Most modern cameras now have the ability to save their pictures in a RAW file format instead of the typical JPG file to capture exactly what the sensor “sees”. What does it mean to look at a “straight from camera” RAW photo file? How do RAW processors like Lightroom change the files after they’re loaded, and are RAW files actually images? Matthew Miller takes the reader through the RAW process on the PetaPixel blog.
There is a tool called dcraw which reads various RAW file types and extracts pixel data from them — it’s actually the original code at the very bottom of a lot of open source and even commercial RAW conversion software.
I have a RAW file from my camera, and I’ve used dcraw in a mode which tells it to create an image using literal, unscaled 16-bit values from the file. I converted that to an 8-bit JPEG for sharing, using perceptual gamma (and scaled down for upload).
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