Pre-processing is the new Raw

Pre-processing is the new Raw

Pre-processing is the new Raw

I’m a raw evangelist. Yup. My camera raw tutorial is the most visited page on my website. Every day it outnumbers all the other ImageMaven blog posts and pages.

But even evangelists have to admit when it’s time to step back from the dogma. Why? Because things change. Technology improves and our way of working with our photography tools evolves. If it didn’t, we’d still be shooting with glass plates and view cameras. We’d be photo neanderthals.

If you’ve ever taken a live class from me, you know that the first thing I teach is setting up your camera menus.

Pre-processing is the new Raw

If you’ve taken our free eCourse you also know that we talk about setting up your digital camera the right way, and that again involves the camera menus.

That’s the core of what pre-processing is! And once you are comfortable with what your camera can do for you, you’re well on your way.

To get it right in the camera, at a minimum, you need to set up and understand the following:

You also need to understand how to read your histogram, and how to use exposure compensation to get that histogram looking good.

Pre-processing is the new Raw

When you get more experience with your camera, and if you have a camera system that allows this, you can move on to other pre-processing settings such as:

  • Scene modes – portrait, sports, flowers, scenery, nightscape,
  • Photo style – monochrome, vivid, natural, scenery, portrait
  • Creative shooting modes – high dynamic, cross process, miniature effect, soft focus, star filter, impressive art
  • Film modes – look for the classic Velvia slide film mode on your Fuji camera
  • Aspect ratio for in camera image cropping

And if want to go even deeper, you can customize a group of settings exactly the way you want them, for a specific shoot. You can tweak contrast, saturation, sharpness and noise reduction and save those as a pre-set along with your white balance, ISO, aspect ratio and image size.

So where does all this leave a raw evangelist like myself?

If you’re nervous about leaving your raw workflow behind, take baby steps. Start by shooting raw + jpg on your next photo shoot. Once you get better at setting up your camera menus for a pre-processing workflow, you’ll start to notice that you use those raw files less and less.

I still shoot raw files when I’m in a really difficult lighting situation and where I can’t control it – just as a backup – but over time, I’m learning to manage those situations better too.

I’m not the only one who is heading back to jpgs and pre-processing images. Have a look at this video:

So after you read this, take out your camera and look at all the menus.

Look for the scene modes. Look for the photo styles and if you have a LUMIX camera, check out the creative shooting modes. Those are the most fun to play with.

Now start experimenting with those new-found menus. Take a photo walk and shoot jpgs only. Share your favourite pre-processed shot on our Facebook pageLet us know your settings and any special modes that you used, so we can all learn from you.