May 2007 HelpLine

Making Workflow Work
Making Workflow Work

    • Raw File Processing
    • The “Oh-Really?” Factor

RAW File Processing

Q) I don’t know what’s best when working with RAW files-opening and working on the RAW file and then saving it as a TIFF  or first converting it to a TIFF and then working on it? Does it make any difference? I intend to save the TIFF files with the best quality.
Pierre Michel
Via the Internet

A) A lot depends on what you mean by “working on it.” Should you do all of your work in a RAW image-processing application? Or should you do some work in RAW and then move into an image-editing program? Both of these questions deal with an ever-popular term in digital photography: workflow.

From capture to output, there are myriad ways of moving your images through the digital darkroom. At times, it seems that each photographer has his or her own special workflow that works best.

As your question implies, however, you need to consider the technical aspects of the way you work on your images. But don’t get too caught up in someone else’s explanation of the perfect workflow. Your workflow should work for you.

I’d recommend that, in a RAW workflow, you try to use as many of the tools available in your RAW image processor as possible. There are two reasons for this.

First, when editing a RAW file, you’re not changing pixels; you’re just creating a set of instructions to tell the software how to process the file. So even if you crop, resize or make the image black-and-white, you can still reset the instruction set and get back to your original RAW image. This gives you a lot of flexibility and allows you to always maintain high quality in the processing. (Adobe Lightroom offers this capability for JPEGs now, too.)

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