iPhoto and RAW

Apple released a new version of iPhoto, their photo management utility. To me the coolest thing was it handles RAW format from my camera.

MacDevCenter has a couple of articles on the new iPhoto, and there’s a discussion of why RAW isn’t always best. But there are a couple of things about RAW they are missing.

First JPEG is 8 bit and lossy. Every time you edit a JPEG file and save it, you are losing picture data. RAW can contain more than 8 bits of data – my D70 has 12 – that can be converted well to 16 bits. So when Apple creates a JPEG it throws out data. Here’s an interesting discussion of RAW, JPEG and TIFF.

When I did my Glamour Beauty and the Nude workshop, I shot JPEG. I did this for a number of reasons, the biggest being I only had 2 256MB cards and raw would have got me about 25 pictures per card. Plus my old PowerBook only has USB 1.0 and all I had was direct hook up to transfer. That would have taken forever and I would have been out of shooting every time. Not a good idea for a workshop.

So I shot JPEG Fine and imported into iPhoto. I also borrowed a guys PCMIA Card reader and it is much faster than USB 1.0. I went out an bought one for around $12 and use it all the time now.

I used iPhoto to look through 280+ images and picked out the ones I liked the most. Then I exported them, opened them in Photoshop and saved them in PSD format. This meant I would no longer be losing data when I edited. I lost data in the camera, but I didn’t lose it in editing.

You may say you wouldn’t lose much per edit and you might be right, but I’m save crazy. I hit Cmd-S every time I do a discreet step. So I would lose a significant amount.

Bottom line is iPhoto lets you look at RAW images, but not edit them. JPEG is nice for final computer output, but RAW is better if you want to keep everything your camera can give you.

I’m excited about iPhoto having RAW because I can look through hundreds of images now and only choose to work on the ones I want.