Beginner Cat Photo Skills, Let's Talk About

Let’s Talk About Camera RAW

Let’s talk photo editing woes. You take a picture, you love it on your camera, then you open it on your computer and it’s like…oof, back to the drawing board.

Maybe the colors seem wrong, the lighting needs some serious help, and overall it just feels…meh. It happens to all of us, but it can be super frustrating, especially when you were so excited about capturing that perfect moment.

But. Did you know your DSLR or mirrorless camera (and maybe your smartphone) has a secret super power that can rescue a lot of your images? Let me introduce you to Camera Raw. It sounds a bit scary but stick with me to the end of the post to discover if RAW might be useful, knowing about it certainly is.

What is Camera Raw?

Camera Raw is a different way to take photos because it captures your image as data. Imagine it as something out of the Matrix movies, streams of numbers that are impossible to interpret until they are processed using a raw processor/editor.

DEFINITION. A raw photo editor is software designed to process and enhance raw image files captured by digital cameras. Using raw editors/processors preserves the full data from your camera sensor, providing a lot of flexibility for post-processing. This ensures that your photos look their absolute best.

Fix the Photo
My Photo Might Look Like This? Oh My….

Do I Need a Raw Processor or Editor?

Yes. The data you see here is transformed from this scary jumble of data into an image when you open your photos using the raw processor.

Let me suggest three processors/editors when you want to explore camera raw. These will be helpful if your own software might not ready be ready to open the images. All of these are cross-platform compatible, which means they work on Windows PCs and Macs.

  • Here’s the kind of transformation you can make using camera raw. Your usual photo software might lighten the image but there would be a lot more blur, not the lovely definition of fur and eyes like you see in Toulouse and Jack below.
  • Under exposed image of a tabby cat
  • Clear image of a tabby cat against a blurry green leaf background
  • Ginger cat sat in the sunshine
  • black and white portrait of a cat. Closeup.

What Camera Raw Cannot Do

You cannot take a very rapid series of cat photos if your cat is running very fast and you want to capture and freeze its motion. Many cameras fall over their own digital feet processing the data ‘on the go’. Like me you might prefer to practice changing your shutter speed instead.

How Do I Add Raw to My Camera Settings?

To experiment with Raw and see if it is a function you can make use of, you will need to add the Raw option (aka RAW in capitals) to your image settings on your camera.

Here you can see a DSLR menu from my Canon camera menu. Look for something similar to these in your own camera’s menu. If you can’t find it, check your manual or an online resource.

A DSLR camera screen showing a menu including image quality

You will have an Image Quality button that stores your image options. You may have a lot more options but this list gives you an idea of image settings and file sizes.

  • Small – 720x 480 pixels. This takes up 0.3MB (megabyte) of space per photo
  • Medium 3456 x 2304 pixels 8.0MB (megabytes) of space per photo
  • Large – 5184 x 3456 taking up 10MB of space per photo.
  • RAW – 5184 x 3456 taking up 18MB per photo

Remember that a higher image size like 18MB means a larger picture and a much larger file size than 8.0MB.

Camera rear screen showing image quality settings.

Raw in Summary

It is easy to get swamped by discussions about RAW and JPEG formats that you find in dozens of photo blog posts. Most of these you will not need as you are on your own photo journey, at your own pace.

So, raw may not be something you will use immediately but the power it brings to your editing (called post-processing by expert photographers) can make a difference to your photographs, when the opportunity arises.

Explore it to see if you would find it useful. It’s an interesting next step to take in your camera and software exploration.

13 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Camera RAW”

  1. I’ve always heard about Raw imaging but didn’t really understand how it’s used. That photo transition of Toulouse came out amazing!

  2. Great breakdown of RAW! I know it can be confusing to many. I just Pinned this to my Shutterbuggin’ board to share with others!

  3. That’s so interesting! I wonder if there is a way to do something like this on my phone since I don’t have a real camera right now…

    • Many of the more up-to-date smartphones have the ability to use Raw or can download an app that uses Raw. I am researching them right now.

  4. Great tutorial on RAW and how to correct a photo using it. I will definitely check out this one to hopefully rescue some of Henry’s photos, which should’ve been cute, but turned out awful. Thanks, Marjorie! I’m sharing with all my pet parents. One by one, you’ll have all of us taking great photos. 😉

  5. I need good eyes to be able to do this as when I take photos they always look good or I try again, it is time I start learning more about photography, great post as always

  6. Thanks for that, I always wondered what RAW was all about, now I know. Thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!


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