Software can’t read your mind, and RAW is not JPEG.

You like what you see on the cam’s display? Sure you do. Great colours! The contrast – w00t! You enjoy working with your camera, getting the shot right™ while framing it, hate the idea of post-processing. And anyways – them colours! Woah!

And then you switch to RAW because somebody told you that’s professional, JPEG isn’t. And then you wonder why this funky RAW software thingy you need to actually see what you’ve shot delivers such lame-ass pictures. No oomph. And what the hells, I made this picture in black and white! It’s in colour now! This software sucks!

No it doesn’t. You have to take RAW literally: it’s a collection of the raw information captured by your camera’s sensor. Without all that funky stuff happening inside your cam like Virtual Films or Art Filters. Or the less funky stuff that happens internally so you can actually look at a picture on the camera’s screen. Sometimes, RAW even ignores your choice of aspect ratio as the sensor captures everything anyways. The horror, the horror, etc.

It’s like the difference between getting photos developed and shooting negatives you develop yourself. Later on, in the dark-room with a bottle of Whisky nearby and the tingly sensation of chemicals on your skin. In this case, chemicals are replaced by (sometimes) expensive software while the booze remains the same, if hopefully of Irish provenance.

You like to control your pictures on-site? You don’t want to meddle with Burn, Dodge, different virtual “chemicals” and whatnot just to hold a decent picture in your alcohol-stained hands? Then shoot JPEG, save a lot of time, and stop complaining. The software can’t read your mind, and as long as camera manufacturers stick to proprietary RAW formats and settings, i.e. until the sun burns out, it also can’t know what “Vivid” or “Art Filter No.43” means.

Fine, you changed “Contrast” in your camera’s settings. And how exactly should third-party applications such as Lightroom or uvraw know what +2 Contrast in your camera relates to? The file might be readable, but the JPEG engine inside the cam that interprets +2 Contrast is a heavily guarded, copyrighted, and patented secret.

Get real. And take your pick. JPEG is perfectly fine if you like your camera’s results and won’t go all wonky colours later on. It’s neither more nor less “professional” than shooting in RAW. But please, baby Jesus please stop bitching about the status quo of RAW developing and stop expecting the impossible from manufacturers who don’t have full access to your camera makers’ intellectual property. Or, better choice, do something about that IP thingy by voting for the right™ parties next time round. Okay? Thanks.

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