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A detailed insight into the processing of RAW format files from digital cameras
on 17 October 2012
I recently received this book from my wife for my birthday, which shows that she must have paid attention to my minor rants about a digital camera RAW file being the equivalent of the film negative and that it needs "developing" to produce the image. My rants were normally triggered by people making statements along the lines of "I took this in RAW and have done nothing to it, so the colours are exactly correct".
Mr Schewe's detailed examination of the make up of a RAW file makes clear that the data as it comes from the camera is not in any useful sense a usable image, as no colour space is assigned and it is just a matrix of encoded luminance values. He gives a good overview of the processes that a raw converter must go through to demosiac and apply a tone curve to arrive at a starting point for the processing of the image, and shows what can be achieved with images that on first glance appear to be hopeless cases. As a bonus, many of the example images in the book can be downloaded from the book's website ([...]) so that you can practice the adjustments yourself on the same images as the author used.
I've never met Mr Schewe, but from his writing style, which is direct and to the point (almost blunt), I suspect he doesn't suffer fools gladly, and this book makes no concessions to beginners. However, I find that to be the book's strength, since there's no waffle and handholding, just solid information delivered with no bull. So, if your (digital) photography has advanced to the point where you realise there's more to be extracted from your RAW images than just opening them in the camera manufacturer's software and then saving them as a jpeg, this book is highly recommended.