you have the greatest capabilities.) Be warned, however, that purchasing a new model the day it comes on the market might mean using the camera's own software for a while until Camera Raw is updated.

Figure 7-1: The impressive Camera Raw window, explained fully in this chapter.
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