Popularized by one of my favorite photographers, Jared Polin (Fro Knows Photos), shooting RAW is a rule I’ve adopted and you should too.

Most cameras, even the ones in your cell phone, have the option to shoot RAW. Before you go and enable the feature, there are a few things you should know about this file type.

This is the RAW option on Canon’s interface

RAW images are data files of light information that your camera processes after capturing a photo. These files usually have extensions of “.raw”, “.dng” (or Digital Negative), or “.cr2” depending on the camera manufacturer. Since these files are essentially compilations of light data, they make post-processing editing a lot more flexible than editing a standard “.jpg” image. But with this flexibility comes a couple drawbacks. The file size are substantially larger than .jpg images, so they’ll take up more space on your hard drive or cloud storage. These raw images need special software to open the files. Most operating systems (both desktop and mobile) can review the raw image but editing without paid software like Adobe Lightroom can be extremely limited and difficult.

So before you enable your raw option on your phone on camera, ask yourself: Am I going to be editing this photo on a professional level? And do I have the needed software to edit this photo in post-processing?

This is the RAW option on the Google Camera interface.

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