Mobile Photography & RAW Processing

Dave Photography

I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with the new RAW camera now available on the HTC One M9, and wanted to share some recent images. As some may know, having access to RAW camera data gives a photographer much more dynamic range and creative opportunities for color correction and image post-processing. This makes it possible to adjust the image to more accurately represent the original scene or artistic intent — rather that let the camera’s internal processing algorithm process the image.

Below are a few side-by-side examples showing in-camera jpg images compared to manually process RAW images.

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Captured in RAW format on an HTC One M9.

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Captured in JPG format on an HTC One M9.

While the JPG image is technically correct and generally represents the scene accurately — it lacks the dynamic range between highlight and shadows that my eye saw, as well as the emotive presence I felt while viewing the scene. By manually processing the RAW image, I was able to open up the dark shadows in the foreground, while preserving all the highlight details in the clouds. Subtle refinements to color vibrance and midtone contrast provided that visual punch needed to match the emotive resonance of the original scene.

The example below shows another scene with a light range well beyond the capabilities of JPG format. With such a compressed range between highlight and shadows, photographers normally have to choose to either the dark foreground, or bright sky.

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Captured in JPG format on an HTC One M9. JPG lacks the dynamic range needed to retain both the shadows and the bright highlights.

But shooting in RAW format, the photographer is able to make adjustments to recover the blown out highlights that JPG was unable to retain. The result is a image that more accurately represents the range of light seen by the eye when viewing the original scene.

 

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Captured in RAW format on an HTC One M9. RAW images capture a wider dynamic range between lights and darks, making it possible to recover the blown out highlights in the sky.

In addition to more accurately representing a scene, RAW format can also be used as a creative tool. In the example below, not only were these high

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Captured in JPG format on an HTC One M9. JPG lacks the dynamic range needed to retain both the shadows and the bright highlights.

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Captured in RAW format on an HTC One M9. The RAW image was processed to expand the overall dynamic range — as well as adjusted to B&W for creative expression.

htc-one-m9-bestbuyI’ve enjoyed the benefits of RAW for many years using my DSLR cameras. But that level of image quality, required lugging around large, heavy, high-end gear.

Now, with the HTC One M9, I can shoot RAW on-the-go with a much lighter, less-obtrusive and mobile footprint. Will it replace my high-end DSLR rig? No, not yet. But I’m sure glad RAW is available for when I happen to run across that epic scene while out and about.

RAW represents a huge step forward for mobile photography, and I’m excited to utilize this new technology in my creative projects.