Basics of RAW File Conversions

In this photography class Karl shows you around Camera RAW, the software designed for making the initial adjustments to your RAW images.

He covers the interface, useful tools and shows you a number of effective techniques for enhancing your images, showing you how you can make adjustments to color temperature, exposure, sharpness, crop and so much more.

At the end of this class you’ll have the knowledge to get the very best results from your images as well as how you can make any necessary adjustments to rescue incorrectly exposed images.

In this Photoshop class we cover the following:

  • Understanding RAW file formats
  • The advantages of shooting RAW
  • Camera RAW: Interface and tools
  • How to process RAW images
  • How to correct image exposure in Camera RAW

If you enjoyed this class you might be interested in watching our Lightroom 6/CC for Photographers Course, where we go more in-depth on many of the tools covered in this class.

If you have any questions about this course please post them in the comments section below ?


  1. Thank you for these terrific tutorials and explanations. At last, I can ask a question that has bothered me forever: I don’t really understand why many (nearly all) of these RAW conversion controls are necessary at all, and that you have all of these corrections in two places in Photoshop (or three, counting LR). Is there a way to convert a RAW image such that no information is lost? Why, in your wedding photo example, would you want to import once optimized for the highlights, and once for the shadows and then combine the two separate tif files afterwards as layers if you could simply apply different adjustment layers on the same base image? Is the dynamic range of a tif file insufficient? If the camera doesn’t capture more than 14-bits per color, then why isn’t a 16-bit deep tif insufficient?

    1. Hi Ken, yes essentially what you said is correct. A 16bit tiff is very good and you can extrapolate a lot of information from the file but you can usually get more out of a RAW. Also if I decide to adjust alot if highlight recovery on a RAW file it will inadvertently affect some other tones than just highlights and the same if I did it for shadows. To avoid this I make an export file for highlights and another for shadows if necessary (but this is rare) and then I can pick and choose from those two layers separately by using masks in Photoshop. Generally speaking though with my studio work none of that is necessary as I’m lighting the scene, the shadows and the highlights exactly as I like so I only need to export the file as a 16bit tiff and that is close enough for all the following retouching necessary. The example shown here is giving you the extremes of a situation and showing how you can overcome it with the information available in a raw file.

    1. Hi Dhayaalan, clarity is a local contrast adjustment. Texture is but a finer degree and making images look more ‘gritty’. Dehaze recognizes areas of low contrast like fog in landscape background and enhances contrast in those areas.

    2. Patriotboy45

      To Karl Taylor

      Hey! Its Jay again. So I have a HasselBlad X1D II 50c. I’ve noticed at a lower shutter speed I’m getting better picture quality overall. The photo’s look very sharp. Did you experience the same thing with your Hasselblad or the XID when you used it? If so, can you provide a reason of why?

      1. Hi Jay, no I haven’t noticed that and I can’t understand why that would be. If anything it should be the other way around in terms of sharpness but if you mean your overall exposure is looking better then it is likely just a case of more ambient light coming in to your picture and mixing with your main light source?

  2. Hey Karl,
    Would you suggest to edit a picture first in Lightroom and then making further adjustments in Photoshop or should i do all of this things in Photoshop and keep the tif file?

    1. Hi, I make any initial adjustments to my RAW files such as shadow, highlight, colour balance in RAW file software engines (LR has this, but PS has ‘camera raw’ section too) I use Phocus with my camera and then into PS.

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