Using RAW files
WHAT IS RAW?
Most digital cameras these days can store the photographs in either RAW or JPEG format. JPEG is an 8-bit (still) compressed format, giving 256 (2^8) values for each Red, Green and Blue values, making a total of around 16 million possible colors (256x256x256).
The RAW format for most DSLR's these days store 12 or 14 bits of information, rather than 8 bits. Also, no real preprocessing is done on the raw image, so things like colorbalancing, under- or overexposing for postprocessing will be better.
WHY USE RAW?
The extra bits of RAW means more accuracy (4096 values per color instead of 256, or 12 bits instead of 8 bits, where modern cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark II will do 14 bits) which effectively means you can deal with under- and overexposed photographs a lot better in hindsight. Also, the image is lossless, so you get the best quality your camera's sensor can deliver.
Ofcourse, this isn't a reason to ALWAYS shoot in RAW. RAW files take up more space and cost more time in post-production. So if you're not too concerned with quality (like when shooting at parties), JPEG may be all you need.
ADOBE CAMERA RAW
With Photoshop CS2 comes Camera Raw (3.1). For EOS 350D/400D cameras, you'll have to upgrade to get Camera Raw to recognize the formats. Visit Adobe's site for information on the upgrade (it's free). The 400D requires v3.6, the 350D is supported under v3.5.
The update contains only the loading filter; 'Camera Raw.8bi'. Place this file in your Photoshop installation directory, i.e. C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Plug-Ins\File Formats. This will enable Photoshop to load .cr/.cr2/.nef files (NEF files are Nikon RAW files).
ADOBE CAMERA RAW, ADOBE BRIDGE AND CR2 FILES
This is specific to EOS 350D cameras, which produce .CR2 files. The default Camera Raw 3.1 for Photoshop CS2 must be upgraded to accept CR2 files. However, after upgrading, you might find that Adobe Bridge still only displays icons for CR2 files. Here's the fix:
THUMBNAILS OF RAW FILES (.CR2/.CRW etc) - WINDOWS XP
Getting thumbnails for .cr2 and .crw files in Windows XP can be tricky. The older method which works for most cameras before 2007 is from Microsoft itself:
This works for cameras including my own Canon EOS 350D and 5D (mark I). For the EOS 50D and 5D mark II, you will have to look further, since Microsoft doesn't seem to update the above thumbnailer anymore. Also, going to Windows Vista or Windows, raw thumbnails need a different approach. From some searching around, you can try:
THUMBNAILS OF RAW FILES (.CR2/.CRW etc) - WINDOWS 7 - 32 and 64 bits
Skipping Vista for a second (who didn't), getting .CR2 files to generate thumbnails in Windows Explorer was a problem for years. Seemingly Canon still hasn't discovered that this is the 64-bits age, and hasn't provide drivers for the Canon EOS 5D for example (it works under 32-bits, but not under 64 bits).
Thumbnails now have been provided for by Microsoft themselves with a Codec Pack.
(c) 2006-2011 Dolphinity B.V. / Ruud van Gaal