-No, this isn't about down-and-dirty, raw, triple-x kinds of photo work. The "raw" refers to a special kind of computer file, used by the newest, digital still-cameras. As described in the book, it's a professional format that's clean, unaltered, uncompressed while in the camera...and seems to be slowly catching on everywhere, even though most amateurs (and some pros) still rely on the .jpg and .tif varieties of files. If you know nothing about .raw files, after reading "Understanding RAW Photography," you'll go away knowing something about them (maybe even lots more). You're encouraged to start experimenting and working with .raw files; but if you're beyond the introductory stage, the book will probably satisfy an urge for details.
Strange thing, though. Overall, this information-packed book seems less about ".raw" files and more about the total process of camera digitals to prints...no matter what kind of picture-format is used. -From selecting camera options to exposure to shooting to downloading to editing and even to hard-drive saving and filing...it's all covered. This is good; and it's interesting to read how one photog does it, but the material on the "RAW" gets noticeably thin. It's spread around all over. It's fragmented, well buried among many slow pages of how-to tutoring.
So, in the end, we're Still unsure about RAW's validity as a coming staple for the photo community. You know it's got to be a good thing, though, given the impressive personal wild-life pix the author's included throughout the edition. They're outstanding color pictures, especially as reproduced on the heavy, slightly-glossy pages of the book. -But is this because Andy specifically used the .raw file format...or are the pictures great because of all the post-shooting image altering, editing, tweaking, checking and changing he's done to his original .raw files? Can you get the same results with other, more commonly used, file formats? -It's not clear....
Too, author Rouse includes good info on "your greatest ally in the world of digital photography," says he. That would be: every photo's "histogram." -But for something so roundly important, why does Rouse assume everyone's already very familiar with it? He should have devoted one concise section on exactly what the histogram is, what it's for, what it does, what each of the graph lines means, what to look for in an "optimum" histogram. Instead, every now and then, he connects a photo to an illustration of its histogram graph and explains. Fuzzy histo-terms and curious histo-features included, it turns out, though, (for the new-comer on the subject) to be a vague explanation at best. If histograms are essential for digital shooters, then the author should have started at the beginning.
This reader's beyond the point-and-shoot digital arena but is not pro-experienced. -And he "learnt"* more than expected from this information-packed photography book. Even so, there's Still an inadequate feeling of full "understanding" of .raw, no matter what Rouse named his book. Indeed, the book's a worthwhile read for the rank amateur as well as good review for the professional...and is also valuable for in-betweens like myself. It works; but as for "Understanding RAW Files," (for some of us, I guess) this book's just a start.
* Author Rouse actually uses this grammatical imperfection several times. At first, "learnt" seemed a distracting joke or a typo for the more correct "learned."